Is the Shih Tzu the right dog for you?
The Shih Tzu's Origins and History
Though Shih Tzu dogs are ancient, the ones that we know of today came from the efforts of the palace eunuchs of Dowager Empress CiXi during the late 19th century. They worked hard to reduce the size and produce the markings by which they are known today. They became extinct in China after the Communist Revolution. Shih Tzus of today were bred from 14 dogs that made it out of China before then. Shih Tzu means “lion dog” in Chinese. The life span of a shih tzu is 11 to 15 years.
Health and care
Basically healthy, the Shih Tzu is subject to a kidney disease called renal dysplasia and to slipped stifles or kneecaps. His slightly protruding eyes are prone to injury, and his short muzzle often produces slight wheezing problems.
Otherwise, his greatest problems are connected to his profuse coat, or rather to neglect of that coat. A well-groomed Shih Tzu has few if any skin problems; a poorly-groomed Shih Tzu can develop tangles, painful mats, hot spots, or skin infections. If you do not have time to groom your Shih Tzu at least once a week, this might not be the breed for you.
The Shih Tzu’s personality
What sets the Shih Tzu apart from other breeds? The Shih Tzu is fun loving and very loyal. Its charm and self confidence is very alluring. The Shih Tzu is highly intelligent. The Shih Tzu's outgoing personality, big eyes with that warm and trusting expression is so hard to resist!
First of all, Shih Tzu’s want to be with their people more than anything else in their lives. They do not do well in lonely kennels or when left alone for long periods of time.
They have been bred for centuries to be always at your side, always in your presence craving love and attention. If you sit down, your Shih Tzu will want to immediately sit with you or an even better spot in the Shih Tzu's mind, would be to jump into your lap and lavish you with kisses. Your Shih Tzu will want you to pet and snuggle him. If you are eating, your Shih Tzu will either beg you for a bite or sit waiting patiently until you give him a bite.
Shih Tzu’s are usually active, busy, curious and creative. You will need a variety of toys to help keep the Shih Tzu's mind occupied. You will need a fenced-in yard or an area where you are able to walk your Shih Tzu for exercise. Shih Tzu’s are very good natured, but also very vivacious. Shih Tzu’s have a good sense of humor and would rather clown around than to be serious. A Shih Tzu thinks just their presence is enough and anyone should be pleased to just be in their presence.

Give your Shih Tzu a comfortable place to sleep (and I might add, Shih Tzu’s discover quite quickly that "your pillow" is the most comfortable spot to sleep), excellent care, high quality food and a loving family and your Shih Tzu could not be happier! Although their stubborn streak may appear from time to time, the Shih Tzu can be trained quite successfully. Just use consistency and patience with your training lessons. And lots of praise! Shih Tzu's love approval from their owners. So when they do something that you want them to do, praise them! Pick them up, give them hugs and kisses. They will be so proud of themselves!
The Shih Tzu is strictly a house pet. Shih Tzu’s cannot tolerate harsh weather, either too cold or too hot, especially the heat. In essence, if you want a constant loving companion by your side at all times, the Shih Tzu is probably the right dog for you.
If you do have time for grooming and appreciate a small, lively pet with an abundance of self-esteem, consider the Shih Tzu. You'll be glad you did.
In our opinion, Shih Tzu’s are the greatest breed around! They love children, they are hypoallergenic, they are wonderful around other dogs and cats, very intelligent, and so devoted to their owners. There is one negative to owning a shih tzu though…you can never just own one!! They are so addicting!! They really do win your heart quickly. What is not to love!

Page Updated: Tuesday April 6th, 2010
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