The history of the Shih Tzu is a little mysterious but DNA analysis confirms that the ancestors of today’s Shih Tzu breed are one of the most ancient dog breeds. It is believed the Shih Tzu’s close relatives are the Tibetan Spaniels and Pekingnese of Tibet. Shih Tzus were often presepnted as tributes to the Emperor of China and lived a life of luxury in the Imperial palaces. Breeding was supervised by court eunuchs, who vied with each other to produce specimens that would take the Emperor’s fancy. The Shih Tzu was considered sacred and was highly favoured by the royal family throughout the Ming Dynasty. The Chinese were very reluctant to allow any Shih Tzu to leave the country. Around the 1930’s this breed eventually infiltrated to the West (England), and was not recognised as a formal breed until 1949.
Remarkable for their courage, animation, charming personality and distinctly arrogant bearing, the Shih Tzu is extremely entertaining to own. They are gay, active and alert, enjoy performing in front of company, and will bounce back from a reprimand with an entertaining charm that is irresistible. Stand offish with strangers, the Shih Tzu makes a very effective little watchdog, as well as being a sensitive and devoted pet for adults or families with older children.
This very popular quote published in an American Shih Tzu magazine by James E. Mumford summarises everything Shih Tzu. “A dash of lion, several teaspoons of rabbit, a couple of ounces of domestic cat, one part court jester, a dash of ballerina, a pinch of old man (Chinese), a bit of beggar, a tablespoon of monkey, one part baby seal, a dash of teddy bear and the rest dogs of Tibetan and Chinese origin”
The fine undercoat of a Shih Tzu tends to matt easily regardless of length. Both full coat and clipped Shih Tzus need to be brushed regularly. We recommend daily for those in full coat, weekly for those clipped. Due to the thickness of the entire coat, regular professional grooming particularly during summer is also recommended including facial hair and the around the edges of the paws and between the toes.
We also recommend checking and cleaning their eyes and ears weekly.
Shih Tzu’s love a daily walk or at the least a chance to run and play in the yard. Training throughout puppy hood is essential. Use a consistent approach with lots of praise and patience.
For the latest research in breed-related problems in Shih Tzu’s (non-sporting) visit the University of Sydney’s LIDA (Listing of Inherited Disorders in Animals) website.