Breed Group: Toy Group
Shoulder Height: 7-11in.
Weight: 8-16 lb.
Life Span: 10-13 years
Colors: Gold, brown, white, black, gray, brindle, blue
- The origins of the breed are unknown, but believed to be in Tibet.
- 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. The Shih Tzu may therefore not be ideal for singles or working families, but they do make great companion dogs for the elderly.
As with all dogs, they require daily exercise and are generally very sociable, getting along well with both strangers and other animals. They are also quite smart for a toy breed, making them easily trainable.
The Shih Tzu is a generally hardy breed, but they do have some health issues their owners need to be aware of.
- Their small mouths mean the teeth are unnaturally close together. This leaves Shi Tzu prone to dental disease. Their guardians can help by brushing the teeth, offering dental chews and monitoring their oral health.
- Shi Tzu may contract painful ear infections due to their small ears, which can sometimes have sensitive skin.
- Their short noses, hairy faces and protruding eyes leave them vulnerable to eye ulcers and infections. Occasionally, these may become very serious and may lead to the loss of an eye.
- The Shi Tzu's short legs can sometimes grow a little twisted, which can leave them prone to arthritic joints in later life and loose kneecaps in the hind legs. The latter occasionally requires surgery to correct.
- 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".
Photo ©iStockphoto.com/GlobalP, ©iStockphoto.com/Jason Lugo