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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu

Origin: Tibet

AKC Group: Toy

Height: 8-11 inches (20-28 cm) (Male)

Weight: 9-16 pounds (4-7 kg) (Male)

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Male height: 
8-11 inches (20-28 cm)
Male weight: 
9-16 pounds (4-7 kg)
The double coat is long and dense.
Shih Tzu come in any color; abundant white markings are common, such as a white tail tip and facial blaze.

The Shih Tzu probably has ancient roots in Tibet as the smaller cousin of the Lhasa Apso, but the breed was developed and perfected in China. The elegant and docile little "lion dog" was highly prized by the Chinese court for centuries, living a life of luxury in the royal palace. The breed was further refined during the reign of the Dowager Empress Cixi (Tz'u-Hsi, 1861-1908). After her death, the palace kennel was dispersed, and the breed became very scarce in subsequent years; it was virtually extinct in China after the Communist revolution of 1949. Luckily, a few individuals survived here and there-seven dogs and seven bitches are the foundation of all existing Shih Tzu.

The Shih Tzu is the ultimate companion dog. This mellow little fellow is both a gentle lapdog and a playful friend. He is outgoing, affectionate and trusting. He's surprisingly sturdy and is good with children. He can be stubborn one moment, then disarm with his charming clownishness the next.
At home: 
Shih Tzu are adaptable to many kinds of living situations. Their size makes them excellent apartment dogs, but they are equally at home living with a large family. Don't look to a Shih Tzu for watchdog potential - he's more likely to lick a stranger than bark at one.
Because of his small size, a short walk every day supplemented with some indoor playtime is sufficient to meet the Shih Tzu's exercise needs.
Shih Tzu don't need to eat a lot to maintain their proper weight, but what they do eat should be nutritious and of the highest quality. Feeding twice a day is recommended because your Shih Tzu's small stomach can better handle two small meals a day than one large one.
Shih Tzu can be obstinate, as many Asian breeds have an independent streak, but patience and positive training will eventually pay off. They are smart and trainable as long as you use food rewards and avoid coercion. As with some toy breeds, housetraining can be a challenge.
Shih Tzu gets along well with family, friends, and strangers. They almost always do well with children and other pets.
The average life span of the Shih Tzu is 15 years or more. Common health concerns include eye problems such as dry eye and distichiasis, a condition in which the eyelashes are abnormally located at the edge of the eyelid and irritate the eye's surface. Cataracts also occasionally occur, as do dental problems.
Fun fact: 

The Shih Tzu is also known as the "Lion Dog" and "Chrysanthemum Dog."

Grooming blurb: 
When the Shih Tzu's luxurious coat is kept long, it should be brushed daily to prevent tangling and matting. The topknot must be maintained to hold the hair away from his eyes. Many owners keep their Shih Tzu's coats trimmed shorter for greater ease of care.
This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.