History of the Shih Tzu Breed
Shih Tzu – pronounced "sher" of "sherbet" followed immediately by the "dds" of "adds,” although most use the Western version of “Shid Zoo” – translates to “lion dog.” Because of the association with Buddhism, this breed is highly esteemed in China. Its native land, however, is in Tibet. It is assumed to be a cross between the Tibetan Mountain Dog and the Pekingese and originated around the 17 th century. Known as a holy dog, it was favored by Empress Dowager Cixi and is often portrayed in Chinese paintings. Similar to the Pekingese, both physically and historically, the Shih Tzu is distinguished by a topknot. During the Ming Dynasty, the royal family owned and bred many of these beautiful dogs. When the British invaded, many of the dogs were lost, causing a great setback to the breed. It was initially exhibited in China as the Lhassa terrier or Tibetan poodle, and in 1935, became known as the Lhassa lion dog. In England, the Shih Tzu and the Lhasa apso were both categorized as the apso, which means shaggy; but in 1935, they distinguished the dogs as two separate breeds. A single cross with a Pekingese was permitted in 1952 to improve the standard, which was recognized in 1969 by the AKC.
Size and Appearance of the Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is a compact breed that is longer than it is tall with a long, silky double coat. This proud dog holds its head high, and its tail curls over its back. Even though it is classified as a toy and functions solely as a companion, it should be of sturdy build and follow the standards for its breed. Its wide-eyed face imparts trust and friendliness. The Shih Tzu’s coat is long, thick, and straight in any color.
Shih Tzu Temperament
This spunky pet is both a gentle lap dog and a lively friend. It has a bubbly personality, loves to play, and get along with older children and other pets. Despite its small size and flowing coat, it is a tough little dog that can be obstinate at times. The Shih Tzu expects to be treated as royalty and is easily spoiled. Because of this characteristic, it tends to be jealous of babies and toddlers. If not trained properly, the breed can be excitable, noisy, and snappy.
Shih Tzu Recommended Maintenance
The Shih Tzu requires extensive grooming of its luxurious coat. It may need brushed as often as every day for a half hour at a time in order to remove knots and prevent matting. Clip any matting from its feet, and bathe monthly. Puppies need to be trained to accept being groomed. Because it is a tiny breed, its daily exercise requirements can be met with short walks on the leash or vigorous indoor games. Apartment life is suitable for the Shih Tzu, however it loves outdoor play. It doesn’t adapt well to humid weather and must be kept as a housedog. The Shih Tzu can be stubborn, so training requires patience and consisitency.
Shih Tzu Health
• Life span: 11 – 14 years
• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: renal cortical hypoplasia, entropion, trichiasis, PRA, KCS, CHD, otitis externa, portacaval shunt, inguinal hernias
• Occasionally seen: vWD
• Suggested tests: eye