The Shih Tzu is the perfect companion for anyone looking for a small, loyal, and cuddly friend.
Their personality may be slightly confusing. But once you understand this little lion dog, you can tell why they experience mood swings.
The breed’s name means lion, and they look striking like a lion. Sometimes, people confuse them with the Lhasa apso, which also has a mane-like appearance.
These small dogs are delicate, and perhaps this is why they are regarded as fit for royalty.
The mane-like hair gained favor with 17th-century Chinese royals who bred them and kept them as companions. Queen Elizabeth owned a Shih Tzu called Choo Choo.
Shih Tzus were also associated with a deity by the ancient Tibetans. If you have been considering getting one of these cuddly dogs, here’s what you should know.
Due to their small size, most kennel clubs classify Shih Tzus in the toy group. They grow to slightly under 12 inches and weigh up to 16 pounds, making them easily portable.
They mature quickly, reaching adult size within the first year. The adult is quite sturdy and has a short muzzle. The head is round and good-sized, and Shih Tzus have cute wide round eyes.
The gait is typical of small dog breeds — long and swift. But these little puppies don’t like extensive exercise.
The most prominent feature of the Shih Tzus is their luxurious hair. They have a double coat that comes in various colors. But around the facial features, most dogs’ hair is dark.
Shih Tzus are hardy and amiable. They can live for 14 years or 15 years.
Shih Tzus’ beauty turns into their health bane.
The most common health problem the breed experiences is eye infections. The moon-like and cute eyes are also prone to infection due to regular rubbing and irritation from contact with the hair.
If the long hair is not tied back, it irritates the eyes and can cause infections. Shih Tzu owners should regularly trim their hair to keep it away from the eyes.
They should also frequently clean the dog’s eyes.
Other health issues include allergies, thyroid disorders, renal and hip dysplasia, and liver shunt.
Contact a vet for more information on Shih Tzu’s health concerns; constantly invest in pet insurance from a reputable company.
Shih Tzus generally exhibit sociable behavior but may occasionally be slightly reserved. They may not be as outgoing as some dog breeds like the corgi. Nonetheless, Shih Tzus thrive when they are with people.
They get along with people of all ages and with different pets.
Rarely will you find an aggressive Shih Tzu. The dogs have big personalities but rarely display aggressive behavior.
They are generally welcoming and friendly to all people, including strangers.
Occasionally, Shih Tzus may yap and run around. But don’t leave him locked in your parked car. They do not cope well when unattended.
The Shih Tzus’ luxurious hair is their top feature. Many owners point it out as the most attractive feature of the breed, so they decide to keep it long. But it is also where the most responsibility lies.
Grooming Shih Tzu’s hair is not a walk in the park. A handy grooming guide beyond brushing and bathing should get you started on the right footing. Unless you’re skilled, work with a groomer to determine your dog’s best Shih Tzu haircut.
Regular grooming, like frequent hair brushing, prevents tangling and mats.
Trimming should also be regular. If the hair gets too long, it will sweep the ground and pick up all dirt and germs. That could mean trouble for the dog’s health.
If the dog’s hair is of a light color, it is also prone to tear staining.
The Vets also explain that a Shih Tzu’s hair can grow inside the ear canal and between the paw pads. Therefore, you should trim it regularly and clean the ear canal and paw pads.
This helps to avoid mats and infections.
Exercise and training
Shih Tzu dogs don’t need a daily mile run to keep fit. A few runs in the house are enough.
But the dogs enjoy outdoor walks. Be careful not to take your dog out for an exercise session when it’s too hot.
Shih Tzus cope better with the cold than the heat. If exposed to heat, he could suffer a stroke.
Concerning training, Shih Tzus are clever dogs. The dogs are easy to train because they quickly learn instructions and execute commands.
However, they are infamous for their stubbornness. Trainers encourage owners to remain gentle and positive during training sessions.
They also can be clingy and suffer from separation anxiety.
Shih Tzus enjoy high-quality meals that are corn, soy, or wheat-free.
Traditional grains such as brown rice or quinoa are excellent. Also, Shih Tzus enjoy healthy snacks.
However, you should monitor their food intake. Shih Tzus are ravenous feeders and prone to obesity.
Also, ensure a supply of clean, fresh water at all times.
Many human foods are safe for dogs. But you should check with the vet before you give any.
Also, check with your vet for concerns about your pooch’s feeding habits.
Adopting a Shih Tzu
To wind up, here’s a quick recap of the top pros and cons of the Shih Tzu.
- A loving, social, and loyal partner.
- Relatively active and does not require much exercise
- Excellent company for children and other pets.
- Prone to eye infections and allergies.
- Requires too much grooming
- Requires attention to thrive.