Pronounced (sheed zoo) hearty, lively, and full of love, the Shih Tzu has stolen hearts for thousands of generations! The AKA categorizes the Shih Tzu as a Toy dog with a noble stance-head high and tail curled over the back. Shi Tzu is a brachycephalic breed, which means the snout and face are compressed, giving them a cute, smooshed appearance. Shih Tzu stands 9-10 inches tall at the shoulders and can weigh somewhere between 9-16 pounds. The breeds' hallmark is their long, regal, flowing double-coat. The hair may have a slight wave to it. Shih Tzu comes in various colors combinations, making them a unique and beautiful breed. They may also come with white, tan, black, or black mask markings.
A notoriously friendly, affectionate, and happy dog, the Shih Tzu makes the perfect family companion! One hallmark of this breed is its friendly attitude. Compared to other breeds, the Shih Tzu receives top marks for being affectionate and good with children. They are also known to get along well with other dogs. Shih Tzu was bred to be lap dogs. They are happiest while following their favorite humans around. Shih Tzu is most definitely a people dog. They are known to be a relatively healthy breed. A healthy Shih Tzu will live to be about 10-18 years.
AKA Shih Tzu History & UK Shih Tzu Club
Traces of the Shih Tzu lineage can be found in China, as early as 1,000 B.C. Tibet sent Tibetan "Lion Dogs" to Chinese emperors, likely as royal gifts. These dogs are known today as Lhasa Apsos. Documents from 624 A.D. reveal that small dogs were exported from Malta, Turkey, Greece, and Persia as gifts to the ruling Chinese emperors. One of the first rounds of small Tibetan Lion Dogs likely came to China during the Qing (Ch'ing) Dynasty (1644-62) as tributes from the Grand Lamas to the Chinese Imperial Court. These dogs were Shih Tzu's ancestors and lived in the Chinese Imperial Palace. The climate in China was very different from Tibets'. However, the breed adapted and survived for hundreds of years. The breed has appeared on tapestries dating back to 2,000 years old. It is recorded that they were beloved favorites of the Manchu Empire. The Chinese bred them with short-faced breeds, such as the Chinese Pug or the Pekingese. The characteristics mixed and eventually created the modern-day Shih Tzu.
According to the AKC website, the Mandarin name Shih Tzu translates to "little lion!. The Shih Tzu was likely given the name because of its relation to the Tibetan Buddhist God of Learning, who, according to legend, traveled with a small lion dog that could change into a big lion. According to the Northstar Shih Tzu Rescue website, the history of the Tibetan "Lion Dogs" is closely associated with tenets in Buddhism, which originated from India. The lion was not indigenous to China, so the Chinese and the Tibetan lamas bred their toy dogs to resemble lions. However, we cannot be sure if they styled them to resemble lions or called them lions because they resemble lions. We know that the breed became so revered that the Chinese refused to sell, or even give away, any of the sacred toy dogs for many years. They were rarely seen outdoors or outside of the palace. It is rumored that even owning one of these dogs could earn one the death sentence. It is not an exaggeration to say that these dogs were considered royalty. Emperors and empresses would use their beloved palace pets as robes and foot warmers in their beds.
Sometime after the Chinese Communist Revolution, the Shih Tzu breed almost ended. In large part, this was due to the death of Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi. According to dog historians, right after Empress Tzu Hsi reigned in the 1860s, the then Dalai Lama gave her a breeding pair of beautiful, purebred Shih Tzu. The pair are the ancestors of the pure line of Shih Tzu. Empress Tzu Hsi ran a world-renowned Shih Tzu breeding program and considered the dogs sacred. She paid particular attention to family lines and color. She carefully oversaw the kennels and attempted to keep three distinct imperial breeds separate during her lifetime. However, the eunuchs were the ones who cared for the dogs and carried out the breeding in the palace. The eunuchs secretly crossed-bred them to reduce their size and produce interesting or unusual markings. Upon her death, the breeding program came to an end in 1908. During the 20th century, Shih Tzu's numbers dwindled to practically nothing. Every Shih Tzu that exists can be traced back to one of fourteen dogs. Seven dogs and seven bitches rebuilt the breed.
A Shih Tzu pair was finally imported to England from China in 1930. For years, the breed continued to be presented as gifts to the Dutch and English nobility. From there, the English exported them to other countries. Military personnel from the United States took the Shih Tzu back home in the late 1940s and 1950s and started breeding programs. By the 1960's it was extremely popular in the United States. The Shih Tzu was first distinguished as a breed by the AKC in the United States in 1969. Since then, Shih Tzu has become one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. Several celebrities, like Mariah Carey, Katherine Heigl, Nicole Richie, Colin Farell, Bill Gates, Beyonce, and Queen Elizabeth, have all owned Shih Tzus!
The AKA breeds standard temperament for the Shih Tzu requires affable, jovial, and trusting towards all. They are playful, spunky, and all-around great family dogs. Due to their small size and attachment to their owners, they are less likely to wander far from their owners. The Shih Tzu breed is perfect and gentle with young children.
The breed is on the quieter side compared to other breeds. However, a long time ago, Shih Tzu was allegedly used by the Chinese Empire as royal watchdogs to alert guards on unwanted visitors. However, they found that dogs made better companions than watchdogs. This lively teddy bear is attentive and will let you know when visitors are. They are optimistic and usually friendly/somewhat trusting towards strangers. Their wide, dark eyes have a sweet, sincere expression that is eager to please. Sleek, lively, and alert, the breed carries itself as if it's aware of its' noble Chinese ancestry-with head high and tail curled merrily over the back.
Shih Tzu puppies will need a safe space to run, tumble, and do puppy things. They require access to freshwater, a dog bed/rest area, and plenty of fun toys. Puppies benefit from having some bone or chew toys, not just for entertainment, but because teething can be particularly painful for puppies. Chew toys, bones, and other kinds of treats to chew on can help alleviate the pain and keep them entertained for hours! For young dogs, puppy gates can be a good idea to help set boundaries inside.
Teaching your puppy to be alone is an important step in growing up. Crate training your puppy can help. Make sure to make the crate as warm, safe, and relaxing as possible. To make it feel like home, feed them meals there give them special treats and toys they only get while in their crate. You want them to associate the crate with all positive things and not see it as a punishment. An especially anxious puppy may benefit from a white noise machine or other anxiety-easing products. Put the puppy in the crate or exercise pen and leave the room to see how he reacts. If the puppy whines, wait to see if he will self-soothe. Once the puppy responds positively and self soothes, leave the room for a little longer each time.
The Shih Tzu is a toy dog bred to spend most of its time inside royal palaces. The breed is known to be attentive and aware of its environment. They will alert you of any guests. However, they don't make much noise, so they make great pets for those living in apartments or other small spaces. The Shih Tzu is a small yet highly adaptable breed that will thrive in almost any environment. However, there are key things to remember to maintain their safety. Due to their long, flowing hair and short faces, the breed does not tolerate heat well, especially for long periods. They are also not the strongest swimmers and should always be monitored closely around bodies of water. Their long fur can weigh them down while swimming.
Even though ShihTzu has long, gorgeous double coats, they shed minimally! However, just because they do not shed as much as other dogs do not mean it doesn't require some maintenance. A Shih Tzu with a long coat looks best with daily brushing. Be sure to use a good-quality wire brush with flexible pins. For easy brushing, layer the hair. This ensures you reach the skin. The mustache and topknot benefit from a daily swipe of the comb.
ShihTzu is known as "chrysanthemum-faced dogs'' which means their facial hair grows in every direction. Owners will need to occasionally trim the hair on the snout to prevent it from growing into the eyes. The hair on top of the head also needs to be trimmed or tied in a topknot. This helps to avoid eye irritation. Ask the groomer to do a "puppy trim" for an adorable, easy maintenance cut. It's a charming style that lasts 3-4 weeks and is a bit less time-consuming.
The AKA recommends trimming nails and cleaning ears as a part of the Shih Tzu grooming routine. To clean their tear ducts, gently clean the corners of the eyes with damped cloth of water. Luckily, they are not a very drooly breed, so a clip and bath every 3-4 weeks should keep your Shih Tzu fur looking spiffy!
Puppies need plenty of playtimes, praise, socialization, and structure to thrive. However, the Shih Tzu is a lap dog, not a sports dog. A 15-mile beach run is too much. Their long, luxurious coats make them more glamorous than sporty. However, a surprisingly strong, well-balanced, agile body is underneath their flowing coats, fit for agility competitions. Some Shih Tzu have even won agility competitions.
The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals website says an hours' worth of exercise a day is adequate to satisfy the Shih Tzu. This toy breed has short legs and requires minimal exercise. Two to three walks a day should be sufficient. Playtime is considered an activity, and plenty of rest should fall in between walks and plays.
The AKC website states that Shih Tzu will do well on any type of high-quality dog food. Commercial dog food or home-prepared food is recommended with your veterinarian's approval. According to the PetMD website, some studies have shown that dry food is more beneficial to dogs' health overall than a canned food diet, larger kibbles. One study found that increasing the kibble size by 50% resulted in a 42% decrease in the accumulation of dental tartar. Supplementing their food with a daily dental chew can further help oral hygiene. However, if the veterinarian says the dog is lean and needs to put on some weight, incorporating canned meals with their dry food diet works well. However, a diet that consists of purely wet food can make stools loose, not always!
It is very important to select a food that is age-appropriate for your dog (puppy, adult, or senior). Dogs' nutritional needs vary slightly with age. Typically, a pups' food contains more calories, while a senior dog's food usually contains fewer calories and more fiber. As dog's age, they need to consume fewer calories (than a puppy). Treats should be given in moderation and according to instructions. If your dog is obese, speak to your veterinarian about weight and diet options. To keep your dog at optimal health, learn about which human foods are safe or unsafe for canine consumption. Make sure your dog gets plenty of freshwaters every day! Multiple water sources are encouraged.
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