- Height: 10-11 inches
- Weight: 9-16 lb
- Lifespan: 12-16 years
- Group: AKC Toy
- Best Suited For: Families with children, singles, seniors, apartments, houses with/without yards
- Temperament: Playful, lively, cuddly, affectionate
- Comparable Breeds: Lhasa Apso, Pekingese
Shih Tzu Basics
With its long, luxurious hair, poised self-assurance and cute underbite, the Shih Tzu is the right mix of grace and sweetness. You know when a Shih Tzu walks into the room – strutting its stuff with an arrogant carriage, its head held up and tail curved over the back, the Shih Tzu commands attention wherever it goes. Resembling a little lion, the Shih Tzu is a compact pooch that will melt your heart with its big, round eyes – they have a dark, friendly gaze that just glistens.
This little mop of hair does well in a variety of living situations – homes, apartments, families and singles. The Shih Tzu is a great go-to family pet, but because of its small size and its need for companionship, he’ll need to be an inside dog.
With its long, luxurious hair, poised self-assurance and cute underbite, the Shih Tzu is the right mix of grace and sweetness.
The Shih Tzu has been proven to be one of the oldest dog breeds – recent scientific studies were conducted with DNA that was obtained from skeletal remains of dogs excavated from 10,000 year old archeological sites. As further proof, painted representation of the Shih Tzu can be found dating back to the 1500s.
Revered in Tibet, the Shih Tzu made its way onto the laps of royalty in Imperial China. It was no surprise that China didn’t want to share this adorable dog with the rest of the world – in fact, the Shih Tzu wasn’t sold or traded with the west. It wasn’t until the 20th century that this breed made its way to England, when one was given as a gift to Queen Elizabeth. In the 1960s, the Shih Tzu came to America and began its destiny as a cherished family pet.
Owned by Chinese royals as prized house pets for over a thousand years because of its association with Buddha, the Shih Tzu is thought to have been bred by crossing the Lhasa Apso or Tibetan mountain dog and Pekingese. The Ming Dynasty kept Shih Tzus as its favored canine companion before the breed was discovered by the rest of the world and introduced to England.
The Shih Tzu was recognized by the AKC in 1969.
Food / Diet
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.
The Shih Tzu is a great go-to family pet, but because of its small size and its need for companionship, he’ll need to be an inside dog.
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.
Both male and female Shih Tzus can weight anywhere from nine to 16 pounds. Because it is smaller dog, make sure your dog doesn’t become overweight.
Temperament / Behavior
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.
Common Health Problems
Since Shih Tzus have short snouts, the breed is prone to snoring and wheezing as well as other respiratory health issues. With its short legs and long backside, spinal disc conditions can occur. Eye problems are not uncommon, as its long hair gets in its eyes and causes eye infections from constant irritation. This can be prevented by keeping your Shih Tzu’s hair neatly trimmed.
Another good habit to get into is brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth, as it will help with gum problems like periodontal disease. Other problems that can arise hip dysplasia and allergies to certain dyes in dog food, and because of it short snouts and long hair, this breed is prone to heat exhaustion.
Shih Tzus have a life expectancy of 12 to 16 years.
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.
One of the most famous lap dogs around, the Shih Tzu is a forever faithful companion.
The American Kennel Club says this about the breed: “A compact and solid dog, the Shih Tzu’s long, flowing double coat is its most distinctive feature. The word Shih Tzu means “lion” and although this dog is sweet and playful, he is not afraid to stand up for himself!”
The Shih Tzu’s beautiful long coat comes in several different colors – some coats are tri-colored with white, black and shades of tan, while others may be black and white, tan and white, or brown and black.
If you’ve got allergies, good news – even though the Shih Tzu has long hair, it sheds little dander, which means less sneezes for you.
Your Shih Tzu puppy will need to be trained as soon as it joins your family. Make sure not to over exercise your pup, especially in warmer climates.
Photo credit: Nagel Photography/Shutterstock