|The shih tzu is a small sturdy dog with a big heart. With a name meaning "lion" the shih tzu
is an ancient breed and a popular family pet. Recognized as part of the toy group by the
AKC in 1969, the breed is an excellent choice for families with children or for the elderly.
The shih tzu has racked up a number of honors recently. The breed won the Eukanuba
Tournament of Champions in October 2001, and was one of the top 10 breeds for the year
2003. Click here for the complete story on The Most Popular Dog Breeds of the Year 2003.
|History and Origin
Based on their presence in various Chinese paintings and tapestries, it is thought that the
shih tzu has been in existence since 624 AD. Despite many theories about the origin of the
breed, it is not disputed that the shih tzu was part of the ancient Chinese court. The dogs
were bred and selected with great care. From this foundation, along with the help of
Russian refugee Madame de Breuil, the dogs of today were developed.
In the 1930s the interest in the breed had spread to England. During World War II, U.S.
military personnel stationed in England fell in love with the breed. When returning home,
the shih tzu accompanied them, thus introducing the breed to the United States
The shih tzu has a short nose and slightly pushed in face. The hair coat is naturally long
and dense and requires daily care. The hair of the face is typically tied on top of the head
as a topknot. To reduce the need for daily brushing, some people have the coats trimmed
in a short terrier-like trim. Shih tzus can be any color or combination of colors.
Standing only 8 to 11 inches at the shoulder and weighing 9 to 16 pounds, the shih tzu is a
small but tough little dog.
The shih tzu is bred to be a pet and nothing else. The breed is strong and sturdy, the
least delicate of the toy breeds. They have the appearance of being proud and arrogant
but are actually gentle and very playful.
The spunky but sweet Shih Tzu is both a gentle lap dog and a vivacious companion. It has
an upbeat attitude and loves to play and romp. It is affectionate to its family and good with
children. It is surprisingly tough and does have a stubborn streak.
Despite its small size, the Shih Tzu needs daily exercise. Because of its small size, it can
meet its requirements with vigorous indoor games or short frolics outside or with short
walks on leash. It does not do well in hot humid weather, and it should never be expected
to live outdoors. Its luxurious coat needs brushing or combing every other day; puppies
should be taught to accept grooming from a young age. Pets may be clipped.
Major concerns: none
Minor concerns: renal cortical hypoplasia, entropion, trichiasis, PRA, KCS, CHD, otitis
externa, portacaval shunt, inguinal hernias
Occasionally seen: vWD
Suggested tests: eye
Life span: 11 - 14 years
Form and Function
Compact, yet slightly longer than it is tall, the Shih Tzu hides a sturdy body beneath its
mantle of luxurious hair. It has a smooth, effortless stride with good reach and drive.
Even though its function is that of companion, it should nonetheless be structurally
sound. Its expression is warm, sweet and wide-eyed, imparting the impression of trust
and friendliness. The long, dense coat is double and fairly straight.