Shih Tzu Dog Breed Profile

Shih tzu dog lying on a newspaper
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The Shih Tzu is a small but sturdy dog with a lush, long double hair coat. This breed's alert, confident, playful and courageous demeanor may be interpreted as stubborn and outspoken. In part, this may be due to its long history as a lap dog to nobles.

Caring for Your Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu's hair coat grows continuously. Many owners choose to keep the hair trimmed short, making it appears somewhat curly and fluffy.

Other owners prefer to keep the coat long and luxurious. Because of this coat type, routine grooming is an absolute necessity. The Shih Tzu should be brushed 1-2 times per week (up to once daily if the coat is kept long). Haircuts may be necessary every several weeks.

Proper training and socialization are important order to keep your Shih Tzu happy and well-adjusted. Don't skip these things just because the Shih Tzu is a small dog. The breed is relatively smart but also has a bit of a stubborn streak.

The Shih Tzu had a moderate energy level and needs routine exercise. Daily walks and fun activities like games can help keep your Shih Tzu mentally and physically stimulated.

Shih Tzu History

Evidence of the Shih Tzu's ancestors can be traced all the way back to 5th century Asia, particularly Tibet. Eventually, the breed became known as a noble dog of China, notably as a royal house pet to the Ming Dynasty.

The name Shih Tzu originates from the Chinese word for "lion" because of the breed's lion-like appearance.

The Shih Tzu has always been known as a house pet and "lap dog," never having been bred for any other known purposes. Perhaps this is why it remains, to this day, one of the most pampered and popular of the toy breeds.

Shih Tzu Information

  • Group: Toy
  • Size: 9-16 pounds
  • Color: Shih Tzus can be nearly any color, but are most commonly seen in black, white, blue, gold, liver or any combination of these.

Shih Tzu Health Problems

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:

Living With a Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu, when properly trained and cared for, can make a wonderful companion. Its small size makes this breed ideal for apartments and small homes. Also, the Shih Tzu is just one of many hypoallergenic dog breeds. Just be prepared for some snorting and snoring; the Shih Tzu is considered a brachycephalic breed because of its head shape and short "smooshed" face. Overall, most owners of the breed will tell you that the Shih Tzu is truly a lovable dog breed!

As with any breed, if you think the Shih Tzu is the right dog breed for you, be sure to do plenty of research before adopting one.

Talk to other Shih Tzu owners, reputable Shih Tzu breeders and Shih Tzu rescue groups to learn more.