The Shih Tzu is a long-coated, sturdy little dog that comes in a variety of colours (see the breed standard for details). They move in quite an arrogant manner with their tails carried over their backs. An adult Shih Tzu should be no more than 27cm in height and the ideal weight is 4.5-7.5kg.
- Category size: Small
- Grooming requirements: Daily
- Shedding: None
- Allergies: Yes
- Noise: Not too noisy
- Dog Group Kennel Club: Utility
- Alone: Less than 1 hour
- Other pets: High
- Stability as a guard: Low
The Shih Tzu dog breed is believed to have originated in Tibet, where they lived in the temples and were occasionally given as a gift to the Emperors of China. Once they were in China the Shih Tzu dog was crossed with the Pekingese to become the breed we recognise today. They arrived in Britain after 1912, but they were not given recognition until 1949. It wasn't until the 1960s that they were recognised in America.
The Shih Tzu is an affectionate, playful and intelligent dog. As a breed they can be independent and wary of strangers. They enjoy learning and like to please, but they can be obstinate at times and can give the impression that some tasks are simply beneath them. With patience and consistency they can become relatively obedient.
In common with many other breeds, the Shih Tzu dog can suffer from some hereditary eye problems and kneecaps that may temporarily slip out of place. They are also more prone to ear infections, spinal disc disease and breathing problems.
Shih Tzus do require exercise but are quite happy to stay at home and play. They are perfectly content with short walks and would prefer three 20-minute strolls to an hour-long hike.
Small dogs have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn energy at a high rate, although their small stomachs mean that they must eat little and often. Small-breed foods are specifically designed with appropriate levels of key nutrients and smaller kibble sizes to suit smaller mouths. This also encourages chewing and improves digestion.
The coat of the Shih Tzu is long, soft and dense, with a good amount of undercoat, and requires a lot of daily grooming to keep it looking in top condition. They also require frequent bathing, sometimes as much as once a week and they must be dried completely. As the hair grows upwards from the bridge of the nose, it is often tied up in a topknot, on top of the head. Their faces may need to be washed daily, as food etc can get stuck on the hair. If the coat becomes too much, it can be kept short, a groomer or the breeder is probably the best person to advise on how this is carried out.