The Shih Tzu dog - A Superb Family Pet

A small size dog, one of the Toy breeds

Breed picture

Breed History:

In the dog fancier's world, Shih Tzu is pronounced "Sheed Zoo" and in Chinese it means "Lion Dog". The ancestors of this perky breed descended from Tibetan temple dogs, and some were given to the Chinese centuries ago as tribute gifts, during the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907). They were carefully bred in the Imperial Palace of Peking, and drawings showed a likeness to the lion, an important Buddhist symbol. It became known as the Chrysanthemum dog because its facial hair growing in all directions, resembled the flower petals. Much later, Shih Tzus became favorites of the royal family, during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644). It lived the life of luxury as a palace dog. It was seldom seen outside the confines of the court. During the Chinese Revolution of 1911, the breed suffered immense losses when the palace was stormed. Around 1920, an English general, Sir Douglas Brownrigg and his wife saw a Shih Tzu, and later brought the first pair back to England. Additional pairs were later imported. Fortunately, the breed became well established in Britain, before the Communists took over China. In the 1930s, breeding was taking place in Britain and Norway. In 1935, the Shih Tzu breed club of England was formed, and the breed was officially named, the Shih Tzu. It was not elevated to championship status however, until 1949. About 1952, a breeder in Britain crossed it to the Pekinese. The resulting improvement to the coat and structure was immense, and was universally accepted. In North America, the Shih Tzu has enjoyed enormous success. It was first recognized by the AKC in 1969. It was admitted to the Toy Group. In Canada however, it is in the Non-Sporting Group, and can be a somewhat larger dog (up to 11 inches, 28cm), as specified in the Canadian breed standard, which allows considerable variation.
Height Range:  8-11 in. (20-28 cm) maximums.
Ideal Height:  9-10½ in. (23-27 cm).
Dog Ideal Weight:  9-16 lb. (4-7 kg).
Function:  Companion.
Affection & Playfulness:  Very High
With Other Dogs & Pets:  Very Good.
Other Name:  Chrysanthemum dog, Imperial Shih Tzu.
Watchdog:  Good
Protection:  Not good.
Training:  Stubborn.
Grooming:  Brushing or combing Daily.
Life Expectancy:  11 - 14 years.

Shih Tzu Appearance:

This is a small dog breed, a toy dog. It is slightly longer than it is tall. It has a dense, long flowing double coat, in all colors. It can have variation in size, but must always be compact and solid, possessing weight and substance, soundness and structure. The dog has a distinctive arrogant appearance, with head held high, and tail curved over his back. It walks proudly. It has a happy, outgoing, and affectionate temperament. It is a very friendly dog. It is excellent with young children. It has a strong affinity towards humans. Shih Tzu puppies bond to the whole family, making perfect companions. It should be noted that it is definitely an indoor dog. They should never be left outdoors, nor in a kennel. Exercise and grooming needs are minimal. A daily walk is suffiicient. Regular coat brushing to eliminate tangles is important. It does not do well in hot humid weather, nor in extreme cold. Getting an informative breed book is prudent because it will give proper guidance for raising and training a puppy.


The sole purpose of the Shih Tzu is to be a companion dog, a house pet. It is very important therefore, that it be outgoing, happy, affectionate, friendly and trusting towards all. It satisfies all those conditions and more. It is very playful, full of spunk and in spite of being robust, it is extremely gentle, a vivacious companion. It is very trustworthy and forgiving to rough-housing children. It also makes a very loving and loyal pet for senior folks. It should be noted, that they can be stubborn.

Finding Other Breeders:

Want information on this friendly, toy dog breed, and on dog breeders who have Shih Tzu puppies for sale? See the Shih Tzu breeders section. If there are no nearby breeders with puppies, see the Canadian dog breed club, or Shih Tzu rescue links. See also the US breed club, and rescue links, for advice on the whereabouts of some other breeders.

Shih Tzu Health Issues:

Major concerns are:  It is known to suffer from kidney problems, (familial nephropathy), or renal dysplasia, which is also found in Tibetan Terriers, Tibetan Spaniels, Lhasa Apsos, and English Cocker Spaniels. This is a fatal disease, and is currently being investigated by several American Universities. Another major concern is CHD, (Canine Hip Dysplasia);
Minor concerns are:  Entropion, (the eyelid rolls inward, - eyelashes scratch and cause pain); Trichiasis, (eyelash abnormalities); PRA, (Progressive Retinal Atrophy); KCS, (dry eyes); Otitus externa, (Inflammation of the ear canal); Portalcaval shunt, (a congenital disorder of hepatic blood vessels); Inguinal hernia, (a congenital defect, which usually occurs in two sites, - the groin and navel.); Patellar luxation, (the knee joint slips apart);
Occasionally Seen:  Cataracts, (the same as with humans); and dental problems.