Longhaired dogs look very beautiful when their coats are well cared for and in good condition, but they also take a lot of work to keep them looking at their best – which means that longhaired dog breeds aren’t for everyone!
The most popular longhaired dog breed in the UK is also one of those with the most impressive coats – the cute, very pretty little Shih Tzu. Not only is the Shih Tzu the most popular longhaired dog in the UK, they are also the eighth most popular dog breed overall – and in this article we will look at some of the breed’s core traits and consider what it is like owning a Shih Tzu to find out why.
Read on to learn more about why the Shih Tzu is the UK’s most popular longhaired dog breed.
The Shih Tzu is a small dog breed that falls within the utility dog grouping, which comes as a surprise to many people who assume that the breed is classed as a toy dog.
Whilst today they are generally kept as pampered lapdogs and loving pets, the Shih Tzu actually has a very long recorded history going back thousands of years to ancient Tibet, where they were kept in monasteries by Buddhist monks. They were also widely kept in Tibet’s Imperial Palace by emperors and other important members of the country’s royalty too.
The same traits that made the dogs so highly prized back in ancient Tibet remain strong within the breed today – they are loving, affectionate, and excellent watchdogs that will soon let you know if someone is approaching the door or rustling around in the back garden!
The breed’s most distinctive feature aside from its diminutive size is their long, glossy flowing coats. Dogs of the breed stand between 20-28cm tall at the withers, and their coats commonly reach all the way to the floor, which gives them the added distinction of being one of the longest haired breeds of all, as well as the most popular.
Their coats grow so long that their fringes will completely cover their eyes if it isn’t tied back from their faces, and many Shih Tzu owners have their dogs’ coats clipped around the face to prevent this – or have the entire coat clipped down to a more manageable length.
All told, it is fair to say that the Shih Tzu coat needs a lot of care, requiring a significant amount of daily grooming if kept long, and regular trips to the grooming parlour for trimming if kept shorter.
Regular baths are needed too, in order to keep both skin and coat in good condition, and the long coat can become knotted and matted very quickly if you skip a couple of days grooming! They are also prone to getting food stuck in their long beards when they eat, and so keeping the dog clean and tidy definitely takes up a lot of time.
However, even though the breed’s coat is very long and needs a lot of attention, they aren’t particularly heavy shedders, which means that their owners won’t have to continually battle clouds of hair and tumbleweeds of fur being shed within the home!
Deciding to buy a Shih Tzu isn’t something to undertake lightly, and you should be aware of how much care their coats need – even if you keep them clipped, this will require trips to the groomer every few weeks, which can be both costly and time consuming.
However, the beautiful long coat – and the versatility that comes with the options available for fully or partially clipping it to make maintenance easier – is a large part of the appeal of owning a dog of the breed in and of itself.
The small size of the Shih Tzu also makes them versatile enough to thrive within even smaller homes, and whilst they are playful and like to spend some time every day running around, they only have moderate exercise requirements and so suit people who tend to live a fairly sedentary lifestyle and only want to provide one half-hour walk for the dog per day.
When it comes to their personalities, they are very loyal to their owners, and form strong bonds with the people they love. They can be a little watchful and speculative with strangers, but they are highly affectionate and love curling up in their favourite person’s lap for the evening after a short walk.
They are also quite alert and watchful at home, and will soon bark to let you know if something is going on outside, or if they think something is amiss!
Another factor that helps to ensure the Shih Tzu’s enduring popularity is the fact that there is no shortage of dogs of the breed in the UK, and they are not among the most expensive of pedigree dogs to own.
Registered pedigree Shih Tzus with Kennel Club paperwork change hands for £787 on average, whilst for unregistered or non-pedigree Shih Tzus, the average price is just £538.
This places dogs of the breed well within the reach of most potential pedigree puppy buyers – and as a small dog breed, they are also reasonably economical to care for and feed too!