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Shih Tzu: Breed Characteristics, Training, Care & Nutrition

If you want to get a Shih Tzu, you need a lot of patience when training it. The animal has a certain stubbornness and tends to assert independence. But the clever four-legged friend has other sides that make the human heart melt for dogs. The breed portrait reveals what these are and what dog owners still need to consider.

The Shih Tzu dog breed belongs to the FCI group 9 of companion dogs. He is assigned to Section 5.

Shih Tzu Dog Breed

Size: 20-27cm
Weight: 4-7.5kg
FCI Group: 9: Companion and Companion Dogs
Section: 5: Tibetan dog breeds
Country of origin: China (Tibet)
Colors: Liver, Brindle, Black, Blue, White, Black & White, Gold, Dark Brown, Tan, Liver White
Life expectancy: 10-16 years
Suitable as: Companion and apartment dog
Sports: dog dancing, agility
Personality: Happy, Active, Playful, Gentle, Intelligent, Outgoing, Clever, Attentive, Friendly, Independent, Brave, Lively
Outlet needs: rather low
Drooling potential: low
The thickness of hair: medium
Maintenance effort: high
Coat structure: long, dense, non-curly topcoat and moderate undercoat
Child-friendly: rather yes
Family dog: yes
Social: rather yes

Origin and breed history

The history of the Shih Tzu breed did not begin with the introduction of the dog into the Chinese imperial palace. Much earlier, the Shih Tzu found its home in the Chinese autonomous region of Tibet. The little dog is said to have initially lived with the monks of the Tibetan monasteries. According to an old legend, the figure of the Buddha would delight in the little lion dog on his travels. The name came about because of its lion-like appearance. According to legend, however, Buddha also benefited from his animal companion dogs. Because they could turn into real lions in the event of imminent danger.

The Tibetan monks diligently promoted the breeding of the Shih Tzu breed. They were therefore also considered temple dogs whose task it was to guard the holy places. As part of this task, the animal’s sense of hearing was able to develop excellently. Even today, this is a salient feature. The Lhasa Apso, the Tibetan Terrier and the Pekingese also emerged from the breeding of the Temple Dog. The Tibetan name Lhasa Apso and the Chinese name Shih Tzu literally mean “lion dog”.

It was not until the 17th century that the little lion dogs came to the Chinese imperial court as tribute payments. There the breeding of the breed Shih Tzu was continued. So it didn’t take long for the temple dog to acquire the image of a luxury dog. In the 20th century, China also approved the export of the little darlings to the USA and Europe. While breeders in Europe and elsewhere took up the breed, breeding in China came to an abrupt end with the establishment of Communism in 1949. Because communism forbids all luxuries, the lion dogs suffered a sad fate. They were reduced to uselessness and killed. The Shih Tzu was recognized as a separate breed in Great Britain in 1929.

What is a Shih Tzu?

The Shih Tzu is a breed of dog.

Nature & temperament of the Shih Tzu

It is not surprising for the animal lover to hear that Shih Tzu has an arrogant nature. Breeders often refer to the animal with this adjective. As a temple dog and coveted luxury animal in the world of the Chinese imperial palace, the creature has always been used to a priority role. The trained companion dog doesn’t know any different. The sudden aversion to any form of submission is sometimes more like a cat. What sounds a bit unsympathetic at first glance, the Shih Tzu immediately compensates with other character traits.

His open and friendly nature is always turned towards people. This is not least because the Shih Tzu likes to be the center of attention. The breed is capable of making the two-legged friends around it laugh. In addition to his independence, he also likes to live out his playfulness. The dog hardly knows a bad mood. Even children and toddlers can have fun with the animal. The animal doesn’t blame the little ones for childish clumsiness. The playful two-legged friend is only too happy to accept cuddles from his fans. The animal usually cannot get enough of this.

In addition to his character, which is always designed for fun and joy, his intelligent nature also stands out. This is why there should be an education that sets boundaries. If you only plan to pat the dog, you will quickly learn otherwise. The animal knows how to cleverly exploit humanization and negligence. Because independence is part of the Shih Tzu’s nature, it’s easy for them to be told nothing at all. Therefore, the educator should not focus only on excessive caresses.

The appearance of the Shih Tzu

The Shih-Tzu can always be recognized by its distinctive appearance. It is one of the smaller dog breeds, growing to an average height of around 20-28 centimeters, with males usually being slightly larger than females. The weight is between five and seven kilos, depending on the size. They can come in just about any color, so every Shih-Tzu looks unique in its own way.

Shih-Tzus are characterized by a round and friendly-looking face and shaggy coat. Coupled with the dark beady eyes, the dogs, therefore, look particularly cute to many.

How big do Shih Tzus get?

The Shih-Tzu normally reaches a height of 27 cm at the withers.

Upbringing & keeping the Shih Tzu – this is important to note

When training the Shih Tzu breed, the dog owner should always use their heart and mind. The companion dog, for all its addiction to cuddles, is still an animal. The animal knows how to assert its simultaneous need for independence with the necessary portion of stubbornness. The motto “exceptions prove the rule” can have fatal effects on the Shih-Tzu. When there are exceptions, the intelligence is geared towards the pursuit of a goal that overrides all methods of education. His audacity triumphs over negligence.

The correction of misconduct of the clever four-legged friend should be done quickly and consistently. Inconsistency is what the Shih-Tzu chalks up as a success in its own right. Immediate correction leads to good leadership of the dog. Training should begin as early as puppy age. If several members live in the immediate vicinity of the dog, each member should use the same training methods and commands towards the former luxury dog.

It is also important to ensure the right balance when it comes to activities related to parenting. The Shih-Tzu is willing to learn. However, being overwhelmed quickly leads to resignation. On the other hand, under-challenging can encourage the animal’s need for independence. In this case, the Shih-Tzu gets what it needs. It is not uncommon for dog owners to feel pressured.

As the animal’s dominant behavior increases, it manifests itself in the form of frequent barking, disobeying commands, random behavior, damaging furniture, or being pushed off the couch. The dog wants to rule. In the absence of attention, the animal tries to increase its rank within the family pack.

If you are a pet owner and beginner and can be disciplined and consistent in leading your dog, you can do the same with the Shih-Tzu. With prior knowledge, even a beginner can acquire this breed of dog. Best when they are puppies. If the upbringing is successful, the animal is a very affable and playful companion for both the individual and the family.

Diet of the Shih Tzu

Like all dog breeds, a meat-based diet is ideal for the Shih Tzu. There is no grain in dog food at all. The Shih Tzu fan can choose both dry and wet food. If the dog consumes dry food, there should also be an adequate supply of water. The pet owner must always keep an eye on whether the animal is drinking well.

There are special food products for the Shih Tzu in specialist shops that are tailored to this breed. They are characterized, for example, by the appropriate croquette shape. BARF can also be considered for the Shih Tzu. In addition, the food should also be suitable for dental care. The Shih Tzu’s teeth are close together. A circumstance that promotes tartar.

Bloating can occur after eating because the Shih-Tzu has an increased tendency to “gulp” a lot of air when gobbling the food. This can have a detrimental effect on bowel activity.

Health – life expectancy & common diseases

The life expectancy of the Shih Tzu is between 12 and 16 years. With good health and species-appropriate husbandry, the animal can get quite old. While there are no breed-specific diseases, there are diseases that the animal’s biology is prone to. These include:

  • eye diseases
  • heart diseases
  • popping out of the kneecap
  • hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a chronic disease that is based on an abnormal development of the joint apparatus. The disease manifests itself as a limitation of movement and causes pain. Osteoarthritis of the hip is often the result. Because several factors such as poor nutrition and poor posture can play a role, it is a multifactorial disease. When buying, the buyer can have a genetic test of the parents of the puppies shown to be on the safe side, if there is one. The interested party should ask the reputable breeder about possible diseases.
Once the Shih Tzu has reached old age, the animal tends to be overweight. This is especially the case when the small companion dog does not get enough exercise. For this reason, the dog should be able to enjoy activities even at an advanced age. Of course, even a senior dog should not be overloaded. Daily, longer walks are perfectly sufficient.

The duration and type of activity also depend on other factors. For example, the health of the animal plays an important role in the choice of activity. The animal can gain weight, especially through the dental care food or the administration of too many treats a day. In terms of reward, pats should be used instead of food as an alternative.
The Shih Tzu consists mainly of topcoats. There is only a moderate undercoat underneath. The Shih Tzu breed is known to be sensitive to both cold and heat.

How old do Shih Tzus get?

The Shih Tzu can live up to 16 years.

Grooming the Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu has a decent head of hair that needs grooming. Anyone who expects little work is wrong. Caring for the animal’s hair is a complex undertaking that takes a lot of time. To keep the long hair from dragging on the floor, the dog breed’s hair should be trimmed regularly. The long hair can be a hindrance to the dog when romping and running. This is especially the case when going into the forest.

The long mane of the luxurious four-legged friend should be shortened, otherwise it would block his view of his surroundings. Alternatively, the Shih Tzu fan can also tie their hair up at this point. Cutting back has health benefits here, too: less hair in your eyes means less eye inflammation.
A weekly, thorough brushing and combing of the dog is essential if the pet owner wants to prevent tangles in the hair. Especially the areas behind the ears and the inside of his legs are predestined for the development of felt. From puppyhood, strand by strand should be cared for. With daily care, the animal gets used to the procedure early on. In this way, the Shih-Tzu owner also teaches his animal the patience to lie on one side for a long time. On an excursion into nature, small branches can get caught in the long hair. It takes time to remove these from the hair. Otherwise, the Shih Tzu sheds very little.

Is a Shih Tzu good for allergy sufferers?

The animal gets a hair change at the usual times and is therefore not suitable for allergy sufferers.

Shih Tzu Activities and Training

The Shih Tzu can easily be kept in a smaller apartment. The animal has no space requirements. It is not necessary to practice a specific dog sport to ensure sufficient utilization. Unlike other terriers, he lacks the stamina and strength for sporting activities. There are not even the classic dog sports in which the dog can work out.

He can definitely prove himself in dog sports like agility. The playful animal also enjoys dog dancing.

Instead of great achievements, the dog has a different kind of activity. As a classic companion dog, it needs activity in the form of games and a lot of attention.

Good to know: Peculiarities of the Shih Tzu

The dog breed Shih-Tzu has made it into the films “Best in Show” and “7 Psychos”.

Disadvantages of the Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu breed needs extensive grooming. The topcoat must be brushed and combed regularly. Its owner must not forget to shorten its long hair either, because the dog picks up the dirt on the floor like a mop. If you don’t feel like caring for a dog on a daily basis, you shouldn’t get a Shih Tzu.

Even active dog lovers who plan to go jogging in the woods with their new companion will not get their money’s worth with a Shih Tzu. The animal is not made for conditional, sporting tasks. Many dog sports are also eliminated.

When is a Shih Tzu fully grown?

The Shih-Tzu is fully grown at around nine to 12 months.

Is the Shih Tzu right for me?

The Shih Tzu is the darling of certain social circles. He is only conditionally suitable for a lap dog because he likes to move back and forth between his favorite people. But he can certainly be a bed hugger. The animal does not need much exercise. Daily walks are sufficient. You should not overload the dog conditionally. It doesn’t take up much space in the apartment.

The Shih Tzu breed of dog needs a lot of attention and affection. The funny four-legged friend is very attached to his mistress or master and loves to always be the center of attention. Because the dog is neither aggressive nor unfriendly, it may make an excellent playmate for children. The animal is at least as playful as children who like to let off steam.

While arrogance may be in his nature, he makes up for that trait with plenty of kindness. The animal is suitable as a family dog. The basic requirement is always a consistent upbringing, in which each family member should not allow themselves any negligence.
Before buying, the interested party should consider whether he wants to get this breed of dog. There are restrictions on dog sports. Haircare is complicated.

Seniors who enjoy and are passionate about dedicating their time to a dog will enjoy the Shih-Tzu. Daily walks are just as sufficient for the dog as for the elderly.

How Much Does a Shih Tzu Cost?

A Shih-Tzu can cost up to $1500.

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