Yorkie vs Shih Tzu Breed Comparison (Photos)

If you’re considering a Yorkshire Terrier or a Shih Tzu, this article is for you! Both dogs make excellent pets, but they are very different. Today, we’ll explore the differences between Yorkie vs Shih Tzu.

yorkie vs shih tzu
Yorkie vs Shih Tzu Breed Comparison (Photos)

Yorkshire Terrier

Let’s start by learning more about Yorkshire Terriers, or Yorkies. These popular family dogs are well known and for a good reason! This section will cover the breed’s history, physical characteristics, behaviors and tendencies, and grooming needs. 

Yorkshire Terrier in the forest
Yorkshire Terrier is standing on a wood.

History of the Breed

The Yorkie became an officially recognized breed in 1874 in the U.K. However, this small and lovable companion wasn’t always known as a Yorkshire Terrier. These dogs originated from several other Terrier breeds and, before 1874, were sometimes referred to as Toy Terriers and Broken Scotch Terriers. 

Yorkies get their name today from the region of England where they originated. They were initially bred to manage rodent populations on residential properties and work sites. However, it was quickly discovered Yorkies were fearless enough to hunt larger, more aggressive prey.

Yorkies accompanied hunters to fearlessly corner foxes, rabbits, badgers, and other woodland creatures.

Just as hunters and landlords grew fonder of Yorkies for their hunting and ratting skills, so did ordinary families who began welcoming the small dogs into their homes. Children and adults alike came to adore these soft, sweet, silky companions. 

It didn’t take long for the Yorkie’s popularity to spread westward to the United States. A few short years after it was officially recognized in the U.K., the AKC welcomed the Yorkshire Terrier to its official registry in 1878. 

The Yorkie remains a popular choice for a family pet today. Yorkshire Terriers sit among the top 20 most popular dog breeds in the U.S. ranked at number 13; it’s not uncommon to meet a Yorkie at your local park or around your neighborhood.

Physical Characteristics 

While the most popular color combination is black and tan, several accepted coat colors are accepted for a purebred Yorkie. The following are possible color combinations for a Yorkshire Terrier.

  • Black and tan
  • Blue and gold
  • Blue and tan
  • Black and gold

While Yorkies can come in various sizes, the breed standard maxes out at 7 lbs. Typically the tail is docked. As a result, a Yorkie’s hair grows long and silky. 

are Yorkies hypoallergenic
Are Yorkies hypoallergenic? (Allergy and Yorkshire Terrier Guide)

Behaviors and Tendencies

Yorkies are known to be intelligent dogs that are very trainable and eager to please. Most Yorkies bond deeply with their owners and are friendly, pleasant, and competent. Despite being so small, Yorkies benefit from being well exercised.

An exercised dog is critical for mental, emotional, and physical well-being!

Yorkies display characteristics true to most terriers. Even though they come in a small package, Yorkies have a huge personality! All of their intelligence can translate into bossiness, feistiness, and stubbornness.

Yorkshire Terrier running
Yorkshire Terrier running in the park.

Grooming Needs

Yorkies need a fairly dedicated grooming regimen. Their coat is similar to human hair, so you must brush it often, especially if it is left to grow long. Also, keep your Yorkie’s hair around their eyes neat to not impair their vision. 

There are a variety of styles expert groomers can suggest for your Yorkie. Many Yorkies get a buzz in the warmer months to keep cool. Keep your Yorkie’s ears clean and neat.

They can be prone to infection. 

clippers for yorkie hair
Clippers for Yorkie hair make the coat grooming fast

Shih Tzu 

Now it’s the Shih Tzu’s turn! Let’s learn what makes this adorable small breed loved by so many families worldwide. We’ll review the breed’s history, physical characteristics, behaviors, and grooming needs.

Shih Tzu approaching
Shih Tzu approaching a stranger.

History of the Shih Tzu

Truly an ancient breed, there is evidence of the Shih Tzu breed as far back as 2,000 years ago. Because the Shih Tzu breed dates so far back, the origins of the breed are a bit unclear. It’s thought that the Shih Tzu may be a combination of the Lhasa Apso, Pekingese, and the Pug.

Historians believe monks created the breed in Tibet. 

Even though they were developed in Tibet, Shih Tzu’s are usually associated with Chinese culture and history. 

In traditional Chinese, their name translates to “Lion Dog.” Beloved by royalty, these dogs were bred inside palace walls, famously carried in royals’ sleeves, and even used as bed warmers. 

Shih Tzu’s have a long history of being used as gifts to royal or respected figures, which is how it’s thought that Shih Tzu’s made their appearance in the West. 

Now a famous dog found worldwide, Shih Tzus rank 22 on the most popular dog list for 2021. 

Physical Characteristics 

Shih Tzu’s come in a wide variety of colors and color combinations. Not all are accepted by the AKC, but here are some of the most common.

  • Black and white
  • Blue and white
  • Brindle
  • Gold and White
  • Liver and white

Shih Tzu’s also come with unique markings. Markings can be white, tan, or black. Some Shih Tzu’s even come with what is called a black mask. 

These small dogs weigh between 9 and 16 pounds and stand at a maximum of 11 inches. 

Shih Tzu in a hurry
Shih Tzu is in a hurry and needs to poop!

Behaviors and Tendencies

Sociable and goofy, Shih Tzus are known to be loving and affectionate dogs. Like all breeds, proper socialization at a young age is vital in developing these characteristics. Bred to be a companion and lap dog, Shih Tzus love nothing more than to cuddle up on the couch or play with children. 

While these dogs aren’t known to be especially easy to train, they react positively to praise because they are people dogs. Above all, these dogs are known to be silly and charming. They often learn how to get what they want and may get too many treats, hog the bed, and do other naughty but loveable behaviors. 

are Shih Tzu hypoallergenic
Are Shih Tzu hypoallergenic? What you need to know [Allergies]

Grooming Needs

Like Yorkies, a Shih Tzu’s hair grows long and fast. If a Shih Tzu is in your future, plan on regular trips to the groomer. They will also require regular brushing.

It’s important to brush daily around your Shih Tzu’s face, as this area is known for getting knotted very easily. 

Don’t have the time to spend brushing? Don’t worry; a Shih Tzu may still be a good fit! Simply ask for the “puppy cut” next time you swing by the groomers.

They’ll treat your pup to a close, even shave all over their body, which is an easy solution to the hassle of knotted, long hair!

Yorkie vs Shih Tzu Breed Comparison (Photos) 1

Which Breed is Right for You?

Now that we’ve learned a bit more about each breed, let’s go over a few questions to determine which breed of dog is best for you. 

Which Breed Is Best for Those Suffering From Allergies?

Both Yorkies and Shih Tzus meet the requirements to be classified as hypoallergenic dogs. Terriers are usually well known as a good option for those suffering from allergies, but Shih Tzu’s are hypoallergenic as well!

So, if you’re an allergy sufferer, you can’t go wrong with a Yorkie or a Shih Tzu.

yorkie shakes out water from its coat
A Yorkshire Terrier caught in the rain shakes out its coat.

Which Breed Is Best for Small Children?

This question comes down to how well the dog has been socialized. However, a Shih Tzu may be your best option based on breed typicalities. These dogs were bred to be extremely comfortable around people as companion dogs.

They are known to be especially great around kids of all ages. 

Shih Tzu and owner
The owner commands Shih Tzu to do his “thing.”

Which Dog Is Best for an Active Lifestyle?

While all dogs require varying levels of exercise, Yorkies win this round. While Shih Tzus are typically content being your couch potato partner, Yorkies were bred to hunt. 

They are an active breed that enjoys spending time outside. Even though they’re small, they’re known to be great hiking companions and excel at agility competitions! 

Yorkie playing outside
A happy Yorkie plays in the grass.

Which Dog Is Best for Apartment Living?

Your lifestyle and your specific living environment will determine the best dog for you. For example, Yorkies tend to be barkers and are used by some people as guard dogs! 

However, barking and apartment living do not always go hand in hand. Shih Tzu’s would probably be a better choice for apartment living. They tend to be easy-going, non-territorial, and don’t make much noise. 

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

Which Breed Is Healthier?

Health will depend on your specific dog, and it’s essential only to purchase dogs from reputable breeders. However, Yorkies tend to be healthier dogs in general

Because Shih Tzus are heavier and with short legs, they tend to develop joint issues, which may lead to arthritis. Ear and eye problems are also common among Shih Tzus. 

Yorkie vs Shih Tzu: Final Thoughts

When deciding between Yorkie vs Shih Tzu, you’ll learn that both of these small dogs make excellent companions. Take some time to evaluate your lifestyle and what you are searching for in a dog.

After learning more about the breeds, we hope this article has helped determine which breed is best for you and your family.