If you bring a Yorkshire terrier and a Shih Tzu into your household, you have two different breeds of small dog that don't differ a great deal in care. The only thing is, you must enjoy grooming to own either of these dogs, as both need a lot of it.
Neither breed is a breeze to housebreak, so be prepared. Both are smart little dogs who can learn quickly, but you might have to deal with occasional accidents with either of your buddies. Just have patience, and be firm and consistent with your training. If you like canine sports, either breed can do well in agility or obedience competitions. Both also make good therapy dogs, although the Shih Tzu probably is the better candidate. Some Yorkies might be reserved with strangers.
Neither breed needs much in the way of exercise. That makes them ideal for life in an apartment or townhouse. That doesn't mean they don't require some exercise, but a walk around the block once or twice daily fulfills their needs. Remember that your Yorkie is a terrier, so he's big in the sniffing and investigating department when you're out for a stroll. He also doesn't think of himself as a tiny dog, so be careful he doesn't challenge bigger dogs you meet in your travels. Shih Tzus are strictly companion dogs, not much interested in anything other than you.
Both of your dogs require regular trips to the groomer. If you show your pets, they must wear long, full coats, which means a lot of daily brushing on your part. If you don't show, you can keep your dogs in shorter "puppy clips." That still means combing out the hair several times a week to keep them looking spruce and avoiding mat development. You should comb out your Shih Tzu topknot and mustache daily, doing the same with your Yorkie's topknot. Pin their topknots up with special bands sold at pet stores, rather than plain rubber bands which cause hair breakage.
While good dental health is important for all canines, it's especially important for small dog breeds like Yorkies and Shih Tzus. That's because little dogs have the same number of teeth as larger breeds -- 42 in all -- but they're in much tinier mouths. Start brushing your dogs' teeth in puppyhood. Both breeds will probably need regular cleaning, under anesthesia, by your vet on an annual basis. Dogs diagnosed with periodontal disease, common in these small breeds, might need more than an annual, professional cleaning.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.