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About this dog

Welcome to the Shih Tzu dog microsite. This page contains detailed information on the breed. From this point you can use the above tabs to navigate to the other Shih Tzu pages.

- Kitt Killion

Shih Tzu Breed Information

Alternative names - Chinese Lion Dog, Chrysanthemum Dog

Country of origin - China

Classification and breed standards

FCI:|Group 9 Section 5 #208|Stds
ANKC:|Group 7 - Non-Sporting|Stds
CKC:|Group 6 - Non-Sporting|Stds
KC (UK):|Utility|Stds
UKC:|Companion Breeds|Stds

The Shih Tzu in English pronounced "shee tsoo", is a dog breed which originated in China. The name is both singular and plural. The spelling "Shih Tzu", most commonly used for the breed, is according to the Wade-Giles system of romanization. The Shih Tzu is reported to be the oldest and smallest of the Tibetan holy dogs,its vaguely lion-like look being associated with the Snowlion. It is also often known as the "Xi Shi quan", based on the name of Xi Shi, regarded as the most beautiful woman of ancient China.

1. Quick Facts

Shih Tzu Quick Facts

Weight: | 9-16 pounds (4-7kg.) |
Height: | Up to 11 inches (28cm.) |
Coat: | Abundant double coat of long hair lined with a woolly undercoat
Activity level: | Fairly active
Learning rate: | Average
Temperament: | Alert, spunky, happy, hardy, dignified, courageous, sometimes arrogant, gentle, loyal, obstinate, stubborn, clever, playful, lively, affectionate
Guard dog ability: | Very low
Watch-dog ability: | Very high
Litter size: | ?
Life span: | ~15 years

2. History

It is believed that this ornamental breed was created by breeding the Bei-jing gou (Pekingese) with a Tibetan dog breed, the Lhasa Apso. Recent DNA analysis confirms that this is one of the oldest breeds of dog. The Shih Tzu is also known as the Chinese/Tibetan Lion Dog or the Chrysanthemum Dog. It is called the chrysanthemum dog because its face looks very much like the flower.

Professor Ludvic von Schulmuth studied canine origins by studying the skeletal remains of dogs found in human settlements as long as ten thousand years ago. The Professor created a genealogical tree of Tibetan dogs that shows the "Gobi Desert Kitchen Midden Dog", a scavenger, evolved into the "Small Soft-Coated Drop-Eared Hunting Dog". From this dog evolved the Tibetan Spaniel, Pekingese, and Japanese Chin. Another branch coming down from the "Kitchen Midden Dog" gave rise to the Papillon and Long-haired Chihuahua and yet another "Kitchen Midden Dog" branch to the Pug and Shih Tzu.

James E. Mumford described the breed in an American Shih Tzu magazine, giving a picture of the versatile character of the Shih Tzu: "Nobody knows how the Ancient Eunuchs managed to mix together…And now here comes the recipe: A dash of lion, several teaspoons of rabbit, a couple of ounces of domestic cat, one part court jester, a dash of ballerina, a pinch of old man (Chinese), a bit of beggar, a tablespoon of monkey, one part baby seal, a dash of teddy bear and the rest dogs of Tibetan and Chinese origin."

3. Appearance

The Shih Tzu is characterized by its long, flowing double coat; sturdy build; intelligence; and a friendly, energetic, lively attitude. In breeding all coat colors are allowed. The Shih Tzu's fur can be styled either in a short summer cut, or kept long as is compulsory for conformation shows.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) Shih Tzu breed standard calls for the dog to have a short snout, large eyes, and a palm-like tail that waves above its torso. The ideal Shih Tzu's height at 9 to 10 1/2 inches. The dog should stand no less than 8 inches and not more than 11 inches tall. The Shih Tzu should never be so high stationed as to appear leggy, nor so low stationed as to appear dumpy or squatty. Regardless of size or gender, the Shih Tzu should always be solid and compact, and carry good weight and substance for its size range.

4. Breed variations

The American Kennel Club (AKC) and the American Shih Tzu Club (ASTC) defines the Shih Tzu as a dog that weighs between 9 to 16 pounds as the official breed standard. Descriptions like "imperial", "teacup", "tiny teacup" are used, but dogs that fit such descriptions are often an undersized or underdeveloped Shih Tzu. Both the AKC and ASTC consider these variances to not be in conformity with the official breed standard. These tiny variances are also not what was defined as a standard by the professional circuit.

5. Temperature

Shih Tzu are considered to be brachycephalic (snub-nosed) dogs. As such, they are very sensitive to high temperatures. This is why many airlines that ship dogs will not accept them for shipment when temperatures at any point on the planned itinerary exceeds 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24°C) .

6. Life span and health issues

The life span of a Shih Tzu is 11-14 years , although some variation from this range is possible. Some health issues common among the breed are portosystemic liver shunt, renal dysplasia, and hip dysplasia in Standard sizes. In addition, they also can suffer from various eye problems. Shih Tzus (and many other breeds) may present signs of allergies to red dye #40, and owners should respond to scratching in the absence of fleas by eliminating pet foods that contain this commonly used additive.

7. Care

The Shih Tzu can require more care than some other breeds if the hair is kept at show length; they will need daily brushing to avoid tangles. A short haircut, also known as a pet trim or puppy cut, can make this a task taking place every month or so as needed instead of daily. They will also need regular haircuts. The upside is that they will generally shed very little. Since the breed is obviously adapted to a cool climate, letting the coat grow out somewhat for the colder seasons is appropriate, but there is still a substantial difference from a floor-length show coat and a warmer winter coat.

Because Shih Tzu noses are small and flat, eating contributes to an unclean face. Once finished eating, wiping their face with a damp paper towel cleans them right up. This is another area where the haircut matters: a proper show cut will get more messy (often even requiring the hair to be rubber-banded together for eating efficiently) than other ways of cutting the facial hair.

When they are drinking, it is sometimes necessary to keep on eye on them, for water can enter their face-level noses more easily and inhibit breathing. This is why many shih tzu are trained to drink from a licker like a hamster or gerbil. The area around the eyes should be checked each day for mucus buildup and cleaned when needed. Providing the Shih Tzu with bottled water (or water that does not contain chlorine) helps to keep eye mucus to a minimum. Additionally, their claws will need to be clipped every month or so.

8. Mixed breeds

Shih Tzus are sometimes cross-bred with other toy dogs. One of the more commonly known mixed breeds of Shih Tzus are the Shih Poo . The Shih Poo is a cross breed of a Shih Tzu and a toy Poodle. The "Zuchon" or "Shichon" is a mix between a Shih Tzu and a Bichon Frisé. They may also be crossed with Maltese dogs. There are many other mixed breeds that include the Shih Tzu.

Copyright (c) 2008 Kitt Killion Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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