The Shih Tzu is a very ancient breed of dog that originated in Peking sometime in the early part of the 17th century. It is likely a cross between the Lhasa Apso and the Pekingese and, if you look closely, the breed traits of both of these small dogs are definitely present. The Shih Tzu is an elegant and happy little dog that loves to be around people and is not delicate or fragile by any stretch of the imagination.
The beautiful long coat of the breed takes a lot of care and routine grooming to keep in top shape. The breed registry recognizes all colors and combinations of colors but it is the long, silky dense coat that is so recognizable. The hair over the eyes is very long and will hang down if not tied in a topknot. The breed also has a substantial beard and mustache as well as a curly tail carried high over the back.
Known as the “Lion Dog” in China, this little breed is loving, loyal and a good watchdog. They will bark to let you know that strangers are around but the breed is not aggressive or a problem barker by nature. They are very trusting of people once they realize that they are “friends” of the family. Shih Tzus that are raised with kids and other pets do very well as companion pets. They tend to have a low level of dog aggression which makes theme easy to work with in a multiple dog and pet family.
Not as small as some of the Toy group the Shih Tzu can weigh up to 16 pounds and measure up to 11 inches at the shoulder. They can be prone to obesity because they are relatively inactive indoors and love to just spend time sitting and cuddling with the family. Routine walks, monitoring food intake and limiting treats can help prevent this from becoming a health issue. With their longer back, weight management can also help reduce the risk of spinal injuries and disc disease as the dog matures.
The Shih Tzu loves to go for walks and has a surprising amount of stamina for a smaller dog. They are easy to train and love to work for praise and attention, but they also have to be treated like dogs and allowed to play and spend time on their own. Shih Tzus that are not given the opportunity to run, play and be a dog may become timid, nervous and more likely to develop separation anxiety. Like most small breeds this is not the dog’s natural temperament it is a result of ineffective dog owners that do not understand the dog’s mental and physical needs to just be a canine and have fun.