The sole purpose of a Shih Tzu, they say, is to be a household companion or a family pet. But do not make the mistake of thinking of the Shih Tzu as just another toy breed or a lap dog. This highly intelligent stylish breed is capable of entertaining its family members and fostering a happy and meaningful relationship with its loved ones. Let us study some fun Shih Tzu facts, breed standards, temperament and other details every potential owner needs to know.
Fun Shih Tzu facts
- Pronunciation of the word is ‘shee-tzoo’.
- True to their imperial heritage, these dogs are preferred by high society members. On 2001, New York Times reported that more Shih Tzu lived on the Upper East Side with the coveted 10021 area code than any other neighborhood in the city.
- Their country of origin is Tibet/China where they are known by different names like Fo dog, Chrysanthemum dog,Powder puff and even as the ‘little lion dog’.
- The reason why they were known as Chrysanthemum dogs is because this flower is highly revered in the country. Chinese people often say “if you want to be happy for life, grow Chrysanthemums”. Shih Tzu dog also grows hair all around its face just like the cherished flower’s petals. A very good comparison; after all, these clownish dogs loved to spread happiness around.
- Average life span for the breed is 12-14 years.
- Size – Height is between 8-11 inches at shoulders. Weight is between 9-16 pounds.
- You will find a wide variety in Shih Tzu colors; white, brown, black and their combinations. They have a long flowing double coat. In fact; the long luxurious coat is their best feature and it can be stunning wavy or straight. The hair on the head and ears is long and wavy.
Where to find a Shih Tzu
You can find good Shih Tzu breeders at dog shows and dog events. If your puppy’s parents are both show dogs, then you are more likely to get a healthy puppy with a great temperament. The AKC can also refer you to many local and regional breeders. Or you could also visit the official website of the club of Shih Tzu in America. Ethical breeders are genuinely concerned about their pets and will not be looking to simply make money. Some breeders even ask to visit your home in order to judge if it is right for a Shih Tzu puppy. Almost all breeders ask to meet your family members especially your children. Many would recommend that you take your Shih Tzu puppy home only if your children are over 3 years of age. A Shih tzu’s price can vary between $1000-$2000 based on the bloodline and breeder.
- Shih Tzus are lively, friendly, happy and outgoing dogs. They are mainly bred to be household companions and take this role rather seriously.
- The breed mostly gets along with other animals, just as long as they are the center of everyone’s attention!
- Shih Tzus also get along well with kids as long as the kids know how to handle them.
- Despite their proud and haughty countenance, Shih Tzus love to make their owners laugh and they quickly take on the role of the family clown.
- Their size is ideal for apartment dwellers and their temperament is just right for families with kids. No one can resist the charm and appeal of these cute and happy dogs.
- Work is not something that a Shih Tzu will do – he just wasn’t bred for it! If you teach him obedience tricks, he will do all of them one day, some of them the next day and none on the third day. He might even wait until an obedience trial to do something entirely incorrect and end up embarrassing you. And when your audience laughs, he will note that trick in his mind save it for a dull day that needs a bit of brightening up!
Training your Shih Tzu
Rather than you training your Shih Tzu, your Shih Tzu will train you! This is a smart dog that will trick you into bending your house rules. Very soon he will be on your bed, your sofa and all other places you may have decided never to let your dog on. That is why gentle, firm and patient training is very important if you want a well behaved Shih Tzu. Do not let his charming looks fool you into letting him have his way. Obedience training classes are important for Shih Tzu owners as they can help you and your pet effectively relate and understand each other. Here are important points to remember when it comes to training your buddy:
- Do not let your pet’s small size impede your training goals. If you want a well socialized pet, then you must be firm and consistent in training.
- Never let training sessions go on for long periods of time. Your dog is bound to get bored and this could affect his performance.
- Do not train your Shih Tzu when you are ill, tired, or in a negative mood. This will rub on to your pet and affect performance.
- Try to sit down on the floor when training your dog; this way, you appear less intimidating to it. If this is not possible, place your pet on a high stand or raised surface. Make sure your pet is comfortable and safe. If not, go back to the floor.
- Yummy treats are great motivators to get positive behavior out of your pet. However, praise and petting work well too. Mix and match the two to keep your pet guessing!
A Shih Tzu is a great pet for owners who are too busy or themselves lead sedentary lives. Although your Shih Tzu will definitely enjoy a romp in the park, this breed doesn’t demand the vigorous activity that many other dog breeds need. A Shih Tzu can get all the exercise he requires by simply following you through the house, playing with his toys or taking short jaunts around the block.
Shih Tzus needs daily brushing and once a week baths. You also need to style the hair on the head into a top-knot. If you are not committed to grooming your dog daily, you may want to seriously consider giving him a puppy cut called pet trim. Your Shih Tzu will look cute as ever and both of you will be happier. Remember: take your dog to a professional groomer once every two months to keep his hair properly trimmed. Your dog will still need weekly brushing but your job will be a lot easier.
Health concerns in Shih Tzus
In any dog’s life, medical concerns are bound to arise. Being aware of them can help you take better care of your darling pet. This is a brachycephalic dog breed so it is likely to develop respiratory issues. They are also prone to bladder stones which could cause frequent urination and even bloody urine. These dogs are also prone to ocular diseases or eye problems, neurological issues and skin diseases. A small percentage of Shih Tzu also suffers from hip dysplasia.