Shih Tzu (pronounced ‘sheed-zoo’ or ‘sheet-su’) is a long-coated little dog of Chinese origin. Shih Tzu means little lion in Chinese, but this outgoing and affectionate dog has nothing intimidating or dangerous about it.
These dogs are sweet little charmers who have been loved for centuries, and the reasons are obvious: they are cute, affectionate, and playful. Let us go into detail about their history, health, nutrition, and other aspects of the breed.
About The Shih Tzu
Origin and History
The small fluff ball look-alike Shih Tzu puppies date back to at least 1000 years old. Archaeological research shows that Shih Tzu’s are one of the 14 oldest dog breeds of China, and they date back to as early as 8000 B.C.
Shih Tzu means little lion in Chinese; it is claimed that these cute little dogs were bred by the monks of Tibet who wanted to create a miniature lion as the lion is deeply associated with the Buddhism mythologies.
However, some historians present a different opinion; history shows that Marco Polo wrote about little lion dogs kept by the Mongolian emperor Kublai Khan in the 13th century. Historians believe that Marco Polo was referring to the Shih Tzu.
The Shih Tzu also appears in historical records as the pet of the Chinese royal family during Ming Dynasty that lasted from 1368 to 1644. In 1861, the breed gained notoriety because of the Chinese Emperess Dowager Cixi, who had a great love and compassion for animals and also spent time breeding them.
Seeing her love for dogs, the Dalai Lama gifted her a pair of Shih Tzu puppies. The empress kept and trained them in a palace of their own, but after her death, the Shih Tzu breed faced the danger of extinction. They stayed hidden behind the royal walls for centuries and were known only to Asia.
In the 1900s, the Shih Tzu gained global fame when they were introduced to Ireland and England through traders. After almost two decades, these cute human companions made their way to the U.S and were recognized by American Kennel Club (AKC) in the year 1969. They were listed as Non-sporting toy dogs.
The Shih Tzu usually grows up to 28 cm or 11 inches and weighs only 9 to 6 pounds. This furry pet has a broad nose with fairly open nostrils. Usually, lips, nose, and eyes are black on all colored dogs, except they are blue on the blue Shih Tzus and liver-colored on live-colored Shih Tzu.
Their long ears hang low towards the ground and are covered beautifully in the long hair. They have toned and muscular legs with a straight back. Their tails have an abundance of hair, and they have double fur coat-covered bodies.
The Shih Tzu have hair all over their face, which is why they are often called the Chrysanthemum-faced dog. People often tie their front hair above their eyes in a bow that gives them an appearance of a plush stuffed toy.
Shih-Tzu temperament alert! Even though they look cocky and snobbish, the Shih Tzu is a very friendly and happy dog breed. Nothing makes these dogs happier than sitting in the lap of their owner as they like royal treatment and attention, thanks to their royal heritage.
Shih Tzu puppies make ideal pets even when you have children because they do not have herding, hunting, or dangerous intuitions and love to play around with the kids. They might act a little differently around strangers, but they make friends with people rather quickly.
All in all, there is something about this beautiful creature that screams attention and draws people to themselves.
Types of Shih Tzu
There are just two types of Shih Tzu;
- The American breed, which has a square-head, small chest, and wide-set eyes,
- The European breed, which is recognized by United Kingdom Kenner Club and is characterized by a long neck, round head, front legs slightly bent back, and large eyes.
Usually, people also consider the teacup and imperial Shih Tzu as types of the dog. However, they just refer to the size of the dog; Teacup refers to a small Shih Tzu, and Imperial refers to a Shih Tzu that is taller and heavier.
These lion dogs are of different colors, primarily shades of brown, white, gold, and black. They can be black mask gold, solid gold, white, black and white, grey and white, red and gray, liver color, and even blue.
Shih Tzu Life Span
The Shih Tzu dog has a life span of usually 10 to 18 years and usually grows only a little longer than its height. However, on average, Shih Tzu’s lifespan has been measured up to 12.5 years.
It is noteworthy that male Shih Tzu dogs live 1.5 years lesser than their female counterparts generally. The smaller breeds live slightly longer than the large-sized ones.
Are Shiz Tzus Hypoallergenic?
As Shih Tzy shed less, they are hypoallergenic dogs. The loose hair often gets stuck in their fur coat instead of getting in the air. However, most allergens are present in saliva and dander, so sensitive people should first spend time with a Shih Tzu to observe any allergic reactions before buying one.
What Can I Expect When Caring for A Shih Tzu?
The Shih Tzu is a small dog, but it requires a lot of love and attention. Owning a pet is a great responsibility, and if you are planning to get a Shih Tzu, you must familiarize yourself with the following information:
Although the Shih Tzu is generally a healthy dog, they may suffer from the following health issues:
- Reverse sneezing
- Portosystemic liver shunt
- Umbilical hernia
- Ear infections
- Gum problems
- Eye problems
- Patellar luxation
- Juvenile renal dysplasia
The Shih Tzu is a healthy dog breed, and if you get your Shih Tzu puppies from a responsible breeder, chances of health issues would be minimal. However, you must still look out for any signs of ailments and get regular check-ups.
Especially when you decide to buy a pup, you should get them checked and mentally prepare yourself as well for any future issues. Ensure proof of OFA evaluations and CERF when you are buying or adopting a Shih Tzu. It is good to have pet insurance to keep up with the veterinary needs of this little Christhanymum dog.
Most importantly, remember that the Shih Tzu can heat up quickly as they have a lot of fur. In summers, it’s best to get their coat trimmed and keep them indoors to avoid heat strokes.
The Shih Tzu breed has a lot of hair, so it requires constant grooming. If you plan to get Shih Tzu puppies, watch out! The fur on these furballs grows continuously, which requires regular grooming.
Most pet owners prefer to keep the hair well-trimmed and short, giving them their general fluffy look, but they look regal with the long hair. Shih Tzu with long hair should be brushed daily, and in the case of short hair, twice a week is enough.
If they are not cared for properly, their beautiful coat can become matted and can cause skin problems. Therefore, you must brush their hair regularly and give them a bath every 3 – 4 weeks. Since they have a shaggy coat, it is best to have a good-quality stainless steel brush or wire pin brush to detangle the long locks of your Shih Tzu puppies.
The dogs require a hair cut after every few weeks as long hair might irritate their eyes, but if you choose to keep the hair long, knot them up with a bow and use latex topknot because rubber bands can often damage the hair.
When Shih Tzu puppies are nearing one year of age, they change their coat, and at that time, it is essential to brush them several times a day. Lastly, don’t forget the nails and teeth! You should get their nails clipped every month and maintain their oral hygiene by brushing their teeth daily.
Although Shih Tzu dogs are generally quite lazy, a couple of short walks every day are good for them, and usually, they don’t pull away, so you do not have to worry about that. You can just take them to a dog park or play with them in the yard for a little while, and the rest of the time this furball would be happy to spend with you while watching tv or sitting around in the house.
Just like other short face breeds, Shih Tzu is also sensitive to heat. It is better to keep them in an air-conditioned room or with a fan when it is hot to prevent them from heat exhaustion. Moreover, it is not suitable for a Shih Tzu to live outside as these cute pets like it better around their human family and thrive inside the walls of a home.
The age, activity level, metabolism, and build of a Shih Tzu determine how much it should be fed. However, the usual rule of thumb is to give them half to one cup of excellent quality kibble every day.
Shih Tzu dogs require an ounce of these crunching biscuits per pound of their weight, as this is enough to feed an adult dog. But because of the fast metabolism rate, developmental stage, and growth, Shih Tzu puppies often require more kibble.
Why Is Kibble Important?
Kibble discourages the build-up of plaque that can be present in dog’s teeth and can cause periodontal and gingivitis disease. It would be better if they were fed with kibble that is made especially for toy breeds, as it will help them eat it easily because of their small size.
Generally, Shih Tzus can get obese easily, so you should always keep an eye on the amount of food they are getting and their weight. Shih Tzu puppies should be fed almost 4 times daily and after they grow up, two times a day is enough for them.
This Chrysanthemum-faced dog is highly intelligent and trainable, but that does not stop them from being a little stubborn now and then. So, it helps to have patience while training Shih Tzu puppies.
Other than their mild bouts of attitude, they are good at following commands, learning small tricks, and taking part in mini-agility activities.
- It is important to get their training and socialization a little early as they can get a little bossy and nippy about their toys and food.
- These lion dogs are considered fairly hard to housebreak. It is essential to avoid scenarios where the puppy can have an accident.
- It’s a good practice to litter-train your Shih Tzu so it can use the dog litter box when you are not at home.
- Shih Tzu puppies should be highly supervised in the house for at least 6 to 8 weeks.
- It is suitable to give them crate training as it helps with housetraining and also during travels.
- Contrary to what these fluff balls think, they can’t fly, so don’t let them jump from your arms or furniture, as this can cause injuries.
Shih Tzu – Your Own Royal Companion
This Asian toy dog breed is popular for good reason – with their friendly personalities and charming looks, the lion dog is the perfect house companion for city dwellers who enjoy a sedentary lifestyle. Shih Tzu puppies are ideal for families with children as they are extremely loving and gentle with kids. With its cute looks and loving personality, you will have a royal companion for life.
If you are more interested in athletic dogs, then read all about the magnificent Cane Corso here.