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About the Breed: Shih Tzu


Sweet but demanding, the Shih Tzu is a spirited companion that can sometimes become manipulating without proper guidance.


The Shih Tzu is reported to be one of the holy dogs from China. Although based on documents, paintings and art dating from A. D. 624, the origination date of the Shih Tzu is not known for sure. Shih Tzu means “lion” and they are also known as the “chrysanthemum-faced dog” because the hair grows about the face in all directions. They are one of the Tibetan holy dogs, associated with the Buddhist deity, introduced to China in the mid-17th century. The dogs were brought from Tibet to the Chinese and bred in Peking.

Prized house pets for over a thousand years, it is believed to have descended from crossing the Lhasa Apso and Pekingese. The Shih Tzu was the house pet for most of the Ming Dynasty and was discovered by soldiers in England during World War II.


Shih Tzus are a sweet but demanding breed. They thrive on people’s attention and generally have spirited and manipulating dispositions. The word Shih Tzu means “lion” and although this dog is sweet and playful, he is not afraid to stand up for himself!


As the sole purpose of the Shih Tzu is that of a companion and house pet, it is essential that its temperament be outgoing, happy, affectionate, friendly and trusting towards all. To achieve this they must be excessively socialized in positive situations as young pups.


They can be difficult to house train and not good with small children or with children who are rowdy and rough. They do not have a good bite inhibition and will surely bite if they feel they are being mistreated. They need to be worked with daily in dominate positions as pups to allow for grooming needs. They often object to being left at home alone for long hours and will display their objections by acting out, destroying things, crying, chewing.


  • Generally happy, upbeat, outgoing personality.

  • Like to be with their owners and love to supervise every activity.

  • Usually easy to train, particularly if they can see a benefit for themselves.


  • Do not do well being left alone for long periods.

  • Can be champion diggers.

  • Some can be barkers if left by themselves in a home or back yard.

  • Not typically quiet, gentle, or obedient.

Best With

  • Adults who have lots of time to spend with their dog/

  • People who would enjoy the required grooming routine.

  • Owners who appreciate an independent dog but are likewise willing to be a strong leader.

Not For

  • People with busy lifestyles that take them away from home for long periods.

  • People who do not have the time or inclination to groom their dog regularly.

  • People who expect a dog that behaves easily.




One of the most popular dogs in the United States according to statistics, this portable pooch has a distinctively arrogant carriage with his head well up and tail curved over the back. Ideal height is 9 to 10½ inches at the shoulder, weighing 9 to 16 pounds.



Shih Tzus come in various colors and all are permissible in the AKC show ring (example: black, white, red, blue, brindle, liver, silver, and variations of the above). The coat is luxurious, double-coated, dense, long, and flowing. Slight wave is common. Owners typically prefer to tie up the hair on the top of a Shih Tau’s head to keep it out of their eyes.

Energy Level:

Although a lively outgoing breed, the exercise demands for the Shih Tzu are relatively low

Life Expectancy:

On average, 14 to 16 years.



Although some Shih Tzus are very fond of children and highly tolerant of the noise and activity, they do prefer gentle and responsible handling. Many may not be suitable for families with small children. If you think you will be having a child soon it is recommended not to get a Shih Tzu at this time, but rather to wait until the child is 5-10 yrs of age.

Other Animals:


Some Shih Tzus get along very well with other dogs as well as cats. Sometimes they can be possessive of their owners and thus are often best in one dog households.



Most Shih Tzus are satisfied being a household pet, however there are some who excel in dog sports activities such as obedience, rally, agility and tricks.



Shih Tzus do not shed, but they do require almost daily brushing, along with regular bathing and trimming. The groomed Shih Tzu one sees competing in the AKC conformation breed ring may look easy and carefree, but is rather the result of a lot of work and perseverance.

If not combed at least every few days, their hair will mat quickly. Even clipped down, they also need to be bathed and dried at least every 2 weeks, and professionally groomed at least once a month—which can be costly.


If left ungroomed, a Shih Tzu will develop sore, irritated skin and terribly matted hair.

People often buy this type of dog on a whim or impulse, and end up giving it up when they realize that they can’t cope with basic Shih Tzu care requirements. It should definitely not come to this – hence, one should be careful to understand what Shih Tzu care and grooming involves before taking in this dog variety.

Here is what you will need for grooming your own Shih Tzu:

  1. Two types of combs – one long toothed made of steel for the long hair and the other a soft slicker brush for the wooly undercoat and a good scissor.

  2. Shampoo and cream rinse – Shih Tzu care dictates that this dog needs to be bathed using a good quality shampoo at least once every two weeks, lest it become the target of skin parasites. Conditioners will keep the long hair beautiful and easy to manage.

  3. A blow drier – preferably a hands-free model.

  4. Electric clippers (learn how to use them properly).

  5. Nail trimmers.


Small-size dogs suffer breed-specific problems. The Shih Tzu is no exception. There are several congenital diseases (dogs are born with these diseases) that might present serious health risk in this breed of dog, including: patellar luxation (slipping knees) and back problems.


Dry eye, Cherry Eye and other eye abnormalities can occur.


Because of the shape of the mouth, the teeth need to be cleaned yearly, which can also be costly.


The Shih Tzu can be prone to Skin diseases and skin allergies; they are especially allergic to flea bites and must be kept flea free.

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