The Shih Tzu is a toy dog breed popular for its sweet temperament and its beautiful, luxurious hair coat. The name Shih Tzu actually comes from the Chinese word for “lion”, a description attributed to the breed because of their resemblance to lions.
This breed may be called ‘little lion’ but it’s far from being ferocious. It’s an affectionate dog that likes nothing more than being with its family. Is the Shih Tzu the best cuddle buddy for you? Find out more in this post.
Shih Tzu Dogs and Puppies
What is a Shih Tzu?
The Shih Tzu is a very old dog breed and has probably existed for more than 2,000 years. This means the Shih Tzu is genetically closer to wolves than other breeds.
Many people consider this breed the ideal family dog. It can adapt well to different home environments as long as it stays indoors. Plus, it does not need much exercise and it has the potential to live up to 20 years.
Where does the Shih Tzu come from?
This breed’s roots can be traced all they way back to ancient China and Tibet. Old Chinese paintings and artifacts (some at least 1,000 years old) depict dogs that resemble the Shih Tzu, which is also known as the ‘Chrysanthemum Dog’ and ‘Chinese Lion Dog’. Some believe the breed is the result from crossing the Lhasa Apso and the Pekingese. These dogs are very old breeds from China and Tibet as well.
The Shih Tzu were favorites among the Chinese royals. Breeding this dog was strictly limited in the country and among the upper class. It was not until the 1900s the Shih Tzu was imported to the west.
What does a Shih Tzu look like?
A Shih Tzu is commonly recognized by its lovely coat and small stature. It typically stands at 8 to 11 inches at the withers and weighs around 9 to 16 pounds. The body is slightly longer than the height.
This breed has the following characteristics:
- friendly and sweet expression
- square and short muzzle
- an underbite
- broad nose
- heavily coated, dropped ears
- large round eyes (usually dark, lighter on some)
- high-set, heavily coated tail carried over the back
- dense double coat that comes in many colors
What is the Shih Tzu like?
The Shih Tzu is probably one of the dog breeds with a squeaky clean reputation. This breed is not known to be aggressive and generally gets on well with adults, children, dogs, and other animals. It is content to be around their families, sitting on their laps or playing with them.
In simple words, the Shih Tzu is:
- A bit spunky
Are Shih Tzu puppies hard to train?
Shih Tzu puppies from backyard breeders and pet stores can cost around USD $500 to $700. Adoption fees in rescue shelters meanwhile range from $200 to $400. Show quality puppies from reputable breeders can cost twice or even thrice more at around $1,000 to more than $2,000.
Are Shih Tzu dogs hypoallergenic?
Yes. The Shih Tzu is among the small dog breeds considered hypoallergenic.
This breed has hair coat instead of fur coat, which means it does not shed as much as other dogs. It produces less dander, a common allergen, compared to other breeds as well.
Do take note that no dog breed is completely hypoallergenic. The best way for allergy sufferers to find out if they are allergic to the Shih Tzu is to spend a day or two with them—before they take one in.
What health issues are common among the Shih Tzu?
Shih Tzus are generally healthy dogs with a relatively longer life span. But they are also prone to some health issues like:
- Hip dysplasia. This is a rather common issue among dogs. It happens when the hip socket is abnormally formed, leading to lameness and arthritis on the joints.
- Back problems. This breed has a longer body length like Dachshunds, Basset Hounds, and Beagles. Like these breeds, the Shih Tzu is also prone to having back problems like the intervertebral disk disease.
- Eye problems. Breeds that have pronounced or protruding eyes are prone to suffering some health issues such as corneal ulcer, epiphora, and keratoconjunctivitis sicca(KCS).
What are the grooming needs of a Shih Tzu?
Grooming this breed takes more time and devotion compared to other dog breeds because of its long hair. Its coat needs brushing and combing at least every other day to avoid knots and tangles. Bathing should be done frequently as well like every week or two, depending on the need. Plenty of owners choose to have their Shih Tzu’s hair trimmed by a professional groomer. Visits to the groomer typically happen every 6 to 8 weeks.
Dental care is also key to keeping a Shih Tzu well-groomed. Brushing its teeth must be done at least thrice a week. Nail trimming, meanwhile, should be done monthly. Its ears should be cleaned and checked for infections at least once in a week.
Cleaning the area around the Shih Tzu’s eyes is essential as well. This breed has sensitive eyes. Keeping the facial area clean is one way to avoid infection. Some owners choose to have the hair near the eyes tied in a topknot or have it trimmed altogether.
Beautiful, playful, and sweet, it is no wonder why the Shih Tzu is one of the popular dog breeds. Besides being adorable, the Shih Tzu is also fairly easy to manage because of its size. This dog does well in different living spaces, as long as it is always indoors where it can be close to its family.