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 get to understand your little buddy, you can tell why the mood swings.
The name means lion, and like a lion, they have striking looks.
They are delicate, and perhaps this is why they are regarded as fit for royalty. The mane-like hair caused a liking by 17th Century Chinese royals who bred them and kept them as companions. Queen Elizabeth owns a Shih Tzu called Choo Choo.
Shih Tzus were also associated with a deity by the ancient Tibetans. If you have been thinking of getting one of these cuddly dogs, here’s what you should know.
Due to their small size, Shih Tzus are classified in the toy group by most kennel clubs. They grow to slightly under 12 inches and weigh up to 16 pounds which makes 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, good-sized, and Shih Tzus has the cutest wide and round eyes.
The gait is typical of a small dog — long and swift. But these little pooches don’t like extensive exercise.
The most prominent feature of the Shih Tzus is their luxuriant 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 to 14 years or 15 years.
Shih Tzus’ beauty turns into their health bane. The most common health issue the breed experiences are eye infections. The moon-like and cute eyes are also prone to infection due to regular rubbing and irritation resulting 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 the 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. Reach out to a vet for more information on Shih Tzu’s health concerns; also, always invest in pet insurance from a reputable company.
Shih Tzus are generally sociable but can be slightly reserved at times. They may not be as outgoing as some dog breeds like the corgi. Nonetheless, Shih Tzus thrive where there is life.
They get along with people of all ages and with different pets. Rarely will you find an aggressive Shih Tzu. 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 luxuriant of Shih Tzus’ hair is their top attraction. 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 that goes beyond brushing and bathing should get you started on the right footing.
Frequent hair brushing is necessary to prevent tangling and mats. Trimming should also be regular. If the hair gets too long, it will sweep the ground and pick up all manner of 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. It should therefore be trimmed regularly and both ear canal and paw pads cleaned. This helps to avoid mats and infections.
Exercise and training
Shih Tzus don’t need a daily mile run to keep fit. A few runs in the house are enough. But they enjoy outdoor walks. Be careful not to take him 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. They can quickly learn instructions and execute commands. However, they are infamous for their stubbornness. Trainers encourage owners to remain gentle and positive during training sessions.
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 intake. Shih Tzus are ravenous feeders and prone to obesity. Also, ensure there is a supply of clean, fresh water at all times.
Human foods are not entirely unsafe for the dog. But you should check with the vet before you give any. Also, check with your vet if you have any 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.
- Fairly 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 the company to thrive.