Shih Tzu: History, Breed Variations and More!

Posted by Erin McDade
Shih Tzu dogs lay together.

Meet this happy and loving toy lap dog!

The Shih Tzu dog breed is a loving, cheerful, outgoing small breed of toy dog who likes nothing better than following their owners from one room to the next. They are wonderful family pets since they get along with other animals and even children, as long as the youngsters know how to handle and play with a little puppy gently. This is the dog for you if you want a toy breed that can adjust to apartment living, join you on the sofa for hugs, and shower you with unconditional affection.

History of the Shih Tzu Dog Breed

The Shih Tzu is one of the oldest dog breeds, with dog bones being found in China, representing a presence there as early as 8,000 B.C. The breed is believed to have been developed by Tibetan Buddhist Monks and given as gifts to Chinese royalty, especially Chinese emperors. Speculation leads towards the Shih Tzu's development being a crossing of other breeds with the Lhasa apso or Pekingese.

According to Marco Polo, the Mongolian Emperor Kublai Khan kept little lion dogs trained to hunt lions. Some believe these dogs were Shih Tzus from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). They were said to be tiny, clever, gentle dogs that resembled lions. From the 1700s until the early 1900s, several works of art portray tiny, hairy, joyful dogs.

After a royal concubine became Empress of China, the Shih Tzu gained popularity in the Imperial Court. When the Empress came to visit, the Shih Zus were trained to sit up and wave their front paws. Following her death in 1908, several royal families raced to breed dogs with the best coats and hues. Breeding techniques were kept secret because of competitiveness.

Lady Brownrigg, the quartermaster general of the north China command, transported the first Shih Tzus to England from Peking in 1928. Shih Tzu was nicknamed the Chrysanthemum Dog in the 1930s. By 1960, three Shih Tzu groups in the United States: the American Shih Tsu Association in Florida, the Texas Shih Tasu Society, and the ShihTzu Club of America. The American Kennel Club (AKC) classified the breed as a part of the Toy Group breed group in 1969.

Personality

Shih Tzus are a breed of lap dog whose sole aim is to be a friend. These small dogs are happiest when they are with their family and are both providing and receiving attention. They don't hunt, guard, or recover; that's not their way. The Shih Tzu is a lively and alert dog who may bark at visitors to their house.

Shih Tzus are companion dogs and are fond of both dogs and children. They like having playdates and may make excellent therapy dogs and watchdogs. Shih Tzus are also not high-strung; he will sit and watch you clean the refrigerator or nap with you as you watch TV. This little dog doesn't mind if you work all day as long as you come home and show him some affection.

Don't let their small size fool you--Shih Tzus are a lively and cheeky breed of dog, yet they may be obstinate. He may not prioritize training as much as you do, and it may take some patience and additional effort on your side to potty train him properly. Shih Tzus are known for their agility, and they have high energy levels; give them daily walks to meet their exercise needs.

Appearance

Shih Tzus are tiny dogs with short snouts and big dark brown eyes. Their head forms have been described as "owl head" and "lion head," and their mouth as "frogmouth" by the Chinese. Their double coat is silky and long, and their thickly furred tail is carried curled over the back.

The typical long silky coat, which tends to reach the floor, requires daily brushing to minimize tangles. Because of their long coats and fast-growing hair, frequent grooming is required and vital, which may be costly and should be considered before adopting one of this breed. The coat is frequently cut short to facilitate care, but it still requires regular combing. The coat must be kept in its natural state for confirmation displaying. However, trimming for neatness around the feet and anus is permitted. When the puppy cut is accompanied by a larger, rounder face like a cuddly stuffed animal, the shorter cut is sometimes referred to as a "puppy cut" or a "teddy bear cut."

Health Issues

Shih Tzu's have a lifespan of 10-16 years. While they are generally healthy dogs without many health problems. Food allergies, contact allergies, inhalant allergies, and inhalation allergies are the most prevalent forms of allergies in dogs. Hip dysplasia in dogs is an abnormal development of the hip socket that causes discomfort and disability. Patellar luxation is a painful disorder in which the knee joint slips in and out of position.

Shih Tzus are susceptible to ear infections due to their drop ears, which produce a dark, heated ear canal. When the Shih Tzu's permanent teeth develop, the baby teeth may still be present. The veterinarian may need to remove the newborn teeth on occasion. During this period, puppies may snort, snuffle, snore, or wheeze, and they may even have clear nasal discharge. When looking for Shih Tzu puppies, make sure you are working with a responsible breeder.

Do you love the Shih Tzu dog breed? Tell us on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!

READ MORE: 5 Types of Chihuahua You Might Not Have Heard Of

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Shih Tzu: History, Breed Variations and More!