Shih Tzu

June 2, 2020 // 7 minute read

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Shih Tzus are toy dogs that only grow up to 11 inches, maximum. They are small and regal dogs known for their long, silky hair. The Shih Tzu has an adorable face that even the royalties and celebrities love.

The name Shih Tzu means “Little Lion,” however, these cute and adorable dogs are far from being aggressive. Instead, they are friendly companions who love staying with their humans. No matter who you are or what you’re lifestyle is, the Shih Tzus are adaptable dogs. They will surely make your day bright whenever you’re feeling down.

Shih Tzu Facts

Shih Tzu Statistics

Dog Breed GroupToy
Breed SizeToy
Height9-10.5 inches
Weight9-16 pounds
Lifespan10-18 years

Shih Tzu Ratings

Energy level
Exercise needs
Requires attention
Friendly with family
Friendly with kids
Friendly with strangers
Friendly with other dogs
Prey Drive

Shih Tzu History

Shih Tzus are believed to be one of the oldest dog breeds, existing way back to 1,000 B.C. Historical evidence suggests that the Tibetan Monks first developed this dog breed. It appears that they were created by crossing a Lhaso Apso and Pekingese.

The Shih Tzus were then presented as gifts to the Chinese royal family. They were pampered and loved by royalties, even by the emperors. It is also believed that emperors give rewards to the breeders who can create the most beautiful dog.

For years, Shih Tzus remained inside the royal grounds of China, hidden. No one from the outside knew of their existence. They were considered sacred that the Chinese royalty refuses to sell or give away even one of their dogs to the Westerners.

Well, that was until 1928, when Lady Brownrigg brought the first pair of Shih Tzus to England. By 1933, another woman brought another dog from China to Ireland. These three dogs became the foundation of new breeds of Shih Tzus as they almost became extinct during the Chinese communist revolution.

Soon, after a few years, the Shih Tzu breed was introduced to the U.S. grounds. They immediately became popular, and by 1960, three Shih Tzu Clubs were already formed.

Today, they are still one of the most popular dogs both in the U.K. and the U.S. Even Queen Elizabeth II fell in love with the breed, and celebrities like Miley Cyrus couldn’t resist their charm too.

Shih Tzu Dog Breed

Shih Tzu Temperament

While carrying themselves proud and confident, Shih Tzus are nothing but sweet and affectionate dogs. The American Kennel Club describes them as loving, playful, outgoing. They are excellent companion dogs, whether you’re single, a couple, or a family.

Compared to other toy dog breeds, they are not very demanding. However, they do love attention and seek companionship. They get along well no matter what the age of their owner is. They are friendly with strangers and other animals too.

They were originally bred as companion dogs, so don’t expect them to hunt or guard. They enjoy comfort more and would rather sit on your lap, snuggle, and play. They are not a lazy dog breed, though. They are alert and will bark if needed (or even if not).

Shih Tzus tend to have bad behaviors too, like being stubborn, but training will keep these behaviors at bay. They are obedient and are easy to forgive, so training them wouldn’t be that hard. Just make sure you remain consistent, and always shower him with praise and rewards (in the form of dog treats).

Shih Tzu Care Requirements

  • Nutrition: Shih Tzus, just like other dog breeds, need a well-balanced diet to stay healthy. It must be able to provide their needed vitamins and minerals to keep their long coat shiny. At least 50% of high-quality protein should be part of this meal. You must also make sure that you only acquire this from high-quality beef, lamb, chicken, or oily fish. You can also put in a mix of organ meats, but make sure it doesn’t go over 5%. Dairy is an excellent source of protein, too, if your Shih Tzu isn’t lactose intolerant. Carbohydrates are essential as well, even if your Shih Tzu doesn’t have a lot of activity. You can add carbohydrates by putting brown rice, sweet potatoes, or crumbled bread to your dog’s meal. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of nutrients as well, and you can comprise about 30% of your dog’s daily diet. Just make sure to avoid corn, as this can be hard to digest. Also, never give avocados, raisins, grapes, or nuts.
  • Grooming: Shih Tzus are known for their long, lustrous hair. Though it does not frequently shed, it will need regular brushing to maintain its healthy shine. Also, this will prevent entanglements that will damage their coat. It’s essential to comb the mustache and the topknot daily. Cleaning the sides of their eyes by wiping will help prevent eye infection. Also, bath them at least once a month to maintain the cleanliness of the coat. Shih Tzus hair will grow longer, and it should be maintained by trimming. The hair on top of his head is one area that you should pay attention too. If you find it hard to cut their hair, take them to an expert for hair trimming. At the same time, you can ask these experts to trim the Shih Tzu’s nails as well.
  • Exercise: Shih Tzus are created as house companions, and though they love cuddles and lazing around, they still require a little bit of exercise. This should only take about 30 minutes of daily walks – 15 minutes in the morning and another 15 minutes in the afternoon. You can also add daily indoor playtime, a fun opportunity to bond with your dog.
  • Health: Due to their little faces and long coats, Shih Tzus are not great swimmers, and they can’t tolerate heat well. This is why they need extra care, especially if you’re near any bodies of water. If possible, they should be mainly kept indoors. Other than that, they can also be prone to several health problems. One of the most common is luxating patellas, which is a condition where their kneecaps are not stable. Eye infection is common because their eyes bulge. Their shortness of breath can sometimes lead to major respiratory problems. There’s also renal dysplasia, which Shih Tzus can often inherit from their parents. You can check with the breeders regarding this so you can already rule out if there’s a possibility that your Shih Tzu can get it or not. Check-ups will help in preventing and monitoring some of these diseases. It’s also best to get early screening if tests are available.
  • Lifespan: The life expectancy of Shih Tzus is 10-18 years.

Shih Tzu

Famous Shih Tzus

Honeychild: Shih Tzu of Nicole Richie
Sumo: Shih Tzu of comedian Susie Essman
Harry: The famous Shih Tzu of Geri Halliwell of Spice Girls
Bella: Shih Tzu of Bella Mader who is with her in all of her travels
Choo Choo: Queen Elizabeth II’s Shih Tzu
Marnie: An Instagram famous Shih Tzu, known for her lolling tongue

Fun Facts About Shih Tzus

  • Shih Tzus are centuries old, going back as far as 1,000 B.C.
  • They came from Tibet.
  • Tibetan monks considered them sacred; they are more than just companion dogs for the monks.
  • Shih Tzu is the royal family dog during the Ming Dynasty.
  • The name Shih Tzu means “Little Lion.”
  • Some people call them “Chrysanthemum-Faced Dogs.”
  • They almost became extinct in the first half of the 20th century.
  • Shih Tzus are closely related to wolves.

Check Out Other Toy Dog Breeds:
Affenpinscher, Brussels Griffon, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Chinese Crested, English Toy Spaniel, Havanese, Italian Greyhound, Japanese Chin, Maltese, Miniature Pinscher, Papillon, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Pug, Silky Terrier, Toy Fox Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier

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