Do Shih Tzus Bark a Lot? [Bark Training Help]

Shih Tzu is undeniably one of the most adorable pet dogs in the world. It is an Asian toy dog breed of Tibetan origin kept in ancient China as royal lap dogs.

Bred as domestic companions, Shih Tzus have some personality traits that make lovers of small dogs want to choose them. They are warm, friendly, and affectionate. The only straw that broke the camel’s back is that they tend to bark a lot.

do Shih Tzus bark a lot
Do Shih Tzus bark a lot? [Bark Training Help]

But you need not to worry.

Shih Tzus are dogs, and barking is a part of the package. Dogs are intelligent animals, and they can be trained. Of course Shih Tzus are trainable to bark less.

In order to train a Shih Tzu to your taste in regards to barking, you need to know the reasons why they bark.

Why Do Shih Tzus Bark?

Shih Tzus are known to be a calm dog breed. But one thing is certain and cannot be changed: They are dogs.

Dogs bark for various reasons, it is their natural communication system. Shih Tzus are no exceptions. Ranging from security to attention, there are various reasons why Shih Tzus do that noisy little barking.

Although it is undeniable that some dogs bark more often than others, here are some reasons why Shih Tzus bark despite their reputation as a calm breed of dogs.


Every animal, including humans, reacts to the side effects of medications. Isn’t it? Most dogs are usually upset and they bark.

So, this is not exclusive to Shih Tzus.

Shih Tzus tend to bark overly especially when they are subjected to a long term medication which may make them feel weak.

Besides, some medications just have powerful side-effects even if they are used on a single dose. This kind of medicine will definitely attract a lot of barking and sometimes, aggression from your little canine.

So, we strongly advise you to only take prescriptions from your veterinarian, and also make sure to always check for side-effects of drugs before administering them to your Shih Tzu.

Shih Tzu approaching
Shih Tzu approaching a stranger.


This is a common problem people have had to deal with in adopted dogs [University Guide]. The Shih Tzu will go overboard with this of course. Sometimes, you don’t know what your canine has passed through in the past before he got to you.

Experiences might be so traumatic for your dog that it gets difficult to recover from. Some traumatic experiences can easily be erased through medication, but some do not.

In this case, you need to be patient with the dog and be nice to him. With time, he will overcome the memory of this traumatic experience. You can also watch out for things that trigger the barking and take them off.

Abuse and Snubbing

This is another problem that is common in adopted Shih Tzus. Shih Tzu is an independent dog breed that has the ability to hunt and source for its food. So, they don’t find it difficult fleeing from abuse. 

Your adopted Shih Tzu could have escaped an abusive shelter before you found him. The memory of his previous home could trigger lack of trust which could in turn trigger frequent barking. 

Shih Tzu is an attentive dog breed and they may mistake many regular actions as abuse. Imagine if the dog was beaten and starved in its former home. He could misinterpret your playful gesture as an attempt to beat him.

He may attempt to leave your shelter, and the inability to do so could frustrate him. You know what to expect then, right?

Should you have a Shih Tzu like this, you need to be patient and gentle with him. Regular treats could reassure him of your comfort and therefore reduce the barking.

running Shih Tzu
An adorable running Shih Tzu.


As an owner, or a potential owner of a Shih Tzu, you must understand that they love to communicate and express themselves by barking. When they are trying to express their excitement over an adventure or something else, they just bark.

You canine could bark to the sound of your electric blender, or when you or any other member of the family just arrives. You should not take this too seriously. It is just his little way of creating a bond with you.

Attention Seeking

Another reason why your Shih Tzu barks is basically to get some attention. Either from you, your family members or other pets around.

Shih Tzus are playful animals and they like to have fun. If you are walking your Shih Tzu but stop along the way to have a chat with a neighbour, he might begin to bark to regain your attention. He might also start barking at other dogs just to have some playful session with them.

We advise that you do not overreact when your Shih Tzu barks at these instances. However, you can train him to bark a little less.

Shih Tzu lying on the grass
Shih Tzu is lying on the grass and being playful.

Stranger’s Arrival

Shih Tzus are not great guard dogs. They are small and not as fierce. But they are excellent watchdogs.

Probably one of the best watchdog breeds available today. 

They would bark whenever they sense a stranger approaching. They do this to alert their owners about the coming stranger; and this does not include whether the stranger has good intentions or not. For instance, your Shih Tzu would bark whenever the delivery man shows up or when you have a visitor.

He would do this every time until you introduce such a stranger to him.

If you do not like him barking in these instances, you can train him to stay quiet at your command. Another step you should take to correct this barking is to socialize him. Make him meet and get used to people.


Shih Tzus are relatively small dogs. And due to their small size, they are not very good fighters. Their only mode of defense is continuous barking.

The barking is usually intended to scare off the threat as well as call for backup either from the owner or fellow dogs on the same side.

For example, a big snake could make its way into your property. Immediately your Shih Tzu detects the serpent, he would keep barking to call you or other dogs in the house for support to fight the threat.

Your Shih Tzu could also get intimidated by other large dogs like German Shepherd or Rottweiler. In cases of intimidation by other dogs, you should socialize your dog with other dogs.

Other things that could spook your dog includes:

  • Gunshots
  • Fireworks
  • Thunder
  • Sudden screams or yells
  • Fights
are Shih Tzu hypoallergenic
Are Shih Tzu hypoallergenic? What you need to know [Allergies]

Pain or Medical Attention

The only way Shih Tzus are natured to express themselves is through barking. They can’t talk like humans, so when they are sick or in pain, they make this known by continuously barking until you get their message.

They can also bark to ask for their basic needs like food, water, clean-up, play and so on. When your Shih Tzu comes to you barking, you should try to find out what he needs and do the needful.

We advise that you set things up in a way that they can get most of their needs without asking for them. However, do not keep medications in their reach. If you suspect any illness, you should contact your vet immediately.

sad Shih-Tzu
A sad-looking Shih Tzu is on the couch.

How to Stop Your Shih Tzu From Barking?

Let’s be real here, nobody likes it when their dog barks too much. Now that it is clear that Shih Tzus naturally bark more than other dogs, you may ask, “how do I prevent my Shih Tzu from barking unnecessarily?.” For an answer to that question, here are some tips that will come in handy.

Socialize Your Shih Tzu

This is the most important one. You must make your Shih Tzu to meet other people and other dogs. Walk him to parks or places where there are a lot of people.

When your Shih Tzu meets more people, he gets used to it. Thus, he doesn’t bark when he sees strange faces or other dogs.

how long do Shih Tzus live
How long do Shih Tzus live? [Average Lifespan]

Make Him Face His Fears

If you know that your dog sees some things that spook him regularly and there are chances that he will see such things regularly, you need to let him get used to them by exposing him to such fears in a way that won’t harm them. For example, you can leave him in the dark if you know he barks in the dark. When he stops barking, turn on the lights and give him a treat.

Ignore Him When He Barks Unnecessarily

Shih Tzus have the potential to bark for just any reason. They take it as a way of getting anything they want. You can stop this by ignoring your dog when you discover that the barking is unnecessary.

Let him bark. With time, he will give up on barking since it is not yielding the result he wants. Only attend to him when he stops barking.

Give him treats too. This will encourage him to stop barking.

shih tzu puppy licks tonuge out
A Shih Tzu puppy with its tongue out. Expect a Shih Tzu puppy to lick EVERYTHING!


There is no reason not to get that cute little Shih Tzu pup. All they need is a little training and you can live quietly and peacefully with this cute canine. Do not hesitate to call your vet whenever you observe strange recurring behaviors in your dog.

Keep your dog well fed and healthy at all times.