When you think of a wolf, what’s one of the first things that come to mind? Their fierce, pack-hunting attitude? Their mysterious and majestic eyes? Or how about the classic icon of wolves howling at the moon?
Regardless, you wouldn’t think your precious Shih Tzu is like a wolf; could you image them attempting to take down an elk? Let alone the likes of a rabbit.
All dog breeds, including Shih Tzus, are descendent from wolves and while they might not be the hunters of yore they do have a few traits in common with wolves. So, that said, do shih tzus howl? If shih tzus do howl, is it a worrying behavior?
Do Shih Tzus Really Howl?
Getting right to it, yes Shih Tzus do howl occasionally. All dogs, in fact, howl and according to WebMD dogs howl in order to announce their presence and contact other dogs. Other times, loud noises such as sirens or instruments will cause a dog to howl; in a sense they’re responding to that loud sound.
Why Do Shih Tzus Howl?
As with all dogs, a Shih Tzu will howl when they sense another dog and are trying to talk to them. Or if there is an instrument or siren that produces a high-frequency. Shih Tzus tend to not be howlers, however, but will still howl just like all other dogs.
Is Your Shih Tzu Howling A Bad Thing?
Yes and no. As we talked about, your Shih Tzu will howl if they sense another dog around and are trying to talk to them or are announcing their own presence; likely saying “I know there is another dog around, I’m here and this is my territory”. It might be hard to believe that your adorable Shih Tzu, who might laze around all day, still thinks they have a territory of their own.
Normally, a Shih Tzu won’t howl excessively; only howling due to sound or another dog. Excessive howling tends to be signs of either a medical issue or separation anxiety.
If a dog is ill, they will howl to attempt to bring attention to their illness. If your Shih Tzu is howling, and typically doesn’t have separation anxiety, bring them to your vet A.S.A.P.
Separation anxiety is what you’d expect it to be; your Shih Tzu doesn’t want you to go, and being alone will cause them to howl and even destroy things by chewing them.
Your vet should be able to help you and your Shih Tzu if they’re suffering from separation anxiety, as can a trainer if the issue is more mental as opposed to medical.
If you want to learn more about Shih Tzus being affected by separation anxiety and tips for reducing the intensity of that anxiety, check out my article all about that topic.
Do Shih Tzus Bark A Lot?
When focusing on do Shih Tzus howl we can’t forget to look at their barking. Shih Tzus bark quite a lot, in fact. I wrote more about this aspect of the breed in this article here.
According to Bark Busters, barking is inherent to the Shih Tzu breed. So if you’re looking for a quiet lapdog, a Shih Tzu is right for you provided that you train a Shih Tzu right.
First, you want to study the tone of your Shih Tzus’ bark. A low-tone bark for this breed is normally due to them sensing something strange or different. This can be a stranger walking by, or something as minor as leaves being crunched in the yard.
A high-tone bark is your Shih Tzu trying to get your attention. They want something from you, either a walk, a treat, or attempting to let you know they need to go out.
Excessively loud barking is a behavioral problem that affects many different dog breeds including the Shih Tzu breed.
To stop a Shih Tzu from barking excessively, as you can’t get a Shih Tzu to never not bark, you will need to be patient with them. It’s a long process, but one that’s rewarding for both you and your Shih Tzu.
Would Shih Tzus Be Classified As “Yappy” Dogs?
As a toy breed, Shih Tzus do like to bark. A rather unfair stereotype of most toy breeds is why they’re small and cute, they will yap all the time.
As we’ve explored throughout this article, Shih Tzus can be yappy and loud dogs but it’s not universal. The Shih Tzu breed, according to the AKC, is a very intelligent, loving, bold, and cuddly dog.
They love nothing more than to cuddle and be with you; but this also means they demand your attention. If you’re not giving them all your attention, they may get jealous or possibly greedy, feeling that your eyes should only be on them and nothing else.
This can lead to them excessively barking, demanding your attention even why you can’t possibly provide it.
Therefore, a very loud and yappy Shih Tzu tends to be one that aren’t well behaved. A well-trained Shih Tzu, although they’ll still bark, tend to not bark as much and will be a wonderful addition to your family! They just need the love, attention, and training that all dogs require.
Shih Tzus And Emotional Trauma
Finally, another major cause of the Shih Tzu breed howling, excessively barking, or acting erratically is due to trauma in their past.
Shih Tzus, as you well know, are loving dogs that are friendly with other dogs and people (and cats). As puppies, they enjoy playing with humans, each other, or other puppies. If the Shih Tzu had any sort of mistreatment, be it a cruel breeder or being attacked by a bigger dog, the emotional scars will never leave.
Shih Tzus are bright dogs, and can remember past pains. If you think your Shih Tzu was mistreated as a puppy, or possibly attacked, it’s highly advised to seek out a trainer.
They can advise you on what to do to alleviate this trauma and make your Shih Tzu feel much safer around you and your family. This can even take care of excess barking and howling problems as well!
Overall, Shih Tzus tend to not be loud dogs. They bark and howl, just like all dogs do, but not excessively. We recommend when bringing in a new puppy to your family you give them the love and attention they need, and start training as soon as possible. Better to nip any sort of howling or barking issues before they even have a chance to develop.