A shih tzu (English: /ˈʃiːtsuː/; Chinese: 西施犬; pinyin: xīshī quǎn) is a toy dog breed weighing 5–7.25 kilograms (11.0–16.0 lb) with long silky hair. The breed originated in China. Shih Tzu were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1969. The name is both singular and plural.
The Shih Tzu is a small, sturdy little dog with a short muzzle and large dark eyes. With a soft and long double coat, it stands no more than 26.7 cm (101⁄2 in.) at the withers and with an ideal weight of 4.5 to 7.3 kg (10 to 16 lbs). Drop ears are covered with long fur, and the heavily furred tail is carried curled over the back. The coat may be of any color, though white and with blazes of white are frequently seen. The Shih Tzu is slightly longer than tall, and bigger dogs ideally should carry themselves "with distinctly arrogant carriage". A very noticeable feature is the under-bite, which is required in the breed standard. The traditional long silky coat, which reaches the floor, requires daily brushing to avoid tangles. Because of their long coat and fast-growing hair, regular grooming is necessary, which may be costly and should be considered when looking forward to having this dog breed. Often the coat is clipped short to simplify care. For conformation showing, the coat must be left in its natural state, though trimming for neatness around the feet and anus is allowed.
Temperament Although a Shih Tzu's temperament varies from dog to dog, the breed has a personality and temperament that is loyal, affectionate, outgoing, and alert. Training and proper socializing must start at a young age for the Shih Tzu to obey basic commands. While the Shih Tzu is an excellent watch dog because of its alert and active nature, it was not specifically bred for this purpose. Unlike the Lhasa Apso, which was bred to be a sentinel dog that enjoys high perches and is wary of strangers, the Shih Tzu prefers to be close to its companions and will often offer strangers its affection. Due to its friendly nature, the Shih Tzu tends to interact well with other dogs and with children and adults. Shih Tzu dogs have been observed to get peevish if provoked, so an owner should be mindful when the dog is in the presence of children. Improper training can also result in nipping and biting. Shih Tzu dogs can also become needy and cry if not properly disciplined at the correct age. Shih Tzu make excellent house pets especially if one lives in an apartment or does not have a large garden as they require minimal exercise. Overall, they are friendly and outgoing companions.
Coat colours and quality
The Shih Tzu comes in a range of colours that include various shades of gold, white, brown, and black. Other colours include black mask gold, black and white, solid black, solid liver, liver and white, brindle, white, red and white, and grey and white. Thus, when two Shih Tzu mate, there is a possibility that their offspring's coat will be similar to their dad's color, mom's color, tricolor, or a mix of both parents' color in one classification. An interesting point (and often a point of confusion) is that while the coat color of those with black pigmented skin (nose, lips, pads, also referred to as "leather") is determined by the color of the coat itself; the coat color on dogs with either liver or blue pigment is categorized by the color of the pigment. Thus, a parti colored (white and another shade) Shih Tzu with blue pigment is a "blue and white" regardless of the tint of the hair which might very well appear similar to a gold and white or other colors. The same principle applies to solid blue, liver and liver and white. Sometimes you might see dark brown pigments near the shoulders and between the armpits. The typical fine, straight, and silky Shih Tzu coat has also been listed by many popular dog information websites as being hypoallergenic. In comparison with many other breeds, Shih Tzu do not shed to the same degree, only losing small amounts when bathed or brushed. It is the dog's dander and saliva that trigger most allergic reactions. Allergists do recognize that, at times, a particular allergy patient will be able to tolerate a particular dog, but they agree that "the luck of the few with their pets cannot be stretched to fit all allergic people and entire breeds of dogs." The Shih Tzu coat is said to fall out only when brushed or broken, or just said to not shed at all.
Etymology The name comes from the Chinese word for "lion dog" because this kind of dog was bred to resemble "the lion as depicted in traditional oriental art," such as the Chinese guardian lions. (The Pekingese breed is also called "lion dog" in Chinese.) "Shih Tzu" is the Wade-Giles romanization of the Chinese characters 獅子, meaning lion; Wade-Giles romanization was in use when the breed was first introduced in America, but in modern times Pinyin romanization is used, rendering it shīzi. The Mandarin Chinese pronunciation is approximately SHIRR-dzə. The Shih Tzu is also known as the "Xi Shi dog" because Xi Shi was regarded as one of the most beautiful women of ancient China. Shih Tzu were nicknamed the Chrysanthemum Dog in England in the 1930s. The dog may also be called the Tibetan Lion Dog, but whether or not the breed should be referred to as a "Tibetan" or "Chinese" breed is a source of argument, the absolute answer to which "may never be known".
DNA analysis placed the ancestors of today's Shih Tzu breed in the group of "ancient" breeds indicating "close genetic relationship to wolves". Another branch coming down from the "Kitchen Midden Dog" gave rise to the Papillon and Long-haired Chihuahua and yet another "Kitchen Midden Dog" branch to the Pug and Shih Tzu. It is also said that the breed originated in China, hence the name "Lion Dog", in 800BC. There are various theories of the origins of today's breed. Theories relate that it stemmed from a cross between Pekingese and a Tibetan dog called the Lhasa Apso. Dogs during ancient times were selectively bred and seen in Chinese paintings. The dogs were favorites of the Chinese royals and were so prized that for years the Chinese refused to sell, trade, or give away any of the dogs. The first dogs of the breed were imported into Europe (England and Norway) in 1930, and were classified by the Kennel Club as "Apsos". The first European standard for the breed was written in England in 1935 by the Shih Tzu Club, and the dogs were recategorised as Shih Tzu. The breed spread throughout Europe, and was brought to the United States after World War II, when returning members of the US military brought back dogs from Europe, in the mid 1950s. The Shih Tzu was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1969 in the Toy Group. The breed is now recognized by all of the major kennel clubs in the English-speaking world. It is also recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale for international competition in Companion and Toy Dog Group, Section 5, Tibetan breeds. In the United States, the Shih Tzu ranked the 15th most popular breed in 2013, falling slightly in popularity since 2012, when it was placed in 11th position
A number of health issues, some of them hereditary, have been found in individual Shih Tzu, and are listed below.
Hypothyroidism Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland malfunctions and stops producing a hormone responsible for proper metabolism. This malfunction is commonly attributed to immune system problems. It usually affects middle-aged dogs and is seen in all breeds. Symptoms include hair loss, weight gain, muscle loss, and lethargy. This disease is usually diagnosed through blood tests. It can be effectively treated with drug therapy.
Intervertebral Disk Disease Intervertebral Disk Disease in the dog is a common chondrodystrophic disorder manifested by acute back pain, loss of coordination, paresis, and loss of the ability to feel deep pain sensations. IVDD commonly occurs in certain toy breeds, such as Dachshund, Pekingese, French Bulldog, Beagle, Basset Hound, American Cocker spaniel, Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, and Welsh Corgi.
Breathing problems Shih Tzu have a number of respiratory problems related to the shape of their face and head. Brachycephalic syndrome is a common problem and mostly affects dogs with short noses (brachycephalic breeds). An obstruction in the upper airways causes the dog to have laboured breathing. Not every brachycephalic dog will develop respiratory problems, but most will to some degree. Severe problems may require surgery.
Health issues Some health issues in the breed are portosystemic shunt of the liver and hip dysplasia in standard sizes. There have been cases of Shih Tzu being epileptic, which in turn may shorten the life span if untreated. Many Shih Tzu dogs are also prone to ear infections.
Life span The UK Kennel Club survey puts the median life span of a Shih Tzu at 13 years and 2 months, with most living between 10–16 years.
Kennel club differences There is a difference between the American Kennel Club and the Kennel Club (UK) ShihTzu:
The AKC (American Kennel Club) Shih-Tzu Their front legs (forequarters) are straight. Their hindquarters are muscular. Neither should be too short nor too long. The standard head is big and round and is set high with face looking forward or up. The neck and body are the most important and should not be exaggerated. The eyes are large and face the front. The shoulders of the American type of Shih-Tzu are frontal.