Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is one of the most popular of the Toy breeds. It is well known for its long, flowing, luxurious hair, which covers all of its body. It has a round head, pleasant expression, and large, round, dark eyes. Its ears are large and covered by the coat. Shih Tzus are very small and compact in size, with a broad, deep chest. Their tails are curved and covered with fur. Shih Tzus can be any color, and tend not to shed. Their hair is in fact a double layer, with a woolly undercoat below the longer hair. Shih Tzus are small dogs, and are slightly longer than they are tall.

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Fast Facts

Toy
11 - 14 years
China and Tibet
Antiquity
9 - 16 lb
9 - 16 lb
8 - 11"
8 - 11"
Shihju, Shitzoo, Shizu, Shihtzu, Sheetzu, Shitzu, Sheetzo
Chrysanthemum Dog

Shih Tzu Temperament

Shih Tzus are known for being sturdy, attentive, energetic, and responsive dogs....

They are best suited to being companion dogs, and are generally easy-going and affectionate. When in a playful mood, Shih Tzus can be feisty and mischievous. Because they are alert and attentive dogs, they make good watchdogs who are fond of barking. If surprised or startled, they can be snappish. Shih Tzus love attention and being spoiled. They are very clever and can be trained, although they are known to be stubborn and a trainer consequently needs to be very patient. Shih Tzus generally get along well with other pets and older children. They do not do well with babies or toddlers, as they have a strong sense of self-importance and can be jealous of little children.

Caring For a Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are fairly easy to take care of, as they do not require a great deal of exercise....

If the owner chooses to keep the hair long, it will require careful daily grooming. If not groomed regularly, tangles and painful mats can develop. Many owners tie the hair on the top of the Shih Tzu’s head into a distinctive topknot so that the dog can see more easily. The hair can, however, be trimmed in order to keep grooming needs to a minimum. Most Shih Tzus enjoy outside exercise or simply running around inside a house or yard. Their eyes are sensitive and need to be cleaned regularly. Known health issues in this breed include canine hip dysplasia, renal dysplasia, entropion, progressive retinal atrophy, trichiasis, patellar luxation and portacaval shunt.

Shih Tzu History

A Brief History of the Shih Tzu

The exact origin of the Shih Tzu is unknown but likely dates back to ancient times....

Their first recorded appearance occurred around 1650 in China. Shih Tzus were brought to the Chinese Court from Tibet, and later bred in the Forbidden City, in the heart of Peking. It is believed that Shih Tzus were bred by crossing the Lhasa Apso with the Pekingese. Since they resemble lions, they were given the name Shih Tzu, which means “little lion.” Shih Tzus soon became favorites in the Chinese Courts, and were used as watchdogs.In 1908, the Dalai Lama sent Shih Tzus to Tzu Hsi, Dowager Empress of the Manchu Dynasty, who was known to be a passionate dog breeder. The Empress herself supervised the breeding of the Shih Tzus to ensure that they would remain distinct from the Pekingese which she already owned. After her death that year, however, their breeding was not closely monitored and it is suspected that cross breedings occurred. During the Communist Revolution the Shih Tzu was on the brink of extinction. At one point, only 14 remained in the world—7 males and 7 females. Some of these 14 were by that point located in England, which imported its first pair of Shih Tzus in 1930. The Shih Tzu Club of England was formed in 1935, after which the Shih Tzu was exported all across the world. They were introduced to the US by soldiers during World War II. The Shih Tzu was recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1969, and since then has become enormously popular as a companion and as a show dog.