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The shih tzu dog is a very cute dog and looks pretty similar to the pekingese. People not familiar with both breeds easily confuse them for the breed they are most familiar with.

With that said, the shih tzu dog, compared to the pekingese – which is the 93rd most popular breed of dog, is pretty common – they are more widely owned and popular – the 20th mpst popular dog breed, causing it to come with almost double the price tag. So what other differences are there between the two breeds?

Life Span

Pekingese generally live for 12-14 years while Shih Tzus for 10-16 years.

face of a pekingese dogshih tzu face
Pekingese have short snouts and broad & flat faces, with wrinkles and folds. Their facial hair (mustache, eyebrows) do not grow long and their fur will generally grow in a way as to not cover their faces. Shih Tzus on the other hand, can grow their facial hair. Their faces are also not as flat as Pekingese being broad & round and having a little bit more of a snout and nose. They do not have wrinkles and folds.


Pekingese are heftier on the front and lighter on the back, giving them a pear-shaped buff look when their fur is trimmed short. Shih Tzus have a more uniform body, with a broad and deep chest.


The front legs of a Pekingese are short and bowed, with feet that turn out a little bit. It’s rear legs are thinner, closer together, and parallel with feet that point forward. Shih Tzus have straight legs and are somewhat balanced when comparing the front and rear legs.

Coat / Fur
pekingese dog face coat fur legsshih tzu dog face coat fur
Photos by ludovic (CC BY-SA 2.0) and Treefiddy (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Both dog breeds have have long, flowing fur, with undercoats. Both require a high amount of grooming. Pekingese have denser hair and shed moderately. Shih Tzus have silkier fur and shed minimally. With that said, both dogs, if kept with their hair long, are high maintenance and require grooming every day.

Activity Levels

Pekingese are not active dogs – they have a low level of energy. They do like playing indoors and A few daily walks, they only need to exercise occasionally. Shih Tzus are more active and require some exercise, having a medium amount of energy.


Both can be hard to train and teach tricks. Pekingese are independent, while Shih Tzus will respond better.

Weight & Height

Pekes normally can go up to 14 pounds and 6-9 inches tall, while Shih Tzus range from 9-16 pounds and 8-11 inches tall.

brown cute pekingese doghappy playful black and white shih tzu dog
Photos by galawebdesign (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) and Lovisa (CC BY 2.0).

Pekingese are generally affectionate, loyal, courageous, & regal in manner. They are good with older children, but may or may not have some difficulty with other dogs or pets. Shih Tzus are outgoing, affectionate, cheerful, playful and charming. They are good with children and handle other dogs and pets better than pekes.


Pekingese puppies are more affordable to take home than Shih Tzus by half, with the average puppy price at around $500 vs the average shih tzu puppy price of $950. With that said said, be careful when purchasing a variation of these dogs that are smaller than usual. These can be referred to as “sleeve Pekingese”, “teacup shih tzu”, or “imperial shih tzu”. When they are smaller than nature intended, they have more difficulty adjusting to difficult temperatures, can have weaker bones, issues when breeding, and are generally more prone to medical issues.


As you can see, these two dog breeds, though similar, have a lot of differences between them. What is clear is that they are both great pets to have and do well even in smaller houses and apartments. Consider your lifestyle and family and choose wisely.

* Banner by PeCet (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) and Sam Saunders (CC BY-SA 2.0), merged.