The origin of the Shih-Tzu is obscure. The Shih-Tzu originated in
Tibet where it was kept in temples as a sacred dog. It is known that
they were occasionally given to the Emperors of China during the
Manchu dynasty (17th century) as a tribute of great honor and that is
how they came to be established in China.
In that country, the dogs became little temple dogs and were kept in
the palace and carefully guarded and cared for by the court eunuchs.
When the Peking Kennel Club was formed in 1934 there was much
confusion as to the difference between certain small breeds. In 1938
an individual standard was set for the Shih-Tzu and it was recognized
as a separate breed from certain other Tibetan breeds.
With the war and the takeover of Peking in 1949 there were no more
exported from China. In 1952 there was a strong fear that the breed
was developing poor structure and it was decided to cross a Pekingese
into the line in England. The purpose was to obtain a less leggy dog
with a better coat and shorter muzzle. This was accomplished, however
the bowed front legs of the Pekingese are something that still can be
seen on some Shih-Tzu today.
There was also a faction in England called the Manchu Club that
believed a smaller dog better represented the ture heritage of the
temple dogs. The Kennel Club recognized this in their 1938 standard by
stating the ideal weight was between 9 to 16 pounds which is what the
current standard recognizes.
In the United States, fanciers obtained the first Shih-Tzus in the
late 1930s. The breed gained in popularity in 1960, with many imports
coming from England and Europe. The breed was shown in the
Miscellaneous class at AKC dog shows. It was not until 1969 that the
Shih-Tzu were permitted to be shown as a separate breed in the Toy
Group. In 1969, 2,811 Shih-Tzu were registered which increased to
14,894 in 1978. Within that nine year period over 85,000 Shih-Tzu were
registered with the American Kennel Club, placing the Shih-Tzu in the
top 25 most popular breeds according to the AKC. It is no surprise
that the temple dog had come into the homes of many owners -- this is
due not only their Imperial background but also to their personality.
PERSONALITY AND TEMPERAMENT
One of the strongest characteristics of the Shih-Tzu is its
personality. The Shih-Tzu is a friendly, nonaggressive dog that is a
good companion for children and other breeds of dogs. Shih-Tzus are
known for their fun-loving play, romping around the apartment or in
the country side.
The Shih-Tzu is a people oriented dog, they cherish no more than the
love of people. They will sit patiently, remaining still with their
eyes gazing intently on your face waiting for you to call them over to
be patted. The Shih-Tzu is not a one person dog. Shih-Tzus are happy
to entertain any stranger, once accepted by the family. This is one
reason that they are becoming popular. They make friends where ever
The Shih-Tzu has a lap dog personality. It is not high strung nor
demanding. The pet Shih-Tzu is content during the day to lie in a
corner with his legs stretched out behind him, snoring softly. If he
has a choice he would prefer to be curled up in your lap.
The size of the Shih-Tzu is between 9 to 16 pounds. Both my Buddah and Josie are 15 pounds. They are great watch dogs, and very alert. I have heard that in the city, they become easily accustomed to noises and apartment living. However I can not vouch for that.
The coat is one of the characteristics that exemplifies the truly
regal nature of the Shih-Tzu. The coat comes in a
wide range of colors: from total black, to black & white, gray &
white, red & white or pure gold. A white blaze on the forehead and a
white tip on the tail are highly prized. The coat is not straight as
in a Yorkshire Terrier, a slight wave is normal with a curl not
appropriate. The coat has an under layer and when the dog is full
grown this undercoat helps give an overall graceful appearance to the
coat as it falls naturally to the ground. The coat however does
require care and attention. Daily grooming is necessary, otherwise the
coat can become matted and tangled which will require cutting the
coat. As a puppy little work is needed except to get the dog used to
lying still on a table or your lap for a couple of minutes to get
brushed. If one cuts the coat down, this takes away the elegant
aspects of the breed. Since I don't show Buddah and Josie, I give them regular hair cuts, it makes them feel comfortable and it helps them see better.
There is a great selection of shampoos, conditioners and grooming
equipment available. I started out giving Buddah and Josie a bath in the tub, but later I decided to bathe them in the kitchen sink. It was easier on my back, and they felt a lot more secure. Leave the head for last, and make sure you have their towel handy, because the first thing they like to do is 'shake shake shake' themselves off and get rid of all the water that they can.
A few minutes of cuddling in a towel reassures
them and soaks up the excess water. My Josie normally expects a snack after her bath and blow dry. My Buddah loves to be 'blow dried' and once his treatment is over, he just runs wild up and down the living room.
I normally use a hand dryer, low heat is normally all that is necessary. If they shiver,
it is usually due to nerves rather than from being cold.
Avoid blowing the warm air directly into their face. Use a
toothbrush to clean the whiskers and ears--- Ears should be cleaned with a cotton swab dipped in
mineral oil or panolog. To aviod accidental injury to the eardrums,
fluff the cotton out from around the end of the swab with fingertips.
Wipe the ear clean and dry with another swab, being careful not to
probe too deeply into the ear.
A Shih-Tzu's eyes are large and vulnerable and prone to ulceration.
Special attention should be given to them daily. Living close to the
ground.it is easy for dust or dirt or a stray hair to get into the eye
and cause irritation. Use human eye wash daily, such as collyrium.
This is a gentle eye wash, remove any matter from eye corners. A flea
comb may be used to remove any dried food in the beard or moustache. I bought a pair of nail scissors and find it easier to cut the hair near their eyes with it. I keep Josie and Buddah's hair short, since I don't enter them in dog contests, and I think they feel more comfortable about it too.
A QUICK SUMMARY
Description: The name "Shih Tzu" means lion dog in Chinese and he received the name because of his long, flowing mane-like coat. The Shih Tzu is a sturdy, lively, toy dog with long flowing double coat. He has a distinctively arrogant carriage with head well up and tail curved over the back. He may display an arrogant personality, but is actually playful and gentle. He adapts well to any family situation and will enjoy a cuddle in your lap, doing tricks, or fetching a tennis ball.
Other Names: Chrysanthemum Dog
Height: 8 - 11 inches
Weight: 8 - 20 lbs.
Colors: Black, tan, white, brown black and tan.
Coat: Long, dense, not curly with a good undercoat
Temperament: Gentle, loyal, proud
With Children: They love children.
With Pets: They get along well with other animals.
Special Skills: Family pet
Watch-dog: Very High
Guard-dog: Very Low
Care and Exercise: Daily grooming is essential. I bath mine ever other day. Clipping of matting on feet. Basic training when puppy is young. Minimal exercise is needed, but he will love to play outdoors.
Training: May be obstinate but patience and consistency will help over come the problem and achieve a reasonable level of training.
Learning Rate: High, Obedience - Medium, Problem Solving - Low
Activity: Indoors - High, Outdoors - loves the outdoors
Living Environment: Apartment is adequate provided he receives some type of exercise. An owner of a Shih Tzu should be a dedicated dog lover, and someone who loves to groom their pets. The Shit Tsu is like a baby and behaves like one too.
Health Issues: Kidney disorder, otherwise no major health problems.
Life Span: 10 - 14 Years
Litter Size: 2 - 5
Country of Origin: Tibet
History: May have originated from a cross between the Tibetan Mountain Dog and the Pekingese. He was a favored dog of the Emperor and is portrayed in Chinese paintings. He was first imported to England in the 1930's. Then after World War II he made his way to the United States by military officers going home. It wasn't until 1969 that the American Kennell Club recognized the breed.
Buddah was born on the 8th.Dec. 2000 The same day as 1542 Mary Queen of Scots
1925 Sammy Davis Jr. (actor, singer, entertainer)
1930 Maxillian Schell (actor)
1936 David Carradine (actor)
1943 Jim Morrison (singer)
1953 Kim Basinger (actress)
1964 Teri Hatcher (actress)
1966 Sinead O'Connor (singer)