The Shih Tzu nickname is a Chrysanthemum Dog, which is thanks to their unique facial fur, which has the appearance of flower petals. They have heavily furred ears, that typically hangs down like pendants, the head is broad and round and wide between the eyes. The dark brown eyes are pretty large and expressive. Typical feature of this breed is the underbite, which is required by the breed standard. This underbite creates the cute and unique Shih Tzu smile.
The Shih Tzu is a small and sturdy dog breed with average height between 20-28 cm, which is 8-11 inches and weight is typically between 4-8 kg, which is 9-18 pounds. There are no big size differences between males and females.
The hallmark of this breed is definitely its coat. The traditional coat which can be seen on dog shows is long and flowing, but i would say that most Shih Tzus have shorter coat, that can be wavy or curly. The coat type is purely a choice made by the owners and since the shorter coat is easier to maintain, you will most likely see more Shih Tzus with shorter coat. You can find this breed in almost all colors.
The breeds name Shih Tzu can be translated as a little lion, but there is nothing fierce about this breed. The Shih Tzu is amazing playful, affectionate and loyal family companion. This is a very social dog who thrives for attention from its family, but they are typically alert around strangers and it is not uncommon for them to bark on strangers who are approaching their territory. But of course, this is not a protector or guard dog.
The Shih Tzu is an intelligent and bright dog, but they are also independent and they are known for being little bit stubborn, which is why they are not total pushovers to train. Early patient training and socialization is essential to raise an obedient Shih Tzu. The housetraining can be also little bit challenging.
Great fact about the Shih Tzu is their adaptability. They will happily live in large estate, but also in small apartments. They make great companions for children, but also for seniors, for singles but also for large families. They can also live with other dogs and pets in the family without any problems.
This breed is not extremely active, but they are definitely not total coach potatoes. They like good playtime and outdoor walks. But thanks to their small size, its not very hard to deal with their energy level.
The Shih Tzu has old history, this is an ancient breed from Tibet. We are not sure about the breeds ancestry and exact date of origin, but there are some theories about it. One of them says that they were developed in Tibet back around the 7th century and that their main ancestor is the Lhasa Apso.
Another theory suggest, that they are crosses of Lhasa Apso and Pekingese. It is almost certain, that the Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu are relatives, they look almost the same. If you would like to find out what are the differences between them, i am giving you link to Rocadog comparsion video between those two breeds in description.
The Shih Tzu was favourite dog of Chinese royalty and they were kept at court as far back as the Tang dynasty in the 9th century. When the China became a republic, these little dogs were imported to the Western countries as well
Health and Grooming
The appearance of the Shih Tzu shouts out “high maintenance”, and it’s definitely true that they demand their fair share of grooming. They need regular almost daily brushing, frequent bathing and combing to keep the coat in top condition. Because of that many owners choose to have a professional clip and shape their dog’s fur into a shorter cut. Great fact is that the Shih Tzu is a low shedding breed. Just like with all dogs, you should regularly check the dogs ears, eyes, teeth and nails and clip them or clean them if needed.
The average lifespan of Shih Tzu is between 12-14 years and just like all dogs, they suffer from some health issues. Due to the shorter muzzle, these dogs suffer from brachycephalic syndrom which is causing breathing issues and they can overheat easily. Other health concerns include intevertebral disc disease, hypothyroidism, eye problems and otitis externa.