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Shih Tzu

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Shih Tzu, the Little Lion Dog

Bred solely to be pets, Shih Tzus are affectionate, happy, outgoing house dogs who love nothing more than to follow their people from room to room. Since ancient times, they’ve made themselves comfortable on the laps of Shih Tzu owners from all walks of life, even being renowned as the pets of emperors!

It is probable that this dog is of Tibetan and Chinese origin, having been developed in Tibet in the 1600s, where it was considered a holy animal. It is accepted as one of the oldest dog breeds on record. The modern Shih Tzu was developed in China in the late 19th Century, when the Dowager Empress Cixi ruled the kingdom.

Too Cute for Their Own Good

With double layered, full, dense, and lush hair, the Shih Tzu’s coat grows long and straight, past the feet. The Shih Tzu sheds very little, making it one of the best dog breeds for people who have light allergies to fur, or for people who just prefer not to clean up a lot of hair.

Regular grooming is a requirement with this breed because of this characteristic; the hair will get tangled and matted quickly as it gets longer. The ears and tail are full and long, with the tail hair fluffing out in a feathery plume that curves over the back.

More Than Just Pets

In recent years, pet parents have started taking Shih Tzus off their laps and into dog sports, training them for obedience, rally, and agility competitions. They make great family pets who get along with other animals and even children, so long as kids know how to gently handle and play with a small pup.

They Shih Tzu also has a history of being more than just a simple pet as well. When they were being developed by the Dowager Empress Cixi in the Qing Dynasty, the dogs were regarded as protectors of the palace, the instinct for barking at strangers was undoubtedly honed during this time. In fact, the Shih Tzu is still a highly recommended watch dog because of its quick and vocal reaction to strangers.

Get To Know The Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu personality is enormously appealing, and even grudging dog observers find it hard to resist this breed. The Shih Tzu simply doesn’t allow anyone to ignore them. The were bred to be a friendly companion—they don’t hunt, herd, or guard—and that’s what they are. They love nothing more than to meet and greet friends and strangers alike. Count on a Shih Tzu to make friends wherever they go.

Not only is this member of the family good-natured and friendly, they’re highly adaptable. They’re as well suited to apartments in the city as to life on a country farm. They love children and get along with other animals.

However, although the Shih Tzu is a sturdy dog, their small size puts them at a disadvantage. Adults should always supervise interactions between children and dogs, and this is especially important for the Shih Tzu, to prevent them from accidentally getting hurt during rough play.

If you’re looking for a small best buddy who who can adapt to apartment living, join you on the couch for cuddles, and shower you with unconditional love, this may be the dog for you!


Breeds of Shih Tzu

American Shih Tzu ​

Recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1969, the American Shih Tzu is a purebred with a small chest, high and forward-facing legs and frontal shoulders, a short neck, square-shaped head, and small wide set eyes.

European Shih Tzu

The European Shih Tzu is also purebred, differing from the American with their wider stance, with front legs bent back a bit, a round head and long neck, large eyes, and a broad chest.

Imperial Shih Tzu

The Imperial Shih Tzu is often passed off as a purebred, it is not, and neither is it sanctioned by the National Kennel Club.


Due to their size and ease of handling, some owners unfortunately neglect obedience training their Shih Tzu pups. However, obedience training is important for your dog’s safety, as he may not always be in reach when you need to direct him. In fact, obedience training is good for keeping his mind active, focused on you, and developing your role as his pack leader. You don’t want to be that dog owner at the dog park or doggy playground repeatedly yelling commands at your Shih Tzu with no response! Even house dogs should have a good grasp on obedience command, as they are a steppingstone to other behaviours and tricks and can give you important control when you need it.

Teacup Shih Tzu

A regular Shih Tzu is a small dog with a big heart, who loves nothing more than hanging out with humans. The Teacup version takes all of those lovable traits to a new level! A tiny dog with the heart of a lion, a Teacup Shih Tzu, will happily go everywhere with you, providing endless cuddles, irresistible cuteness, and undemanding companionship. If there’s nothing you love more than something small and fluffy to cuddle, then you need a Teacup Shih Tzu, also known as a miniature Shih Tzu, in your life.

Maltese Shih Tzu

The Maltese Shih Tzu, also known as the Mal-Shi, Malti Zu, and the Malt-Tzu, is a mixed breed — a cross between the Maltese and Shih Tzu breeds. Created with the same goal as Doodles — to be a small, allergy-friendly companion who doesn’t shed much — this hybrid is a sweet lapdog who likes to play with the kids. The Maltese Shih Tzu temperament is generally more placid and tolerant than the Maltese. The breed has a characteristic of being a confident animal and has been described as ‘gutsy’ by those who own them. The have a good reputation for being highly tolerant of kids of all ages and will happily play along, determined to please their owner.

Shih Tzu Diet

The Shih Tzu is a small dog with quite unpredictable eating behaviour. As compared to various other toy breeds, this breed eats a large amount of food. Some Shih Tzu dogs are fussy eaters while others can eat with an open heart. It is very important to feed your dog quality meals to make sure that your dog stays in shape and lives a long and healthy life as your cute little companion.

Keep in mind that if you overfeed your Shih Tzu, they will gain weight regardless of the quality of food! If you’re worried that you may have been overfeeding your Shih Tzu, then try examining their abdomen. It should tuck in towards their body. If your Shih Tzu has a bit of a belly instead, they are likely overweight.

Best Foods for Shih Tzu

Like all other dogs, these dogs also require a good amount of protein for healthy growth. Chicken meal, chicken, turkey, and eggs are the major sources of lean protein for a Tzu. Fish is also an important constituent of healthy meal for these dogs , with it being a good source of protein and healthy fats.

Sweet potatoes, oats, rice, and barley can be healthy sources of carbohydrates which are required by Shih Tzus. Veggies can be given to meet the requirement of minerals and vitamins. It’s recommended that you feed your Shih Tzu at least three times a day when they are of adult age. If they are still a puppy, they may require 4-6 meals a day.

Shih Tzu Haircut

With Shih Tzu, their luscious locks are more like human hair, grow longer than the average dogs, and don’t shed nearly as much as other breeds. However you must understand that their hair requires special attention—it has to be cleaned and brushed regularly to prevent knots and tangles, and most haircuts require a trim every 4-6 weeks to keep them looking their best. It sounds almost silly to say but the Shih Tzu is prone to overheating and heatstroke, so trimming the hair is going to be a vital part of keeping the temperature down so your pet can stay healthy.
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Names for Shih Tzu Puppies

Unless you are especially attached to a certain dog name, you may wish to avoid the most popular names. You will run into other dogs with your dog’s name, and it could lead to some confusion at the dog park or vet’s office. The names Bella, Bailey, Max, Molly, Buddy, and Lucy are just a few of the most popular dog names. This is sure to change over time, so do some research before you settle on a name. If you’re thinking of honouring your Shih Tzu’s heritage when naming them, consider names involving Lions or with Chinese and Tibetan origins.

Shih Tzu Clothes

Dog clothes are available in various price ranges, from inexpensive to high-end designer styles. Typically toy and small breed dogs, such as Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers and our wonderful Shih Tzu, are dressed in dog clothes, although even large breeds like Golden Retrievers can wear clothes, too. It is more common to dress small dogs because they are easier to dress, and they often suffer from cold temperatures. Dog clothes are made to be either functional or for show. Functional dog clothes are for protection from the elements and allergens. Dog clothes that are purely for show would be used as costumes for holidays and special occasions, such as Halloween or weddings.

Shih Tzu Health Problems

Shih Tzu’s are known for their longevity as they live on average anywhere from 10-16 years. Even though they are traditionally a pretty healthy dog breed, Shih Tzu’s are prone to a few health issues. It is important to understand these issues so that you can look out for symptoms and help keep your pup healthy.

The Shih Tzu suffers from most of the health problems common to tiny dogs and have a few particular health problems, but overall, is a fairly healthy breed. Shih Tzus have a small mouth, which means their teeth are frequently misaligned or missing. They’re also very prone to periodontal disease and require regular veterinary dental care.


Shih Tzu Training

The Shih Tzu is a highly intelligent breed and they will know what you are about to do, possibly before you do. They are very trainable and love learning new things, but they can train their owners far quicker than their owners can train them. Before you know it, they will lead you to the pantry for a treat and then back to the couch for a cuddle, then out the door for a walk, leaving you wondering whose idea this was.

Shih Tzu Lifespan

Shih Tzus are one of the best small family dogs so you may be wondering how long these lovable canine companions can live. On average, a Shih Tzu will live for around 13 years. However, there are many different factors that can affect a Shih Tzu’s life expectancy. Small dogs live longer than larger ones on average, which gives the Shih Tzu an advantage in that department, but a Shih Tzu’s face shape gives it a disadvantage when it comes to living a healthy life. This is due to the squished snout structure being detrimental to their long term health.


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