Breed Group: Toy Group
Shoulder Height: 7-11in.
Weight: 8-16 lb.
Life Span: 10-16 years
Colors: Gold, brown, white, black, gray, brindle, blue
- The origins of the breed are unknown, but believed to be in Tibet.
- Shih Tzu are closely related to wolves.
- The breed shares lineage with the Chihuahua, Papillon, and Pug.
- Shih Tzu are supposedly descended from a cross between the Pekingese and Lhasa Apso.
- They are also known as "Lion Dogs."
Shih Tzu are a very old breed dating back to ancient China. Believed to be created as guardians and companions to the emperors, they have been a constant presence in Western depictions of the East. As a result, Shih Tzu are consistently associated with imperial majesty and high society.
That has resulted in a breed that requires a large amount of personal attention. Their long and thick coat requires frequent grooming in order to keep it looking its best. Coupled with regular clippings, ear cleanings, baths, and teeth brushing, and you have one high-maintenance dog. This makes the Shih Tzu not ideal for singles or working families, but they do make great companion dogs for the elderly.
They do not require a tremendous amount of exercise and are very sociable dogs, getting along well with both strangers and other dogs. They are also quite smart for a toy breed, making them easily trainable.
Toy breeds do show certain tendencies relating to health and the Shih Tzu is no exception, with a variety of mostly hereditary conditions popping up in the breed.
- Hypothyroidism is a common condition in Shih Tzu that usually pops up in middle-aged dogs. Symptoms include hair loss, weight gain, and lethargy.
- IDD, or Intervertebral Disk Disease, is another common ailment found in Shih Tzu as well as many other toy breeds.
- Shih Tzu have brachycephalic faces, which makes them susceptible to breathing problems and poor temperature regulation.
- Folded ears increase the occurrence of ear infections in this breed.
- Shih Tzu are popular dogs for high-society women. Some celebrities who keep them include Nicole Richie and Geri Halliwell of the Spice Girls.
- Renowned hair stylist Vidal Sassoon kept two, saying, "They're the only Shih Tzu with geometrical haircuts".
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