Common names: Ian and Chrysanthemum
Dog Breed Group: Toy Dogs
Life span: 10-16 years
Weight: 9-16 pounds
Height: 9-10 inches tall at the shoulder
Shih Tzu comes from the Chinese language word “lion” because it was bred to resemble the lion, as depicted in traditional oriental art. As one of the oldest dogs recognized through history, it is believed that the Shih Tzu originated from a cross between the Pekingese and Lhasa Apso, a Tibetan dog given by the Dalai Lama to Chinese emperors at the 17th century. The Chinese royals love these dogs so much that for years, the Chinese refused to sell and trade these breeds. With their flowing hair sweeping the ground and their topknot elegantly tied, the Shih Tzu does appear snobbish, suited only for lying about a palace on silk pillows. But actually, Shih Tzus are friendly, lively, and devoted companions. They were bred to be a friendly companion–they don’t hunt, herd, or guard. Today, pet parents have started taking Shih Tzus off their laps and into dog sports. Although individual Shih Tzu temperament varies from dog to dog, the breed has a personality and temperament that is affectionate and loyal. It’ll bark to alert that someone is at the door; once whoever it comes inside, there’s a good chance that he will like that person as long as the owner recognizes because Shih Tzu is trusting creatures. They love nothing more than to meet and greet friends and strangers. Although intelligent and alert Shih Tzu is prone to stubbornness when it comes to training.
The Shih Tzu is a sturdy little dog with a short muzzle and large dark brown eyes. Colors of their long, silky coat come with: gold and white, red and white, black mask gold, solid red, black and white, solid black, solid liver, liver and white, blue and white, brindle and white, and silver and white. Its floppy ears are covered with long fur, and the heavily furred tail is carried curled over the back. The typical fine, straight, and silky Shih Tzu coat has also been listed as being hypoallergenic.
The Shih Tzu suffers from many of the health problems common to tiny dogs. And because of their heavy coats and short faces, Shih Tzu does not tolerate heat well and are not good swimmers. The flat shape of the Shih Tzu’s face makes them susceptible to heatstroke because the air going into the lungs isn’t cooled as efficiently compared to longer-nosed breeds. They should be kept indoors in air-conditioning rooms during hot weather. It is very common for Shih Tzus to develop eye complications at any age and even more so when they get older. Older Shih Tzu is known to develop cataracts that can be corrected with surgery. Some health issues in the breed are the portosystemic shunt of the liver and hip dysplasia in standard sizes. Shih Tzu can be prone to dental problems therefore dog’s teeth should be brushed frequently. Most Shih Tzu are generally healthy, and responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions
A Shih Tzu with a long coat requires daily brushing. Use a good-quality wire brush with flexible pins, and layer the hair to be sure you reach the skin. A bath about every three or four weeks will help to keep the coat clean and at its best. Comb the mustache and topknot daily. Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two. Clean the inner corners of the eyes daily with a damp washcloth to minimize staining.
The Shih Tzu is content with short walks each day. They’re not an extremely active dog; they’re content to sit in the owner’s lap, wander around the house, play with their toys, or run to the door to greet visitors. As such, they require minimal exercise. Short daily walks with their owner and indoor playtime will satisfy the activity needs of this small, short-legged companion. Even though they’re naturally docile and friendly, the Shih Tzu still needs early socialization and training.
These dogs are recommended to have a daily amount of ½ to 1 cups of high-quality dry food a day. Shih Tzu should do well on high-quality dog food, whether it is commercial or home-prepared as long as it is supervised and approved by the vet. Some dogs are prone to overweight, therefore calorie consumption and weight level should be monitored often and clean fresh water should be available at all times
- One says that Buddha traveled with a little dog fitting the description of a Shih Tzu. One day, several robbers came upon the Buddha with the intent of robbing and murdering him. The little dog changed into a ferocious lion and ran off the robbers, saving Buddha’s life. The lion then turned back into a fun-loving little dog, which the Buddha picked up and kissed.
- They were wiped out during the communist revolution. The contributing factor was the death of Dowager Empress Tzu His, who supervised a world-renown breeding program. When she died, the breeding program fell apart.
- Celebrity owners of Shih Tzu include Nicole Richie, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Colin Farell, Bill Gates, and Queen Elizabeth II