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Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a small companion breed that requires regular grooming. This breed has a long history as a royal companion animal in China.

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Physical Characteristics
  • Small but sturdy toy breed
  • Wide, round head with pronounced beard and mustache
  • Hair on forehead is commonly tied up on top of head
  • Large, dark eyes
  • Coat: Topcoat is long and silky hair with a dense undercoat; comes in any color
  • Plumed tail carried high with slight curve over back
  • Height: 8-11 inches
  • Weight: 9-16 pounds
  • Average lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Smart, energetic, spirited, brave, entertaining, friendly
  • Interaction with people: Good with mature children; enjoys human companions
  • Training: Needs consistent, firm training in short, engaging sessions
  • Bark: Can be vocal toward strangers
  • Protection: Good watch dog
Medical Conditions
While the listed ailments may be common in this breed, not all members of the breed suffer from these conditions. Responsible breeders screen for orthopedic and genetic diseases.
At Home
  • OK for apartments
  • Needs daily walks
  • Prefers cool climates; may be heat sensitive
  • Light shedder
  • Needs daily grooming
  • Hair on forehead is often tied up to allow better visual capacity
  • Prone to ear and eye infection; regularly inspect ear passages and eyes
  • Some owners choose to trim the coat to avoid daily grooming
Other Facts
  • Bred solely for the Chinese royal court during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 A.D.)
  • The name Shih Tzu means lion
  • Sometimes referred to as the "Chrysanthemum-faced dog" due to the way their facial hair grows
Breed History
  • Date of origin unknown
  • Documented in artwork dating back to 624 A.D.
  • Said to be the oldest, smallest of the sacred Tibetan dog breeds
  • The first Shih Tzu in China was a gift from the King of Viqur to the Chinese royal court, where it was exclusively bred during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.)
  • The Chinese revered this breed and no Shih Tzu was traded or sold in the West for many years
  • First pair was imported to England in 1930
  • Due to its association with royalty, many were killed during the Chinese Revolution (1945 - 1949)
For more information about this breed and breeder referral contacts, please visit the American Shih Tzu Club For breed rescue opportunities, visit ASTC Rescue
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