The Shih Tzu is a bold, lively little guy. He likes to be the center of attention and would prefer to be with his family around the clock. He adapts to any situation, making him a perfect companion dog for young and old.
The Shih Tzu is a small breed of dog from Tibet. For political reasons, the studbook of the breed is in Great Britain. The FCI lists it in group 9, companion and social dogs. Here he belongs to section 5, the Tibetan dog breeds.
The dogs reach a maximum shoulder height of 27 cm. The weight should be between 4.5 and 8 kg. According to the breed standard, the ideal weight would be up to 7.5 kg. In the Shih Tzu there is no size division into Mini, Tea Cup or similar.
The top coat of the Shih Tzu is smooth, long and full. The hair structure looks similar to that of humans. They continue to grow constantly and fall down to the ground.
The physique is somewhat elongated. The tail carries the Shih Tzu over the back. Ideally, the highest point of the tail should be level with the head.
The Shih Tzu has a round head and long floppy ears. They are difficult to see in the long coat over the ears and neck. The large, dark eyes protrude slightly.
The Shih Tzu comes in all color variations. Especially popular are bicolored animals with a blaze and a white tail tip. The blaze is called the Buddha kiss.
The appearance and gait of the Shih Tzu are supposed to appear arrogant. However, his nature is anything but that. They are open-minded, friendly and smart. He is a loyal soul who can only be happy when he is with his humans. A life exclusively in the garden or kennel is therefore out of the question.
The Shih Tzu likes to be the center of attention and knows how to win people over. When it comes to petting and attention, they are real experts. They are always eager to please their humans. Towards strangers they can be a bit reserved at the beginning.
The education of Shih Tzus is moderately difficult. They are smart and quickly imitate demonstrated behavior. But they are also very stubborn and self-confident. They may question commands or rules they don't like. This is where you need to be consistent and sensitive.
A former guard dog, the Shih Tzu is alert and vigilant. He has a tendency to yap. You can break him of this with a lot of patience and training. Due to his friendly nature he gets along well with other dogs. He has no hunting instinct.
The breed is very lively and temperamental. Therefore, they are well suited as a family dog and playmate for children. Because of its small size, children should be careful and not play too rough with him. Very young children should never be unsupervised with the dog.
The Shih Tzu's urge to exercise is moderate. They like to move around, but can be content with several smaller rounds a day. Provided you build in a few play sessions of 10 to 15 minutes when walking.
When playing and romping, you should be careful not to overtax him. This is especially true in high temperatures. The Shih Tzu has a shortened nose and tends to breathing problems. With too much stress this can be dangerous for the little one.
The right food
The little Shih Tzu does not need much food. His diet is uncomplicated and hardly differs from that of other dogs. He should get a species-appropriate food tailored to his needs.
His big googly eyes make it hard to resist him. But the Shih Tzu should not get food scraps. Much of what humans eat does not agree with dogs or is even life-threatening. If you want to do something good for your darling, then reward him with a healthy snack for dogs.
The Shih Tzu does not tend to be overweight. However, you should not take the chance. Due to the shortened muzzle, breathing is difficult in this breed. With excess weight this condition worsens.
The question of whether dry or wet food is up to you. Both variants have their advantages and disadvantages. Dry food can be stored better and takes care of the teeth. Wet food tastes better to most dogs because it is more aromatic. It also usually contains more protein than dry food.
No matter what you two decide to do, the quality of the feed must be right. The ingredient list on the packaging tells you how good the food is. Make sure that meat comes first and that it is not animal waste. Sugar does not belong in dog food. The same goes for preservatives and additives.
A long and healthy Shih Tzu life begins with nutrition. Proper care is another component. Then your little lion dog can live up to 16 years.
Shih Tzu care
The Shih Tzu has very little undercoat. The top coat, on the other hand, is very lush and long. The hair continues to grow and needs a lot of care.
The long fine hair can easily get knotted. It is therefore best to comb it daily so that it does not become matted. Because in the matted fur can accumulate parasites, pathogens and dirt.
The hair also continues to grow on the face and can disturb the little dog. Therefore, many owners tie the hair on the top of the head into a braid. You can carefully cut off the disturbing hair. Regularly check the hair that grows back. The stubble can poke your little darling in the eye and cause irritation.
When walking, the long hair of the Shih Tzu drags on the ground. Therefore, a lot of dirt accumulates, which you should remove after the walk. As a little daredevil, the Shih Tzu likes to get dirty. Because of the short legs, this can happen quickly in bad weather.
In case of light soiling, it is enough to dry him with a towel. This is especially important on the paws and belly. With stronger contamination only a bath can help. But this should not happen too often, because it destroys the natural protective layer of the skin.
Use only shampoo and conditioner for dogs. The skin and coat are very sensitive and can not tolerate other products. Pay attention to the head area when washing. So that no foam or water gets into the eyes, nose or ears.
For drying you can use a towel or a hair dryer. Drying is important, otherwise they may get chilled. Make sure the blow dryer is not too hot. You should introduce your dog carefully if he has never been blow-dried before. The loud noises could upset and frighten him.
If the long coat is not so important to you, you can also trim it. But it must not be too short, neither in summer nor in winter. In summer, the sensitive skin would not be sufficiently protected from the sun. In winter it would be too cold for him.
In some places, the coat of the Shih Tzu must be trimmed regularly, as it can hinder the dog. These include the paws, the face and the lower side area.
For proper care you need some utensils. These include Brush and comb for grooming. To tie up the hair on the face you should use Hair ties for dogs use. In normal hair ties, the hair can easily break off or tear out.
A good dog shampoo, a Scissors or a Trimmer should also not be missing. To remove ticks you need a Tick Pliers or a pair of tweezers. This way you can be sure to remove the tick completely.
Since he has no undercoat, the Shih Tzu freezes quickly. Therefore, when it is wet or cold outside, he needs warming clothes. Exposure to the cold for too long can have serious health consequences. There is a risk of flu, cystitis and, in the worst case, frostbite.
Origin & History
The Shih Tzu is a very old breed of dog. Its origins lie in the monasteries of Tibet. The monks wanted to breed a dog that looked like a small lion. This is because Buddha is said to have owned a dog that could transform into a lion. This is how the little dog got its name, because Shih Tzu means lion.
Probably it originated from crosses between Lhasa Apso and Pekinese. Already since the 7th century the small Shih Tzus live in the Tibetan monasteries. About 1000 years later they arrived in China as a tribute to the emperor. Soon the little charmers conquered the hearts at court and became palace favorites.
When communism came to power in China, the number of breeders steadily decreased. This was because the Shih Tzu was a dog breed associated with old China and the nobility. This did not fit into the image of the new rulers. In the middle of the 20th century, there were only 14 purebred Shih Tzus left.
Some European followers of the Shih Tzu did not want to give up the breed. They continued breeding outside of China. To expand the gene pool and avoid inbreeding, they crossed Pekinese. Thus, the breed arrived first in Great Britain and later all over the world. Until today, the patronage for the Shih Tzu lies with Great Britain.