The name “Shih Tzu” translates into little lion, but this is no ferocious, King of the Jungle dog trying to compensate for its small size with an aggressive attitude. Shih Tzus are famous for their happy, sociable personalities, and heart-melting appearance. No question, this breed has a lock on charming.
But, you may be wondering if this winning personality carries over from their interactions with people, and do shih tzus get along with other pets in the house, such as cats, rabbits, hamsters or guinea pigs?
In general, the Shih Tzu has a tolerant disposition, therefore it gets along well with most pets, such as cats and rabbits, but hamsters and guinea pigs are another matter. Despite their friendly temperament, there are some animals that a Shih Tzu should be kept away from or introduced to with great care, and hamsters and guinea pigs are two of them.
Do Shih Tzus Get Along With Cats?
Unlike other dogs, Shih Tzus are great with cats, and the two species can live together amicably. As a matter of fact, in general, the happy, outgoing Shih Tzus are thought to be one of the most cat-friendly dog breeds out there.
Shih Tzus and cats can live together contentedly. However, just how well they deal with each other will depend on several factors, such as how they are first introduced, and the temperament of both animals.
Here’s how to safely and pleasantly go about having your Shih Tzu and cat meet for the first time:
- Introducing Your Shih Tzu and Cat
You should attempt to ensure that the introduction proceeds slowly, if at all possible. Just because they are lively and full of curiosity, don’t expect your Shih Tzu to become best buddies with a cat right from the start. Give it time.
Allow you Shih Tzu to approach the cat with caution, as they are so devoted to their owners and family that they might become jealous of the interloper.
A cat, no matter how docile, can inflict serious injuries on dogs, especially puppies. Eye injuries resulting from cat scratches are among the most common injuries that dogs experience.
- Supervision of Shih Tzu and Cats
You have to exercise discretion at this time and never permit your dog to meet a new cat unsupervised.
Regardless of how gentle of temperament your Shih Tzu may be, this first meeting may not go well, and you need to be right there in case there is a problem.
- It’s Better to Introduce a Shih Tzu Puppy to a Cat
While adult Shih Tzus have warm and happy personalities, the best age to introduce your Shih Tzu to a new cat is when they are still a puppy. Puppies are relatively easy to train and are more likely to quickly adjust to having a new member of the family than an adult dog.
Plus, since cats like to establish dominance and leadership, a puppy is more likely to be flexible and adapt to this treatment.
If you’re curious to learn more about why Shih Tzus and cats tend to get along and how to make sure they live together peacefully, be sure to read my article all about Shih Tzus and cats here.
Do Shih Tzus Get Along With Rabbits?
The Shih Tzu has a gentle temperament and can usually get along just fine with most pets, including rabbits, as well as other dogs. The advantage that a Shih Tzu has over other dogs having to adjust to such a situation is that they were bred to be lovable. So So a Shih Tzu can live with a rabbit in perfect harmony and be best friends.
The key is in how you first introduce them. You need to proceed slowly.
Dogs are natural predators, and rabbits are prey, however, with a Shih Tzu you have an advantage, because this dog was bred to be a companion animal above all else. They do not generally chase prey. Their mission in life is to be with their human family and to find a comfortable lap to lay on. They have a very low prey instinct.
Here Is A 5 Step Guide To Introduce Your Shih Tzu And Rabbit Safely
So, this is how you should proceed to introduce your Shih Tzu to your new rabbit in 5 simple steps:
- Don’t begin by just putting dog and rabbit together. First, allow your dog to become accustomed to the rabbit while it is still in its cage. Simply place the cage on the floor and see how your Shih Tzu reacts to the new member of the family.
- Reward good behavior – Be sure and praise your dog for behaving in a calm manner, and immediately correct aggressive or overly excited behavior. Curiosity is fine, as long as the rabbit is not frightened needlessly.
- Have your Shih Tzu lie down – It may take a little while for your Shih Tzu to manage to maintain their calm around this newcomer, but that’s okay. Once they are calm around the rabbit while it is still in the cage, tell your dog to lie down next to the cage on his side. The reason for this is that this is considered a submissive position, and will let the rabbit know that he means no harm.
- Hold your rabbit – Once all the excitement of meeting a new animal has died down and your dog is settled beside the cage, take the rabbit out and hold him on your lap. Allow your Shih Tzu to investigate his new friend. Reward your dog for behaving in a gentle manner and continue to correct excitability if he is behaving in a high-strung way.
- Let your rabbit loose (if all goes well) – When you feel that enough time has passed, place the rabbit on the ground, and if your dog remains calm, permit the rabbit and Shih Tzu to play together, all the while keeping a close eye on them. If all goes well, you can continue to allow them play time, gradually increasing the amount of time they get to spend together. In the end, they should wind up good friends.
Do Shih Tzus Get Along With Hamsters And Guinea Pigs?
Shih Tzus are renowned for their playful, energetic natures. Since they are so lively and upbeat, they do get along well with other pets, especially those they have grown up with.
Here is where you have to be careful when dealing with hamsters and guinea pigs. Just as a Shih Tzu is a generally good-humored pet with almost non-existent prey instinct, doesn’t mean they won’t get into a high spirited mood and chase a hamster or guinea pig, perhaps being a little rough with them.
Exactly how or if your Shih Tzu and hamster or guinea pig will get along together is really dependent on the nature of your dog.
If you want your hamster or guinea pig and your Shih Tzu to co-exist peacefully, here is what you should do:
- Leave Hamster or Guinea pig in its Cage
When you first attempt to introduce your Shih Tzu to your new hamster or guinea pig, do not take the animal out of its cage. This could be too much, too soon.
First, allow both animals to get used to each other with boundaries still between them.
- Hold Your Hamster in Your Arms
When you do remove your hamster or guinea pig from its cage and allow your Shih Tzu to get a close up look at it, do so slowly, and allow enough time to see what your dog’s reaction will be.
If they do not become excitable, start barking uncontrollably, etc., you can bring the hamster or guinea pig into closer contact. Don’t place it on the ground. You don’t know what might happen.
Further Caution With Shih Tzu And Other Small Pets
Your Shih Tzu may feel inclined to chase small animals like ferrets, hamsters, birds, or guinea pigs. While the Shih Tzu was not bred to hunt, they may still have the chase instinct in a playful manner.
They might not wish to hurt your new small pet, but could do so unintentionally while attempting to become friends.
Furthermore, while your Shih Tzu may not think of these animals as food, he may consider them to be a new type of toy, and when in play Shih Tzus can be rough.
If things do not go well at first, remember that all animals can adjust to new situations over time.
Just make absolutely certain that you close the lid or door on your pet’s cage when your going to leave them alone. Place the cage in an area where your Shih Tzu cannot get to it.
Hiding Your Hamster Cage From A Shih Tzu: Not The Best Idea
One thing you should never do is to attempt to hide your hamster or guinea pig and think that your Shih Tzu will not be able to find them. Shih Tzus have an incredible sense of smell, and will locate your new pet no matter where you hide them.
That is why it is best to simply own up to the pet right from the start, and keep their cage where your dog can see it, but not reach it.
The bottom line is that the answer to the question about shih tzus getting along with other small pets in the house is that in most cases they will.
But you need to use your common sense when you first bring the new cat, rabbit, hamster, or guinea pig into the family, and be particularly careful with the hamster and guinea pig. Stranger friendships have developed, but you don’t want any unpleasant incidents to occur.
In the end, it all comes down to this. Your Shih Tzu may relate well to other pets in the family, but they are really a people dog. This means that they will be happiest when they are doing the job they were born for, following you wherever you go and loving on you as much as they can.