Both the French Bulldog and the Shih Tzu are wildly popular purebred dogs in the United States and around the world.
As of the time of publication, the French Bulldog holds the number two spot in the American Kennel Club's annual popularity list. The Shih Tzu holds the number 20 spot in that same list.
To give you some perspective, the famous AKC list includes 197 purebred dog breeds!
This means you obviously can't go wrong choosing either a French Bulldog or a Shih Tzu for your next canine companion.
But which dog breed is the best fit for your lifestyle, available space, personality, and preferences? Let's find out with this side-by-side comparison of the French Bulldog vs Shih Tzu.
French Bulldog vs Shih Tzu
The French Bulldog and the Shih Tzu share a love of people, friendly and fun-loving personality, small size, average activity level, and easy adaptation to an indoor lifestyle.
But more concerningly, the French Bulldog and Shih Tzu also share the short flattened muzzle shape known as brachycephalic. This can predispose both breeds to certain serious health issues that you should be aware of upfront.
Watch a French Bulldog and Shih Tzu Playing
This short, cute YouTube video gives you a better visual idea of some ways that the French Bulldog and the Shih Tzu are similar and different.
For example, while the two dog breeds are similar in size, they have very different body structures, coat types, and athletic strengths.
French Bulldog vs Shih Tzu History
As the French Bulldog Club of America explains, the French Bulldog isn't actually French at all, but English!
These small bulldogs were bred down from the original English Bulldog, in the process altering their ear shape and transitioning to a temperament that was more family companion than hunting or fighting canine.
North Star Shih Tzu Rescue explains that the Shih Tzu is a far more ancient dog breed that dates back to the time of the ancient Chinese empire.
The breed name Shih Tzu actually translates to mean little lion dog, and this is a perfect description of this breed's personality. For centuries, Shih Tzus have sat in the laps of emperors while faithfully keeping watch over the premises.
Today, the Shih Tzu maybe even smaller than the original dogs. But these dogs still do their two main jobs exceptionally well – warming laps and barking to alert their people of strangers approaching.
French Bulldog vs Shih Tzu Life Expectancy
While both the French Bulldog and the Shih Tzu do have the shortened, flattened muzzle shape known as brachycephalic, the former has a notably shorter life expectancy than the latter.
French Bulldogs live 10 to 12 years on average, while Shih Tzus live anywhere from 10 to 18 years.
What determines how long a French Bulldog or a Shih Tzu might live?
There isn't just one factor that enhances life expectancy.
Genetics, puppyhood diet, lifestyle, and exercise, enrichment, bond with their people, preventative veterinary care, and similar influences can all have an impact on longevity in either dog breed.
French Bulldog vs Shih Tzu Weight and Size
While the video you watched earlier suggests that the French Bulldog and the Shih Tzu are the same size and weight, actually an adult French Bulldog typically weighs nearly double what an adult Shih Tzu will weigh.
Vetstreet states that a fully grown adult French Bulldog (regardless of gender) will weigh less than 28 pounds. How much less depends once again on genetics, diet, lifestyle, and other factors.
According to Miracle Shih Tzu kennel, a fully grown adult Shih Tzu (male or female) may weigh anywhere from nine to 16 pounds. This number includes the full long hair coat.
So what makes it seem like the French Bulldog and the Shih Tzu are the same size?
The optical illusion comes from Shih Tzu's long hair coat. But when you clip the coat into a short teddy bear or puppy coat, it is easier to see how tiny Shih Tzus truly are.
Now, does it matter a lot that a French Bulldog is twice as large as a Shih Tzu? Not necessarily. Because both dogs have a brachycephalic muzzle shape, both dogs benefit from an indoor environment that is temperature-controlled.
This also means neither the French Bulldog nor the Shih Tzu requires a yard or outdoor exercise to stay healthy and fit. You can live in a small apartment or condo without any yard at all and still successfully own either a French Bulldog or a Shih Tzu.
French Bulldog vs Shih Tzu Coat Type and Grooming
One of the biggest and most noticeable differences between a French Bulldog and a Shih Tzu is coat type and overall coat appearance. The amount of shedding is another big difference between these two dog breeds.
Brushing and grooming for French Bulldog vs Shih Tzu
The French Bulldog has a very short, neat, dapper, flat coat. This makes it easy to brush and groom your Frenchie.
The Shih Tzu, on the other hand, has a long, double layer, thick, almost human hairlike coat. When you keep a Shih Tzu in the long full show coat, it can be like a part-time job each day brushing and grooming your dog!
However, many owners who don't plan to show their Shih Tzus will choose to have their dog's coat clipped short. As Hairstyle Camp explains, the short and layered look or puppy clip are both very manageable to care for.
One budgetary consideration here, however, is that you will have to either learn how to clip your Shih Tzu dog's hair yourself or budget for periodic trips to a professional groomer. Either option will require an investment on your part.
So if budget is an issue, you may want to choose the French Bulldog for their short, easy-care coat.
Shedding amount for French Bulldog vs Shih Tzu
Most people take one look at the Shih Tzu with all that long hair and think they must be shedding constantly.
And the opposite assumption tends to be the case when people look at the neat short-haired French Bulldog.
But actually, Shih Tzu coats rarely shed out visibly, as the ASPCA points out.
The long surrounding hair of the coat catches the shed hair so the only time you may see shed hair is if you cut your Shih Tzu's hair short.
As Arlee's French Bulldogs kennel explains, French Bulldogs do tend to shed year-round and seasonally.
While the Frenchie's coat is short and neat looking, it is double layer, with a thicker insulating undercoat and a protective outer coat. These two layers produce twice the hair when shedding dead hair to make way for new growth.
Brushing your French Bulldog will definitely control the amount of shed hair you have to sweep up, but it will not prevent the shedding itself.
French Bulldog vs Shih Tzu Health
Whenever you are deciding on a new companion canine, the most important research you can do is in the area of breed health.
Many purebred dog breeds are victims of concentrated breeding programs to produce dogs that match the show ring conformation (appearance) standard.
These types of breeding programs can consequently cause an increase in genetically related health problems that are expensive and heart-wrenching to manage.
So before you choose a breeder to work with, always research the breed health and the reputation of that particular breeder in the dog breeding world. The best way to do that is to visit the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC).
As the French Bulldog Club explains, CHIC represents a partnership between the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).
This partnership makes it so much easier to find the right health information quickly!
So let's take a look at known genetic health issues for the Shih Tzu and the French Bulldog.
Shih Tzu CHIC health issues
The Shih Tzu breed is not currently listed in the CHIC database. However, this does not mean these purebred dogs have no health concerns.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Shih Tzu could possibly inherit these types of genetic health issues.
- Knee cap issues (patellar luxation).
- Tracheal collapse.
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) leads to blindness.
- Eye abnormalities including eyelid malformation, detached retina, and corneal inflammation.
Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS)
In addition to the health issues listed just prior for each dog breed, both the French Bulldog and the Shih Tzu can suffer from BOAS or Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome.
According to the respected journal PLOS One, BOAS is a known health issue associated with the short flat muzzle shape that is called brachycephalic.
Dogs like the French Bulldog and the Shih Tzu that have this muzzle shape may have minor or major symptoms due to the lack of available space in the skull for everything that needs to be there.
Respiratory, ocular, and gastrointestinal symptoms are some of the most common chronic and often lifelong issues that can occur due to the brachycephalic muzzle shape.
It is important to have any Shih Tzu or French Bulldog you are interested in buying evaluated by your canine veterinarian first before you make that all-important final commitment.
Managing BOAS can be expensive and time-consuming so you just want to know what you are getting into.
French Bulldog CHIC health issues
The CHIC database states that the French Bulldog can inherit the following genetic health conditions.
- Hip and elbow joint problems (dysplasia).
- Knee joint issues (patellar luxation).
- Cardiac (heart) problems.
- Autoimmune thyroiditis.
- Tracheal hypoplasia (difficulty with breathing and potential tracheal collapse).
- Eye issues including genetic malformation.
French Bulldog vs Shih Tzu With Kids
Finally, many people who are searching for a new pet dog want their children to have the wonderful experience of growing up with a dog.
Which dog breed is better with kids, the French Bulldog or the Shih Tzu?
Here, we have good news for you. Both the Shih Tzu and the French Bulldog are known to be good family dogs.
So now you have helpful information you can use to make an informed choice between the Shih Tzu and the French Bulldog. As you can see, in either case, you are likely to bring home a wonderful pet dog!
As a freelance pet writer and blogger, Shannon is passionate about crafting knowledge-based, science-supported articles that foster healthy bonds of love and respect between people and animals. But her first and very most important job is as a dog auntie and cockatiel, tortoise, and box turtle mama.