The American Kennel Club, or AKC, states that the Shih Tzu is currently the 20th most popular purebred dog breed in the United States out of nearly 200 registered breeds.
This tells you that the Shih Tzu is a very popular pet dog!
As with so many things in life, demand can have a direct influence on the price you pay. But demand can also have some unforeseen consequences you need to know about as you shop for your Shih Tzu.
In this article, learn what to expect to spend for a purebred Shih Tzu puppy from a reputable dog breeder.
How Much Is a Shih Tzu
Even a quick internet survey shows that Shih Tzu puppies may cost anywhere from $500 to upwards of $5,000.
But what you really want to know is how much a healthy, well-bred Shih Tzu costs. In today’s market, it is reasonable to expect to pay at least $1,000 for a pet-quality purebred Shih Tzu puppy.
For budget planning, you can also expect to be on a waiting list that requires you to put down a deposit of at least $100 to reserve your puppy.
Learn About Some Common Factors That Influence Shih Tzu Puppy Price
In this short YouTube video, you can learn what to watch out for when shopping for your Shih Tzu puppy.
You can also learn about the major dog breed registries and how a particular registry can influence Shih Tzu puppy prices.
Why Is It Challenging to Find Shih Tzu Puppies to Buy
When you are shopping for a purebred dog that is as universally popular as the Shih Tzu, prospective dog owners are typically willing to travel long distances to find their puppy.
With such high demand in the marketplace, aspiring Shih Tzu owners may stay on a waiting list for weeks or months until a puppy is available.
Many reputable breeders will put out a waiting list registration when a new litter of puppies is expected and also require a deposit to reserve one of the puppies.
And active breeders will typically hold back the puppies that show the highest show potential and only release a few puppies to potential owners.
The puppies that are released to new homes may be show quality or pet quality, which can impact the price. And typically, all puppies released to new homes will come with a neuter/spay requirement or an extra fee to waive this.
We will talk more about the difference between show quality and pet quality Shih Tzu puppy categories in the next section here.
Show Quality Versus Pet Quality Shih Tzu Puppies
If you have never heard the terms show quality and pet quality before in regards to puppies, these terms don’t mean that one puppy is going to make a better canine companion than another puppy.
So let’s define each term now.
Show quality Shih Tzu puppy
The term “show quality” basically relates to conformation or puppy appearance.
As the American Kennel Club Shih Tzu official breed standard outlines, any AKC-registered breeder or owner who wants to show their dog in AKC-sponsored dog contests must abide by a very strict set of rules.
These rules explain what an ideal Shih Tzu dog should look like and act like.
The closer a Shih Tzu puppy comes to the ideals of conformation/appearance and temperament, the less likely that puppy is to be released for rehoming. The breeder will likely keep the puppy for their own breeding program.
In certain cases, a breeder may release a show-quality Shih Tzu puppy to a new owner. This will raise the price of that puppy and likely come with either a neuter/spay agreement or an increased fee to waive the neuter/spay requirement.
Pet quality Shih Tzu puppy
A pet quality Shih Tzu puppy is a puppy that may have a perfectly great temperament and personality but lacks the conformation to excel in the show ring or contribute to a future breeding program.
Pet quality puppies, where available, may be offered for a lower price than is typical for the breeder’s puppies.
Pet quality puppies are typically always sold with a neuter/spay agreement requirement.
The Price Range for Shih Tzu Puppies
So what can you expect to pay for a purebred, AKC-registered Shih Tzu puppy from a reputable dog breeder?
The best way to answer this question is to look at what active Shih Tzu puppy breeders are charging.
Sunnybelle Shih Tzus currently charges $3,500 per puppy with a $100 deposit.
Tiny Tots Shih Tzu kennel starts prices at $3,000 per puppy.
Imperial Shih Tzu Puppies prices are even higher, starting at around $5,000 and going up to more than $9,000.
And Tuscany Shih Tzu starts pricing at $3,500 plus a $500 deposit.
So with this survey of pricing, you can see that purchasing an AKC-registered purebred Shih Tzu puppy is a major investment – and one that does not include any of the supplies you will need for your new puppy or the veterinary care.
Why Are Shih Tzu Puppies So Expensive
At this point, you might be wondering why Shih Tzu puppy prices are so incredibly expensive!
We touched on this question briefly in the introduction to this article. It has to do with demand. When a dog breed is as popular as the Shih Tzu is, there are often a lot more people who want puppies than there are breeders producing those puppies.
So this is one factor that can drive up the price of the puppies.
But it is not the only factor, as Wendy Lee’s Shih Tzu Heaven points out.
Breeding and whelping tiny dogs like Shih Tzus can also present special breeding challenges, as the American Shih Tzu Club highlights.
These challenges can increase the need for veterinary care for the mother dog and the puppies, which drives up the puppy pricing still further.
A reputable Shih Tzu breeder will always provide a full immunization record and an initial guarantee of good health as well as a take-back guarantee (if the puppy doesn’t work out) and proof of pedigree and AKC registration.
All of this represents up-front costs that the breeder had invested in the puppy long before they knew they would have a buyer for that puppy.
While it is easy to look at dog breeding as a profitable enterprise, the knowledgeable and experienced dog breeder will quickly tell you it isn’t.
What About That Great Deal You Saw for a Shih Tzu Puppy
Let’s say you found an advertisement online for purebred, AKC-registered Shih Tzu puppies for $500 each. This is a lot less than $1,000 or $3,500!
But sometimes you get what you pay for. Shih Tzus are flat-faced dogs with a short, cute, and problematic muzzle shape called brachycephalic.
Because of this short muzzle shape, these dogs can have many health problems related to their respiratory system, vision, and gastrointestinal health.
The United Federation for Animal Welfare has an excellent overview of the most severe problems a brachycephalic muzzle shape can cause for a Shih Tzu.
If the high price tag of a purebred Shih Tzu puppy from a reputable breeder feels out of reach, you might consider adopting an adult Shih Tzu from a rescue. Rehoming fees typically start at $100, and often you get basic dog supplies for free.