First Favored by Chinese RoyalsLong before Shih Tzus grew to be the phenomena companion pup in the States they were highly prized house pets of Chinese royalty. Today the brisk, friendly, doting Shih Tzu is the ninth most registered breed according to American Kennel Club registration statistics for 2007.
These silky long-haired or shaggy toy dogs (depending on grooming practices) are believed to have been developed by crossing the Lhasa apso and the Imperial Pekingese.
According to the AKC, the ruling empress of the day forbade the export of the resulting Shih Tzu and it wasn’t until her death in the early 1900s that these dogs were first smuggled outside the country into Europe.
- AKC first recognized this toy breed in 1969.
- Mariah Carey was once given twin Shih Tzus, named Bing and Bong, while on tour in Japan. Elizabeth Taylor owned one named Sugar.
- Shih Tzu is pronounced sheet-sue.
- There are more than 8,240 Shih Tzu videos posted on YouTube.com.
Daily to weekly grooming sessions are often necessary to prevent mats and check for ticks, hot spots and other skin irritations.
Shih Tzus typically range from 8 to 11 inches tall and weigh about 9 to 16 pounds, according to the AKC. They are good family pets and their compact size makes them ideal for apartment living.
However, they shouldn’t been discounted as acceptable farm pups. The American Shih Tzu Club says that these dogs adapt easily to situations. What little exercise they require can be obliged by running under and around furniture inside or chasing birds and butterflies.
Here’s a list of the colors Shih Tzus come in from the ASTC. Any of these colors are usually paired with black lips, eye rims and noses:
- Gold and white
- Red and white
- Black mask gold
- Liver and white
- Blue and white
- Sliver and white
- Brindle and white
Grooming Shih Tzus
Shih Tzus have double coats that, depending on age and texture, can sometimes require daily brushing to remove tangles, according to “Grooming the Companion Dog” by JoAnn White. Daily to weekly grooming sessions are often necessary to prevent mats and check for ticks, hot spots and other skin irritations.
If a long, silky coat isn’t suitable for your Shih Tzu’s lifestyle they can easily be groomed into a shorter, shag-style coat. Regardless of their do, these pups usually need a weekly bath and a daily face-washing.
For a step-by-step list on how to make a top knot on your Shih Tzu read “Casual Shih Tzu Top Knots,” by JoAnn White.
Shih Tzus are predisposed to the following conditions according to the ASTC:
- Eye conditions due to "buldgey" eyes, which can lead to dry eyes, scratched corneas and difficulty closing eyelids.
- Breathing issues: Due to their short nose, Shih Tzus commonly develop breathing problems, which can lead to snoring and wheezing. These breathing issues tend to become more difficult in hot climates.
- Obesity: Shih Tzus have a tendency to gain weight easily. Be sure to discuss the appropriate diet for your Shih Tzu with your veterinarian.
- Matted fur: Due to their long coats, Shih Tzus can develop issues with their fur. Daily brushing and routine visits to a good groomer will help prevent this from occurring.
- Genetic eye and liver conditions are also noted in Shih Tzus. Be certain to discuss any potential hereditary issues with your family veterinarian.
In addition, although juvenile renal dysplasia, chronic hepatitis and juvenile cataracts may occur, they are not common as the incidence of these conditions is low. Keep in mind, while Shih
Tzus may develop particular medical conditions, your dog will not necessarily develop any of those listed above. As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your particular four-legged friend.
Learn more about potential pet skin conditions that can commonly affect Shih Tzus.