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BaxterBoo Blog
August 13, 2013

Meet the Breed: The Shih Tzu

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  • Height: 7-11 inches
  • Weight: 8-16 pounds
  • Historical function: Palace and monastery companions.
  • Modern function: Companions
  • AKC classification: Toy

Physical Characteristics:

The Shih Tzu is a beautiful toy breed with long, double coat of silky hair. They were bred to resemble little lions. They are a little longer in length than they are tall with a tail that curves over the back. They have a short muzzle and round, dark, wide-set eyes that are very expressive. Many Shih Tzu owners choose to keep their pets in a puppy cut to keep their profuse coat more manageable. They come in a wide variety of coat colors.

History of Breed:

The Shih Tzu is an ancient breed that was probably derived from a cross between the Pekingese and the Lhasa Apso. Since lions are an important symbol of Buddhist faith but are not indigenous to China, Tibetan lamas and the Chinese bred toy dogs to resemble the favored symbol. These dogs were so revered by Chinese royalty that they were never sold or traded to anyone outside of China. In fact, the breed only flourished outside of China after WWII when soldiers brought them back with them to Europe and North America, which it is a good thing, as the breed may have become extinct during the Communist Revolution in China.


  • Best suited for: Singles, families with older children, seniors, hairstylists
  • Preferred living conditions: Does not tolerate heat.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Daily brushing and face washing for dogs in a show cut. Hair over the eyes is often kept in a topknot to keep hair out of the eyes.  A puppy cut may be preferable for the average pet guardian.
  • Exercise needs: Loves a daily walk but can get plenty playing indoors or in a yard as well on days when walks must be skipped. Prone to overeating, so monitor diet, and counteract extra weight with an active lifestyle.
  • Life expectancy: 13 years, on average.
  • Health Concerns: Shih Tzus may have incidences of hypothyroidism, which can be easily treated. Because of their short snouts, they occasionally have breathing problems. Some dogs exhibit a funny sound that a vet told me was a "reverse sneeze" that helps clear the nasal passages. Occasional kidney and eye problems have also been noted with this breed.

Breed Club Links: American Shih Tzu Club. Perfect Pairings: Dogs BFF Coat Detangling Spray

Have any great stories about a Shih Tzu? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Amber on October 16 at 12:05 PM said:

sarah ohara on November 8 at 1:55 PM said:

I think they are the cutest dogs EVER! The ones with the long show hair are amazingly beautiful & adorable! They have really cute personalities also.
Ronald on August 4 at 7:20 PM said:

These dogs should not be kept in a puppy cut. They need their hair to insulate them from heat and cold. They also are so much cuter when they have their coats. It's not too hard to brush them once a day while you watch tv, or just take ten minutes to run a brush through their coats.
AK Nana & Papa on September 8 at 7:11 PM said:

Our Sushi travels extremely well, even on three hours plus plane rides (in the cabin with us). A couple of problems that are owner errors - went from 11 to almost 19 lbs and very difficult to keep groomed as she starts biting. Have even had to pick her up from Petco and Petsmart as the groomers cannot get close to her. Any suggestions? The only way we can groom her at home is to constantly offer treats and even then she will bite us if the next treat doesn't come quickly enough.

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This entry was posted by Mary.

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