- Group – Toy
- Height – 8-11 inches at the shoulder
- Weight – 4-7 KG
- Life Span – 10-14 years
The Shih Tzu is a sweet and playful family companion. He’s bolder than his small size suggests, but gets along well with strangers and other animals.
The origin of the Shih Tzu dates back many centuries to ancient China and Tibet. It is thought that the breed developed by crossing miniature Chinese breeds with small Tibetan breeds – in particular, Lhasa Apsos with the Pekingese. The Shih Tzu was always a favorite of the Emperors of China. During the Tang Dynasty, a pair of these dogs were said to be given to the Chinese court by the king of Vigur. More were sent later by the people of the Ho Chou. In the mid-1600s, small dogs which resembled lions were brought from Tibet to China, and these dogs were used to develop the Shih Tzu breed we know today. The Shih Tzu was popular during the Ming Dynasty as well, favored by royalty and commoners alike.
The breed was favored by the Dowager Empress Cixi (T’zu His, 1861–1908). After her death, the palace kennels were dispersed and the dogs became rare. In 1912, once China became a republic, occasional Shih Tzus came to England and later to Norway and North America. The breed almost became extinct in 1949 due to the Communist takeover. Thankfully, several breed fanciers kept their dogs, and it is thought that only 7 dogs and 7 bitches are the foundation of all Shih Tzus today.
The Shih Tzu did not become well known to the western world until the 20th century, when it finally entered the show ring. The Peking Kennel Club was formed in 1934 and held its first international breed show that year. Lhasa Apsos and Lhasa Lion Dogs were entered and judged together, with clearly there being confusion between the two breeds. A standard for the Shih Tzu was developed by 1938, with the help of Madame de Breuil, a Russian refugee. This is reportedly the most poetic of all standards written for any breed. Here are some of its comments: “The head of a lion; the round face of an owl; the lustrous eyes of a dragon; the oval tongue of a peony petal; the mouth of a frog; teeth like grains of rice; ears like palm-leaves; the torso of a bear; the broad back of a tiger; the tail of a phoenix; the legs of an elephant; toes like a mountain range; a yellow coat like a camel; and the movement of a goldfish.”
In the early days of this breed, the golden yellow dogs were called Chin Chia Huang Pao; the yellow dogs with a white mane were called Chin Pan To Yueh (meaning “golden basin upholding the moon”), black and white dogs were called Wu Yun Kai Hsueh (meaning “black clouds over snow”), solid black dogs were called Yi Ting Mo (meaning “lump of ink”), and multicolored dogs were called Hua Tse (meaning “flowery child.”).
Breeding of Shih Tzus in England began in 1930, when several pairs of the breed were brought there from China. In particular, a black and white Shih Tzu named Lung Fu Ssu arrived in Ireland in 1930, and a black and white pair named Hibo and Shu Ssa came to England the same year. In 1932, one dog and two bitches were brought to Norway. When the Shih Tzus were shown against the Lhasa Apsos starting in 1933, it became clear that the two dogs were different breeds. The Shih Tzu Club of England was formed in 1935, and recognized that the Lhasa Apso and the Shih Tzu were entirely separate breeds. The Lhasa Apso has a narrower skull and a longer muzzle, while the Shih Tzu has a rounder skull and a shorter muzzle.
American soldiers became fond of this breed during World War II and brought some back to the United States. Many more Shih Tzus were imported after this, once the American dog fancier population became enamored with them. The Shih Tzu was recognized in the Stud Book of the American Kennel Club in March of 1969. It began competing in the Toy Group in September of that same year.
The Shih Tzu has always been a companion dog, being extroverted, vivacious, confident and dignified. Its friendly, affectionate and trusting personality towards family and strangers alike is one of its most endearing qualities.
Personality and Temperament
Shih Tzus are an independent breed, known for their intelligent and lovable nature. They are one of the most sociable and outgoing breeds, and rarely bark.
One of the most famous lap dogs around, the Shih Tzu is a forever faithful companion. As well, this dog is delightful, gentle and sweet natured; the Shih Tzu is fun-loving and spirited with a cheery disposition.
The Shih Tzu needs to be involved with its family. Put your pup on guard duty, as it is attuned to changes in the environment, such as strangers or visitors coming close to your home. Although this dog is friendly, don’t be surprised if it is a little shy with visitors at first. But don’t worry – soon everyone that comes into your home will be charmed by this small but mighty dog.
Hair, Care and Grooming
Coat- Luxurious, double-coated, dense, long, and flowing, can be slightly wavy. The Shih Tzu requires a great deal of grooming care. Its coat must be combed daily and special treatment may be needed for the ears and eyes to keep them clean. Pets may be clipped.
This breed tends to wheeze and snore. They are also prone to ear, eye, and respiratory problems, along with spinal disc disease.
Training and Activity
As soon as the Shih Tzu has been weaned and settled in its new home, obedience training should begin. It’s important to note that this breed has a short span of attention; you’ll get the best results if you train in small time increments. Shih Tzus are smart and curious, so make these lessons fun – if you are patient, your dog will learn quickly. And it never hurts to use incentives, such as a positive kudos and treats for a job well done.
Hey, your Shih Tzu can’t spend all its time on your lap, so make sure you get outside with your dog as often as possible. It’s a great way to make sure they don’t put on any extra weight. Shih Tzus love games where it can strategize and stalk its “enemy” whether it is a rope tug, a Frisbee or a large knotted up sock.
Since the Shih Tzu is primarily an indoor dog and prefers to spend its time on your lap, you should take care not to over feed this breed. Be sure to feed your Shih Tzu wholesome, healthy ingredients and leave out additives, salt or fillers. Just a few of the foods to feed your Shih Tzu include organs (liver and heart), lean cuts of meat, fish, vegetables, rice and pasta.