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The Shih Tzu is an Asian toy dog breed from Tibet. This tiny pup's name translates to little lion, but these loving pups don't have a fierce bone in their bodies. The Shih Tzu is an ancient dog breed that was the favourite dog among Chinese royals for many years. They first came to Europe in 1930 and received registration from the UK Kennel Club in 1940.
Shih Tzu pups are famed for their long, luscious coats, petite bodies and lively but affectionate nature. They are happy, confident, playful, and courageous yet boast a charming and lovable temperament, making them wonderful lap dogs.
Learn more about Shih Tzu Breed
Meet the Shih Tzu
This toy breed weighs between 9 to 16 pounds and stands 9 to 10 inches tall. They have small but study frames, covered by a long, silky double coat that makes them appear heavier. They have small muzzles, large dark brown eyes, and very noticeable underbites. In addition, they have floppy ears covered in long hair and equally furry tails that they carry curled over their backs.
Amazingly, Shih Tzus can come in 14 different colours and three different patterns. However, the most common colours are black and white, grey and white, and red and white. In addition, many will sport a small white mark on their foreheads, known as the "Star of Buddha."
The Shih Tzu's luxurious coat can be so long that it drapes along the floor. They need brushing daily to prevent tangles and regular trims at the groomers as their hair grows fast. Some Shih Tzu owners opt to cut their coats short, but they still require regular brushing in this case. They can also have a "teddy bear cut" that makes their face appear fuller and rounder, resembling an adorable stuffed teddy.
Shih Tzus have a decent lifespan of 10 to 16 years, but they can have some hereditary conditions. For example, the structure of their head results in the skull malformation brachycephaly, and they can be susceptible to skin sensitivities due to their short noses. Ear and eye problems are also prevalent with this breed. However, the likelihood of health issues is always significantly reduced when buying from a reputable breeder.
The temperament of a Shih Tzu
Shih Tzus may be small, but they are full of life. These fun-loving, energetic pups are a joy to have in the home. They adore attention and cuddles, making them fantastic lap dogs. What's great about these canines is that they were solely bred as companion animals, so they do not have any hunting, herding, or guarding instincts.
Shih Tzus are incredibly loving to their owners and particularly charming and docile with children. Being royal favourites, they can act like royalty themselves, wanting their owners to carry them around everywhere. However, they are not super needy and have an independent and courageous side. They may initially bark when they meet new people, but these stranger-friendly pooches will quickly make friends with your guests.
Of course, the Shih Tzu is not perfect, though. These dogs have a weird tendency to eat their faeces or other animals poop, so this is something to be aware of if you have other pets. What's more, as a brachycephalic breed, they are prone to snorting and snoring, so you'll have to get used to their noises if you choose to share your bed with them.
10 reasons to add a Shih Tzu to your family
- They are gorgeous - Shih Tzus boast one of the most beautiful coats in the canine world, and their always sleeky hair makes every woman jealous.
- They are specifically bred to be companions - Unlike many breeds, Shih Tzus don't have a working background, so they instantly fit into family life.
- They are a bundle of joy - Life with a Shih Tzu is always full of laughs. These lively, playful pups will keep you entertained all day long.
- They love to cuddle - This breed doesn't just look cuddly; they will never say no to snuggles with their owners.
- They adore children - Shi Tzus are incredibly gentle and docile around children, making them fantastic family pets.
- They are easygoing - The Shih Tzu loves to be around their owners, but they will adapt to whatever you're doing. So if you're busy, they will be content to lie by your feet and won't hassle you for attention.
- They don't need much exercise - You won't need to take them out for long walks or spend hours playing fetch. This breed only requires short bursts of interactive play and plenty of toys to keep them happy.
- They are indoor pets - Shih Tzus don't need much time outdoors, nor do they take up space. So, if you don't have a garden or a huge house, no worries!
- Their coats come in many colours - With 14 shades to choose from, you can find a Shih Tzu in your favourite tone.
- Royals loved them - The Shih Tzu's elegant nature most likely comes from their regal history, sitting on the laps of kings and queens.
Best homes for a Shih Tzu
Shih Tzus make ideal pets for first-time dog owners as they are generally well-behaved and easy to handle. They are also great for anyone living in an apartment and older adults who do not have the energy for a larger dog. These pups are usually accepting and friendly with other dogs. Some like cats, and others don't, which is down to their individual personalities.
Shih Tzu dogs love being around children, so there is no risk to them. However, they may be at risk of accidental harm if kids don't know how to handle them gently and respectfully. So, if you decide to bring a Shih Tzu into a home with small children, do not leave them unattended.