This small sturdy dog, like the Lhasa Apso, is covered over with an abundant double coat of long hair lined with a woolly undercoat. This proud looking little dog has hair above the nose growing upward, creating a "chrysanthemum" face. The head is rounded, with a profuse beard and mustache, short hairy muzzle, and black nose (except in liver-colored dogs which have liver noses). There is a definite stop. The eyes are large, round and wide-set, dark on most dogs but lighter on liver and blue colored dogs. The pendant ears are so covered with hair that they blend right into the body coat. The teeth should form a level or undershot bite. The topline is level and the body is slightly longer than the height at the withers. Dewclaw removal is optional. The heavily plumped tail is curled over the back. Any color is acceptable, though white on the forehead and tip of the tail is preferred by most dog show judges.
The Shih-Tzu is an alert and spunky little dog. Happy and hardy, endowed with loads of character. The gentle loyal Shih-Tzu makes friends easily and responds well to consistent patient training. They make a very alert watch dog. Courageous and clever. Playful and lively, this affectionate little dog likes to be with people and are generally good with other pets. Some can be difficult to housebreak. The Shih Tzu needs all of the humans in the house to be pack leader, with the rules of the house made consistently clear. Owners who allow their dogs to take over may find them to be snappish if they are surprised or peeved. Because of this dogs small size and it's adorable face, they commonly develop Small Dog Syndrome, human induced behaviors where the dog believes he is pack leader to humans. This causes a varying degree of behavioral issues, such as, but not limited to separation anxiety, guarding, growling, snapping, and even biting. They may become untrustworthy with children and sometimes adults, as they try and tell the humans what THEY want THEM to do. They will be obstinate as they take their stand and defend their top position in the pack. They may bark obsessively as they try and TELL you what they want. These behaviors are NOT Shih Tzu traits, but rather behaviors brought on by the way they are treated by people around them. Give this dog rules, and limits to what they are and are not allowed to do. Be their firm, stable, consistent pack leader. Take them for daily pack walks to burn mental and physical energy. Their temperament will improve for the better, and you will bring out the sweet, trustworthy dog in them.
Shih-Tzu Height, Weight
Height: Up to 11 inches (28 cm)
Weight: 9-16 pounds (4-7 kg)
Shih-Tzu Health Problems
They tend to wheeze and snore. Some bloodlines are prone to ear, eye and respiratory problems. Spinal disc disease caused by a long back and short legs may be a problem. Their teeth need regular veterinary attention, as they tend to be lost early. These dogs gain weight easily and should not be overfed.
Shih-Tzu Living Conditions
The Shih Tzu is good for apartment life. They are fairly active indoors and will do okay without a yard. This breed is sensitive to the heat.
The Shih Tzu need a daily walk. Play will take care of a lot of their exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, play will not fulfill their primal instinct to walk. Dogs who do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. They will also enjoy a good romp in a safe open area off lead, such as a large fenced in yard. Do not over feed this breed or it will quickly become fat.
Shih-Tzu Life Expectancy
About 15 years or more.
These little dogs require a good daily grooming using a bristle brush. A topknot is usually tied with a bow so that the dog can see properly. Some owners prefer to have them trimmed to make the coat easier and less time consuming to care for. Keep the ear passages and area around the eyes clean. Shih-Tzu's have sensitive eyes that should be keep clean. There is special drops you can buy to put in them if needed. Ask your vet what to use on your dog. This breed sheds little to no hair and are good for allergy suffers if their coats are kept very well groomed. (Due the fact that they shed little skin dander.)
Documents and paintings dating from the sixteenth century show dogs resembling a small lion (which the Shih-Tzu is sometimes called). In the seventeenth century, dogs were brought from Tibet and bred in the forbidden City of Peking, probably by crossing the Tibetan Lhasa Apso and the native Pekingese. The Shih-Tzu became a favorite of the Imperial Chinese court. The breed was so revered that for many years after the Chinese began trading with the West, they refused to sell, or even give away, any of the little dogs. It was not until 1930 that the first pair was imported to England. The Shih-Tzu was recognized in Britain in 1946 and by the AKC in the United States in 1969. Today the breed is very popular, both as a companion and as a glamorous show dog.
Herding, AKC Toy classed under the Non-Sporting Dogs category.