The Shih Tzu is an Asian toy dog breed originating from Tibet.
Although small in size, they are famous for their largely fun and playful personality, and calm and friendly temperament.
They are highly independent dogs, and are able to adapt well in different situations.
Though, due to their independent nature, they are not considered the most obedient breed.
The average lifespan of the Shih Tzu is about 13 years. The oldest living Shih Tzu was one named Smokey from Florida, who lived to be 23 years old.
A Shih Tzu should stand no more than 26.7 cm (10.5 inches) at the withers and with an ideal weight of 4 to 7.5 kg.
It is a sturdy little dog with a small muzzle and normally have large dark brown eyes. Floppy ears are covered with long fur, and the heavily furred tail is carried curled over the back. A very noticeable feature is the underbite, which is required in the breed standard.
They have a soft and long double coat. Although sometimes long, a Shih Tzu will not always have extremely lengthy hair like the Pekingese (but with short legs). Some of them have more short, curly hair. This is purely a choice made by the owners.
The coat may be of any color, though white and with blazes of grey are frequently seen.
The name comes from the Chinese language word for “lion” because this kind of dog was bred to resemble “the lion, as in traditional oriental art”.
The Pekingese breed is also called “lion dog” in Chinese.
In contemporary mandarin, the Shih Tzu is generally known as the “Xi Shi dog” – Xi Shi was regarded as one of the most beautiful women of ancient China.
Shih Tzu were nicknamed the Chrysanthemum Dog (in England in the 1930s) because of the way their hair grows up from the nose and around the face in all directions.
The dog may also be called the Tibetan Lion Dog, but whether the breed should be referred to as “Tibetan” or “Chinese” is a source of both historical and political contention, as the subsequent section notes.
One theory is that the Shih Tzu descended from a cross between the Pekingese and Lhasa Apso.
The Shih Tzu is an ancient breed and has a long history as a lap dog to nobles.
The exact origins of the Shih Tzu as a Chinese royal house pet is hazy, with different dates offered over the past 1,100 years.
The breed became known as a noble dog of China, notably as a royal house pet to the Ming Dynasty from the 14th to 17th century. They were favorites of the Empress T’zu Hsi in the late 1800s.
Historically, the Chinese royals didn’t allow the dog to be traded outside of the nobility.
It wasn’t until 1930 that the first Shih Tzus were imported into Europe (England and Norway).
The first European standard for the breed was written in England in 1935 by the Shih Tzu Club, and the dogs were categorised again as Shih Tzu.
The breed spread throughout Europe and was brought to the United States after World War II, when returning members of the US military brought back dogs from Europe and Asia, in the mid-1950s.
The Shih Tzu was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1969 in the Toy Group.
Today, the Shih Tzu is ranked among the top 20 most popular breeds in the United States.
The Shih Tzu’s coat grows continuously. Many owners choose to keep the hair trimmed short, making it appear somewhat curly and fluffy. Others prefer to keep the coat long and luxurious. Because of this coat type, routine grooming is an absolute necessity.
A Shih Tzu puppy is likely to cost between $500 and $1,600 with the average price being $850. Buying a Shih Tzu with top breed lines and a superior pedigree will run anywhere from $2,000 upwards to $10,000 or more, depending on the breeding.
Proper training and socialization are important in order to keep your Shih Tzu happy and well-adjusted. Daily walks and fun activities like games can help keep your Shih Tzu mentally and physically stimulated.