The Shih Tzu is believed to have originated in China where it was held in high esteem. It was closely linked with Buddhism and was called the Lion dog. It probably was first bred in Tibet and is similar in appearance to the Tibetan terrier/Lhasa Apso; first being shown as the same breed. One theory is that is was created by crossing a Pekingese with a Lhasa Apso. Much later it was split from the same breed category with the smaller, wider skulled Shih Tzu being shown separately. It is a very popular toy breed.
The Shih Tzu is a lively, playful and affectionate lap dog, but don't be fooled. The breed can stand up for themselves when they need to. They like to be around people and will happily spend their days sleeping on your lap/bed/sofa. They are friendly with other dogs, pets and strangers and make an ideal companion dog. They will gladly play with respectful children, but males can sometimes be snappy. They love sleeping on soft pillows and you will often find them on your bed. They do learn very slowly, so basic obedience is a challenge but possible with patience. Consistency is the key to training, reward, praise and treats all help. Shih Tzus are notoriously difficult to house train and take longer to learn this than most other breeds. They have a 'what's in it for me?' attitude a lot of the time. They are alert and active, listening for the door, but not due to watchdog abilities, many due to excitement at meeting someone and receiving more attention. Shih Tzus make ideal dogs for smaller houses/flats as they have low exercise needs. They do need walking but are happy with a stroll around the block and then back to a power nap on your lap. It doesn't do too well if it's hot outside.
Being a close companion dog, it doesn't like to be left alone for long periods of time. They can yap, be destructive and suffer from separation anxiety if left for too long. Early training is important to prevent this. Grooming needs to be done daily with the longer 'show' coat, but many owners opt for the 'puppy cut' for every day ease. They can suffer from Canine Hip Dysplasia, cataract and dental problems.
Shih Tzus have a proud and happy temperament. A lovely little companion dog that is less yappy than many other breeds of similar look. They are also happy to meet strangers and other animals so long as larger dogs mind their manners. They like to play and have a short walk daily but what they really love is to be pampered on your lap or in your bed.
Health problems that may affect Shih Tzus include chondrodysplasia (abnormal bones), brachycephalic syndrome (difficulty breathing), cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA: degeneration of the retina which can lead to blindness), glaucoma, kidney disease, urinary stones, allergies, intervertebral disc disease (pressure on spinal cord which can cause paralysis), luxating patella (dislocation of the knee cap), canine hip dysplasia (CHD) and blood clotting disease.
- Status: Common
- Life Expectancy: 10 - 16 years
- Weight: 4 - 7.2 kg
- Height: 8 - 11"
- Rare: No
- Coat: Long - Hypoallergenic
- Grooming Requirements: Everyday
- Town or Country: Either
- Minimum Home Size: Flat
- Minimum Garden Size: Small to Medium Garden
- Breed Type: Companion Dog
- Size: Small
- Energy Level: Medium
- Exercise Required: Up to 1 hour
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