Shih Tzu: Ultimate Dog Breed Guide (2020)
Are you looking to become a dog parent? Are you a fan of miniature sized dog breeds? Then you are in the right place. We have got you covered with this long furry toy dog.
Let’s jump into the details!
The Shih Tzu is generally a joyous and bubbly dog. As a dog parent, you must devote a great deal of your attention to this breed, but beware this exotic breed can quickly get spoilt. Therefore, be firm with your commands when training. With that said, let's begin this extraordinary Shih Tzu tour!
Adaptability- 3 out of 5 stars
Adapts well to apartment space- 5 golden points
Shih Tzu pups are highly adaptable to whichever habitat you place them in, hence if you live in a small apartment, don't sweat!
Suitability for new dog owners- 5 golden points
Shih Tzu’s thrive on human closeness!
Sensitivity level- 3 golden points
This miniature breed has an average emotional level. Sometimes it won't hurt to break the monotony by changing your basic routine.
Endures solitude- 3 golden points
The Shih Tzu can handle being a self-entertainer for a few hours, but not the whole day lest it becomes restless.
Adaptability to cold weather- 3 golden points
Shih Tzu cannot adequately handle chilly weather, so forget about building a kennel and leaving it to the mercy of the environment. Though the original Shih Tzu thrived in snowy Siberian climates, they were much sizeable and energetic than the current breeds. A warm fuzzy dog sweater can help your Shih Tzu pooch stay active all day during winter.
Endures hot weather- 1 golden point
If you think that cold weather is stinging for this miniature, you've seen nothing yet! After the long, dull, snowy winter, brace yourself for summer adjustments. Shih Tzu is very susceptible to heatstroke, and because of their tiny nostrils, perspiration can be challenging under humid conditions.
The following are basic guidelines for caring for your Shih Tzu during hot summers:
Go swimming- if you don’t have a pool in your backyard, you can set up a simple kiddie pool. Your pooch will love this wet experience!
Use a cooling pad- it is quite portable; thus, you can carry it with you when taking summer vacations and trips.
Lots of hydration- this is the quickest way to cool your pooch down.
Offer cold air- set up a revolving fan to provide a cool breeze for your Shih Tzu. It will enjoy that cold air against its coat.
Use a wet blanket- in case you don't have a cooling pad, that's okay because a wet blanket is a great alternative. Just place it on your furry buddy's neck or groin.
Get a mister- go to your local home convenience store and snag yourself this marvel appliance. It is practical, useful, and surprisingly cheap. Set it up near your Shih Tzu’s favourite chilling spot to provide some mist of fresh air.
Offer cool shade- in addition to hydration, shade lessens this extreme warmth. When you go basking or sunbathing at the beach with your Shih Tzu, don’t forget to carry a collapsible tent with you.
Make icicles or popsicles- your Shih Tzu will love this!
All-Round Friendliness- 5 out of 5 stars
You have nothing to worry about in this department- Shih Tzu is not snobbish or hostile to visitors.
Lovable with family- 5 golden points
Shih Tzu are the best family lovers! They blend in well with individuals of all ages.
Child-friendly- 4 golden points
Because of their small physique, Shih Tzu is an ideal child playmate. However, it is best if Shih Tzu pups are socialized with your young ones to form a stronger bond when older.
Dog-friendly- 4 golden points
Shih Tzus interact amicably with other dog breeds.
Stranger-friendly- 5 golden points
Shih Tzus are affable towards strangers. But be careful who they let their guide down with. They would let robbers into the house without a shriek.
Health and Grooming Demands- 2 out of 5 stars
As a young pup, you must get your Shih Tzu used to consistent grooming. Wash it every couple of weeks and give it a full brush, but never brush dry fur or hydrate it lightly before cleaning.
Shedding level- 3 golden points
Shih Tzus have double-layered fur, and when it is grown out, the shedding hairs get trapped within the long coat rather than falling on furniture or the floor. Search hair can only be removed through brushing.
Note: a long coat offers the benefit of less shedding, whereas a short layer has the advantage of being simpler to clean and brush.
Level of drooling- 1 golden point
Shih Tzus aren’t the type to drool, even when lapping on water.
Grooming simplicity- 1 golden point
Shih Tzus are high maintenance dogs. They require daily brushing accompanied by regular bathing and trimming.
Overall health- 3 golden points
In general, Shih Tzus are healthy breeds. However, like any other dog breed they are susceptible to the following conditions: allergies, canine hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, juvenile renal dysplasia (JRD), bladder stones and infections, eye problems, ear infections, snuffles, umbilical hernia, teeth, and gum issues, reverse sneezing and restrained baby teeth.
Ability to gain weight- 4 golden points
Shih Tzus can increasingly become overweight if you don’t regulate those treats.
Size- 1 golden point
The size of the Shih Tzu leans towards shorter angles, with a robust abled body, an average-sized head, and prominent eyes. The tail is blithely curled with strides too dominant for a tiny pooch.
Trainability- 3 out of 5 stars
Training demand- 4 golden points
Shih Tzus are relatively easy to train because they are knowledgeable, and people pleasers as well. However, they have a stubborn side, therefore be consistent with your orders.
Level of Intelligence- 4 golden points
Their level of adaption and understanding of human emotions is what deems Shih Tzu as intelligent. Otherwise, they feature among dog breeds with the lowest working intelligence and obedience level.
Mouthiness level- 4 golden points
Shih Tzus have an above-average capability to chew, play-bite, nip or stalk people.
Ability to prey- 4 golden points
Shih Tzus have a low tendency to chase after smaller animals. This is remarkable because you don't have to run after your pooch every time you take dog walks.
Potential to howl or bark- 2 golden points
Shih Tzus have a low likelihood of bark or howl, so don't expect to chatter.
Ability to wander- 2 golden points
Shih Tzus are not highly energetic dogs; they can wander around the house, run towards the guests, or play with their toys. Otherwise, they are much contented just resting on your lap.
Physical Demands- 3 out of 5 stars
Shih Tzus love to relax. They are couch potatoes 90% of the time, and the other 10% is energy spent running to their dish.
Energy level- 2 golden points
Daily basic exercises such as short strolls are enough to keep your Shih Tzu in good shape.
Exercise level- 2 golden points
Shih Tzu doesn't require vigorous outdoor exercise.
Level of playfulness- 4 golden points
This glamorous breed is super playful and bursting with personality.
More Information About the Shih Tzu Breed
The Shih Tzu is also referred to as the Chrysanthenum dog, a nickname derived from its facial feature of how fur grows all over its face. Its face thus resembles a flower with its nose centrally placed.
One unique characteristic of the Shih Tzu is its puffiness. Its lower jaw is slightly bigger than its upper and when its mouth is closed the teeth on the upper jaw slide on the inner side of the lower teeth instead of outside.
Though the Shih Tzu is an athletic dog, its minute size is a drawback. You should supervise the children's interaction with your Shih Tzu pup to prevent the dog from accidentally hurting the dog, confusing it for a toy.
The Shih Tzu character is so deliriously appealing, and even the most unenthusiastic dog watcher won't resist it. They were reared to be ideal human sweethearts- they are not guard, herd, or hunting dogs. They love socializing and meeting new people.
You can always count on this bounteous personality to make new friends wherever you go!
Points to Note:
Shih Tzus are tough housebreakers. Be stern during training, and don't let your puppy stroll around the house unsupervised. Crate training is very resourceful.
Shih Tzus are prone to snore and wheeze, as well as dental issues.
Shih Tzus are not referred to as 'imperial' or 'teacup' dog breeds. These are treacherous marketing terms utilized by mediocre breeders to mean a very tiny or above-average Shih Tzu.
The Shih Tzu is highly susceptible to eating its feaces. The most effective way to deal with this dubious behavior is not to let it turn into a daily habit. Clean up the poop immediately after your pup finishes its business.
History of the Shih Tzu Dog Breed
The Shih Tzu is an ancient breed; it is believed to be a crossbreed of the small Chinese Pekingese dog and the Lhasa Apso breed. They were Chinese beaus, kept in Chinese royal courts during the Tang dynasty from 618-907 before they started gaining fame among the ordinary men during the Ming dynasty.
One Shih Tzu legend claims that Buddha often traveled with a small-sized dog whose details fit the Shih Tzu. One day during the Buddha's journey, he was confronted by robbers who wanted to rob and murder him. His little dog transformed into a fierce lion and chased the thieves away, thus saving his master's life. The lion changed back into a cute little dog again, which the Buddha grabbed and thankfully kissed. It is believed that the white spot of the head of several Shih Tzus symbolizes the place where Buddha pecked his faithful friend.
Many people also claim that the safeguards of Buddhist temples, Fu Dogs belong to the Shih Tzu dog breeds.
The Shih Tzu dog breed was nearly extinguished during the Chinese Revolution; only seven females and seven males were salvaged, and from these, descended the modern-day Shih Tzu breed we all cherish.
These canines began to be migrated to other countries such as England, North America, and Norway in the early 1900s. The pioneer Shih Tzu was known as Apsos, and later in 1934-1935, clubs were established to distinguish the qualities among the two main breeds. In 1938, standard unique attributes began to be recognized, such as the curled tail and broad skull.
World War II veterans began to migrate from England to the U.S.A. with these peculiar dog breeds. In 1969 the American Kennel Club recognized the Shih Tzu as a toy breed. Their fame continued to peak in the U.S. as increasing numbers sought after them as little companions.
Shih Tzu Size (Both Male and Female)
Weight- 9-16 pounds or 4.05-7.2 kilograms
Height- 8-11 inches or 20.32-27.94 centimeters
Weight- 9-16 pounds or 4.05-7.2 kilograms
Height- 8-11 inches or 20.32-27.94 centimeters
Shih Tzu Personality
The Shih Tzu's personality is nothing close to the 'little lion' it is depicted. They are among the most rated playful, assertive, and well-mannered breeds that get along with everybody.
They tend to bark when strangers invade their territory, which can be a nuisance if not controlled.
They interact positively with other pets; however, you always need to supervise them. Due to their mini-size, they can easily get injured by larger dogs.
Shih Tzus are happiest when bonding with their family and receiving attention as well as giving it through nuzzles and licks.
Shih Tzu Health
As a responsible dog parent, the following conditions should be at the top of your health priority list:
Canine hip dysplasia: deformation of the hip socket that is not only excruciatingly painful but also causes lameness.
Ear infections: Shih Tzu ears drop down, creating a dark warm passageway suitable for bacterial growth. Conduct weekly ear inspections and cleaning to prevent such misfortune.
Umbilical hernia: this condition is quite rampant among Shih Tzus. It is caused by late closure of the abdominal midsection. If the hernia is minor, this shouldn’t cause sleepless nights as it may close as the pup continues to grow. Surgery is another solution that is best performed while the puppy is being neutered.
Bladder stones and disease: the stones may be brought about by several factors like a high percentage of phosphorous, protein, and magnesium in the diet or excessively long pee breaks. Viral or bacterial infestations cause bladder infections, and the symptoms include bloody urine, overly frequent urination, lack of appetite, or difficulty urinating.
Patellar luxation: in lay man's term, this is the dislocation of the kneecap. It can be crippling.
Visual problems: they are quite rampant among this canine breed because of their large bulgy eyes. If you see any of these signs, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible: redness of the eyes, excessive tearing, and irritation.
Equally important, take note of the following eye disorders:
Keratitis- swelling of the cornea that causes blindness and corneal ulcer.
Proptosis- dislocation of the eyeball from the eye socket, causing the eyelids to press against the eyeball.
Distichiasis- malignant growth of the eyelashes at the corner of the eye, causing them to rub against the eyes.
Progressive retinal atrophy- a degenerative condition of the retinal eye cells that leads to blindness.
Dry eye- drying out of the conjunctiva and cornea.
Allergies: they are quite common in all dog breeds. The three common ones you need to be aware of are:
Inhalant allergies- they are caused by allergens like mildew, pollen, and dust.
Food allergies- treated by dietary restrictions.
Contact allergies- caused by a reaction to contemporary substances, e.g., dog shampoos, bedding, chemicals, flea powders, etc.
Juvenile renal dysplasia (JRD)- this is a genetic inadequacy of the kidney that is quite common in puppies. The canine becomes highly thirsty, urinates a lot, vomits, lacks energy, and losses weight. If you suspect your Shih Tzu of this condition, your vet may recommend a swab test or the wedge kidney biopsy; however, this test is invasive and highly risky for your little pup.
Portosystemic liver shunt- it is a congenital malfunction whereby blood does not enter the liver. Therefore, it does not get cleaned as it should. Surgery is the best form of treatment for this disorder.
Reverse sneezing- this usually occurs when the dog gets overly excited and swallows food too fast, sometimes also caused by allergens. Nasal secretions accumulate at the soft palate blocking the windpipe, thus causing the dog to pant. It is quite simple to untangle this knot- just talk to your pup using a soothing tone to ease its tension. Alternatively, a quicker option would be to pinch the nostrils, forcing the Shih Tzu to breathe through its mouth.
Restrained baby teeth and gum and tooth issues: your Shih Tzu's baby teeth may fail to come off when the permanent ones begin to grow. When this happens, take your pup to the veterinarian to get its baby teeth extracted. Because the lower jaw is slightly wider than the upper one, there could be missing or skewed teeth. The best way to observe any abnormalities is by conducting weekly examinations as you brush your doggie's teeth.
Snuffles: this health issue may afflict your Shih Tzu during the teething stage. At four months of age, the gums dilate, and since they lay underneath that flattened nose, there is not much room for the permanent teeth. This eventually causes snorting, gasping, snuffling, or loud snoring and sometimes clear nasal discharge.
How to Care for Your Shih Tzu
A key thing to remember is a regular exercise for short lengths once or twice daily to keep your Shih Tzu healthy and fit.
Shih Tzus are brachycephalic breeds, which means they are highly sensitive to extreme cold or heat. On acute temperature days, it is best to exercise inside the house or an alternative cool place.
The Shih Tzu tends to think it can fly! They will bravely jump off the bed or table, and though this height may not seem like a great deal for you, it is lofty for them and can easily lead to concussion or injury. Carry your little Shih Tzu carefully, and don't let it sprint out of your grasp.
Consider training your young Shih Tzu how to use a litter box, so you don't have to rush home whenever you go out or take it out during bad weather days. We recommend careful supervision of your newly acquired pup at least 4 to 8 weeks before giving it the home alone certification. Crate training is practical during house training and offers your dog a serene location to relax. A crate also comes in handy when traveling or boarding your Shih Tzu.
What and How to Feed Shih Tzu
The recommended amount for Shih Tzu is 1-1 ½ cups of high-grade dry dog food every day. Its daily cost is $0.75- $1.00, while your monthly budget should be $20.00- $30.00. Remember the Shih Tzu is a small breed with low energy levels and is mostly couch potatoes. Therefore, it will need only tiny amounts. Quality food goes a long way in nourishing your pooch than the cheap types. Cheap is expensive in the long-run.
Coat Colour and Grooming
The long and sleek Shih Tzu fur is stunning, and it comes in a variety of colours; gray and white, black and white, red and white, or black. A white blotch at the tail tip and a white patch on the forehead is highly valued.
That unique flowy and magnificent coat requires a significant amount of grooming care. Give your Shih Tzu weekly baths accompanied by daily brushing and combing to maintain clean and healthy skin.
Though this breed sheds less fur than other dogs, when they start to transition to adulthood at about two years, they will drop a chunk load for a short period. It helps a great deal to get your Shih Tzu accustomed to the daily grooming routine when it is young so that the experience becomes a fun and anticipated activity.
You can hire professional pet grooming services or learn to do it yourself, but always remember to brush or comb your puppy's hair every 2 or 3 days as well as cleaning the face several times every day to protect facial hair from staining.
Brachycephalic breeds are characterized by a small body and facial attributes that make them highly prone to dental issues, so dental care is non-negligible with these canines.
Trim your Shih Tzu's nails every month and conduct ear inspections every week for lousy odour, dirt, or redness, which are signs of an infection. Clean the ear gently with cotton wool moistened with pH-balanced ear cleanser. At times you may need to pluck the hairs inside the ear canal if your Shih Tzu frequently gets ear infections.
Children and Other Pets (How Does Shih Tzu Relate to Them?)
The Shih Tzu is a fantastic family companion. They are polite with other dog breeds and pets, and because of their meek personality, they make the best playmates for children.
Have your kids sit on the floor while playing with the Shih Tzu to avoid dropping and injuring them. They should also refrain from poking the dog's protruding eyes.
Shih Tzu Breed Organizations
The following are prominent Shih Tzu dog breed organizations found in Australia:
Shih Tzu Rescue Groups
Unfortunately, numerous Shih Tzus are dumped by careless owners who buy them from breeders without knowing how to care for them and end up in rescue homes.
If you want to include Shih Tzu as a member of your family, visit your local rescue group or dog shelter, and they can fix you up with the dog of your dreams. Here are some non-profit rescue group you can check:
Have you fallen in love with this hard to resist dog breed? Just drive to your nearest dog rescue home- you are bound to come across this bundle of cuteness.
Your family will be a big pile of love with this “little lion” around!