Shih Tzu

[shee dzoo]
The Shih Tzu (with "sher" as in "sherbet" and "dz" as in "adz") , is a dog breed which originated in China. The name is both singular and plural. The spelling "Shih Tzu", most commonly used for the breed, is according to the Wade-Giles system of romanization. The Shih Tzu is reported to be the oldest and smallest of the Tibetan holy dogs, its vaguely lion-like look being associated with the Tibetan Snowlion. The Shih Tzu therefore also has the nickname "Tibetan temple dog". It is also often known as the "Xi Shi quan" (西施犬), based on the name of Xi Shi, regarded as the most beautiful woman of ancient China, and, less often, the Chrysanthemum Dog, because its face looks very much like the flower, and the Chinese or Tibetan Lion Dog.



The Shih Tzu is characterized by its long, flowing double coat; sturdy build; intelligence; and a friendly, energetic, lively attitude. Here is an excellent example of lively Shih Tzu puppy behavior at 10 weeks In breeding all coat colors are allowed. The Shih Tzu fur can be styled either in a short summer cut or kept long as is compulsory for conformation shows.

The American Kennel Club (akc) Shih Tzu breed standard calls for the dog to have a short snout, large eyes, and a palm-like tail that waves above its torso. The ideal Shih Tzu height at 9 to 10 1/2 inches. The dog should stand no less than 8 inches and not 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 for its size range.

This breed has some to no shedding (see Moult).

Breed variations

The American Kennel Club (AKC) and the American Shih Tzu Club (ASTC) define the Shih Tzu as an adult dog that weighs between 9 to 16 pounds as the official breed standard. (This may vary for the runt of the litter, who can weigh in at 8 pounds). Descriptions such as "imperial", "teacup", "tiny teacup" are used, but dogs that fit such descriptions are often an undersized or underdeveloped Shih Tzu. Both the AKC and ASTC consider these variances to not be in conformity with the official breed standard. These tiny variances are also not what was defined as a standard by the professional circuit. Many people prefer to have these canines buzzed to a short cut, as their hair starts to mat and become dry as it grows. To have it long, the owner must give the dog's hair intensive care. A medium length coat is therefore most used.


Temperature sensitivity

Shih Tzu are considered to be brachycephalic (snub-nosed) dogs. As such, they are very sensitive to high temperatures. This is why many airlines that ship dogs will not accept them for shipment when temperatures at any point on the planned itinerary exceeds 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24°C)

Life span and health issues

The life span of a Shih Tzu is 13-15 years although some variation from this range is possible. Some health issues common among the breed are portosystemic liver shunt, renal dysplasia, and hip dysplasia in standard sizes. In addition, they also can suffer from various eye problems. Shih Tzus (and many other breeds) may present signs of allergies to red dye #40, and owners should respond to scratching in the absence of fleas by eliminating pet foods that contain this commonly used additive.


The Shih Tzu can require more care than some other breeds if the hair is kept at show length; they need daily brushing to avoid tangles. A short haircut, also known as a pet trim or puppy cut, can make this a task taking place every month or so rather than of daily. They also need regular haircuts. A Shih Tzu has two coats of fur, with the bottom coat shedding into the top coat rather than off of the dog entirely; as a result, this breed sheds very little in the conventional sense. With regular brushing and bathing, shedding can be reduced to almost nothing. As they shed so lightly, Shih-Tzu are considered to be one of the breeds more suitable for people with allergies.

Since the breed is adapted to a cool climate, letting the coat grow out somewhat for the colder seasons is appropriate, but there is still a substantial difference from a floor-length show coat and a warmer, medium-length winter coat.

Because Shih Tzu noses are small and flat, eating contributes to an unclean face. Once the dog has finished eating, owners often wipe the dog's face with a damp paper towel to remove food remnants. This is another area where the haircut matters; a proper show cut will get more messy (often even requiring the hair to be rubber-banded together for eating efficiently) than other ways of cutting the facial hair.

When they are drinking, it is sometimes necessary to supervise Shih Tzu; water can enter their face-level noses more easily and inhibit breathing. This is why many Shih Tzu are trained to drink from the sort of licker bottles used by hamsters and gerbils. The area around the eyes should be checked each day for mucus buildup and cleaned when needed. Providing the Shih Tzu with bottled water (or water that does not contain chlorine) helps to keep eye mucus to a minimum. Additionally, their claws need to be clipped approximately every month.

Crossbred Shih Tzus

A crossbreed is a dog with two purebred parents of different breeds. Dogs traditionally were crossed in this manner in hopes of creating a puppy with desirable qualities from each parent. For pet dogs, crosses may be done to enhance the marketability of puppies, and are often given cute portmanteau names. Shih Tzus are sometimes crossbred with other toy dogs, creating such designer dogs as Shih-poo (crossed with a toy Poodle), the "Zuchon" or "Shichon" (crossed with a Bichon Frisé) and the Pom shih (crossed with a Pomeranian). Shih Tzus may also be crossed with Maltese, (the " Malshi" or "Schmaltz") and a ShiChi which is a Shih Tzu crossed with a Chihuahua, Shih Tzu's have also been known to be crossed with Cavalier King Charles Spanieland a "Shorkie" is 1/2 teacup Yorkie & 1/2 Toy sized Shih Tzu


Recent DNA analysis confirms that the ancestors of today's Shih Tzu breed are the most ancient dog breeds.

Professor Ludvic von Schulmuth studied canine origins by studying the skeletal remains of dogs found in human settlements as long as ten thousand years ago. The Professor created a genealogical tree of Tibetan dogs that shows the "Gobi Desert Kitchen Midden Dog", a scavenger, evolved into the "Small Soft-Coated Drop-Eared Hunting Dog". From this dog evolved the Tibetan Spaniel, Pekingese, and Japanese Chin. Another branch coming down from the "Kitchen Midden Dog" gave rise to the Papillon and Long-haired Chihuahua and yet another "Kitchen Midden Dog" branch to the Pug and Shih Tzu.

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."

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