Imagine a lion. Imagine its luxurious flowing mane. Now imagine it smaller, less dangerous, less orange, and more… well… dog-like. Are you thinking of a Shih Tzu? This toy dog’s nickname is ‘Lion Dog’, and while the actual similarities are limited, we reckon this pint-sized pooch is every bit as majestic. The breed is known for its ready bark and distinct lack of shedding. Let’s take a look at some of the other traits of the Shih Tzu.
Breed Group: Toy
Coat length: Long
Exercise: Up to 1 hour per day
Grooming required?: Every day
The Shih Tzu came to Europe’s shores in the early 20th century. The breed’s story starts centuries before then, and a fair few miles away, in the Chinese city of Peking. A Lhasa Apso was crossed with a Pekingese, and the resulting Shih Tzu was so adored by the Chinese royals that they refused to part with a single one for many years – not for love nor money.
Some Shih Tzus live to the ripe old age of 16.
This breed’s long back and short legs can cause spinal disc disease. Watch out for ear infections, eye problems and early tooth loss too. Tends to wheeze and snore and can have respiratory problems. Keep a close eye on your pride and joy’s diet, as this breed doesn’t struggle to pile on the pounds!
The energetic extrovert
In terms of temperament, the Shih Tzu lives up to its theatrical looks. This outgoing breed thrives with families and seems to have a personal vendetta against dull moments. A daily walk will help keep your Shih Tzu fit as a fiddle, as well as satisfying its natural sense of curiosity.
Less yap than usual
This toy dog is generally thought to be less yappy than others in the same category. (That’s not to say it won’t bark a fair bit though.)
The Shih Tzu’s fabulous long locks require daily TLC if left long. Prepare yourself for lots of brushing and, indeed, styling (hairbands at the ready – you’re about to get very good at crafting doggy ponytails.) You might choose to opt for a schedule of haircuts, which makes grooming easier and completely transforms the Shih Tzu’s visual personality.
Shih Tzus are known for being alert and responding well to patient training. Without appropriate training, however, they may develop ‘Small Dog Syndrome’ – a belief that they can boss humans around with their bark!
We won’t lie to you – Shih Tzus are notoriously tricky to housebreak.
Where to find Shih Tzus
Shih Tzu Groups
Keen to swap stories (and doggy styling tips) with other Shih Tzu owners? Find a group below.
Want to adopt a Shih Tzu in need of a loving home? Find a rescue centre below.
Sold on the Shih Tzu’s impressive mini-lion looks and attitude? Here is the list of Kennel Club Assured Breeders.