shih tzu breed guide

Among small dogs, the shih tzu is one of the most interesting, not only because of its cuddly appearance, but also because of its personality. However, like any breed, it requires certain care to enjoy healthy development and a long life.

The shih tzu dog originated in Tibet around the 7th century. It is believed to be a breed descended from the Lhasa Apso, but slightly smaller. In this sense, it is possible that the Shih Tzu arose from the crossing of a Lhasa with a Pekingese. However, it is nothing more than speculation, since the exact origin has not been proven.

Shih tzu: A sacred breed?

Thanks to the work of historians, we know that the shih tzu was given as a gift to the Chinese emperor, so it was considered a sacred breed. In fact, it is said that the Dalai Lama himself gave a few copies of the breed to the emperor in the 17th century. Later, in the 19th century, Empress Ts’eu-hi bred more than a hundred Shih Tzu dogs.

On the other hand, the breed is related to Buddhist practice, since its name means lion dog and in this doctrine the feline plays the role of guardian. This is why shih tzu puppies were once bred to look like lions. In addition, their fur allowed them to be arranged as if they were living carpets , something very important in Chinese culture.

The British were the ones who brought the Shih Tzu breed to England, where they quickly replaced the Lhasa Apso in the homes of distinguished royals. According to historians, the Japanese invasion of China completely wiped out the breed. Fortunately, in Europe there was already a certain fondness for these animals since 1930 and thus they were saved from extinction. Later, they were taken to North America and from there to other countries. Today it is a highly appreciated breed throughout the world. 

physical characteristics of the shih tzu

Although you can have a shih tzu simply as a companion dog, it is also true that this breed is highly appreciated in dog competitions, so to mention its physical characteristics it is good to go to the International Cinological Federation (FCI), which is the body responsible for dictating the rules on the breeding of dogs .

According to the FCI standard, an adult shih tzu can measure up to 26.7 cm in height at the withers, regardless of gender. On the other hand, healthy weight is between 4.5 and 7.3 kg. Due to this compact size, it is known as a toy shih tzu.

It has a wide and round head, completely covered with hair, forming mustaches and a beard on the snout, in addition, it has misaligned locks that fall over the eyes. The flattened face with a square, short and wide snout gives it the shape of a chrysanthemum, hence in some countries it is nicknamed with the name of this flower. The nose is usually black, but some dogs have a very dark purplish-red. As for the eyes, they are round, large, dark and appear separated from each other, providing a look that is always affectionate. On the other hand, the ears are very hairy, large and hanging.

The rest of the body is also covered with very dense fur . It has a broad chest and a straight back that ends in a high-set tail, full of hair as plumage. The tail usually wags happily on the back.

The coat is the most important characteristic of this breed, since it gives it elegance and showiness, but it also requires a lot of attention. In general, it is straight and long, although some specimens have it a little wavy. It is good to mention at this point that international competitions usually accept shih tzu dogs of any color.

shih tzu behavior 

It is a pet that most of the time is cheerful and sociable. Also, in the case of the shih tzu, temperament is another advantage. Unlike other small dogs, it has a calm temperament, very little conflict, so it can live perfectly with other animals at home. In terms of behavior with people, this breed is usually very friendly by nature. 

The shih tzu is one of the most intelligent small dogs, so it can be trained to perform tricks, in fact, many pets of this breed participate in behavior and agility competitions every year. At home, they can very naturally become the center of attention, especially at gatherings with family and friends.

This breed is recommended for children of all ages, however, it is necessary to teach the little ones to treat the dog properly, since it is an animal of small dimensions and weight, so it can be very fragile and victim of accidental abuse. Similarly, the shih tzu puppy must be trained to be gentle with babies. 

shih tzu requirements

The shih tzu needs its vaccinations and regular veterinary check-ups, just like any other pet. Although in general terms it is considered a fairly healthy dog, it is important to pay special attention to its eyes, since they are susceptible to some conditions. In this sense, the shih tzu has an approximate life expectancy of 11 to 14 years, although with exercise and good dog food it can live a little longer.

As we have mentioned, this breed enjoys the company of people very much, however, it is important to point out that it does not tolerate loneliness well, since its need for attention is high. Therefore, it is not a good breed to adopt if we spend many hours away from home.

On the other hand, the coat of this breed can be a real headache, which is why many owners prefer to keep the shih tzu with short hair throughout the year, otherwise, it is necessary to brush it daily, since the coat it tangles easily. In this sense, the specimens that participate in competitions demand a lot of attention and care to be successful. 

In short, we can say that the shih tzu is a dog that adapts well to a small space, such as a flat in the city; but mind you, don’t expect him to be much of a vigilante, as he tends to be very friendly with strangers. 

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