Shih Tzu Information
Looking for a Puppy?
If you are looking for a Shih Tzu puppy (or any other breed for that matter), there are things you certainly should and should not do.
Do not go to a pet store. Most of their puppies come from puppy mills where the entire focus is profit. Your chance of getting a healthy animal is low, your odds of getting a dog anywhere near the quality you are paying for is even lower. You will actually get a much better dog, probably for less money, by going to a reputable breeder. Also- in all likelihood, the puppy from the reputable breeder will be better socialized. Puppy mill puppies are seldom handled.
It is a good idea to avoid the lady down the street with the sweet pet. Referred to as 'backyard breeders,' these people often breed animals that a reputable breeder would have spayed or neutered because it is not a good representative of the breed and possibly carries genes for hereditary defects that have not been tested for. These are normally the puppies that you find in the want-ads. Grandparents that were champions is certainly no indication of the quality of this dog, as even breeding two champions will often produce more pets than show dogs. And did you know that the biggest contributors to dogs in pounds are not the puppy mills, as you would assume, but backyard breeders?
Cost, while certainly a concern, should not be your first concern- and most reputable breeders are leery of people for whom it is. Owning a dog is a responsibility, and we are more comfortable knowing the new owner will be able and willing to get vet care should the pup get hurt at some point. It is also important to us that the pup go to a dedicated, loving home who treasures the pup, not just someone who was bargain hunting. You will normally get a very fair price for a pet puppy - do ask around. But the health of the puppy is of the most importance, is it not?
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you are saving money by buying a puppy from a backyard breeder. Their prices are usually comparable to the price of serious breeders, but the hidden costs are what you need to look at. ALL BREEDS HAVE GENETIC DEFECTS. I don't know of one that doesn't. The show breeder knows generations of the dog's history- and any problem lines are bred away from as much as possible. Your chance of running into a genetic defect is much higher when Mrs. A that has a papered dog breeds to Mrs. B who has a papered bitch. They do not know the background of these dogs, and may well be reinforcing a genetic defect. Most genetic defects translate into vet bills for you.
Go to the shows. You can find where and when they are by going to the AKC Event Search page. Look at the dogs there. That's what you're looking for- or as close as you can get. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Most people love to talk about their dogs. If you are looking for a pet puppy, say so. Virtually no litters are all show dogs. The pets will be placed for a reasonable price in most cases. Ask if the breeder tests for the kidney gene, tests DNA, or CERF tests adults.
Don't be surprised if the breeder has as many questions for you as you do for him- a reputable breeder cares very much about the kind of home their puppies will go to.
Do not be surprised when the breeder insists that the puppy you buy be spayed/neutered. Our biggest nightmare would be for our babies to end up with someone that breeds irresponsibly and just uses them for a puppy machine.
I hope this has been of some help. You don't need to find your puppy this week, you'll likely have it for some 12 - 15 years. Planning ahead on a commitment like that is a good thing. Good luck!
And do check out our Breeder Referral page!