The Shih Tzu (pronounced She Tzoo) is considered to have originated in Tibet where it was kept in Temples and given to the Emperors of China as a tribute gift, often referred to as the little Lion Dog. In Tibet dogs are sacred and these little dogs were bred to resemble lions as, in part of Ancient Imagery, Lions were considered the King of Animals. The Chinese 'Lion Dog' was bred in China to have a long shaggy coat, white between the eye brows and white on the end of its top knot, broad lion like jaw - and gold in colour. The darker saddle markings were also prized because of the connection with Buddha when, in the legend, he rode on the back of his transformed dog.
In the UK in 1933 the Tibetan Lion Dog was finally accepted by the Kennel Club as a separate breed and in 1934 it was formerly called the Shih Tzu, the name being adopted by the Chinese.
A Shih Tzu should be around between 10 and 12 inches at the withers. They are not toys, heavy to carry varying between 14 and 18 pounds in weight.
The Shih Tzu is a very lively and alert dog with a distinctly arrogant carriage. They have become very humanised and they need to be brought up as a child of the family. With out a lot of human companionship a shih tzu will not flourish. They are super amongst well behaved children and live happily with most cats.
This is a happy little dog full of fun, playful and capable of fetching and carrying toys and hiding your socks and shoes in the garden. Most Shih tzu enjoy a summer stroll but many do not need long walks and some do not like venturing out in the wet and cold, some however do.
They require considerable grooming and many are taken monthly to the groomers to keep their long dense coat trimmed. Owning a Shih Tzu can be compared to having a baby. They can not be left for long periods and need to be around you 20 hours a day!
The Shih Tzu is generally a robust little dog and illness does not come their way easily provided they are well cared for.
The eyes of a Shih Tzu need daily care and cleansing and the ears need plucking frequently to keep them clean and clear. The pads require regular shaving to keep hair from between the toes from matting and the toe nails and dew claws require regular clipping.
If a shih tzu's coat is not groomed daily or clipped short it will form dense mats which can be very unpleasant for this little dog. As yet there is no widespread hereditary disease which is peculiar to the Shih Tzu.