There are several reasons why your Shih Tzu might growl at you or others. This article should help to describe the different types of growling and what they mean.
What is a growl?
A growl can be defined as an aggressive sound that is made through an open mouth, usually when the teeth are exposed. It is a warning to back off, and is often the precursor to an attack.
Why do dogs growl?
Dogs growl for a number of reasons. Some of these include: fear aggression, dominance aggression, protective aggression, pain-related aggression, malnutrition or illness when eating/food guarding, anxiety/stress-related when it cannot escape or when it is cornered.
What are the different types of growls? There are 9 different types of growling that your Shih Tzu might display, this includes: protesting – excitement or play – fear-related – pain-related – protective/defensive aggression – resource guarding – dominance aggression – frustration or redirected aggression – anger
Protesting: This type of growling is heard in the early stages when a dog wants something, but does not have the confidence to take it. They will usually adopt a stiff body position and may appear very focused. The noise is quite high-pitched and sounds like an expletive “urrr”. It can be mistaken for happiness. Excitement or
Play Growling: This is usually heard when a toy has been involved, or some other kind of play. The noise sounds great fun and the body language will look similar to that of play bows (front end low to ground) – basically they are asking you to join in!
Fear-related growling: If your Shih Tzu is afraid of something, this may be a way to get it to stay away from them. The growl will be high-pitched and the body position will look very stiff. If you try to comfort or reassure them at this point, they are likely to snap at you. This type of growling can also be heard if they are not comfortable with you touching their food bowl, bed or other resources.
Pain-related growling: If your Shih Tzu is in pain it may try to scare you away from touching them by using a warning growl. This is often accompanied by stiff body language and the teeth being bared. If you can see that your dog is in pain, do not approach them – get help from a professional. If they are growling because of pain-related aggression, then try to work out where the pain is coming from and if there is anything you can do to make it more comfortable for them. Protective/defensive
aggression: If your Shih Tzu is feeling scared and cornered, the growl may have a much deeper pitch to it. The body will be held low to the ground and they might try to snap at you if you get too close. This is a very serious warning sign, so back off immediately.
Resource guarding: This type of growling can be heard when your Shih Tzu is worried about resources such as food or bedding. This may be accompanied by staring and stiff body language.
Dominance aggression: This type of growling is common when dogs are competing for the top spot in their pack. A dominant Shih Tzu will try to use a low-pitched warning growl to scare the other dog into submission. If you are dealing with this type of aggression, it will be necessary to keep your Shih Tzu on a leash at all times when out walking and to make sure they cannot escape from their enclosure (e.g. garden) unattended.
Frustration or redirected aggression: When dogs feel like they cannot get to the thing they want, they may try to make you feel scared instead. If your Shih Tzu is doing this, it would be advisable for them to wear a basket muzzle when out and about to protect both of you against any bites or scratches.
Anger: If your dog looks very tense and is trembling while growling, this may indicate that they are angry. This type of growl is always a warning sign and you should back off immediately to avoid any potential bites or attacks.
In many cases, it is not possible to identify the exact reason why your Shih Tzu is growling, so if in doubt please ask a professional for help.
I hope you found this article educational and enjoyable to read. If you have any opinions regarding this topic or you’d like to share your personal experiences, please leave a comment below. Also if you liked the information, don’t hesitate to share it with your friends! Thank You!