Remember your puppy will be a part of your family for many years. NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BARGAIN HUNT! You may have known someone who has (or you may yourself have purchased) a "backyard" bred dog or a pet stop or puppy mill dog and had great success. However, it is prudent to remember that such puppies may have health or temperament problems due to a lack of knowledge about breed health problems and genetics or a failure to provide proper socialization at a young age. Responsible breeders do all that they can to screen for and eliminate health and temperament problems. They can provide you with advice about your puppy both before and after you take it home.
Do not be in a hurry. If getting a Shih Tzu, any Shih Tzu, RIGHT NOW, is foremost in your plans, then you are not serious and will get what you ask for....just any Shih Tzu. You should read books on the breed, attend dog shows, and LEARN.
Finally, responsible breeders are expected to produce Shih Tzu to high standards. They are entitled to respect and courtesy from the people they are trying to please. Always be on time for any appointments and be honest in explaining your lifestyle family activity level, experience with dogs, and knowledge of Shih Tzu.
Make a copy of the following check list and keep it by the phone when you make your calls. Good luck in your search!