Not all pet owners with a big heart for small dogs have the finances to buy them; This is why many search Shih Tzu for sale while searching for the cheapest deals. That, right there, is a risk, since puppy mills abound. The profit motive is what drives non-legitimate Shih Tzu breeders to breed without worrying about the health of the puppies. The results are unhealthy litters, questionable bloodlines, and probably bogus deworming and inoculation programs.
However, you will probably get a good deal, a price below the usual average, and it would be a good deal if these puppies (or adult dogs, they have them too) were of the legitimate breed. Of course, for that price, it is doubtful that the lineage is as the breeder said. If a breeder offers you some kind of discount, that price will only be a discount if they are a reputable breeder.
Look up a list of breeders online and check if they are members of breeding circles; if they are, they are most likely legitimate. Being a member of such clubs allows you to search for references for a background check. Unless you want to be suspected of being a shady puppy mill trader, a breeder will offer to show you his references and participation in dog shows; you will want to avoid giving the impression that you are a puppy mill trader.
Here’s a tip fresh out of the social media age: message your online contacts and friends that you are looking for a Shih Tzu for sale. Who doesn’t have a Facebook account these days? All you need to do is change your status to indicate that you are looking to buy Shih Tzu. You can say the same in your IM status, as in Skype. You can never know how much your social contacts can help until you do this. You might be lucky if a friend of a friend is a legitimate breeder and that gives you a discount.
If you’re not looking for an adult dog or a determined genuine breed puppy (maybe you don’t like dog shows), then you might as well visit animal shelters near your area. For the most part, you will choose adult dogs for adoption, as animal rescue groups often accept orphaned or abandoned dogs. Most of these dogs have their own stories of abuse and neglect and that is why animal rescue personnel will interview you extensively to ensure that you are able to take responsibility for adopting a dog that they cared for themselves.
There is also a key difference in money here: adoption is almost always free compared to buying dogs or puppies from legitimate breeders; even if the staff offers vaccines to add to the existing ones the dog has undergone, it is always cheaper.