Where Can We Get a Shih Tzu?
December 26, 2016 8:17 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I live in the Bay Area and really want a Shih Tzu/Shih Tzu mix (the other breed also having a long/non-shedding coat) puppy or very young adult dog.

We have written to some breeders but only one has written back--a possibility, but exorbitantly priced. Do you have any suggestions for breeders, rescue organizations, etc? We absolutely want either the breeder or rescue org. to be ethical and aboveboard; NOT a puppy-mill. We are open to other sources too, but don't know where to look, and are leery of anything sketchy. We are having trouble doing internet searches for mixed-breed doggies, because the American Kennel Club links to breeders of purebreds. We want our new family member ASAP but are willing to take the time to do research and get it right, too.
posted by bookworm4125 to Pets & Animals (7 answers total)
Have you tried petfinder.com? Their search is pretty useful because you can sort by location, breed, gender, and age. You can also find breed specific rescues.
posted by jamaro at 8:35 PM on December 26, 2016 [8 favorites]

Honestly, I'd go to Petfinder.com, put in the details of the dog age/breed I'm looking for, and then see if any of the local humane societies have young dogs of the breed/mix you're looking for. Note that the younger the dog, the more breed may be a guess (unless mom and pups were taken in together). But really, best thing to do is go meet (and interact with) any dog you might adopt before you commit to it. We have two adopted dogs, but they're the result of meet & greets & test walks with four dogs. Google the names of rescue orgs first, and be wary of those with several litters of puppies + unusually high adoption fees, but otherwise, Petfinder has worked well for us both times we had a dog shaped hole in our lives.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:36 PM on December 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

Any breeder who is a good breeder is probably going to be what most people call exorbitantly priced. Most purebred dogs from a reputable breeder - someone who works and/or titles their dogs - will cost between $1200 -$3000, depending on breed.

Best way to find a good breeder is to look up your local AKC dog show and go. Many breeders are not techy and will not have a website; they don't need to; people come to them, and they have waiting lists for their pups.

Look for a breeder that titles all their dogs. They will probably own the bitch but not the dog. They will be able to offer you breed-specific health test results on their dogs - OFA scores, etc. They will not let you pick out your puppy; they'll interview you and find out what kind of dog you want and then select the best puppy for you in the litter based on your needs. Think about it - they spend by far the most time with the dogs and will know personalities best! Your puppy will come home no earlier than eight weeks. You may be signing a contract which will, among other things, possibly dictate when the dog will be desexed and that if you decide to get rid of the dog, it must be offered back to the breeder first.

If this all sounds like too much, there's probably a metric shit ton of Shih Tzu-looking dogs in your local shelters and rescues. You won't have the health or temperament guarantee, but it will be cheaper and you will have a bit more control over the process (though many private rescues require a contract and home visits before adoption).
posted by Nyx at 9:09 PM on December 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Golden Gate Shih Tzu Fanciers page about rescue shih tzus The link lists a contact name and a how to search for available dogs on Petfinder.

Good luck! Shih tzus are the best!
posted by ilovewinter at 9:37 PM on December 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Get thee to the Golden Gate Kennel Club dog show in January. It's a benched show which means that you can visit all the dogs (and thus, their breeders and clubs) - I KNOW. SO MANY GOOD DOGS. Anyway, try to figure out when the Shih Tzus are doing most of their judging and show up on that day, well ahead of the show. (Some dogs/breeds are only there on one day or the other; though technically it's two shows back to back). Breeders will have all kinds of displays and will be expecting you to want to meet the dogs and be very willing to talk to you about the breed generally and their kennel specifically - then you can follow up later about getting a puppy. Nyx is right, many are not techy and you may not find them with a website; word of mouth is key.

Purebred dogs are expensive. Some breeders seem to be very anti-mixes but this would be a good place to start.
posted by marylynn at 10:29 PM on December 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

You mention that you definitely don't want a puppy mill - which you definitely shouldn't - but please also make sure you are specifically avoiding any backyard breeders.

Not all poorly bred dogs are from some as-seen-on-TV puppy mill - many are litters born to well-intentioned families who only focus on breed or looks and lack the wherewithal or know-how to be mindful of genetic health, temperament, proper socialization, long-term support for buyers, etc. This table showing the differences between backyard breeders and responsible breeders and this list of 10 signs of a backyard breeder are both important to read. Some of these backyard breeders still have appealing-looking but meaningless "CKC registration" or "vet checks" - but if they don't have the genetic testing listed here and AKC registration, be extremely wary. I really urge you to try and steer clear of backyard breeders (even though they're likely to be cheaper) because they're likely to breed and sell dogs that may cost more health-wise over the long run and because they breed in a way that's hugely harmful to the overall American dog population.

Unfortunately, nearly all breeders selling mixed breed puppies are backyard breeders - so if you want a mix, petfinder is your best bet (adopting is also a whole lot cheaper!). There are a few exceptions - high-quality mixed breeds bred to perform particularly well at a specific task or sport, for instance - but they're few and far between, so be extremely careful about anyone selling designer crossbreeds or (ugh) oops litters.
posted by R a c h e l at 12:28 PM on December 27, 2016

Oh, and because you mention time, if you go the breeder route expect that you may have to wait for longer than just the research stage. High-quality breeders almost never have puppies that are immediately available - so after approval, you'll have to wait until they have an appropriate puppy available for you.
posted by R a c h e l at 12:32 PM on December 27, 2016

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