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How To Find A Puppy

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How Do You Find A Shih Tzu Puppy?

The only place I would ever buy a pure bred dog from is from a reputable, Show Breeder. Period.  Regardless of whether you are interested in showing or not, is unimportant. Not every puppy from a show litter is "show quality". So, if you are not interested in showing the dog, do ask for a pet quality puppy. But you do want the same genetic pool as the show puppy. This has nothing to do with being stuffy, or snooty, or anything else that "show dogs" seem to connote. It has to do with the health and well being of your puppy. Know the genetic background. Is this a 100% guarantee that your pup will never have a health issue? Of course not. But, it does give you a better chance of having a more sound dog. Genetics really need to be traced back to at least four generations. A reputable show breeder will have that info and know the background of the dogs in the pedigree. Once you have read various Breed books and joined various Tzu boards, you will have a fairly good idea of which genetic lines are good, and which are not so good. If you are unsure, the best way to find out is to ask breeders, show handlers, members on boards, etc. Pure bred dogs come with a host of health issues that many mixed breeds do not have. Know what those predispositions are, and how best to avoid them (if possible). 

If you are not interested in a pure bred Shih Tzu with a documented genetic background, then please do consider ADOPTING from Shih Tzu Rescue.  There are many loveable dogs there who do need a home. Many of them are pure bred, but you will not have the papers nor genetic documentation. However, if you are not interested in showing the dog, Rescue is a wonderful place to find a pet to love!


Don't: (and I do mean DO NOT!)
-buy from a PET STORE!
Please do not make this mistake. NO reputable show breeder would ever sell to a pet store. NONE! I don't care that they offer "akc papers". That means little, unfortunately. Papers can be forged. Papers can be sold. There are some DIS reputable show breeders who do allow "pet buyers" to breed! ONLY dogs purchased on a "show contract" and those that have become "champions" in Nationally recognized Breed Clubs (AKC, CKC, etc) should ever  be bred. If a dog is not good enough to Show, then he should not be bred! Yes, that is my opinion. The only suppliers to pet stores are: Puppy Mills, and Backyard Breeders (BYB). Do NOT support these businesses by purchasing that "cute puppy in the window". Yes, it is heartbreaking to think that puppy may be enduring cruelty at that petstore (many go unvaccinated, or over vaccinated, under fed, no water, no medical, etc!!!), but every purchase at a petstore is MORE money in the hands of BYBs and Puppy Mills. To fight this injustice, do NOT purchase from petstores, but rather join in the fight to banish pet store selling of dogs and cats, so that we can put Puppy Millers and Backyard Breeders out of business, once and for all!  Puppy Mills are notorious for CRUEL, INHUMANE treatment of dogs and other small animals. Crippled dogs are forced to breed, dogs are beaten, CAGED, left in horrible filthy conditions. The Amish in PA are notorious puppy millers with some "dog farms" CAGING up to 500+ dogs! One case involved a Shih Tzu whose leg was bitten off by a Pitbull in the next cage! The Shih Tzu lay dying, surrounded by her quiverring, scared puppies and mate! SICK! ok. This is leading to a rant. As you can see, I HATE puppymillers and backyard breeders. So, please do NOT give your money to pet stores! Either go to a reputable show breeder, OR go to a Shih Tzu Rescue Organization. Links are on the Resources page on this site.


First research the breed, by reading various Shih Tzu Breed books.
-Join as many "Shih Tzu" breed "dog boards" as you can. Read through the archives, then do post questions. Learn as much as you can before you buy a Shih Tzu puppy! 
--Do go to as many AKC Conformation Shows as you can, and watch the Shih Tzus being shown. Learn what the correct movement and body type for the breed is. Meet with the handlers AFTER the show (not before! as they are busy prepping), and at least introduce yourself and ask for their business cards. Contact them later, as they are most likely in a hurry even after the show.
-Do purchase the Show brochure, and mark down which dogs you liked in the Ring, and why. Flag those as the breeders to contact. Usually, breeder info is listed in the back of the book, but rarely are their tel no listed. So, DO rely on getting a business card at the show.

-Do contact the handlers you meet at the shows. Ask who the breeder of the dog was that they were showing.
-Do contact more than just 2 breeders. You want to speak with several.
-DO visit the breeder's kennels. Pay attention to detail. Don't be suckered in by a "before the visit cleaning".  You want to see dogs that are maintained as "part of the family" all the time. And it is important that the dogs be well cared for, all the time.

The main things to consider in a Breeder, are:

1-rapore. I cannot stress this enough. You have to feel comfortable with the breeder. You want a breeder who wants to remain in close contact with you in the future. If a breeder is not friendly, and very willing to give you the information you are seeking, RUN AWAY! Do not walk! Genetics is only one part of the equation. It is not a health guarantee. So, you want to make sure you choose a reputable breeder, who does offer a health guarantee/warantee, and who is willing to be there if you ever need any help.

2- Reputable! This is tied for first place. You want a reputable breeder, and though not all in the Show Circuit may be, most are. Do not just rely on "breeder lists" given by the local or even National Shih Tzu Clubs, though that is a good place to start (ask the National Club for their breeder list). You need to see and meet these people at the shows, in their homes, and speak a few times over the phone. Get to know them. Talk to other breeders about one another. A reputable breeder will be honest, not catty. Reputable breeders are not in the business to make money. Most actually lose money. They breed because they have a love for the dogs, and they strive to improve upon the breed standard. They want their dogs to go to a loving home. So, a reputable breeder is not going to bad-mouth a competitor, just for the sake of selling a puppy of their own. They have too much to lose. Look for objective honesty. Make sure you see the dam and sire of the litter. If the dam and sire are not the epitomy of health, chances are that the puppies won't be either. Check the genetic line carefully. Again, post on boards, go to shows, ask questions.

3-location (being close to a breeder allows you to be able to seek help, if you need it. Also, some breeders will kennel your dog if you are traveling. Being an hour or less away, makes this much easier!) IF you are showing the dog, then location should not be a factor.

A dog is not an ornament. It is a living being. It is unfair to buy a pure bred dog, without having in depth knowledge as to what the breed specific issues are (grooming, HEALTH, nutrition, training issues, behavioural issues, etc). Do your homework before buying a dog, of any breed.

Cost of a Pure Bred Shih Tzu Puppy?
This is hard to gauge. It mainly depends on the lineage of the puppy (genetic health background, testing, area of the USA purchased from, etc). Also, the more reknowned the breeder in the Show Circuit, the higher the price, usually. But not always. So, it all depends. A pet quality puppy from a show breeder (there are also show quality pups in the litter) will obviously command a lesser price. Usually the price difference is at least $400 between pet and show quality. An avg price for a pet quality Shih Tzu puppy is about $600-800. A show quality Shih Tzu puppy is about an avg price of $800-1400, but as with everything, prices vary. This is just an avg, based on what prices I was quoted by various show breeders, and I checked quite a few (3 yrs ago).  A pet store puppy should NEVER NEVER NEVER command more than a couple hundred dollars MAX, and that is way overpriced, when you consider they buy these puppies for next to nothing! And "nothing" is the quality of life that those pet store puppies and their mommies and daddies have had in pet mills. Yes, some backyard breeders may be good people, with the best of intentions. However, the point still remains: the whole purpose of DOG BREEDING should be to improve upon the Breed Standard! It should not be to "make more dogs"! One has to only visit the SPCA to see the horrible fated result of "breeding dogs just to breed more dogs". It's sad, cruel, and needless. So, again, do NOT purchase a pet store dog, or one from a puppy mill, or one from a backyard breeder. Dogs NOT being "shown", should be spayed/neutered. Don't let anyone profit from a "mistake". (yes, ranting again, I know).


Questions to Ask A Breeder Before You Buy:

Types of Puppy Contracts:
Pet Contract
Show Contract
Health Guarantee

American Shih  Tzu Club
AKC Website
Westminster Kennel Club site
Breeder Questions



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