Many studies indicate increases of shrubs in Arctic and alpine regions in recent decades. This often dramatic increase in the abundance and dominance of shrub species is likely due to recent climate warming and has the potential to alter both the structure and function of tundra ecosystems. To better understand recent shrub dynamics and environmental changes in tundra ecosystems, analyses of shrub growth rings offer a vast variety of methods and approaches. However, classical dendrochronological methods, which were developed for tree species, need to be adapted for shrubs, taking into account their complex morphologies and growth eccentricities. Here, we review current and developing methods to measure radial and axial growth, estimate shrub age, and assess shrub growth dynamics in relation to environmental variables. Recent advances in sampling methods, analysis and applications have improved our ability to investigate growth and recruitment dynamics of shrubs in tundra ecosystems. However, future dendroecological work will require new approaches to better address variation in growth within parts of the plant, among individuals within populations and between species to scale up findings to the landscape or biome level.