Shih Tzu

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Is the Shih Tzu right for you?

Species group:

Other name(s): Chinese Lion Dog; Chrysanthemum Dog

The basics:
Once the venerated "Lion Dog" of Chinese emperors, this ancient toy breed dating back to the 7th century has exploded in popularity since its introduction to the west in the 20th century. They look like beautiful aristocrats, but they actually tend to have a great attitude. A properly trained Shih Tzu doesn't demand as much space and exercise as many dog breeds, and they can be less yippy toward strangers and more friendly toward other pets than some toys. As a smaller dog that loves snuggling and doesn't demand constant work-outs, the Shih Tzu can be an enjoyable travel companion as well as a good choice for seniors.

Appearance / health:
In spite of his delicate appearance, the Shih Tzu is a solid, well-built little dog with a level topline; he is somewhat longer than his height at his withers, and he carries his heavily feathered tail curled over his back. His signature long, abundant double-coat covers him uniformly from front to back, including his face and muzzle. His head is rounded; his muzzle is short, ending abruptly at his nose; and his nose is black (with the exception being the liver-colored Shih Tzu, which has a liver-colored nose); the hair above his nose grows upward, fashioning what is known as the “chrysanthemum” face. He has a well-defined stop. His eyes are wide-set, large, round and typically dark (though they may be lighter in the blue or liver colored Shih Tzu); his ears are pendant and blend smoothly into his body coat due to the abundant covering of hair. His teeth form either a level or undershot bite.

For the classic Shih Tzu look, daily grooming with a bristled brush is crucial for the care of the coat to remove and prevent mats. Most owners gather up the long hair above the nose and blend it with the hair on the top of the head to tie off into a topknot to enable the dog to see clearly. It is recommended they be bathed once per month. Ear passages and the area around the eyes should be kept clean; their eyes are quite sensitive.

Shih Tzus require a small amount of exercise and are usually happy to stay indoors. Daily walks may fulfill their exercise requirements.
Shih Tzus are prone to eye problems because of their protruding eyes. They are prone to corneal ulcer, formed when the surface of the cornea is damaged. Their eyelids and lashes also sometimes grow in a way that annoys the eyes. Shih Tzus are also prone to respiratory and thyroid problems and thyroid malfunctions. Renal cortical hypoplasia (a condition where the cortex of the kidneys is not properly developed) is also commonly found in this breed.

Behavior / temperament:
Shih Tzu are lively and alert but not high strung. They respond well to patient and consistent training methods. This breed may tend to bark excessively if not trained well. They also snore loudly.


exceptional traveling companions, sweetest temperament, affectionate, good temperament, great family dog


little barkers, ALLERGIES, long hair mats, eye problems, separation anxiety, nervous dog, fussy eater


regular haircut, perfect lap dog, daily face washes, retired couple

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