Animal Information: The Shih Tzu
Each week we will post information about different types of dogs and cats. This will hopefully help you choose the right type of dog for your personality and lifestyle, understand the type of dog or cat you want before you get one, and therefore make an informed choice.
This Sunday, we present to you the Shih Tzu from the American Kennel Club’s “Shih Tzu Breed Information”.
About the breed
This face! Those big black eyes look at you with that sweet expression! It’s no surprise that Shih Tzu owners have been so delighted with this little “Lion Dog” for a thousand years. Where Shih Tzu goes, laughter and mischief follow. Shi Tsu (pronounced in the West ‘sheed-zoo’ or ‘sheet-su’; the Chinese say ‘sher-zer’), weighing between 9 and 16 pounds, and measuring between 8 and 11 inches, are surprisingly strong for dogs. Cut. The coat, which comes in many colors, is worth the time you spend on it. Few dogs are as beautiful as a well groomed Shih Tzu. Being cute is a way of life for this spirited charmer. The Shih Tzu is known to be particularly affectionate with children. As a small dog bred to spend most of its day inside royal palaces, it makes an excellent pet if you live in an apartment or don’t have a large garden. Some dogs live to dig holes and chase cats, but the fun idea of a Shih Tzu is to sit on your lap acting adorable while you try to watch TV.
What to expect when caring for a Shih Tzu
Owning a dog is not just a privilege; it is a responsibility. They depend on us for, at a minimum, food and shelter, and deserve much more. When you bring a dog into your life, you need to understand the commitment that dog ownership entails.
1. On health: Due to their thick coat and short face, Shih Tzus do not tolerate heat well and are not good swimmers. Most Shih Tzus are generally healthy, and responsible breeders examine their stock for health issues such as hip dysplasia, patellar luxation (a slipped kneecap), eye abnormalities including cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, retinal detachment and corneal dryness and inflammation. exposure to air due to poorly closed eyelids.
2. About grooming: A Shih Tzu with a long coat requires daily brushing. Use a good quality wire brush with flexible pins and overlap the bristles to be sure to reach the skin. A bath about every three to four weeks will help keep the coat clean and looking its best. Do not forget to comb the mustache and bun daily, and gently clean the corner of the eyes with a damp cloth. To protect the Shih Tzu’s eyes from being irritated, the hair on top of the head should be cut short or tied in a bun. If you don’t want to spend time on your dog’s coat, the Shih Tzu can be adorable when trimmed in “puppy trim” by a professional groomer. Nail trimming and ear cleaning should be part of the Shih Tzu’s grooming routine.
3. Exercise: The Shih Tzu was bred to be a housemate. As such, they require minimal exercise. Short daily walks with their owner and indoor playtime will satisfy the activity needs of this short-legged little companion.
4. On Training: Training a Shih Tzu can be both a fun and frustrating experience. The breed tends to charm its owner into letting it go its own way, which can result in a chubby pet that is less than completely clean and difficult to groom. Because Shih Tzus are such dogs, training methods based on praise and rewards work best. Harsh corrections should not be used with this breed. Introduce desired new behaviors little by little, be firm and never give in when the dog misbehaves. If he bites or jumps on you, ignore him until he calms down, then praise him. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended and help ensure that the Shih Tzu grows into a well-adjusted and well-behaved companion. When enrolling in a puppy class, make sure that the training methods used in the class are based on positive reinforcement.
5. On nutrition: The Shih Tzu should do well on a high quality dog food, whether commercially made or prepared at home with the supervision and approval of your veterinarian. Any diet must be adapted to the age of the dog (puppy, adult or senior). Some dogs tend to be overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight. Treats can be a great training aid, but giving too much can lead to obesity. Find out which human foods are safe for dogs and which are not. Check with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
When you own a Shih Tzu, you own a bit of Chinese history. Imperial breeders in the Chinese Emperor’s palace developed the Shih Tzu (meaning “lion dog”) centuries ago from Tibetan breeding stock. The breed is most likely the product of crosses between two even older Sino-Tibetan breeds, the Lhaso Apso and the Pekingese.
For hundreds of years, the Shih Tzu lived the life of royal knee-warmers and was pampered by emperors and their families. It is said that emperors gave valuable gifts to Shih Tzu breeders who produced the most beautiful and affectionate dogs.
The breed remained hidden behind palace walls, virtually unknown to the outside world, until the 1930s. Breed clubs formed in Beijing and later in England refined the breed, not without much debate among fanciers as to the appropriate type. The Shih Tzu entered the AKC Stud Book in 1969.
Since then, the Shih Tzu has been one of the most popular toy dogs here and in the UK. And they always treat their owners, no matter who they are, like royalty. Owners as diverse as Queen Elizabeth II and Miley Cyrus have succumbed to the Shih Tzu’s exotic charms.