Shih Tzu

A Quick Look at the Shih Tzu…

The Shih Tzu (a term used for both singular and plural) found its beginnings in China. It is one of three kinds of Tibetan holy dog, along with the Tibetan Spaniel and the Lhasa Apso, and is the smallest among them, according to dog breed experts.

Here are some fast facts about the Shih Tzu:

Dog Group:
Toy, AKC
Recognized By:
Dogs – 4-8 lbs. (9-18 kg)
Bitches – 4-8 lbs. (9-18 kg)
Dogs – 26-27 in. (10-11 cm)
Bitches – 23-27 in. (9-11 cm)
Average litter size:
Life expectancy:
9-15 years (average of 12)
Health problems:
Coat care:
Exercise needs:
Suitable for children:
Pet compatibility:
Barking frequency:

Brief History

In the Seventeenth Century, Tibet gave dogs as gifts to the royal family living within the Peking forbidden city. In Peking, this dog was bred with the Pekingese and the Lhasa Apso, resulting in the Shih Tzu.

The Shih Tzu instantly became the most popular breed among the royals and the court in China. In fact, it was valued so greatly that even after China had been trading with the West for many years, they still refused to share their treasured Shih Tzu breed. Finally, in 1930, England received the first pair of Shih Tzu outside of China.

By 1946, The Kennel Club recognized the Shih Tzu in Great Britain, and in 1969, they received recognition by the American Kennel Club. Today, the Shih Tzu is a favorite at dog shows and as a family pet.

Shih Tzu Breed Appearance and Characteristics

General Appearance – The Shih Tzu is a little dog with large eyes and a short muzzle with a passive expression overall. It is most recognized for its long silky double coat which is acceptable in any color. Its ears are covered in long hair, so as they hang down, they appear to drop much farther than they actually do. The Shih Tzu has an appearance of bold confidence.

Typical Temperament – Though the Shih Tzu is confident and sociable, it is also a breed that adores consistently being the center of attention. The dog is proud and assured of itself and will bring the attention upon itself even among other dogs, or with children or babies in the room.

The breed is prone to jealousy when the attention is not focused upon it, so whimpering for attention is common when kids and babies are present, and in the worst case, nipping can occur. That being said, older children and the Shih Tzu typically get along very well, especially when they are allowed to bond through regular events such as grooming and exercise.

The Shih Tzu is an impeccable watch dog, always having its eyes peeled to see who is coming and going. Left unchecked, they can become quite yappy about the way that they keep watch.

Basic Shih Tzu Care Requirements

Grooming – The Shih Tzu has extensive requirements for being groomed, including regular daily combing and brushing as well as frequent clipping. The shorter the coat is clipped, the less time it takes to be groomed. To make the clipping experience more pleasant for the dog, it is important to start the process as early in the dog’s life as possible, so that he or she will become accustomed to the process.

The same is true for the brushing of the dog. Since, clipped short or not, the daily brushing of the dog’s coat is essential, starting with the daily brushing from the first day that the dog is brought home can make the process much easier for both the owner and the dog.

If the dog has a long show coat, it will need to be bathed (using special bathing products designed for dogs) as often as every two weeks. Shih Tzu with the puppy cut will only need to be bathed every eight to twelve weeks unless they become exceptionally dirty in a way that brushing will not manage.

Exercise – Shih Tzu dogs don’t need a tremendous amount of exercise, but a daily walk and some daily playtime is essential for burning energy and keeping the dog healthy.

Approximate Food Cost – With an average lifestyle, a healthy adult Shih Tzu will generally consume around ½ to 1 cup of dry dog food, which will cost around $15 every month.

General Health Information

The Shih Tzu is essentially a healthy dog as it has had hundreds of generations over which to continue improving. As their eyes do protrude, it is important to take care to keep them protected from injury. The shorter muzzle can lead to problems with wheezing.

Hereditary eye, ear, and respiratory issues do exist in this breed. Since the dogs have long backs but short legs, spinal disc injuries and disease may develop. Regular veterinary dental attention can help to protect and prolong the life of their delicate teeth. It is important to be careful of the dog’s food intake and exercise levels to keep body weight under control.

Common Illnesses include: slipped stifles, slipped kneecaps, or renal dysplasia (a disorder of the kidney.

Are You the Right Shih Tzu Owner?

Living conditions – The Shih Tzu can live in just about every kind of home. They are quite content in apartments since they can play happily indoors.

Training – Shih Tzu is an intelligent breed and is more than bright enough to learn competition-quality obedience as well as proper housetraining. They can, though, be strong willed and stubborn. With persistence, consistency, proper leadership, and positive reinforcement training, training can be easy and effective.

Common Problems – This dog can be quite sensitive to heat, so it is important to keep him or her in an air conditioned environment in hotter climates, and to keep exercise indoor and low-key on exceptionally hot days.

The Shih Tzu is not highly prone to aggression, but can display some aggressive tendencies as a result of jealousy, such as barking, whining, or nipping.

The bottom line…

Shih Tzu are bright and tough little dogs with a noble, confident attitude that clearly reflects their roots among the Chinese royalty. They have warm, intelligent eyes and though they’re small, they’re not at all delicate.

The most amount of effort in maintaining this breed is regarding its grooming and the regular upkeep of its coat’s health and style. Without proper grooming, the breed is prone to knots, snarls, and skin infections, spots, and even infestations of parasites.

This breed is appropriate for families as long as the children are older to minimize issues with jealousy in the Shih Tzu. In these families, they are loving, devoted, and protective members.

Filed Under: Shih Tzu Training


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