The shih tzu is a small sturdy dog with a big heart. With a name meaning "lion," the shih tzu is an ancient breed and a popular family pet. Recognized as part of the toy group by the AKC in 1969, the breed is an excellent choice for families with children or for the elderly.
The shih tzu has racked up a number of honors recently. The breed won the Eukanuba Tournament of Champions in October 2001, and was one of the top top 10 breeds for the year 2008. Click here for the complete story on Top Dog Breeds of 2008.
History and Origin
Based on their presence in various Chinese paintings and tapestries, it is thought that the shih tzu has been in existence since 624 AD. Despite many theories about the origin of the breed, it is not disputed that the shih tzu was part of the ancient Chinese court. The dogs were bred and selected with great care. From this foundation, along with the help of Russian refugee Madame de Breuil, the dogs of today were developed.
In the 1930s the interest in the breed had spread to England. During World War II, U.S. military personnel stationed in England fell in love with the breed. When returning home, the shih tzu accompanied them, thus introducing the breed to the United States.
The shih tzu has a short nose and slightly pushed in face. The hair coat is naturally long and dense and requires daily care. The hair of the face is typically tied on top of the head as a topknot. To reduce the need for daily brushing, some people have the coats trimmed in a short terrier-like trim. Shih tzus can be any color or combination of colors.
Standing only 8 to 11 inches at the shoulder and weighing 9 to 16 pounds, the shih tzu is a small but tough little dog.
The shih tzu is bred to be a pet and nothing else. The breed is strong and sturdy, the least delicate of the toy breeds. They have the appearance of being proud and arrogant but are actually gentle and very playful.
Home & Family Relations
The shih tzu is a friendly dog that adapts to any family situation but is definitely an indoor dog. They can easily withstand the rough treatment, and even the occasional dress-up of children and make excellent children's companions. The breed is also loyal and gentle enough to be a great choice for a companion for the elderly.
Basic obedience is recommended to help develop a content and pleasant member of the family. The shih tzu is not typically trained for specific jobs and does best as just a loving pet.
With a long hair coat, the shih tzu needs grooming to prevent mats.