Shih Tzu

Type: Companion Dog

Height: 8 - 11 inches.

Weight: 8 - 19 lbs. Between 8 and 16 lbs. is most desirable.

Life Span: 10 - 14 years.

Litter Size: 2 - 4 puppies.

Country of Origin: Tibet

Activity: Indoors - High. Outdoors - Low.

Watch-dog: Very High. They are rather alert.

Guard-dog: Very Low. Although alert, Shih Tzus remain quite friendly, even to strangers.


Description: The name "Shih Tzu" means lion dog in Chinese, and they received the name because of their long, flowing mane-like coat. The lion is highly regarded in Buddhist culture, and therefore the Shih Tzu made its way into palaces and royalty's lap in the older days of China. The Shih Tzu is a sturdy, lively, toy dog with a long flowing double coat. The topknot on the head is usually held up with a bow, and they have dark round eyes with a pleasing expression. Shih Tzus can be of any color and any pattern, but a white blaze and a white tail is much desired. They somewhat resemble Ewoks from the movie Star Wars. The actual Japanese standard for this breed states that this breed should have, "lion head, bear torso, camel hoof, feather-duster tail, palm-leaf ear, rice teeth, pearly petal tongue, and a movement like a goldfish." Shih Tzus have a distinctively arrogant carriage with head well up and tail curved over the back. They may display an arrogant personality, but are actually playful and gentle. They are quite friendly, more so than their cousins, the Lhasa Apso. They are not as wary of strangers, and get along well with everyone. Shih Tzus adapt well to any family situation and will enjoy a cuddle in your lap, doing tricks, or fetching a tennis ball. Shih Tzus are an intelligent dog who will make a good family addition. Despite their small size the Shih Tzu is a confident and dignified breed.

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Other Names: Chrysanthemum-Faced Dog, Foo Dog

Colors: Shih Tzus come in all colors and all patterns.

Coat: Long, dense, straight and with a good undercoat. It appears harsher than it feels.

Temperament: Shih Tzus are gentle, loyal, and proud. They appear arrogant, but are very friendly and affectionate. They love to play ball and will chase anything you throw for them. Shih Tzus are trusting, companionable, and get along with everyone, generally. They are lively, alert and energetic outside. They are very people oriented, vivacious and athletic. The Shih Tzu makes a very pleasing companion and will be obedient if trained.

With Children: Yes, they love children.

With Pets: Yes, the Shih Tzu gets along well with other animals.

Special Skills: Family pet

Care and Training: Daily grooming is essential for the Shih Tzu. Bathing needs to be done once a month. This breed also needs a clipping of the matting on the feet. They should be brushed daily in order to remove and prevent mats from forming in the fur. Minimal exercise is needed, but they will love to play outdoors. Shih Tzus may be obstinate but patience and consistency will help over come the problem and achieve a reasonable level of training. Puppies need basic training when they are young. They should turn out to be a moderately obedient pet if trained.

Learning Rate: High. Obedience - Medium. Problem Solving - Low.

Special Needs: Attention and grooming.

Living Environment: An apartment is adequate provided they receive some type of exercise. An owner of a Shih Tzu should be a consistent leader who desires an active, curious breed. They are very adaptable, but the best owner for this breed would be an attentive owner living in an apartment or suburban home.

Health Issues: Kidney disorder, allergies, cleft palate, eye problems, renal disease, and von Willebrand's disease.

History: Shih Tzus may have originated from a cross between the Tibetan Mountain Dog, Lhasa Apso and the Pekingese. They were a favored dog of the Emperor and have been portrayed in Chinese paintings and artwork for centuries. Thought to have been around since possibly the 7th century, the Shih Tzu was probably descends from a Lhasa type dog that came from Tibet, which then mixed with the Pekignese or Tibetan Mountain Dog. All are similar in appearance and attitude, although the Shih Tzu is more people oriented and less suspicious than the Lhasa Apso. Shih Tzus lived a life of luxury in the palaces of royal Emperors and the Dalai Lama. They were bred as pets and companions, and commonly kept as so. They were called "Lion Dogs" by the Chinese, in which the lion was a powerful symbol of honor and strength. Chine became a republic in 1912, and afterward a few of these animals made their way to Britain and other countries. After this the communist takeover of China resulted in almost all dogs being eliminated from the mainland, in which the Shih Tzu was fortunate enough to have made its way to other countries ahead of time. They were first imported to England in the 1930s. Then after World War II they made their way to the United States via military officers traveling home. The breed entered North America in the 1960s, and it wasn't until 1969 that the AKC recognized the breed. One Shih Tzu, on its first entry into a dog show, obtained Best in Show in the ring on its first try. The breed today has become a popular in many countries.

First Registered by the AKC: 1969

AKC Group: Toy Group

Class: Toy

Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 9), KC(GB), UKC