The Shih Tzu originates from China and was initially developed to be a lap dog and companion to Chinese Royalty. The origins of this breed date back to the 1800's, when it was developed in China during the reign of the Empress Dowager Cixi or Tz'u-shi, which explains the origins of the name. The Shih Tzu is also known as the Chrysanthemum Dog.
This dog is classified as a member of the American Kennel Club's Toy Dog Group and the Shih Tzu was first registered by the AKC in 1969.
It is a cheery dog with a very unique appearance. The dog is small but sturdy, with a long flowing double coat. Underneath the silky topcoat is a woolly undercoat. This proud looking little dog has hair above its nose that grows up toward the top of its head and is often gathered in a topknot.
There are some considerable size variations for this breed. These dogs can have a height of up to 11 inches and the weight ranges from 9-16 pounds.
This breed is happy to live in an apartment or town home. This dog does not demand a lot of space. While the dog can be energetic at times, the breed is normally fairly lazy. A Shih Tzu will find a favorite spot and just lounge all day. It is up to the dog owner to instigate regular exercise to help keep these little guys healthy and fit.
This is an ideal family dog. The breed is playful and lively. This 'cute-as-a button' charmer is very devoted and loves being around people. They are generally good with other pets. Children love these little dogs and the feeling is mutual. These dogs respond well to children, as long as they are not mistreated or handled roughly.
Be careful with the amount of food you give this dog breed. Because of their reluctance to exercise, they can become fat quite easily.
Shih Tzus will benefit from early and consistent training because its small size doesn't mean this breed is a malleable pushover. In fact, these little dogs, can be quite obstinate. Patient, consistent training is best. Yelling or impatient behavior doesn't work with these dogs.
Possible health problems of the Shih Tzu can include ear, eye and respiratory problems and spinal disc disease caused by a long back and short legs. This breed's teeth require regular veterinary attention, as they tend to rot. These dogs gain weight easily and should not be overfed.
Daily grooming is a top priority for the Shih Tzu. Brush your dog's coat daily with a bristle brush. The topknot is usually taken loose several times a week, brushed out to avoid matting and then retied with a bow so that the dog can see properly.
Check your dog's ear passages and the area around the eyes to keep them clean. Shih Tzu's have sensitive eyes that may water and develop matter frequently. Because of this, your dog's eyes should be kept clean. This breed sheds very little. Because of this, some people claim that it is hypoallergenic. However, no dog is truly allergen free.
If you are looking for a happy little dog that loves play and laughter, then this breed with a royal heritage just might be the perfect choice for you and your family.