The Shih Tzu is a sturdy little dog with a small muzzle and normally has large dark brown eyes. The Chinese have described their head shapes as “owl head” and “lion head”, and their mouth as “frog mouth”. They have a soft and long double coat that will tangle and mat easily if not brushed at least every 2 or 3 days. A Shih Tzu should stand no more than 26.7 cm (101⁄2″) at the withers and with an ideal weight of 4.0 to 7.5 kg (9 to 17 lb). Floppy ears are covered with long fur, and the heavily furred tail is carried curled over the back. The coat may be of any color, though white and with blazes of grey are frequently seen. A very noticeable feature is the underbite, which is required in the breed standard.
The traditional long silky coat, which tends to reach the floor, requires daily brushing to avoid tangles. Because of their long coat and fast-growing hair, regular grooming is necessary and important, which may be expensive and should be taken into account when considering adopting one of this breed. Often, the coat is clipped short to simplify care, but the coat still requires daily brushing. For conformation showing, the coat must be left in its natural state, though trimming for neatness around the feet and anus is allowed. The shorter cut is typically called a “puppy cut” or a “teddy bear cut” when the puppy cut is accompanied by a fuller, rounder face, resembling a cute and cuddly stuffed animal.