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Shih Tzus - Everything You Need to Know

7 min read
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Origin of Shih tzus

The exact origin of Shih Tzus is shrouded in mystery and legend, but it is believed that the breed was developed by crossing various small breeds of dogs, including the Lhasa Apso and Pekingese. These dogs were then bred to produce the unique characteristics of the Shih Tzu breed that we know today.

legend shih tzu

Shih Tzus are royal dogs with a long and fascinating history, backed by many stories and legends surrounding their name. Chinese nobility highly valued the breed, with some even considering them sacred. While many people associate the breed with Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi, who ruled in China from 1861 to 1908, tapestries dating back 2000 years depict the Shih Tzu as one of the statues. Thus, during the Ming and Manchu Dynasties, the Shih Tzu was exclusively owned by the royal court and was raised by palace eunuchs. The dogs were rarely seen outside the palaces, and owning one could result in a death sentence!

Interestingly, these thickly coated dogs were also used in unique ways. They were carried inside the robes of noble women and even used as bed warmers, placed at the feet of emperors and empresses to generate heat. Despite their high status and exclusive ownership, the Shih Tzu's playful and affectionate temperament made them beloved companions of the royal court.

Shih Tzu's rich history is a testament to its beauty, loyalty, and unique personality. From their temple origins to their exclusive ownership by the Chinese royal court, these dogs have captured the hearts of people for centuries and continue to be beloved companions even today with their charming personalities, adorable appearance, and loyal companionship. Whether you're looking for a lap dog to cuddle up with on the couch or a faithful companion to share your adventures with, a Shih Tzu may be just the dog for you.

Physical Characteristics

Shih Tzus are small dogs, typically weighing between 4 and 6 kgs and standing around 9-10 inches tall at the shoulder. They have a distinctive round head with a short muzzle, large and dark eyes, and floppy ears. Shih Tzus have long, silky hair that comes in a variety of colors, including white, black, gray, gold, and brown.

Behaviors and Temperament

shih tzu information

Shih Tzus are known for their affectionate and playful personalities. They love spending time with human beings. They thrive on attention and love to be included in family activities. They are often described as playful and energetic but also have a calm and relaxed demeanour when they are not playing. They adapt to different living situations quickly and can be comfortable in small apartments or even larger homes with backyards.


When it comes to training, Shih Tzus can be stubborn and willful, which can make training them a challenge. Positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and playtime can be effective in motivating them to learn. It's important to be patient and consistent with training and to start at a young age. Shih Tzus can also benefit from obedience classes and socialization with other dogs and people.

One potential issue with Shih Tzus is their tendency to bark excessively. This behavior can be managed with training and socialization, but it's important to keep in mind that it may be difficult to completely eliminate, and professional help from a behaviorist might be required. Additionally, Shih Tzus can be prone to weight gain, so it's important to monitor their diet and provide regular exercise. It would also be ideal to consult a pet nutritionist to ensure that your baby is getting the best-customized meal plan that would ensure their good health and good mood.

With the right training and care, Shih Tzus can be loving and loyal pets that bring joy and companionship to their owners, and this ensures them the position of the favorite child of the family (Well, Shih Tzus are technically royal🤷).

Grooming Needs

shih tzu close up

One of the most striking features of Shih Tzus is their long, flowing coat. While beautiful, this coat requires a lot of maintenance to keep it looking healthy and clean. Shih Tzus should be brushed daily to prevent tangles and mats, and they should be bathed regularly (once every 15-20 days) to keep their coat soft and shiny. In addition, their ears should be cleaned regularly to prevent infections, and their nails should be trimmed regularly to prevent overgrowth. It is recommended to get the ears and sanitary area cleaned professionally atleast once a month.

It is also important to note that the fur of Shih Tzu keeps growing, but they hardly shed, causing most individuals to view them as hypoallergenic. The hairs usually stick to their coat instead of floating in the air, so there will still be some present around the dog. Thus, it is recommended you spend time with a Shih Tzu before adopting one if you are prone to allergies. If you’re a new pet parent and are unsure of how to go about this very crucial grooming process, reach out to us! Our expert groomers will make your Shih Tzus feel like the monarchs they are while giving you an idea of how to go about the grooming process! 🐶✂

Healthcare Needs

Shih Tzus are generally healthy dogs, but they can be prone to certain health issues, including eye problems, ear infections, and respiratory issues. It's important to take your Shih Tzu to the vet regularly for check-ups and to stay up-to-date on vaccinations and preventative care 💉

Preventive Measures

  • Shih Tzus’ eyes are more susceptible to injury and infection, and they can develop issues such as dry eye, corneal ulcers, and cataracts. It's important to keep the area around their eyes clean and free of debris to prevent these issues from occurring. Additionally, regular eye exams with a veterinarian can help catch any potential problems early on.

  • Another potential health risk for Shih Tzus is ear infections. Their floppy ears can trap moisture and bacteria, leading to infections. It's important to clean their ears regularly and keep them dry to prevent these infections from occurring. Signs of an ear infection may include scratching at the ears, redness or swelling, and discharge.

  • Shih Tzus can also be prone to respiratory issues due to their flat faces and short snouts. This condition is known as brachycephalic syndrome and can cause breathing difficulties, especially in hot or humid weather. Thus, it becomes crucial to keep your Shih Tzu cool and comfortable and to avoid exercising them in extreme temperatures.

  • Finally, to ensure your Shih Tzu stays healthy, it's important to provide them with a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and plenty of mental stimulation. Additionally, regular dental care, including brushing their teeth and providing them with dental chews, can help prevent dental problems.

In conclusion, Shih Tzus are wonderful dogs that make great companions for families and individuals alike, but can be prone to behavioral issues if not trained and socialized from a young age. They have a rich history, a unique appearance, and a loving personality that make them one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. If you're considering adding a Shih Tzu to your family, make sure to cross-check all of these criteria, so you provide your new pet with the love, attention, and care that these royal babies deserve!