Origins of the Breed
Shih-tzu's(pronounced sheed .zoo) are a very old breed that originated in Tibet but became mostly bred in China, appearing in very old art work dating back to the seventh century, they were known as the Lion Dog.
They were imported by Miss Hutchins and General & Mrs Brownrigg during the early 1930's and a breed club, The Shih-tzu Club was formed and by the end of the thirties the breed was established with 183 registered dogs in the U.K. In 1940 they were granted their own register and became eligible for championship status.
The breed has gone from strength to strength and now according to the most recent registration figures is one of the most popular dogs in the utility breed group today.
Description of the breed
The Shih-tzu is a small but substantial dog, heavily coated, short faced with an oriental look, a full detailed Breed standard is available from the Kennel Club or any of the 6 breed clubs throughout the UK, we are not producing it here. However for your guidance the main descriptions are as follows;
The ideal Shih-tzu weighs between 9 and 18lbs, stands approx. 10 ½ ins at the withers and appears longer in the body than it is tall. Any colour is permitted, black & white, Gold & white, and solid Gold being the most commonly seen, the coat can be straight but a slight wave is usual. They are brachycephalic which means short faced and their bite is slightly undershot.
They are active, lively, alert little dogs, friendly and independant. They love to be with people and will be a good protector of their home and owners, not excessively noisy but will warn or greet visitors enthusiastically. Ideally suitable as a family pet or a companion dog. Their expression sometimes gives the impression of being 'haughty'.
They enjoy exercise but are happy with the minimum as long as they have company, they are easily accommodated in a small home. They are good mixers with other animals and live happily in a group or single dog situation.
Care of the Shih-tzu
As this is such a heavily coated breed a decision must be made at an early age as to keeping the coat or regularly clipping. To keep a Shih-tzu in full show coat takes many hours of grooming and detangling, a full bath and blow dry is necessary every week for the care of the show coat.
Every day care is face washing, to avoid tear staining, and tying up the long hair in a top knot, a short all round grooming to keep the matting down to the minimum.
Every week ears need cleaning, nails should be checked and trimmed as required, paying particular attention to the dew claws which are left on in this breed but become hidden in the wealth of hair, if neglected they grow painfully around into the leg. Attention must be paid to the feet as hair grows between the pads and which mats up giving the dog uncomfortable feet, careful trimming keeps this under control.
A short daily walk is enjoyed.
The eyes of the Shih-tzu are the most vulnerable because of their shape which makes them susceptible to damage either in play or by foreign objects.
Generally they are a very strong and are a long lived healthy breed. There is no testing recommended for any hereditary ailments.
Shih-tzu's make good mothers but due to the shape of the face causing problems in breaking the puppies water bags some assistance is necessary at the whelping, average litter size is 4 or 5 puppies.
Finding your Shih-tzu
It is recommended before you purchase your first puppy you buy one of the many guides to the breed at your local pet suppliers. Visit your local dog shows and talk to the exhibitors there, always buy from a reputable breeder ,see the puppy with its mother and ask to see the pedigree.