Finding a reputable breeder

Buying a companion that is likely to require a commitment of up to 17 years is not a decision that should be entered into lightly. Puppies are available everywhere nowadays it seems and the majority available are from unregulated sources that are not bound by any rules, regulations nor inspections. Websites are overflowing with puppies for sale catering for that impulse purchase. It really isn’t difficult to find a puppy – but it is much more difficult to find a carefully bred puppy from a knowledgeable breeder whose first priority is the wellbeing of their dogs, not the money you have to spend. Whilst it is not for us to dictate prices, you should expect a carefully bred and raised companion/pet Shih Tzu puppy to cost from at least $3500 and upwards. Ironically a puppy from unregulated sources is usually far more expensive!

What to look for in a Breeder

A responsible breeder will be striving to breed the best dogs that they can in terms of health, temperament and breed type. They will be knowledgeable about the breed and usually “show” their dogs (showing is a benchmark measure for type, temperament and health). They will be able to answer Shih Tzu specific questions that you may have. They will be a member of an ANKC affiliated State or Territory controlling body (see our contact page for details) and ideally be a member of one or more breed organisations. Unlike unregulated sources, members of State and Territory controlling bodies must comply with strict regulations, which includes premise inspections.

A responsible breeder will always be able to show you the mother of the puppies. The puppies should be clean and the mother should be in good condition – allowing for the fact that she has just raised a litter of pups. It isn’t always possible to see the father since it is common to use stud dogs from outside but the breeder should be able to provide details about him, including a photo and the details of his owners. You should be provided with a diet sheet and a vaccination and worming record. In addition to this a “Main Registration” or at least a “Limited Registration” pedigree will be provided. A “Contract of sale” and “de-sexing contract” (if not already de-sexed) will be likely also.

Generally, Shih Tzu puppies should not be placed in a new home until they are at least 8 weeks old. A responsible breeder will be on hand to offer help and advice after you have bought your puppy for as long as you reasonably might need it and more than likely throughout the duration of its life. They will also stand by their dogs and be prepared to take the dog back or at the very least help you with re-homing if something goes wrong or you are unable to care for the dog.

It is difficult to offer ironclad guarantees when you are dealing with a living being but by buying your Shih Tzu puppy from a reputable breeder you will know that every effort possible has been made to breed a sound healthy puppy that will be supported by a knowledgeable person as it grows up with you.

What to Avoid

Avoid anyone trying to get you to take on a puppy under 8 weeks old. 9-12 weeks is best, under 8 weeks is unacceptable and is a breach of State and Territory controlling bodies regulations should they be a member.

You should absolutely avoid buying a puppy from a puppy farm (sometimes called a puppy mill), a pet shop (since their stock almost always comes from puppy farms) or a dealer. When buying a dog from a “rescue” organisation, please be mindful of the fact that studies have shown the vast majority of these dogs come from unregulated sources. So whilst you may consider the idea that you are rescuing a dog that deserves a second chance, the reality is you are supporting puppy mills who continue to fly under the rader as being unregulated they are not held to account (e.g. Dog registered by controlling bodies are required to be microchipped at the time of regulation to ensure traceability).

Buying any dog from an unregulated source is a lottery. In most cases there is little thought given to which dog is bred with which bitch and whether the breeding could give rise to inherited conditions. The conditions in which the dogs are kept may not be sanitary, the puppies would likely receive little in the way of human or canine interaction and so may be stunted socially. And once you have bought your puppy, that’s it – you’re on your own.

Finding a Responsible Breeder

The Shih Tzu Club of Victoria Inc. has a Puppy Referral Officer who can put you in touch with Breeders who have, or are planning to have puppies. They can be contacted via email at

A number of registered breeders can be found on the website, however this by no means reflects endorsement by the STCV Inc. or it’s members.