Deciding On A Shih Tzu Bed

Shih tzu bed occupation.

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How To Pick The Correct Shih Tzu Bed For Your Dog

If you are searching for a shih tzu bed, then you are probably already aware of the confusingly diverse amount of styles, designs, materials and sizes. You may be wondering how you can pick out the bed that’s going to be right for your shih tzu.

Of course, each individual shih tzu has its own character and characteristics. Then there are environmental factors to consider, such as: is your dog living in a hot or cold climate?  What I am trying to say here is, there are no one choice suits all solutions.

What Is The Right Size Of Bed?

One thing is going to be common with all beds and that is what size bed is correct. Your choice of bed should just have enough room for your shih tzu to completely stretch out in all directions and not much more. Shih tzu need to stretch out to relax their muscles and bones, and to breathe properly when sleeping. If you are opting for a tent-style bed, there should be just enough room for your dog to stand up and turn around. 

Why the snug fit? First of all, if you have read my post “What Size Crate For A Shih Tzu, you will know that any spare space in the sleeping area is subject to being treated as a bathroom area. But from the shih tzu’s point of view, it’s the type of small space a dog would choose himself as a safe sleeping place where he is cozy, safe, secure and sheltered from the elements, enemies and predators; a place where he can relax and sleep easy. Some shih tzu even like their beds to be placed under furniture such as coffee tables and chairs for the same reasons.

So, before buying a bed measure your shih tzu and allow for an extra inch or 2.5 cm all around. If you are buying a bed for a puppy, allow an up to an extra 20% for growth. This means for the average adult shih tzu somewhere around 25” x 15” (64 cm x 38 cm). Manufacturer’s standards vary, most of the time this will be the “small” size but sometimes it will be “extra small” or “medium”, so always check the specified dimensions.

Which Material Is Best?

A curious shih tzu sitting in a traditional dog bed.
ID: 193888550 © PongMoji | Depositphotos

Apart from the elevated beds which tend to be a steel frame covered in plastic mesh, most other designs are usually stuffed with poly fiber in varying degrees of firmness, along with a covering of polyester or a polyester and cotton mix which can be finished in various ways such as fleecy, fluffy or hard. Some bed designs are contained in basketware. 

It’s just a case of knowing what sort of surface your shih tzu likes to spend his many resting and sleeping hours and going for something like that. Where does he like to lie down and sleep now? Is it on a rug, the sofa or, perhaps, even on your bed? It may be an idea to look at the texture of the surfaces he likes now and looking for a bed of a similar texture. Also, look for words and phrases such as “pet-friendly” and “hypoallergenic” in manufacurers’ descriptions.

There are two properties of the material that are essential, though, if you want the bed to last a few years:

1 – Durability – I expect that you have noticed that when your shih tzu really wants to settle down for a long, relaxing sleep, there is a lot of intense scratching and plumping of the surface. The bed may also be subject to some other rough treatment from your dog. An inferior product is not going to stand up to this sort of treatment for very long. When you think you have found the bed you want, it pays to read some of the reviews first to help assess the quality of the build.

2 – Washability – After you receive your dog bed and your shih tzu makes it his home within a home, his place to relax, sleep and generally spend a lot of time, it is not going to take long for the surfaces to become soiled, especially if your shih tzu likes to roll around a lot. Shed hair will be released from its trap between his two coats and oil from his skin together with shed skin cells will be rubbed into the surface along with any allergens that were attached to the coat. Then there are the inevitable invisible bed bugs that occur naturally in bedding.

Therefore, to keep your shih tzu’s environment as hygienic as possible, look for beds with an easily removable cover with a good zipper that can be machine washed on a regular basis. If the cover isn’t removable, check to see if the whole bed can be laundered and how well it stands up to repeated washes.

Your shih tzu may become very emotionally attached to his bed, so the longer you can make the bed last, the better. If you do have to replace the bed at any time, try to retain an element of it, for example, a cushion, and incorporate it into the new one so that at least some of the old, comforting smells are still there.

Now, let’s look at some of the different types of shih tzu bed available:

Which Style Of Bed Is Right For Your Shih Tzu?

A shih tzu contemplating life while resting on an orthopedic bed.
ID: 10765677 © rudyumans | Depositphotos

Orthopedic Dog Beds

Don’t let the term “orthopedic” put you off, even if your shih tzu is in the best of health and full of beans.

Because of their long backbones bearing on short legs, some shih tzu, in their later years, are prone to arthritis in the hind legs in particular. Also, a small percentage of shih tzu may develop the usually genetic joint diseases hip dysplasia or patellar luxation. 

If your dog is unfortunate enough to be suffering from any of these, an orthopedic bed that offers support for sore joints is an essential choice. However, if your shih tzu is in the best of health, buying an orthopedic bed for him now will support his joints throughout his life and, who knows, may even help to stave off joint problems altogether, or at least make them less severe.

Here’s an example of a good orthopedic dog bed:

JOYELF Orthopedic Memory Foam Dog Bed

I find it surprising that this bed only comes in at 11th on the Amazon best sellers list of orthopedic dog beds when it is clearly of a far better quality than the ten that appear above it.

Awarded a score of 4.3 stars out of 5 by the people that have bought this bed, there is general praise for the quality of build and the value for money it represents. Their dogs appear to take to the bed as soon as it is presented to them.

Soft To Touch

Perhaps it is the warming, soft and breathable outer cover that attracts them. Or it could be the firm but comfortable, double-density cotton bolsters that surround the bed providing welcome head and neck support. These bolsters remain in place and do not buckle over as with some inferior products.

Then there’s the 2” (5 cm) thick memory foam mattress that moulds itself around the dog’s contour and gives all round support for bones and joints. 

Tear Resistant, Washable Cover

The cover of the bed is sewn together with strong stitching that does not come apart easily. The material itself is tear resistant and will repel most attempts to bite through it. Should you dog ever actually manage to do this, you do not have to buy another complete bed as replacement covers are available.

It is possible to remove the cover from its memory foam mattress and cotton bolsters for washing by opening a cleverly hidden zipper. It can be safely washed on the cold cycle with no loss of shape afterward. Tumble drying on low heat is possible, though the manufacturer recommends air drying.

One more pleasing feature of the cover is the non-slip, textured rubber pad underneath, ideal for keeping the occupied bed stable on shiny floor surfaces.

Resilient, Hygienic and Safe

After unpacking the memory foam mattress, you should be able to place it in the cover and use it straight away, though one or two people complain of having to wait up to 48 hours for it to regain its full size of 25½” x 17½” x 2” (65 cm x 44 cm x 5 cm). I guess the beds of those with complaints must have become squashed in transit but it does prove that the foam will regain its shape even with rough treatment. The manufacturer claims that your dog’s imprint will disappear from the foam five seconds after leaving the bed.

With such a solid bed that has just enough give to contour itself to your dog’s shape, you know that it is going to give great support for tired muscles and bones. This is good for even a healthy dog but vital for the comfort of a perhaps older dog that has orthopedic problems.

The mattress is supplied with a water resistant liner. While a house trained shih tzu wouldn’t normally wet the bed, you cannot legislate for accidents, particularly if there are health issues such as epilepsy or bladder infections. In the event of this, the mattress will be protected.

Another important feature of the mattress, and for me this is a deal maker, is that it is made from fire retardant material. According to the manufacturer, if the bed is pulled from a fire, it will self-extinguish within six seconds.

Free Toy

The bed comes with a “free gift”. It’s a bone-shaped squeaking chew toy that, by some accounts, isn’t going to interest your dog as much as the bed. Apart from being a nice gesture by the manufacturer, it’s difficult to understand why they have included this gift as it’s hardly likely to sway the decision of somebody wondering whether to buy the bed or not.

Just The Right Size For A Shih Tzu

The inside of the bed measures 20” x 13” (51 cm x 33 cm) and the outside 27” x 20” (68 cm x 51 cm). This is the ideal size for a shih tzu to lie flat with his head supported by one of the bolsters.

The only thing I can find to criticize about the bed is its lack of color choice. It is only available in a three-tone grey design. However, it is a neutral color that will fit in with most home decor, so we can live with that.

You can see the JOYELF Orthopedic Memory Foam Dog Bed on Amazon here.

Be sure to select the “Small” size option when buying for your shih tzu.

Bolster Style Dog Beds

Charlie resting in his bolster bed.
Charlie resting in his bolster bed.

These are the beds you are likely to see commonly available in pet stores and veterinary surgeries everywhere. They can be round, square or rectangular, usually with a smooth outside and warm, fleecy inside. The edges are raised to form bolsters for head and neck support and can be all around the outside of the bed or only partly,

The center, where the dog sleeps, will be cushioned but the degree of softness can vary from hard and firm to very soft and squidgy. The thickness of cushioning can vary, too.

When choosing a bed of this style, look for the quality of stitching and whether the material is robust enough to stand up to some rough treatment. If the cover is removable, look at the quality of the zipper. Test whether, when you push in the mattress if you can feel the floor underneath. If you can, it is probably not going to be comfortable for your dog.

This is my bolster bed of choice for quality of build and value for money:

ANWA Rectangular Durable Machine Washable Dog Bed

For those shih tzu parents that don’t like the idea of a memory foam or orthopedic bed for their dogs but still want a traditionally styled design, I think you will find it hard to find one that matches the ANWA for quality, comfort and value for money. It has a 4.4 star rating from Amazon customers.

Many owners that have purchased this bed have gone on to buy a second one after seeing for themselves how well made, soft and supportive it is. One satisfied purchaser went as far as to say, “As someone who has easily purchased fifty plus dog beds in her time, take it from me, this is one of the best ones.”

Good Quality, Pet-Friendly Materials

The outside of the bed is made of a durable cotton oxford fabric given a faux sheepskin appearance, fleecy side inside for comfort and warmth. A firm bolster for neck and head support surrounds three-quarters of the perimeter, with the front cutaway for easy shih tzu access.

Inside is polypropylene “cotton” stuffing that gives the bed a comfortable, soft feel and the ability to regain its original shape.

As with the Joyelf bed, the base of the bed is covered with non-slip, studded, high-density rubber so that the bed stays where it is on hard and shiny floors whether your shih tzu is sleeping or playing in it.

Hygienic – The Whole Bed Goes In The Wash

The bed does not have a removable cover but the whole bed can be placed in the washing machine without fear of the bed losing its shape. Machine wash cold and tumble dry on a very low heat and the bed comes out still looking like new.

When you receive your bed and remove it from the air-tight packaging, it immediately regains its full 24” x 22” x 6” (61 cm x 56cm x 15cm) size. It is very likely that your shih tzu will make it his own just as fast.

Click here to see the ANWA Rectangular Durable Machine Washable Dog Bed on Amazon.

If you decide to order one, the “24 INCH” is the option to choose for a shih tzu sized dog.

Donut Style Dog Beds

Shih tzu puppies and kittens in an overcrowded donut bed.
ID: 69799105 © cynoclub | Depositphotos

These have become very popular recently, both with shih tzu and their owners. As the name suggests, they are round with a hole in the middle. Unlike a donut, though, the hole is a not very deep, blind hole and is where the main sleeping area is.

These beds are very warm and cozy as they are usually covered in faux fur and the sleeping dog is surrounded by the raised bolster around the edge. As they can be quite high off the ground compared to traditional beds, your shih tzu may have to climb into it or hop over the edge, so this style of bed may not be suitable for a dog with orthopedic problems.

Here is a donut bed that is of a better quality than some of its peers:

Focuspet Faux Fur Donut Dog Bed

If you need a warmer, much softer bed for your shih tzu, then this one from Focuspet represents a good combination of quality, durability, comfort and value for money. At the time of writing, it’s only 37th on the Amazon best sellers list but, again, it appears to be a better, all-round (no pun intended), bed than those in the same class that appear above it in the list. It does have a 4.4 star average customer rating, which is usually a good indication.

A Very Soft And Warm Bed

The Faux Fur Donut Dog Bed has a very soft feel to it, thanks to the polyester faux fur finish and the consistency of the deep stuffing inside. The faux fur traps warm air and together with the draft-excluding properties of the encircling raised bolster, this makes for a very cozy and snug bed for your shih tzu to relax and sleep in. 

As well as keeping out the drafts, the raised bolster also acts as a pillow for supporting the head and neck, should your shih tzu prefer to rest and sleep that way. Support is also provided for the joints and muscles by the padding materials of the main bed. 

It’s Not An Orthopedic Bed

The manufacturer goes as far as claiming the bed provides pain relief for joints and muscles but I take this with a pinch of salt. If one of my shih tzu had painful joints I would buy a bespoke orthopedic bed rather than this one.

As with the Joyelf and ANWA beds, the Focuspet also features an integrated non-slip base. However, instead of the rubber of the other two, the base of the Focuspet bed is constructed of the slightly less efficient but perhaps more durable nylon. 

Although this bed lacks a removable cover, the whole bed can be safely machine washed on the easy care wash and tumble dried on the lowest heat setting without fear of loss of shape.

No Small, But Medium Will Do Nicely

Bizarrely, there is no “Small” size but the “Medium” size of 23” (58 cm) diameter x 8” (20 cm) high is a good size for a shih tzu. The bed comes compressed in a vacuum-sealed pack but should reach these dimensions after being unpacked and plumped up a little.

Once again, as with the Joyelf, you can have it in any color you like as long as it’s grey.

Small dogs, in particular, seem to take to this bed straight away with a passion. 

You can see the Focuspet Faux Fur Donut Dog Bed on Amazon by clicking here.

Tent Or Cave Style Dog Beds

A shih tzu in a cave style bed.
ID: 170378124 © topntp | Depositphotos

This type of bed is enclosed all the way around with just a small opening at the entrance. The shape can be an actual tent in shape, a wigwam, a cave, an igloo or a novelty shape such as an open-mouthed shark, bear or another animal.

The tent style bed will feel like a nice, cozy den to a shih tzu, somewhere he will feel safe and secure. If crate training is not for you, a tent bed would be an excellent alternative for a little space your shih tzu can call his own.

It took me a while to find a good example of a tent bed. Apparently, there aren’t that many on the market big enough for a shih tzu and even less of a good enough quality, but I finally found this one:

ManxiVoo Dog Igloo Kennel Bed

This is about the only easily available tent-style dog bed where there is a consensus of opinion from people that have bought the bed that it is a well made, quality item.

The outside is made of a strong, polyester-cotton faux suede material with minimal soft filling and minimal faux fir trim. Attached to this material underneath the base is a water-resistant, non-slip nylon material. All of the material is easy to wipe down and keep clean. 

Machine Washable Cushion Cover

The tent comes with a removable, soft, yet firm polypropylene cushion that forms the actual bed. The cushion is encased in a faux fur cover that easily unzips for removal when it can be machine washed on the cold or easy-care setting. 

Two Beds In One

This bed is adaptable. Although primarily designed as a tent bed, if you remove the cushion, press the top right down and then place the cushion in the resultant recess, you now have a bolster-like dog bed. Converting back to a tent is as easy as pushing the top back out again from the inside. 

A Range Of Sizes And Colors

This bed comes in three sizes, I recommend for a shih tzu “Size L”, 24” x 18” x 18” (60 cm x 45 cm x 45 cm). There is also a choice of 7 colors.

The bed arrives flat and vacuum packed. When opened and assembled it will take one to two days to recover its full size. It is easy to assemble, the ends just zip into place. Then for washing or packing flat for travel, just unzip the ends again.

This bed is very lightweight and features a handle at the top, so it is easy to carry around even when fully assembled.

The only problem that I can see anyone having with this bed is that it ships from Hong Kong but as long as you can wait for the 12 to 20 days for delivery, that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

Click here to see the ManxiVoo Dog Igloo Kennel Bed on Amazon.

Flat Dog Beds

A show dog having a, no doubt, deserved rest on a flat bed.
ID: 41604977 © cynoclub | Depositphotos

If your shih tzu will not take to a conventional dog bed and insists on sleeping on the floor or a rug, you might like to try buying him a plain, flat, mattress style dog bed as a sort of half-way compromise. If you buy one and he still refuses to use it, you can try placing his favorite blanket on top in an effort to encourage him.

If you are crate training your shih tzu, one of these beds would be ideal to fit inside the bottom of the crate to help create a warm and comfortable environment.

Flat dog beds are sold in orthopedic and non-orthopedic versions.

MidWest Homes for Pets Ombré Swirl Pet Bed

Scoring 4.3 out five from user reviews, the Ombré Swirl Pet Bed from MidWest Homes is the number one best-selling pet bed on Amazon. A product does not achieve that position unless it is of the optimum combination of high quality, ease of use and value for money.

Soft, Plush Materials

The cover of the bed, made from a very soft polyester material that has been finished in a dog-comforting, furry swirl pattern. This material does not snag in a dog’s toenails and also does not ride up like fleecy materials often do.

Inside the cover is a tufted poly-fiber cushion that is firm enough to support a shih tzu but with just enough give to give maximum comfort. It’s thick enough for a resting shih tzu not to sink through to the floor but not so thick that it gives the appearance of being overstuffed.

Underneath all of this is an integrated non-slip, studded, black rubbery material that will hold the bed fast on shiny surfaces while your shih tzu lies on it, yet if he decides to get off and drag the bed somewhere else, he will be able to do so with ease.

Simple Maintenance

The bed is very easy to keep clean. The cover is not removable and there are no zippers to break. Instead, the whole bed can be machine washed. The manufacturer recommends a bleach-free wash on the cold or easy-care setting, though there are reports from people who have purchased the bed that, because of bad soiling, have washed it at higher temperatures and have not noticed any resultant loss of shape or any deterioration in quality.

Tumble drying on low heat is possible but, following the manufacturer’s recommendations again, re-shaping the bed after washing and laying the bed flat to air dry produces the best results.


There is a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty that comes with the Ombré Swirl but it is a very durable bed and in normal use should last for several years of shih tzu slumber.

There are seven sizes of this bed available, of which the 24-inch is ideal for the average-sized adult shih tzu. The actual dimensions are 23” x 18” x 2½” (58 cm x 45 cm x 6 cm). These dimensions will fit snugly inside standard-sized crates.

The bed comes in a choice of three colors, grey, mocha (a two-tone light brown) and coco chic (dark brown). For some reason that I haven’t been able to discover, the coco chic is almost double the price of the other two options.

At the time of writing, the grey and the mocha are available at a very good price that even undercuts the price of the very similar AmazonBasics Plush Pet Bed

To view the MidWest Homes for Pets Ombré Swirl Pet Bed on Amazon, click here.

Elevated Dog Beds

A shih tzu resting in an elevated bed of sorts.
ID: 40489747 © Jstaley401 | Depositphotos

Elevated dog beds usually consist of a synthetic canvas-like mesh material stretched taut over a tubular frame made of steel or plastic. The bed part is raised typically 7″ (18 cm) or more above the ground to allow airflow underneath.

The materials used make elevated beds suitable for indoor or outdoor use and are usually easily to clean with a cold water hose or by rubbing with a sponge soaked in cold water only.

These beds are particularly suitable for a shih tzu that is living in a hot climate. If, when the hot weather comes your shih tzu sits or lies panting with his tongue out for long periods in an attempt to regulate his body temperature, he could benefit from the cooling effect the all-round airflow of an elevated bed would bring.

Here is one of the better constructed models:

The Original Elevated Pet Bed By Coolaroo

Of the three elevated dog beds that feature in the top 100 Amazon best sellers, this is the one of the the best quality construction and is the most durable.

The mesh part of the bed is made out of a parasite resistant and mold resistant, high-density polyethylene that, when stretched over the steel frame, provides support for your dog’s joints and muscles, although the bed is not classed as an orthopedic bed.

The steel frame, which outperforms the plastic frames available on other beds, is nylon powder coated for the best rust and corrosion resistance.

The fabric is easy to maintain, wipe down or hose down with cold water only, no detergents. If it does ever become damaged, replacement fabric is available separately; you don’t have to buy a completely new bed. If you want to be eco-friendly, the fabric is recyclable.

The “Small” size option is available in four colors and with dimensions of 35” x 22” x 8” (89 cm x 56 cm x 20 cm) there is ample room for a shih tzu to spread out and relax. The bed comes flat-packed but can be easily assembled by the purchaser. There is a hexagonal key provided to assist with this.

See The Original Elevated Pet Bed by Coolaroo on Amazon by clicking here.

Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

So there you have my pick of the best value for money versus quality shih tzu beds easily available online. Of course, there are thousands more available in the styles I have featured and yet more in styles that I have not featured. I hope that this post has helped point you in the right direction.

If you have any comments or questions about beds for shih tzu, anything else about the shih tzu breed or about this website, please use the comments box below or, if you prefer, drop me a line using the contact us form.

Until next time, bye for now,

Shih Tzu Steve.

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