Dog Breed 101: The Shih Tzu

December 28, 2023by Nicole Tengco0

The Shih Tzu is a charming breed that many Filipinos just adore. Their elegant fur coats and maned appearance add to their undeniable charm and cuteness, and it’s just hard to resist their playfulness! If you have one of these affectionate dogs or are planning on taking care of one soon, you’ve come to the right place. Let PetPal guide you to what you should know about Shih Tzus and what makes them special!

shih tzu 101
Photo by Dieny Portinanni

History and Origin

The Shih Tzu boasts a history that dates back over a thousand years. Its name, Shih-tzu Kou, is the traditional Chinese term for “little lion,” after its appearance, which resembles the lions in traditional oriental art.

This breed was a favorite of the Chinese royalty, particularly during the Ming and Manchu Dynasties. It’s even prevalent in traditional Chinese art. The Shih Tzu as we know it today is believed to have been bred by Tibetan Monks and gifted to Chinese emperors. 

These fluffy dogs were so cherished in China that for many years, the people there refused to sell, trade, or give any away. It wasn’t until the 1930s that these dogs were brought to the West as gifts to English and Dutch nobility. The breed then made its way to the U.S. after World War II, and the American Kennel Club recognized the Shih Tzu in 1969.

Notable Physical Characteristics

Shih Tzus may be small, but they have a sturdy, compact body that’s long but not very tall. These dogs usually weigh between 9 and 16 pounds, so they’re the perfect size for a lap dog!

The Shih Tzu is popular for its luxurious double coat that comes in a variety of colors, including black, white, blue, and brindle, among others. Another distinctive feature is its broad, round face with large, dark, expressive eyes and a short, upturned nose. 

Characterized by a short muzzle, the Chinese have referred to its mouth shape as a “frog mouth.” The tail of a Shih Tzu is also notable, as it has thick fur and curls over the back.

Behavior, Temperament, and What to Expect

Shih Tzus are affectionate, outgoing, and friendly dogs. They’re less yappy than some other small breeds, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they don’t have a voice. They usually bark to alert their family of potential danger — and they’re not a fan of strangers. 

This breed loves to be around their family and usually gets along well with other pets and children, making them a favorite among Filipino families! 

There’s a bit of a caveat to their behavior, however, as they tend to have a bit of an independent streak. They can be stubborn, especially if not properly trained from puppyhood. Still, with positive reinforcement and consistency, you can effectively teach your Shih Tzu good behavior and even some impressive tricks!

If you’re considering welcoming a Shih Tzu into your home, you should prepare for a lot of grooming. Their beautiful, long coats require daily brushing to prevent matting. Regular trips to the groomer are also necessary to keep them looking their best. 

Shih Tzus are also known to have a few health issues like hip dysplasia, eye diseases, and breathing problems due to their short snout. Regular vet check-ups are a must to keep them healthy.

Owning a Shih Tzu can be a rewarding experience. They are loyal, loving, and make excellent companions. Their small size makes them ideal for apartment living, and they are relatively low-energy, requiring only moderate exercise. 

The Takeaway

The Shih Tzu, with its royal lineage, captivating appearance, and endearing personality, is a breed that is sure to bring joy into any Filipino home. They need a bit of extra care and attention, but the love and companionship they provide in return are truly priceless.

If you want to give your furry friend the love and care they deserve, book our home grooming services or download the PetPal App on iOS App Store or Android Play Store and get online vet consultations today with PetPal! Our friendly and experienced pet groomers and vets can provide top-notch services to ensure your Shih Tzu and other pets are healthy, happy, and looking their best.

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