Shih Tzu Dog Breed
A Very Popular Small Dog!

The Shih Tzu dog breed was a much favored companion in ancient times and they are still treasured among the little dogs affectionately referred to as "lap" dogs.

Shih Tzu dog breedCourtesy: NoLongerHere

Shih Tzus are thought to have originated in Tibet and China where many were bred in monasteries. Some fanciers believe that the Lhasa Apso and the Pekingese featured prominently in their development while others contend they started out as a dwarf Tibetian Terrier.

The breed arrived on the shores of England during the 1930s where it soon acquired the interesting nickname of "Chrysanthemum Dog". The resemblance to this flower is supposed to do with the way its hair grows out in all directions from the center point of its nose. This is especially noticeable in puppies.

The Shih Tzu dog breed wasn't bred for any particular purpose other than to be enjoyed as a companion to the wealthy classes.

Physical Stats

This pretty and aristocratic-looking dog is quite small.

Height: 8-11 inches
Weight: 9-16 lbs.
Colors: Colors are many and varied, including Silver, apricot-fawn or black, but a white blazed tail is very desirable.

Shih Tzu up close

Characteristics Of The Shih Tzu

Pretty dogs, like many toy dog breeds, are often assumed to be frail especially if they are are also small in size. But, in fact these particular small dogs are surprisingly much sturdier than they look!

The Shih Tzu dog breed is one that enjoys the creature comforts. They are very friendly and assertive dogs, but can at times be a bit aloof. Overall though, they are resilient, fun, playful and have the look of very much the spoiled lap dogs.

This toy dog breed can be a little more difficult to train as he likes to be in charge and has an independent streak. Taking this into consideration, training should begin early to establish your alpha status.

However, since the breed is affectionate, seeks attention and thrives on lots of people contact, owners can use this to their advantage during training. Above all, with this breed in particular, it is important to be consistent with the training methods you choose.

As a watchdog, Shih Tzus are good at sounding the alarm to unusual activity, or approaching visitors - a trait frequently seen in other small breeds of dogs. But in general they are not thought of as nuisance barkers.

Shih Tzu Dog Breed Grooming

Shih Tzus have what is classified as a drop coat in the grooming world. It is a luxurious coat that is both long and dense and includes a considerable undercoat.

Needless to say, this type of coat does require extensive grooming to maintain its signature good looks and to avoid mats, painful tangles and hot spots. But a little care each day works wonders to keep it under control.

Shiz Tzu dog sitting

Long Or Short Hair style?  If you are planning to show the Shih Tzu dog breed  in competition, the coat must be pretty much left in its naturally long appearance. Otherwise, you have the option of switching to a shorter haircut for ease of upkeep at home.

The grooming workhorses - Clippers
All three of the grooming clippers shown below are the ones recommended by the manufacturer for clipping or trimming the Shih Tzu type of hair. We like, and have used, the trusted Wahl brand over the years for our pets. They are powerful, run quietly, are easy to use and have generous warranties.

Even if your dog gets the occasional professional cut, you'll be furballs ahead if you can handle the clipper part of grooming yourself too!

Some benefits of home grooming:

  • It's cost-effective
  • Can be done at your convenience
  • Appointments not needed
  • No driving required
  • Most pets are happier being groomed in their own home

Also it can be quite fun and easy to do with the addition of the right tools. So let's get to some more recommendations.

The importance of high quality dog brushes...

...cannot be over-stated when it comes to caring for the Shih Tzu dog breed. The human-like texture of its double coat makes it more susceptible to tangles and mats. Inferior brushes can make "matters" worse by causing hairs to split - increasing the odds for more tangles and grooming challenges!

Bottom line: this is not the place to cut corners if you want to make grooming and bonding with your pet an enjoyable time.

Our favorite brushes come from the Chris Christensen line - this company has been involved for many years in the show dog world so you know they have to be good.

Here are our picks for Shih Tzu brushing.

wood pin brush for dog
Wood Pin Brush
slicker brush
Slicker Mark II
ice on ice conditioner
Ice on Ice With Sunscreen
Perfect for daily needs
without damaging coat.
Gentle to the pet
Smooths out tangles.
Terrific brush for removing
loose hair in the coat.
Easy on groomer's wrist.
Spray on conditioner and
leave-in coat protector.
Makes brushing a breeze!

Dog grooming is an everyday process whether you take your pet to the salon or not. For this reason, we think it's worthwhile to invest in good tools and products so you'll be ready for dirty dog problems any time - especially when you want your pet to look and smell his best!

Bathing a Shih Tzu about every three weeks will help prevent breakages, tangling and matting - messy puppies may need a bath more often. Some of our favorite bath products are included here, but you might also want to check our organic shampoos and conditioners.

One more tool you may want to check out if you have a pet that runs and hides at the very sound of clippers, is an innovative pair of shears, aptly named Scaredy Cut Scissors.

Lhasa ApsoCourtesy Pixabay

Health Notes

While overall a healthy breed, there are some dog diseases to be aware of that may occur during their life time of up to 18 years.

Eye conditions include:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
  • Dry eye,
  • Cataracts
  • Retinal detachment

Other Issues include:

  • Patellar luxation (slipped kneecap)
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Skin conditions

Responsible breeders should provide a thorough health profile for the sire and dam of any puppies they have available.

How Active is the Shih Tzu?

Although they mostly like being inside and in your lap, they also enjoy getting out for a daily walk.

A short one is usually sufficient. Beyond a walk and playing outside, the Shih Tzu dog breed does not need a lot of additional exercise.

Ideal Living Space

The beauty of the Shih Tzu dog breed is that it is adaptable to any environment, not requiring a lot of space, but a yard is always a welcome addition for play time, training sessions and potty breaks.

They are not very active in the home, except for following you around and checking out the arrival of visitors.

Shih Tzu dog

Shih Tzu Dogs With Children?

A fun family pet. They can be a little wary of small children and do better if you can get a puppy and raise them together. Or, if the children in the family are older and have shown that they are gentle and considerate in their approach to pets.

The best policy, no matter what breed of dog you have, is to favor caution and always have adult supervision when kids are interacting with pets.

As a Companion For Seniors?

Shih Tzu dogs are ideal companions for the retired or more sedentary family. They are happy little dogs and enjoy a lot of attention.

While exercise requirements are modest, it should be noted that they do need get out each day to keep them both physically and mentally healthy.

What Other Owners Say About Shih Tzus

Other visitors have shared information about their treasured Shih Tzu dogs. You can read their stories here:

If you have one of these popular small dogs, you can add your own story here.

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