Manual The Shih Tzu

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While many associate the breed with Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi, who ruled in China from through and considered the dogs sacred, Shih Tzu appear in tapestries dating as far back as years. While its origins are not fully clear, there is evidence that the breed—distinct from the Lhasa Apso, Pug, and Pekingese—was developed by Tibetan Monks who offered the temple dogs as gifts to the emperors of China. During the Ming and Manchu Dynasties, the little lion dogs were bred and raised by palace eunuchs and were considered the exclusive property of the royal court. They were rarely seen outside the palaces and anyone caught owning one could be sentenced to death.

These thickly coated Shih Tzus were sometimes carried inside the robes of noble women and were even used as bed warmers and placed at the feet of the emperors and empresses to generate heat. Dog historians believe that after Empress Tzu Hsi came to power in the s, the Dalai Lama at the time presented her with a breeding pair of extraordinary Shih Tzus. These magnificent dogs were the foundation of her pure line. Parti- colored or two-toned dogs — white with black, gold or silver — are particularly popular and very striking. Shih Tzu even come in stripes, called brindles, in both parti-color and solid.

Although classified as a Toy breed, the Shih Tzu demonstrates his sturdy nature with flowing, effortless movement and lots of drive. With his high head and tail carriage, he is every bit the proud little aristocrat. The brisk speed and energy are particularly evident on a fully coated Shih Tzu, as the silky hair floats along. If you would prefer not having canine company in the bathroom, at breakfast, while watching TV or working at the computer, a more independent breed might be a better fit. Ernie Ward. Audrey Pavia. Melissa Kauffman.

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Allan Reznik. Toggle navigation. Shih Tzu by iStock. Shih Tzu puppy by Shutterstock. The long, silky Shih Tzu coat is gorgeous, and it comes in many colors: black, black and white, gray and white, or red and white. A white tip on the tail and a white blaze on the forehead are highly prized. Keeping the Shih Tzu coat gorgeous is demanding. Daily brushing and combing is necessary to prevent tangles, as is frequent bathing--as often as once a week.

In fact, many a Shih Tzu lover gives up and hires a professional groomer to clip those long locks short. Gone is some of their beauty, but so is the chore of daily brushing. If you trim the coat short and want to keep it that way, plan on grooming appointments every six to eight weeks.

If you do groom them yourself, make the experience as pleasant as possible for both you and your Shih Tzu, starting during puppyhood. After all, you're going to be doing this a lot. When brushing, you want to make sure that you brush all the way down to the skin.

Most experienced Shih Tzu groomers teach the dog to lie on their side while they brush the coat in sections; it's easier to brush that way and more comfortable for the dog. At about ten to twelve months of age, the Shih Tzu coat changes from puppy fluff to a silky adult coat. During this stage, you'll probably think the coat mats faster than you can brush.

Don't give up! This is temporary, lasting for about three months. Once the adult coat comes in fully, brushing gets easier. The Shih Tzu's nails should be trimmed monthly, and their ears checked once a week for dirt, redness, or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. Wipe them out weekly with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to prevent problems.

Hair grows inside the Shih Tzu's ear canal, and this sometimes needs to be plucked if the dog gets a lot of ear infections. The Shih Tuz's face, like a toddler's, also needs daily attention. They get dirty after eating, and their eyes tear up readily, so it's necessary to wipe their face regularly with a soft cloth dampened with warm water. Many small breeds are prone to dental problems, and the Shih Tzu is no exception: it's important to take good care of their teeth.

Regular tooth brushing with a soft toothbrush and doggy toothpaste will keep their gums and teeth healthy. The Shih Tzu is a wonderful family pet. They get along with other dogs or animals, and their docile personality makes them a good companion for children. Kids should sit on the floor to play with a Shih Tzu puppy, however, so there is no risk of carrying and dropping them. Children should also learn to keep their fingers away from the Shih Tzu's prominent eyes, which can be easily injured.

Many Shih Tzus unfortunately end up in shelters or in the care of rescues when people purchase them from breeders without a clear understanding of how to care for these dogs. If you want to add a Shih Tzu to your family, check your local shelter or rescue group, and they can help match you with a dog you'll love.

Complete Shih Tzu Information Center

Here are a few nonprofit rescues you can try:. You can also try DogTime's adoption page that lets you search for adoptable dogs by breed and zip code! Breed Characteristics: Adaptability. All Around Friendliness.

3 Adorable Shih Tzu Puppies - So playful

Health Grooming. Exercise Needs. See Dogs With Low Intensity. Vital Stats: Dog Breed Group:. There is no such breed as an "imperial" or "teacup" Shih Tzu.

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These are simply marketing terms used by unscrupulous breeders use to indicate a very small or large Shih Tzu. Shih Tzus are difficult to housebreak.

Shih Tzu Dog Breed Information and Personality Traits

Be consistent, and do not allow a puppy to roam the house unsupervised until they are completely trained. Crate training is helpful. They should be kept indoors in air-conditioning rooms during hot weather. Be prepared to brush and comb the Shih Tzu coat every day. It mats easily. While Shih Tzus are trustworthy with children, they're not the best choice for families with toddlers or very young children because their small size puts them at risk for unintentional injury.

The Shih Tzu tends to wheeze and snore, and can be prone to dental problems.

While dogs of any breed may eat their own or other animals' feces coprophagia , the Shih Tzu seems especially prone to this behavior. The best way to handle the problem is never let it become a habit. Watch your Shih Tzu closely and clean up poop right away. Males and females alike stand at nine to ten and a half inches tall and weigh nine to 16 pounds. Shih Tzus are generally healthy, but like all breeds of dogs, they're prone to certain conditions and diseases: Allergies are a common ailment in dogs. There are three main types: food allergies, which are treated by eliminating certain foods from the dog's diet; contact allergies, which are caused by a reaction to a topical substance such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, or other chemicals; and inhalant allergies, which are caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, or mildew.

Treatment may include dietary restrictions, medications, and environmental changes. Canine hip dysplasia , an abnormal formation of the hip socket that can cause pain and lameness. Patellar luxation, which means dislocation luxation of the kneecap patella.


The knee joint often of a hind leg slides in and out of place, causing pain. This can be crippling. Juvenile renal dysplasia JRD is a genetic defect of the kidneys seen in young dogs. The dog is excessively thirsty and urinates frequently.

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  4. They lose weight, vomits, and lack vigor. Currently, there is only one definitive test for the disease that can be performed on breeding dogs--a wide-wedge biopsy of the kidney, which is very invasive and carries a lot of risk. There have been swab tests developed by geneticists, but, to this date, none of them appear to be percent reliable.

    Bladder stones and bladder infections can be caused by many factors, such as excessive protein, magnesium, and phosphorus in the diet, or long periods of time between urination.

    9 Fluffy Facts About the Shih Tzu

    Bladder infections can be caused by bacterial or viral infections. If your Shih Tzu needs to urinate frequently, has bloody urine, seems to have difficulty urinating, or suffers a loss of appetite, take them to the vet for a checkup. Eye problems are not uncommon among Shih Tzus because their large eyes bulge.