Are Shih Tzu Smart? The Untold Truth About Your Furry Friend’s IQ!

Are Shih Tzu Smart

Get ready to discover the fascinating world of Shih Tzu intelligence! If you’re a proud owner of these adorable pups, you’ve probably wondered just how smart they are.

This blog post will examine their unique skills and abilities and share tips on raising an intelligent and well-adjusted Shih Tzu.

We’ll also address common misconceptions about their stubbornness and independence and highlight why they are great companions. So, let’s dive in and discover the intelligence and charm of the Shih Tzu breed!

Are Shih Tzu Smart?

Yes, Shih Tzus are recognized as intelligent dogs, skilled in problem-solving. They understand human emotions uniquely and are typically easy to train. However, intelligence levels can differ among individual dogs within the breed. Keep in mind that Shih Tzus can also exhibit stubbornness on occasion.

Evaluating Shih Tzu Intelligence

According to, Shih Tzu ranks 70 out of 79 in the most intelligent dog breeds list. 

It is part of the sixth tier, the least effective working dogs, who may learn a new trick after more than 100 repetitions and obey around 30 percent of the time.

Specific skills and abilities that showcase Shih Tzu’s intelligence


Absolutely! Shih Tzu is brilliant, which makes them easy to train. Kids can quickly teach these lovable, friendly, and charming dogs, who are also fantastic therapy dogs. 

Regarding trainability, Shih Tzus are natural-born companions and quick learners who are always eager to learn new commands and tricks to impress their owners. They respond best to positive reinforcement, like treats and praise.


Shih Tzus are natural puzzle solvers and love nothing more than playing with toys that challenge their intellect. 

You can often find them gleefully tinkering away with Kong toys, balls with holes drilled into them, designed to enhance their problem-solving skills. 

Seeing these pups engaged and having fun while exercising their cognitive abilities is heartwarming.


Shih Tzus are remarkably adaptable dogs, and this trait shines through in their ability to adjust quickly to new environments. I witnessed this quality in my furry companion when we moved into a new apartment last year. 

Within days, he had already familiarized himself with the layout without my assistance. Seeing how quickly he settled in and made himself at home in the new space was impressive.

Evaluating Shih Tzu Intelligence

Social Intelligence

Shih Tzus have superior social intelligence, allowing them to connect deeply with humans. 

While dogs may be unable to read emotions through facial expressions like humans, Shih Tzus have a natural curiosity that drives them to learn about people and their feelings. 

Even if a puppy hasn’t been around many people before adoption, they catch on and learn quickly. 

It’s heartwarming to see how these furry friends can connect with humans and discover what makes us unique.

Maximize Shih Tzu Intelligence

In this section, we’ll provide six essential steps and tips to ensure your Shih Tzu grows into an intelligent and well-adjusted companion.

Showing Your Shih Tzu Some Love

Physical manipulation involves handling your Shih Tzu in various ways, such as gently touching its paws, ears, and tail. 

This helps your dog become more comfortable with being touched and prepares them for grooming and veterinary visits. Make this a daily routine to help your Shih Tzu become more trusting and adaptable.

Socialize your Shih Tzu

Socialization is crucial for any breed, but it’s essential for Shih Tzus, who can be prone to shyness or aggression if not properly socialized. 

Expose your dog to new people, environments, and other animals from a young age. This will help your Shih Tzu develop confidence, reduce anxiety, and improve overall intelligence.

Why Starting Early with Shih Tzu Training is Key

Begin training your Shih Tzu as soon as they come into your home. 

Start with basic obedience commands, like “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” Consistent, positive reinforcement is critical when training Shih Tzus. 

This early training will lay a strong foundation for more advanced skills later.

Keep Your Shih Tzu Engaged

To keep your Shih Tzu’s mind sharp, consistently expose them to new challenges and problem-solving tasks. 

This can include puzzle toys, interactive games, or activities like hide and seek—these types of mental stimulation help to keep your dog’s brain active and promote overall cognitive development.

Teaching Your Shih Tzu New Tricks

As your Shih Tzu masters basic obedience skills, gradually introduce new tricks and commands to keep them engaged and challenged. 

Remember to be patient and consistent with your training approach, always using positive reinforcement. 

This will help your dog become more intelligent and build a bond between you and your pet.

Positive Reinforcement for a Happy Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus thrive on praise and positive reinforcement. Whenever your dog completes a task or exhibits desirable behavior, shower them with praise and rewards. 

This will encourage them to continue learning and performing well, ultimately contributing to their intelligence and overall well-being.

Shih Tzu Characteristics

Shih Tzu dogs are known for their happy and lively personalities. They are friendly and get along well with people of all ages and other pets. 

It’s uncommon to find a Shih Tzu with a snappy temperament, as most are sweet and easygoing. 

They make great companions and are famous for families looking for lovable pets.

Understanding Canine Intelligence

Understanding Canine Intelligence

Dogs are intelligent animals categorized into three primary types of intelligence: instinctive, adaptive, and working/obedience. We will explore each type of intelligence and how it contributes to the unique abilities of dogs.

Instinctive Intelligence – Natural Abilities

Instinctive intelligence refers to a dog’s innate abilities and behaviors predetermined by breeding. These traits are deeply ingrained in their genes, shaping their skills and talents. 

For example, herding dogs are naturally skilled at rounding up livestock, while hunting dogs possess a strong prey drive and exceptional scent-tracking abilities. 

This type of intelligence is breed-specific and has been carefully cultivated through generations of selective breeding.

Adaptive Intelligence – Problem-Solving

Adaptive intelligence is a dog’s ability to learn from its environment and experiences. This type of intelligence enables dogs to solve problems, adapt to new situations, and display empathy towards their human companions. 

A dog with high adaptive intelligence might quickly learn to navigate obstacles, understand the meaning behind different human gestures, or even find innovative ways to communicate their needs to their owners. 

Adaptive intelligence is not breed-specific and can vary significantly among individual dogs.

Working and Obedience Intelligence – Learning and Performing Tasks

Working and obedience intelligence refers to a dog’s ability to learn, retain, and perform specific tasks or commands. 

This type of intelligence is commonly trained through obedience training and dog sports, like agility or competitive obedience. 

Certain breeds, like Border Collies and Poodles, are known for their exceptional working and obedience intelligence, making them highly sought-after for competitive events and specialized tasks like search and rescue.

Addressing Common Myths and Misconceptions

Shih Tzu is known for its independent-mindedness, which can lead to stubborn behavior. However, this does not mean these dogs are unintelligent or incapable of learning new things. 

Many Shih Tzus are brilliant and love to learn new tricks–they don’t like being told what to do! 

To ensure your Shih Tzu is obedient, it’s crucial to praise them for their positive actions rather than punishing them for their mistakes, as this may only increase their stubbornness.

One common misconception about the Shih Tzu is that because they’re so naturally stubborn and independent-minded, they must also be less intelligent than other breeds; however, this isn’t true! 


Shih Tzus are brilliant dogs and are more than just cute. They’re also affectionate, playful, and loyal. If you have a Shih Tzu at home, it’s essential to recognize their intelligence and their need for mental stimulation. 

If you don’t provide them with enough stimulation, your dog could become bored or destructive–and no one wants that!

Shih Tzus are sometimes known for being stubborn; however, this is sometimes good because it means they will only do something if they want to (which is different from other breeds). 

Stubbornness can sometimes lead to independence in certain situations–a trait that many owners appreciate about their pets.

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