Shih Tzu means “lion dog” in Chinese, but these sweet, cuddly canines are anything but fierce. Shih Tzus are among the oldest dog breeds. Images of Shih Tzu-like dogs appear on ancient tapestries dating back 2,000 years. There are various theories as to the exact origins of this toy dog breed, but it’s likely the earliest Shih Tzus were bred by Tibetan Monks as gifts for the Chinese emperors.
The modern Shih Tzu was developed in China during the late 1800s and eventually made its way to Europe during the 1930s. Shih Tzus didn’t appear in the United States until after World War II but since their introduction they have become one of the most popular dog breeds in the country, beloved for their affectionate and lively personalities.
About Shih Tzus
Shih Tzus require quite a bit of TLC when it comes to maintenance and grooming. Shih Tzu coats come in a variety of colors and can be styled short or long; Shih Tzus that compete in dog shows usually have straight, floor-length fur, while those who are strictly family pets often have their fur trimmed short to help keep it clean. Regardless of how a Shih Tzu’s coat is styled, it’s important to brush daily and bathe weekly to keep it clean and healthy. Though their coat requires quite a bit of maintenance, Shih Tzus don’t shed as much as other breeds.
Shih Tzus don’t do well in the heat because of their adorable flat faces and have a harder time keeping themselves cool. Therefore, it’s important to keep Shih Tzus inside when the temperature climbs. Luckily, Shih Tzus are great indoor dogs. They can easily meet their daily exercise needs simply by playing inside. In fact, their smooshed faces and small size don’t lend themselves well to long walks or strenuous outdoor exercise, so playing a game of fetch in the living room is preferred to a long hike outdoors.
Known for their friendly and playful personalities, Shih Tzus make great family pets. They do well with children and other animals, though interactions with young children should be supervised as Shih Tzus can be easily injured due to their small size. Though Shih Tzus are generally cheerful, they can also be quite stubborn. It’s important to train these pups at a young age so they don’t develop bad habits that continue into adulthood.
Shih Tzu Health
Shih Tzus are prone to certain breed-specific health issues. Some major health issues include hip dysplasia, liver shunt, and intervertebral disc disease, a degenerative condition affecting the discs of the spine that often requires major surgery. Minor health concerns include renal dysplasia, patellar luxation, and entropion which causes the eyelids to fold inward and become irritated.
Major Shih Tzu Health Concerns
- Hip dysplasia
- Intervertebral disc disease
- Liver shunt
Minor Shih Tzu Health Concerns
- Renal dysplasia
- Patellar luxation
- Females: 8 – 11 inches
- Males: 8 – 11 inches
- Females: 9 – 16 pounds
- Males: 9 – 16 pounds
- Approximately 1/2 to 1 cup of food per day
- Moderately active
Pet Insurance for Shih Tzus
Shih Tzus have a broad life expectancy — they generally live for 11 to 16 years. This breed is prone to a variety of major and minor health issues so it’s a good idea to get pet insurance for a Shih Tzu as soon as possible. Pet insurance for Shih Tzus is generally less expensive than pet insurance for mixed breed dogs.
Since this breed is likely to have hereditary issues, it is important to get pet insurance for Shih Tzus within the first 1-2 years.
Shih Tzu Rescues
Looking to rescue a Shih Tzu? Here are some of the top Shih Tzu rescues in the country:
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Famous Shih Tzus
Nicole Richie’s Shih Tzu, Honeychild
Geri Halliwell’s Shih Tzu, Harry
Beyonce’s Shih Tzu, Munchie