An ancient breed with a hint of the holy, Shih Tzu were favored by Chinese royalty, and were a beloved house pet during the Ming Dynasty. During the 1920s, the first pair was brought to England. More imports followed, and the breed became well established there. Its popularity spread to continental Europe and to North America, where it now enjoys a tremendous following.
Today’s Shih Tzu still displays a touch of a regal demeanor, and they excel in their “job” of being an easy and gentle companion. Shih Tzus enjoy a walk, but they don’t demand vigorous outdoor activity.
Ideal for apartment dwellers, seniors, and RV travelers alike, the Shih Tzu is typically accepting of new people as well as other animals. He may bark to let you know a guest has arrived, but his protection drive is otherwise rarely evidenced. After all, he was bred to be a royal companion, not a royal guard dog.
Shih Tzus are good with older children, but supervision is always wise around young children. The breed is open to friendship, but may be unsettled by awkward or rough handling. Training a kingly or queenly Shih Tzu will require patience on the part of the (common folk!) owner; the breed may view commands with a “what’s in it for me” attitude.
The Shih Tzu:
Lion-like in appearance, not personality
Live for love
Should I get a Shih Tzu?
Terrific for a person who:
Wants to tire a dog out inside, not outside, on bad weather days.
Needs a small companion perfect for an equally small sized yard or apartment.
Desires companionship, but not a dog with a constant need for attention.
Think twice if you’re a person who:
Rarely remembers where the dog brush is, let alone remembers to use it.
Believes the dog (named after a Lion after all!) will excel in protection.
Wants a one person (love only me) dog.
Shih Tzu Grooming:
Relatively low-shedders. To keep the trademark long flowing coat smooth and tangle-free, daily brushing and regular trimming is required.
Possible Shih Tzu Health Concerns:
Hip dysplasia, ear infections, progressive retinal atrophy.
The Shih Tzu Standard Look:
An elegant, long-coated breed, the Shih Tzu ideally measures about 9 to 10½ inches at the shoulder and should be no more than 11 inches. They weigh from 9 to 16 pounds. Their double-coat comes in a variety of colors and combinations.