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Cost

The Cost of a Shih Tzu

Overview

It's only natural to want to find out what the Shih Tzu price range is for puppies. After all, with today's economy, one does not want to overpay for anything...and that includes a pet which is usually considered a large purchase.

It is a large purchase not only because of the cost of a Shih Tzu, but also due to all of the related items that an owner will need to obtain....It can certainly add up.

In addition to items needed at the time of bringing the Tzu home, there are ongoing costs such as veterinarian checkups, sick visits, toys, food and so on.

You may want to know the price if you are thinking about getting a puppy...Or you may have already purchased your Tzu and are wondering if you over or under paid.

Therefore, this page is dedicated to those who ask us all of the time, "how much are Shih Tzu puppies?". 
We will discuss price range and, importantly, the reasons for the prices.Also, we will go over cheap and inexpensive puppies and dogs and talk about the pros and cons of this. 
white Shih Tzu puppy
Shih Tzu Price Range

We will be discussing the price range for a Shih Tzu puppy in the United States....obviously price will differ in other parts of the world....These prices will, in general, also be relevant to pups in Canada.

It is important to know why 1 puppy may cost so little compared to another...and we will talk about this below. However to answer the cost question: The average price is $500 to $900....with the range being from free and the high limits being close to $1500.00.... In some cases, a particular puppy will be worth even more. Price will also range depending on the area of the country.
Does Price Even Matter?

Yes! Price matters 99% of the time. There are rare exceptions... let's say for example that a person has a quality, healthy Tzu and is no longer able to care for the dog (for whatever hypothetical reason)....In this rare case one may decide to give their precious dog away for free to a good home...they may be placing the happiness of the dog over money. (Please note that this is extremely rare...in most cases even if this were to happen the owner would most likely have a friend or family member take the Tzu).

Therefore, price does matter. Think about it... if a breeder were advertising that they had purebred AKC Shih Tzu Show Quality puppies for sale for only $100 each, would you be hesitant? Would you wonder why the pups were being sold so cheap?... Most would and there is a reason for this... Just about anything of quality has a price to match it.

With this being said, a potential owner should understand how pricing is done...and this is important since just because something is priced high does not mean it is high quality. If you think about it, anyone can take a poorly bred puppy and ask for $1000.00 for him... So let's take a deeper look into this. 
Free or Low Priced Puppies

If a Shih Tzu is not carefully bred he or she can have many medical issues; some may be apparent at birth and others will not show up for years but when they do you may find yourself emptying your nest egg to pay for vet bills. Additionally, poorly bred dogs will not meet the breed standards...Not only will a potential owner find that as the pup grows into an adult that they do not have the classic appearance of the breed, but it can also cause medical problems such as hip dysplasia and many more.

There are exceptions, however we would strongly recommend not even checking into the purchase of a Tzu pup if a breeder is asking for less than $300.
AKC VS CKC (or other registries)

We should 1st mention that there is no registry that runs perfectly....all have flaws and all have elements that they need to work on. With this being said, while there are some issues with AKC, they are the strictest registry in the U.S. They keep a close eye on all breeders, demanding that they follow guidelines that others do not ask for....This is all done with good intentions: For the health of the dogs and to preserve, maintain and improve the bloodline of the breed. If a breeder does not follow the guidelines, they will be taken out of the program and have to then choose a different kennel club.

You will find that AKC puppies cost more than those that are CKC (Continental Kennel Club- not to be confused with the very respected Canadian Kennel Club). To boil it all down, AKC puppies are more expensive because they are rare in comparison to CKC or other registrations. Again, while each has pros and cons, CKC is notorious for allowing anyone to register a dog as a purebred without any proof other than the signature of 2 "witnesses"...There are many people who take advantage of this. With AKC, one will have proof that a pup is indeed purebred.
expensive Shih Tzu
It's worth spending a bit more to know you have a healthy dog.
Answering the "Why's"

We receive many emails asking "why is the cost for a Shih Tzu so much money?" One must understand that small home breeders must put a long of money into their breeding program in order to produce a litter of high quality, healthy puppies. For those who are dedicated to improving the bloodlines, just the cost to begin with 1 female and 1 male can be in the thousands. Then, one must think about maintenance cost: high quality dog food, veterinarian visits, toys, pens, baby gates, blankets, toys, birthing supplies, grooming supplies, etc.

Sometimes a breeder can spend $2000 on a female with plans to breed her....then she has a difficult delivery and for health reasons is not bred again.

Most home based breeders will have 5-7 adults for the program. Many also maintain the cost of taking care of those who are retired.

Programs run ethically will only breed a dam every other heat.. or 2 heats in a row and then stop to allow the female to recuperate and have a rest period. The window for producing litters is relatively small compared to the life span of the dog....It is between the ages of 2 and 6....and in some cases a female will be retired early if a veterinarian has deemed there to be any possible health risks associated with another pregnancy. In addition, litter size is small....and this all comes into play regarding cost.

Pet Stores

Since the public has been educated regarding Puppy Mills, many pet stores have since closed down or have changed over into pet supply stores ...For those that remain, it cannot be stated enough that one should never, ever purchase a pet from a store. All that you will find there are mass produced pups from Puppy Mills. Please do not be mislead...We remember 1 reader who assured us that the owner of a store swore that the pups came from small, caring breeders....Remember, caring people who are dedicated to the Tzu do not place their litters in stores! Ever.

Show Quality VS "Pet"

Show quality puppies are going to cost more than those who are not show quality. One must understand that a show quality pup is deemed this because they are almost "perfect" in regard to AKC conformation of the breed. Perhaps 1 pup out of 3 or 4 liters will be as such. There is nothing wrong with "pet" quality Shih Tzu, as long as they have been breed properly, have been raised in a loving environment and have a health guarantee. ONLY if you are planning on showing your dog in AKC conformation events should you pay attention to these labels. DO however, be aware of someone who tells you that the entire litter is show quality....it has not and never will happen.

Be aware of the term "Imperials", learn what this means...And never pay more because you are promised a Tzu of a smaller size than the standard. 
How to Choose

To sum things up and keep things simple, we would suggest the middle ground....Stay away from puppies who are so cheap that they are practically given away...and unless you are planning to show and you have experience in determining show quality, stay away from very expensive pups. Go with a small, home based, experienced and devoted breeder whose available puppies fall with the $400 to $700 price range. To help any potential owners, we have a small exclusive list of Tzu breeders whom we personally recommend.

Don't forget to become an AllShihTzu Member, so that you may receive reminders when we add the Topic of the Month & also be able to suggest a subject for us to discuss.
Related: List of Shih Tzu Mixes - Though we do not condone the purposeful breeding of hybrid dogs, thousands of Shih Tzu crosses end up in shelters each year, waiting to be rescued. And we do support those who have adopted a mix. See a list of all pairings. 
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