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Family livestock dog, sheepdog, mastiff
Life Span 11-14 years
Avg Size of Male: Height: 8-11 inches, Weight: 9-16 pounds
Avg Size of Female: Height: 8-11 inches, Weight: 9-16 pounds
Original Function: lap dog, companion
Overall Rating (out of 5)
This spunky pet is both a gentle lap dog and a lively friend. It has a bubbly personality, loves to play, and get along with older children and other pets. Despite its small size and flowing coat, it is a tough little dog that can be obstinate at times. The Shih Tzu expects to be treated as royalty and is easily spoiled. Because of this characteristic, it tends to be jealous of babies and toddlers. If not trained properly, the breed can be excitable, noisy, and snappy.

The Shih Tzu or Shih Tsu (pronounced Shid Zoo in singular and plural) (pinyin: Shizi Gou, Wade-Giles: Shih-tzu Kou) is a breed of dog originating in Tibet. This breed comes by a regal attitude quite honestly, they were developed as a favored pet of Chinese emperors of the Manchu Dynasty (Qing Dynasty ??) from the middle of the 19th Century. The spelling "Shih Tzu", most commonly used for the breed, is according to the Wade-Giles system of romanization. The Chinese pronunciation of this name is approximately like the "sher" of "sherbet" followed immediately by the "dds" of "adds". The Shih Tzu is reported to be the oldest and smallest of the Tibetan holy dogs, its lion-like look being associated with the Snowlion. It is now often called by a homonymic name, "xi shi quan", based on the name of Xi Shi, regarded as the most beautiful woman of ancient China.

The Shih Tzu is a very pretty breed. They are sturdy, friendly, lively and very smart. They have long flowing double coats. All coat colors are allowed. The Shih Tzu's hair can be styled in a short, summertime cut or a well-groomed long hair like that used for conformation shows. This breed's hair grows continuously. Because Shih Tzus have hair and not fur, they do not shed in the same way as many dogs. Like humans, the hair does shed, but is "captured" in the dense undercoat. Therefore, you're not likely to see as much hair on your furniture, clothes, and carpet as you would with dogs that shed. Some do shed. If not brushed daily, however, the hair that is caught up in the undercoat can cause mats. Because it has hair instead of fur, it is one of several breeds suggested as a hypoallergenic pet.

The AKC Shih Tzu breed standard calls for the dog to have a short snout, large eyes, a palm-like tail and the tail that waves above its torso. The ideal Shih Tzu height at withers is 9 to 10 1/2 inches. The dog should stand no less than 8 inches nor more than 11 inches tall. The Shih Tzu should never be so high stationed as to appear leggy, nor so low stationed as to appear dumpy or squatty. Regardless of size or gender, the Shih Tzu should always be solid and compact, and carry good weight and substance, but not always.


James E. Mumford described the breed in an American Shih Tzu magazine, giving a picture of the versatile character of the Shih Tzu: "Nobody knows how the Ancient Eunuchs managed to mix together…And now here comes the recipe: A dash of lion, several teaspoons of rabbit, a couple of ounces of domestic cat, one part court jester, a dash of ballerina, a pinch of old man (Chinese), a bit of beggar, a tablespoon of monkey, one part baby seal, a dash of teddy bear and the rest dogs of Tibetan and Chinese origin."

The Shih Tzu is usually calm and gentle. They can, however, be playful and feisty at times. The breed typically makes a good children's pet. Shih Tzus are actually a bit light-headed at times and do not take severe punishment well. Of course, as with every animal, there are exceptions; you can find the occasional "guard dog" Shih Tzu or "Lazy Lucy" in a litter.

Although generally outgoing and friendly, the Shih Tzu definitely has an attitude that cries to be spoiled. However, poorly bred dogs of the breed can be excitable, noisy, and snappy. If you need help in realizing this fact, the dog will steer you in the right direction with his self-assurance that he should be treated like a king. Indeed, his strong sense of self makes him a poor choice in a household with babies or small children. He is often jealous of babies and toddlers and may snap if bothered by rambunctious children. However, he is a fine companion for older children, particularly those who enjoy combing his hair.

Shih Tzu are very active and alert. Shih Tzu are intelligent, and can be trained for obedience competition and for good manners around the home. They can be stubborn, so persistence and consistency are definite plusses in training methods. Punishment makes this dog shut down, so training should also be low-key and motivational.


The Shih Tzu requires extensive grooming of its luxurious coat. It may need brushed as often as every day for a half hour at a time in order to remove knots and prevent matting. Clip any matting from its feet, and bathe monthly. Puppies need to be trained to accept being groomed. Because it is a tiny breed, its daily exercise requirements can be met with short walks on the leash or vigorous indoor games. Apartment life is suitable for the Shih Tzu, however it loves outdoor play. It doesn’t adapt well to humid weather and must be kept as a housedog. The Shih Tzu can be stubborn, so training requires patience and consisitency.


• Life span: 11 – 14 years
• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: renal cortical hypoplasia, entropion, trichiasis, PRA, KCS, CHD, otitis externa, portacaval shunt, inguinal hernias
• Occasionally seen: vWD
• Suggested tests: eye


Shih Tzu – pronounced "sher" of "sherbet" followed immediately by the "dds" of "adds,” although most use the Western version of “Shid Zoo” – translates to “lion dog.” Because of the association with Buddhism, this breed is highly esteemed in China. Its native land, however, is in Tibet. It is assumed to be a cross between the Tibetan Mountain Dog and the Pekingese and originated around the 17 th century. Known as a holy dog, it was favored by Empress Dowager Cixi and is often portrayed in Chinese paintings. Similar to the Pekingese, both physically and historically, the Shih Tzu is distinguished by a topknot. During the Ming Dynasty, the royal family owned and bred many of these beautiful dogs. When the British invaded, many of the dogs were lost, causing a great setback to the breed. It was initially exhibited in China as the Lhassa terrier or Tibetan poodle, and in 1935, became known as the Lhassa lion dog. In England, the Shih Tzu and the Lhasa apso were both categorized as the apso, which means shaggy; but in 1935, they distinguished the dogs as two separate breeds. A single cross with a Pekingese was permitted in 1952 to improve the standard, which was recognized in 1969 by the AKC.






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