Shih Tzu

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The Shih Tzu is a small breed of dog. The breed came from China and is one of the most ancient of breeds. It is in the toy group of dog breeds. Its name translates from Chinese into "Lion Dog". This is not surprising given their resemblance to Chinese Guardian lions. Extensive DNA analysis has been done on this breed, and it indicates that these dogs share a very close genetic similarly to wolves. Ludvic von Schulmuth found skeletons of dogs which closely resembled these dogs. This was as long as ten thousand years ago. The Shih Tzu was almost completely destroyed during the Chinese Revolution. The entire breed now comes from only seven pairs of dogs. To get at the exact lineage of this dog is tricky. There are various competing theories. It is though that a Tibetan dog named Lhasa Apso was crossed with a Pekingese, and that the it was given as a gift during the Tang Dynasty. (618 - 907 AD).


This small breed of dog goes to 27 cm to the withers and has a weight of between 4.5 kg to 7.3 kg. It has drop ears which are quite furry. The coat is generally to be found in a wide variety of colours, one of the common combinations is various shades of gold, white and red. This dog tends to have an underbite which is actually required for this to be classed as a breed standard.


This is a very alert and bouncy dog. It has a large character. For training purposes it is best to be consistent and patient, which as can be expected means that these dogs are not a walk in the park to train. It is important for the good running of a Shih Tzu household for the dog to not think it is the pack leader. If you are looking for a watch dog then this dog could fit the bill. Note these dogs may have a tendency to snap if troubled, so should not be left alone with small children and also children generally should be taught to treat them with respect.

Grooming and care

The Shih Tzu has a fairly hypoallergenic coat. and does not shed, so makes a fairly easy pet to have with someone with allergies.. The coat can reach the floor and does require daily brushing. It is often required to clip their hair otherwise it can be bothersome to them as it drags around the house, although it may make cleaning the house slightly easier as the dog acts as a duster for your house, it still requires that the dog be cleaned afterwards. The ears need to be checked regularly. This breed needs daily walks and also need a lot of interaction as they are very playful.


The Average life expectancy of this breed is 12 years, and they usually live between 10 to 16 years. As usual for a dog it can suffer from hip dysplasia. As expected for a dog which was bred from a only 7 pairs of dogs this breed does suffer from specific problems. This breed can suffer from portosystemic shunt of the liver. Due to the dog having a short muzzle it can be sensitive to high temperatures as it is limited in its ability to cool down using the tongue. These dogs can suffer from slipped stifle and problems with their spinal discs. Ear infections are a problem.