Originating in China or Tibet, this toy breed of dog is a popular companion animal whose name translates as 'Lion Dog' and given its luxurious mane this is not surprising. The Shih Tzu has always been known as a house pet and "lap dog," never having been bred for any other known purposes through history. To this day, one of the most pampered and popular of the toy breeds.
A noble breed of dog which can trace its roots back to the 5th Century, the 'Lion Dog' was bred, it is thought, to resemble a lion as usually depicted on the fine, oriental paintings and pictures frequently found on pottery. Surprisingly, modern DNA analysis of a Shih Tzu buried around 10,000 years ago found that it was closely related, at a genetic level, to the wolf. It is a source of debate amongst enthusiasts of the breed whether the dog originated from China or Tibet.
There are various theories of the origins of today's breed. These include that is was a cross between Pekingese and a Lhasa Apsos. The first European standard for the breed was written in England in 1935 by the Shih Tzu Club. The breed spread throughout Europe, and its popularity spread to the United States after World War II, when returning members of the US military brought back dogs from Europe.
Average height to withers: Both males and females average between 7.5-11 inches.
Average weight: Both males and females between 4-7.5kg.
Noted for its very beautiful and long, luxurious coat, the Shih Tzu is a very pretty little, but sturdy, dog. The coat is silky and double and will require daily attention. Shih Tzu colours are varied including light, dark and golden browns, white and creams, black and white and bridle. The overall length of the dog is slighter longer than its height. The ears are dropped and covered in the same long hair as the rest of the body, as is the tail, which is carries curled over its back. Another prominent feature of the Shih Tzu is its undershot jaw. The colour of the nose can vary according to the coat colour.
As a toy dog that requires minimal exercise, (although a regular exercise routine should be part of its daily life), the Shih Tzu can happily live in small homes and apartments and makes a wonderfully delightful small companion for. It is alert, confident and playful and will benefit enormously from a consistent training routine.
Love your Shih Tzu, love its snoring! As a brachycephalic breed because of its head shape and short muzzle and face, it is a breed prone to some snoring habits and respiratory issues which, on occasion, require surgery. As a breed, it can also be prone to Hyperthyroidism. This is a thyroid malfunction that occurs when the thyroid gland stops functioning and producing thyroid hormone responsible for proper metabolism. It is usually affects middle-aged dogs and is seen in many breeds but has quite a prevalence in Shih Tzu. Symptoms include hair loss, weight gain, muscle loss, lethargy and in some cases heart problems. This disease is usually diagnosed through blood tests. It can be effectively treated with drug therapy under your vets supervision.
Professional grooming costs must be taken into account when bringing a Shih Tzu onto your life. Along with a daily home grooming, it will benefit from the professional touch. It is noted as one of the dog breeds which are hypoallergenic which makes them a good pet for people with allergies. Apart from the grooming costs and time, this is a very low maintenance dog requiring minimal exercise and relatively low feeding costs.