"The name Shih Tzu comes from Chinese word for "lion dog", which is both singular and plural."
Other names for this breed:Chinese Lion Dog, Chrysanthemum Dog
Country of origin:China
Weight:Male 4–7.25 kilograms (8.8–16.0 lb), female 4–7.25 kilograms (8.8–16.0 lb)
Height:20–28 centimetres (7.9–11.0 in)
Coat:Fine, straight, and silky. Very little shedding, and this dog is prone to being hypoallergenic.
Color:All are permissible, most common are white, gold, dark or light brown, black, grey, black and white, brindle red, and blue.
Litter size:1-8 puppies
Life span:10-16 years
Shih Tzu is a small toy breed of dog that weighs in between 11-16lbs as an adult. This breed is of Chinese origination. This is considered an “ancient” breed which means DNA scrutiny has determined that this breed has very close genetic links to the wolf. It is thought that the earlier members of this breed were around since the 12th century.
These dogs were highly prized by the Chinese monarchy and were forbidden from being sold, traded or given away so they did not make it to Europe until the mid 1930’s. The literal translation of the Shih Tzu from Mandarin to English is “lion dogs”. They were bred to look like the lions of Chinese folk lore.
They are small dogs with squat faces and short noses and long mane like hair that covers their heads. They have small ears that are indistinguishable from the rest of their head. They have expressive faces.
Coat and Grooming
The Shih Tzu can be classified as a hypoallergenic breed. Their long silky fine hair rarely sheds. They typically only shed when being brushed or bathed and even at that time it is minimal. They require regular brushing to avoid mats.
They enjoy being pampered so grooming time can be bonding time as well. A lot of owners choose to keep the long hair clipped short for ease of care purposes. Show dogs have specific clipping guidelines that they have to follow.
The Shih Tzu comes in a full range of colors and color combinations. Most members of this breed have multi color or parti color coats. They can be a hodge podge of color combinations. There are tri color combinations as well. Most all examples though have a white main color combination that can have liver, brown, black, gray, blue and silver markings.
Proper training is a must for this breed. While they are very friendly and outgoing they can nip and bite when not trained correctly. They easily warm up to strangers so they do not make good watch dogs. They can be trained well with patience and consistency. They are primarily companion animals and have since their inception been bred to be companions so they need companionship. They do not like to be left alone and some may voice their dislike through a constant whine.
They are not big barkers as many toy breeds can be. They will bark when incited or when they are alerted to an unfamiliar noise but they do not “yap” the way some toy breeds tend to do.
Shih Tzus like to simply sit with their owners and be part of the family gatherings. They can get a little snippy with young children even with training (most toy breeds can it is out of fear that the child will hurt them) so they are not really recommended for families with young children although they can be trained to tolerate the occasional tug on the tail.
Their friendly nature is extended to other animals. They usually get along well with other dogs. They are outgoing dogs that enjoy people and are viewed as upbeat happy animals. They should not be timid or aggressive those are qualities that are considered negative and are largely instilled by poor training. Like all toy breeds it can be hard not spoil this dog because they are small and sweet but spoiling a Shih Tzu can turn out poorly and cause more distress than pleasure.
Shih Tzu like other toy breeds make excellent apartment dwellers. Their small size means that they can comfortably co exist in a small space. They do not require a lot of exercise (also like other toy breeds). They like sitting around with their family!
Their adaptable nature makes them a perfect companion in any housing arrangement. They can not tolerate heat or cold well because of their single coat so they can not stay outside for long periods of time.
Through careful breeding practices this breed has largely enjoyed good health. They can suffer with breathing problems because of the flat faces and short snouts, they can also have thyroid problems but both are relatively treatable.
There have been some reported cases of epilepsy in some lines but it does seem to be contained. Overall they are one of the healthiest of the toy breeds. The life expectancy is about 13 years which can easily be surpassed with the proper care and health practices.
The Shih Tzu was bred for pleasure as a companion. Bringing pleasure to their human companions has been their only purpose as far as breeding goes. This has worked to their advantage because they are one of the most sort after breed companions worldwide. Their compact size and bubbly happy personality make them the ideal pet.
Shih Tzu Photo Gallery
You can click on the gallery images below to view them full sized (most are in wallpaper resolution!).