Shih Tzus Are One Of The Best Dogs for Cats

by Stuart | Last Updated:   May 13, 2021
Always consult a licensed and local veterinarian for canine medical advice, the content published on this website is for general educational purposes only. If you make a purchase through links from this website, we may get a small share of the sale from Amazon and other similar affiliate programs.

If you own a Shih Tzu and are thinking about introducing a feline member to your household, you might be wondering whether or not Shih Tzus get along well with cats. 

Shih Tzus are beautiful and adorable and are bred to be companion animals. Shih Tzus are known to get along well with everyone, including cats and all other types of animals. 

In fact, Shih Tzus are considered to be one of the most cat-friendly dog breeds you can get. Given the right introductory period, your Shih Tzu and cat can co-exist very peacefully.

However, keep in mind that every dog is individual and a lot will depend on the dogs’ personalities. A Shih Tzu’s personality, genetics, training, and upbringing will make a huge difference in how they interact with cats.

It also makes a huge difference in how you introduce your Shih Tzu and cat to each other and ensuring you take the right amount of time is key.

Shih Tzu dog and cat sitting on a pink blanket with a hand stroking the cats throat.

Why Do Shih Tzus Get Along Well With cats?

Here are some reasons why Shih Tzus and cats mostly get along well.

Shih Tzu is a friendly dog

Shih Tzus have a very sweet and friendly temperament. They are affectionate, happy, and outgoing house dogs. These charming little lap dogs love nothing more than to follow their people from room to room. 

Shih Tzus make great family pets who get along well with cats and other animals. Early socialization is necessary to develop this trusting temperament. Most Shih Tzus tend to be quite laid back and are incredibly playful.

Shih Tzu has a low prey drive

Since Shih Tzus were bred as companion dogs, they inherently have a very low prey drive. They have been bred for hundreds of years just to be pets. They do not see smaller animals as prey, making them ideal to get along with cats. 

Shih Tzus are more likely to see the housecat as a pack member. You can enjoy going for walks with your Shih Tzu without him wanting to chase or stare down passing cats!

Shih Tzu is non-aggressive 

A Shih Tzu’s purpose in life is to love its owner. This breed is considered very happy-go-lucky and is typically not an aggressive dog. Although non-aggressive, Shih Tzus are always aware of their surroundings and are ready to alert their owners without being nippy or possessive.

When Shih Tzus are raised with other pets, they generally get along well with them. They are even a good candidate for visiting off-leash dog parks. Shih Tzu’s aren’t typically chosen as guard dogs for these and other reasons.

Shih Tzu Puppies and Cats

Some cats find a new bundle of energy (puppy) very unbearable to be around. This is especially true for older cats. A bouncy and energetic Shih Tzu puppy might be a bit much for your elderly cat to handle.

Shih Tzu puppies are extremely moldable. These little charmers can live with cats and kittens in harmony, but puppies should be closely supervised at first. With training and care, you can help to fit in perfectly with your lifestyle and family. 

Signs of a Shih Tzu Living Peacefully With Cats

There are a couple of ways you can tell if your Shih Tzu can live peacefully with a feline companion. Here are some signs that show your Shih Tzu is living peacefully with a cat:

  • Your Shih Tzu will show signs of submission and calmness around the car
  • The Shih Tzu walks by the cat without barking or growling
  • The Shih Tzu doesn’t chase the cat 
  • Both are eating food at the same time with harmony
  • Both are sleeping near each other
  • The Shih Tzu wags its tail when the cat is around
  • The Shih Tzu is playing gently with the cat

They don’t have to be acting like best buddies all the time. If both your pets are ignoring each other, it means they aren’t attacking each other and are peacefully coexisting without conflict.

Bonds between Shih Tzus and cats might take time to form. In order to get there, there has to be basic trust and an ease in being around each other as well as the basic temperament (on both sides) for them to form a bond.

Helpful Tips to Keep the Peace

If your Shih Tzu is showing hyper behaviour, this is not due to aggression and probably due to lack of socialization. Their reactivity with cats is normally due to excitement, rather than aggression.  

There are several useful tips that you can do to help ensure that your Shih Tzu and kitty get along the best they can.

Establish a safe space for your cat:

Once you have decided to bring a Shih Tzu home, the first thing you will need to do is prepare a safe space for your cat. Move all of your cat’s essentials including their bed, food, water over there. The same would be true if you are introducing the cat to the household second.

Keep the cat’s litter box out of reach from your Shih Tzu:

Keep the cat litter in a place where your dog cannot access it. Coprophagia (the drive to consume feces) is a common problem with dogs, and this extends to dogs eating cat feces as well. The cat litter box should be placed up high, out of reach of your Shih Tzu, but somewhere easily accessible for your cat.

Separate their food at feeding time

Don’t let the animals near each other when the other is eating. Do not allow the kitty to get close to your Shih Tzu when it is eating. Your Shih Tzu needs to feel as if its food is not threatened when it eats.

Do not leave them alone in the beginning 

Until you know exactly how your animals behave together, it might be best to not leave them alone in the house together.  If you do, at least make sure they are in places where they will not be able to get near each other. It may be helpful to keep them in separate rooms until you return home.

Secure your Shih Tzu on a leash

During all of the introductory meetings, make sure your Shih Tzu is on a leash and that the cat has an escape route. Many kitties will scratch if they feel threatened. Allow the two to sniff around and walk near each other. Keep a close eye on their interactions and understand their dynamic.

Shih Tzu puppy playing outside and surrounded by grass. Room for text.

What Dog Breeds Are Not Good With Cats? 

Cats and dogs can co-exist in many circumstances, but this is not automatically true for all dog breeds. Members of the Sporting Group are friendly with cats. On the other hand, a fast-moving cat might trigger those predative reactions in terriers. Canines of the Herding Group have a strong desire to herd anything that relocates, including cats.

There are dog breeds that have high prey drive and high predatory tendencies. Let’s have a look at the dog breeds that are not good with cats:

  • Afghan Hound
  • Airedale terrier
  • Akita Inu
  • Shiba Inu
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Basenji
  • Beagle
  • Border Collie
  • Bullmastiff
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Greyhound
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Jindo
  • Samoyed
  • Siberian Husky
  • Weimaraner
  • Whippet
  • Yorkshire Terrier

We cannot really generalize on which dog breeds are not suitable for feline households as there are always exceptions. When Kitty and Fido are raised together from a very young age, they can often happily live together and even become best buddies.

Final Thoughts

If you are thinking about having a cat and Shih Tzu live under one roof, you will want to take your time to do it properly. As a good Shih Tzu owner, you are responsible for early socialization and training of your dog (as you are with your cat).

In most households, cats and Shih Tzus get along perfectly well with each other or at least safely and happily ignore each other. The idea that Kitties and Fidos are destined to be lifelong enemies is a stereotype from cartoons and movies.

If you have any questions, please do let us know. Until next time everyone!

Stuart loves blogging about his hobbies and passions. Sir Doggie is a place for him to share what he learns while being a pet parent. Click here to read more.