Compact, yet slightly longer than it is tall, the Shih Tzu hides a sturdy body beneath its mantle of luxurious hair.Read More
Shih Tzu Overall Status
- 9 to 10.5 inches
- Affectionate, Playful, Outgoing
- 9 to 16 pounds
- Life Expectancy
- 10 to 18 years
- Coat Color
- Black, Brown, White
- Barking Level
Shih Tzu Quick Factors
- Dog Friendly
- Exercise Need
- Grooming Needs
- Strangers Friendly
- Family Affectionate
Shih Tzu Daily Care
Is it the Shih Tzu's flowing locks of gold and white that made you fall in love with him? The Chinese emperors probably had an entire army of servants who did nothing but comb their dogs, because even one day without grooming and that coat can become a tangled mess.
A Shih Tzu with a long coat requires daily brushing. Use a good-quality wire brush with flexible pins, and layer the hair to be sure you reach to the skin. Abathabout every three or four weeks will help to keep the coat clean and at its best. Remember to comb the mustache and topknot daily, and gently clean the corner of theeyeswith a damp cloth. To protect the Shih Tzu's eyes from being irritated, the hair on the top of the head should be trimmed short or tied up into a topknot. If you don't want to have to spend time on your dog's coat, the Shih Tzu can look adorable when clipped into a "puppy trim" by a professional groomer.
Comb the moustache and topknot daily. A puppy will have enough hair for a topknot when he is about 5 months old. Use a latex band sold at dog shows or good pet supply stores to tie the topknot. Rubber bands will break the hair.
Check the ears on a weekly basis for signs of infection, irritation, or wax build up. Cleanse regularly with a veterinarian-approved cleanser and cotton ball. Brush the teeth at least once per week to prevent tartar buildup and gum disease. Small dogs are prone to dental problems later in life, so brushing more often is a good idea. Additionally, nails should be trimmed once per month if the dog does not wear the toenails down naturally.
Shih Tzus are lap dogs and are by no means active, outdoorsy dogs. A simple walk around the block and some romping time in the yard or at the park are enough to meet their daily exercise requirements. They much prefer clowning around the house or curling up on a lap to a rigorous cardio workout. Their size makes them ideal for apartments and condominiums, but they can be just as happy in sprawling estates.
Young Shih Tzu puppies should not be given too much exercise because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. Puppies should not be allowed to jump up and down off the furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs as both of these things put a lot of strain on their growing bones.
The Shih Tzu should do well on high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian's supervision and approval.
If you get a Shih Tzu puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Treatscan be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about whichhuman foodsare safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog's weight or diet.Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
The average life span of the Shih Tzu is 11 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include the following:
Dental Problems: Diseases and disorders affecting the dog's mouth
Eye Problems: Issues relating to the dog's vision and/or ability to see
Hypothyroidism: a clinical syndrome caused by inadequate production and release of the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4)
Invertebral Disk Disease: Neurological deficits caused by degeneration and displacement of the material inside an intervertebral disk
Patellar Luxation: Patellar luxation, commonly known as a "slipped knee cap," occurs when the patella is displaced from the joint.
Respiratory Problems: Lung and airway disorders affect the dog's respiratory system
Von Willebrand Disease: the most common hereditary blood-clotting disorder in domestic dogs.
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.Positive reinforcement methodsare very efficient and get you great results while deepening the bond you have with your pet. On the other hand, being harsh or relying on aversive training techniques will only be counterproductive and damage the relationship you're building with your Shih Tzu.
Earlysocializationandpuppy training classesare recommended and help to ensure that the Shih Tzu grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion. When enrolling in a puppy class, be sure that the training methods used in the class are based on positive reinforcement.
Shih Tzu History
The Shih Tzu, also known as the 'Chinese Lion Dog', 'Chrysanthemum Dog' (because its face resembles a flower), or 'Shih Tzu Kou' (which translates to 'Lion Dog', designating its revered status in Buddhism) originates in Tibet as far back as the 1600's. The Shih Tzu in its current form was primarily developed in China during the reign of Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi in the late 1800's, likely from crosses of thePekingesewith theLhasa Apso. The Shih Tzu was a favored pet of royalty, but fell into decline when British troops raided the Forbidden City in 1860. The breed survived, but was generally not distinguished from the Lhasa Apso until 1934, when the smaller, shorter nosed variety was reassigned its original Chinese name, 'Shih Tzu'.
World War II interrupted the breed's development in England, but it survived and then thrived in the 1950s and 1960s. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1969. Today the Shih Tzu is popular for his loyal, gentle, cheerful attitude. He ranks 10th among the breeds registered by the AKC, a position that has held steady for a decade.