- The first small Tibetan lion dogs probably came from Tibet to China during the Ch'ing Dynasty (1644-1662).
- In the late 1800s, these dogs were interbred with Pekingese, pugs, and other Chinese dogs to create the Shih Tzu as we know it. This occurred in the kennels of the Dowager Empress T'zu Hsi.
- After the Communist revolution in China, the shih tzu became extinct in its native land.
- In the 1940s and 50s, military personnel brought back many shih tzu to the United States.
- Seven males and seven females make up the foundation stock of all modern shih tzu. One of these dogs was actually a Pekingese brought into the gene pool in the 1950s.
- The AKC recognized the breed in 1969. It soon grew to become one of most popular of all breeds in America.
Shih Tzu Behavior Concerns
- Makes both an affectionate lap dog and fun-loving companion.
- Playful and good with children, but children must be supervised because they could easily hurt such a small dog.
- Outgoing toward strangers.
- Good with other dogs and pets.
- Learns quickly, but tends to have a stubborn streak.
- Does not do well with force-based training methods, but is very good with reward-based training involving food or games.
- Housetraining can be more challenging than with many other breeds.
Shih Tzu Suggested Exercises
- Makes a lively and alert housedog.
- Although many of its physical exercise needs can be met with indoor games, it still needs the mental stimulation of walking and sniffing outdoors.
- A walk around the block once or twice daily will meet its outdoor needs, not counting bathroom breaks. Many shih tzu can be trained to use indoor potty systems.
- Because of its short muzzle, the shih tzu is prone to overheating in warm weather.
- Dog parks are not generally a good idea unless only small dogs are allowed together.
- Swimming is not recommended unless constantly supervised. Swimming with a full coat could be dangerous as the coat can become heavy when wet.
- Games and tricks provide needed mental exercise.
- Excursions in a doggy purse can provide supplemental entertainment.
Shih Tzu Grooming
- Coat is long, dense and fairly straight.
- Brushing and combing every other day is necessary to prevent matts.
- Many pet owners elect to have their dogs professionally groomed, or clipped into a trim that is more easily cared for.
- Take care that stray hairs and lashes don't irritate the eyes.
- Monitor the hair around the anus for hygiene issues.
- Because of poor air circulation, ears should be checked weekly for problems.
- Shedding is below average.
- The breed is prone to periodontal problems, which can be prevented in large part by regular tooth brushing.
Suggested Shih Tzu Nutritional Needs
- Shih tzu tend to stay in good weight or be a bit heavy.
- Adult dogs should be fed a balanced diet, with restricted calories if the dog starts to gain too much weight.
- Shih tzu puppies should be fed often to prevent hypoglycemia, a serious condition to which very small puppies are prone. Meals of high protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates may also help guard against this condition.