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Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu - Breed Information

Cute Shih Tzu Dog

Do you want a small and adorable pet dog that can fill your days with love and fun? If so, then you can never go wrong with a Shih Tzu! Before getting one though, you would do well to learn about them and whether they are an excellent canine companion for you.


The Shih Tzu is a small dog ranging from 8 to 11 inches in height and weighing between 9 and 16 pounds. These dogs are a little longer than it is height and features a tail that curls over the back.

Shih Tzus are long-haired pets with a moderate undercoat. Although colors vary and the American Kennel Club accepts all, most Shih Tzus have several colors. They live for approximately 12 to 16 years.


Shih Tzus originated in Tibet and were reported to be sacred dogs kept in temples. They are the oldest and smallest of Tibetan dogs. These animals were a favorite among royals in China and were believed to be a cross between the Lhasa Apso or Tibetan mountain dogs and the Pekingese.

The name Shih Tzu means  "little lion," aptly named after their facial appearance. Proof of the dog’s origin has been traced to the year 624, although some reports do not believe the dog existed before the time of the Ming Dynasty (17th Century).

The first time Shih Tzus were taken outside of Tibet was when British soldiers found the dogs during World War II and brought them home. Shih Tzus were then bred extensively in England, and the Shih Tzu Club was formed in 1933.

American soldiers returning home from abroad brought the canines to the United States, where they became very popular. The AKC recognized the type in 1969.

Male and Female Shih Tzu Dogs


Shih Tzus are intelligent, outgoing and friendly pet dogs that are caring and relying on upon everybody. They are vibrant and alert and grow on human companionship, so they don't like to be left alone for extended periods of time. They can likewise act stubborn and a chore to train but can be mitigated with consistent practice.

Potential Health Problems

Shih Tzus can be afflicted with a range of illnesses but the ones noted below are those that the breed is more susceptible to:

  • Intervertebral disk illness
  • Patellar luxation
  • Stenotic nare
  • Harderian gland prolapse
  • Hypothyroidism

Care and Grooming

The Shih Tzu is a lap dog with minimal workout needs. Daily walks to expel energy and spending time with their owner engaging in indoor play is sufficient. As with any small canine, never leave a Shih Tzu alone with large dogs. Some big dogs can have strong predatory impulses and can hurt or even kill them.

Shih Tzu's requirement routine includes daily brushing especially if you want to maintain their long hair.  The fur around the face can be neatly tied to keep it from blocking the dog's vision.

You can bathe a Shih Tzu once every few weeks or more frequently if necessary. Their long hair can take some time to dry, and groomers advise familiarising the dog with the use of hair dryer as a young puppy. Doing so will help desensitize them from being scared of the latter which can make grooming more manageable in the future.

A Shih Tzu's eyes and ears should be checked and cleaned up routinely. The eyes are large and vulnerable to infection, so this area cannot be disregarded. Routine nail cutting needs to be done as needed as is typical with all dog breeds.

Wondering what gift to give a dog lover? They will appreciate a Shih Tzu calendar.