Getting To Know The Shih Tzu

by Dan Stevens - Date: 2006-12-31 - Word Count: 693 Share This!

Getting to know your dog starts by getting to know its breed, and that includes getting a better idea about its appearance, personality, and health requirements. Here's what you need to know about the Shih Tzu:

This particular breed of dog originated from Tibet, although it has now become a highly popular breed in Western countries. The name "Shih Tzu" is pronounced (sheet zoo) and can be spelled a number of ways depending on the country. In fact, in China, the name sounds more like the American "sherbet" with "adds" on the end. Although the Shih Tzu is a tiny dog its name translates to "lion dog" of the Forbidden City, which is for the original resemblance to a lion and not so much size.

When first developed, the Shih Tzu had a very specific purpose in life - to sit or lie around the Emperor of China's palace, alerting the royal family of approaching people or animals. While the exact breeding to create the Shih Tzu is not 100 percent certain, most people believe it started as a mix of Lhasa Apso, which was already a Tibetan breed, and the Pekingese. What we do know is that of all breeds in the world, the Shih Tzu is one of the oldest.

Physical Appearance

Once you lay your eyes on a Shih Tzu, you cannot help but fall in love. This tiny, furry breed is simply adorable with a long, flowing double coat and undeniable face. Although the hair of the Shih Tzu can be styled or groomed in a variety of ways, most people will keep the long hair brushed to a silky shine and hair pulled back with a barrette out of the dog's eyes.

Keep in mind that this dog's hair continues to grow much like that of a human, and it does not shed. Therefore, the dog needs ongoing grooming. Additionally, because this breed has hair and not fur, it is an excellent choice for individuals with allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems. The Shih Tzu is bred in a number of colors, which include:

* Black
* Gold
* Gray
* Tan
* White
* Combination Colors

The Shih Tzu is a very alert and lively breed with a wonderful personality. For instance, this breed is highly devoted to its family, loves children and other animals, and is comical. The muzzle is short, eyes large, the tail waves up over the back of the dog, and you would notice a small under-bite. For show purposes according to the American Kennel Club, the Shih Tzu should be between 8 and 11 inches tall. As far as weight, the Shih Tzu averages between 9 and 16 pounds.

Temperament and Personality

Although the Shih Tzu is an alert dog, it is also very gentle and calm. Keep in mind that the Shih Tzu can be very playful too, especially while a puppy. Somewhat on the sensitive side, both discipline and training needs to be handled with a soft hand in that the breed can become fearful.

It is important to socialize your new Shih Tzu, helping to build its confidence with people and animals. As a devoted companion dog, you will find that people of all ages and lifestyles can enjoy this breed but it does require appropriate one-on-one time with its master. The Shih Tzu is not just a beautiful breed of dog but also one that brings intelligence, loyalty, laughter, and attentiveness to the home.


While there are many reasons for having a Shih Tzu, the ease of care is definitely at the top of the list. Typically, daily grooming habits are important. For instance, the dog's eyes can water and tear so they need to be wiped off with a damp cloth or cotton ball several times a day. Additionally, with the long hair, the Shih Tzu needs to be brushed daily. With good grooming, proper diet, and adequate exercise, this breed is hardy.

The only real health risk is due to the short snout. Because of this feature, the Shih Tzu does not handle hot temperatures well. In fact, this particular breed does much better in regions with a milder climate, making breathing easier. Other possible risks, although rare, include liver, heart, and back problems.

Related Tags: health, dog, shih tzu, breeds, shih-tzu, shihtzu

Daniel Stevens is the renowned dog trainer and author of SitStayFetch, a leading dog training guide having sold over 21,000 copies. See for more on dog breeds. Your Article Search Directory : Find in Articles

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