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Posts Tagged ‘Shih Tzu’

The Toy Lion – Shih Tzu

Friday, July 26th, 2013

The Shih Tzu, classified in the toy group, is a dog well known for its upright–or arrogant–personality, its long flowing coat, and its small size. Shih Tzu, which means “lion,” is both the singular and plural form of the word.

A brief history of the Shih Tzu

shih_tzuThe history of the Shih Tzu, like the similar breed the Pekingese, has its origins in China. DNA Analysis of various Shih Tzu lines places their ancestors among the group of ancient breeds found in Chinese-area settlements as far back as ten thousand years ago. These ancient dog breeds also resulted in branches from which Papillons, Pekingese, Pugs, and other small dog breeds were developed. The exact origins of the Shih Tzu breed itself are debated. Some theories believe that the Shih Tzu was a cross between a Pekingese and a Lhasa Apso, although this has not yet been proven. The first Shih Tzu to be exported outside of China was done so in the 1930, although at the time they were referred to as “Apsos.” In 1935, the dog was renamed the Shih Tzu. Since then, the breed has been popular as a show dog, companion dog, and family dog.


The Shih Tzu is a small breed which typically will reach no higher than 10.5 inches at the shoulders and weigh no more than 10 to 16 lbs. The Shih Tzu is perhaps most well-known for its long, soft distinctive double coat.  The breed requires daily grooming to ensure that its coat does not tangle or become matted. Its coat should traditionally be long enough to reach the floor, although some owners–especially those not in the show circuit–give their dogs a shorter cut to help make grooming care easier on both the owner and the dog. Shih Tzu come in a number of different colors. The most common colors are shades of white, brown, red and gold; they may be solid colored or include markings or patterns.

The Shih Tzu is known for its loyal but potentially arrogant personality. Like many small companion dogs, the Shih Tzu can make an excellent watch dog because of their reaction to strangers or new situations that they deem potentially harmful to their territory, which they enjoy watching from perches such as couches or other furniture. Although they are initially wary of strangers, they may warm up to them after seeing how their family reacts to the stranger. They will usually get along with other dogs, other animals such as cats, and can get along with both children and adults. It is recommended that very small children be supervised with Shih Tzu since, like other small dogs, they may become injured if handled too roughly.

Did you know? Trivia

  • There are paintings and other artistic representations of the Shih Tzu in China dating back to 624 AD.
  • Shih Tzu were popular as house pets for courtiers and other aristocracy during the Ming Dynasty.
  • Due to the shape of their head and face, the Shih Tzu is prone to respiratory problems.