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Shih Tzu Dog Breed… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

Say hello to the prince!

That’s because the Shih Tzu was once a favorite of Chinese royalty thousands of years ago. This little guy today represents a high-maintenance pet to those who have never owned one.  For those who have, on the other hand, these little guys are the best!

Now for those who may be “on the fence” about this particular breed, we should point out that they are favored by the royalty of today’s day and age – Hollywood starlets, pop stars, professional athletes, and other celebs, that is!

This makes sense because…

He makes for a perfect companion dog, but don’t expect him to be much of a guard, watchdog, or working dog. He is not a hunting dog. That’s not his thing. This is a toy breed whose only purpose is to look cute, make people say, “Aww…he is so adorable,” and be utterly spoiled by his owners.

That is why…

He is considered royalty among small breeds, and he knows that. He was once the lap dog of the Chinese Emperor and is still the center of attention wherever he goes. He is not arrogant or aggressive by any means, but he has a way of getting your attention – with his adorable antics and cute looks.

 He is from Tibet…

And often compared to the other famous Tibetan breed, the Lhasa Apso. The Lhasa Apso and the Shih Tzu are so similar that they are often mistaken for one another. But they are not the same, of course!

Perfect apartment dog…

The little Shih Tzu is perfect for life in an apartment or condo in a city. He is fine living in country estates and farms as well. He is, in essence, an intelligent dog who is quick to adapt to any situation or circumstance as long as he gets to live with his human family and be a part of everything they do. The little guy craves human company and hates nothing more than to be ignored or isolated.  All he needs is a loving and caring home, that’s all. Can you give that to him?

You can read the rest of this article to learn more about this beautiful little family pet.

Shih Tzu Dog Breed Fast Facts

Country of Origin: China/Tibet

Original Purpose:  Lapdog, companion animal

Height: 8 to 11 inches

Weight: 9 to 16 pounds

Dog Breed Classification:  Toy Group

Life Span: 10 to 18 years

Origin of the Shih Tzu Dog Breed

The Shih Tzu is a Tibetan breed. He was bred by the Lamas in Tibet. Many ancient Buddhist texts have references to this little dog. He served as a watchdog for the Buddhist monks.

Now back in the day…

The Lamas presented the Shih Tzu as a tribute to the Chinese Emperor. It was in the Chinese court that this little dog got its name. Shih Tzu means Little Lion in Chinese.  He was also called the Chrysanthemum Dog because the hair on his face springs up in all directions, like the petals of a flower.

Incredibly enough…

This dog was almost lost at the end of the Imperial Era in China. The new Communist rulers did not like him and saw the little guy as nothing more than a remnant of the hated Chinese royalty.  Fortunately, the little toy breed from Tibet was saved by a couple, General Douglas and Lady Brownrigg, who took him to England. All they had with them were 14 Shih Tzu dogs. But somehow, the breed survived, and the Shih Tzu Club was formed shortly after.

The Shih Tzu…

They even survived World War II. Nobody had any time for cute little dogs during the World War. But after that, in the 1950s and 1960s, when things were back to normal again, there was a massive demand for cute puppies.

And when it comes to cuteness…

None can match the Tzu puppies! The Shih Tzu became a rage in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The American Kennel Club recognized him in 1969 – a belated honor.

He is today one of the ten most popular dog breeds in the U.S.

Physical Characteristics

The Shih Tzu is a surprisingly strong, active little dog with a thick beard and mustache, round head, short muzzle, pendant-shaped ears, high-set tail, large, round eyes, and a unique “chrysanthemum” face.


He has a thick double coat that can be of any rainbow color –violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, or different combinations of the same. His coat has to be brushed and combed daily to prevent tangling and matting of the hair. It would be best if you bathed him once every week.

Personality and Temperament

A loving and affectionate dog that will follow you around everywhere you go. He forms a strong emotional connection or bond with his owners. He is playful and often mischievous, making you laugh out loud with his antics.

He does have other uses…

The Shih Tzu is always alert and will bark when he spots a stranger at the door. He is not supposed to be a watchdog but can be if he has to. The problem is this is a trusting kind of dog who is never suspicious of anyone or anything. So don’t trust his watchdog skills too much!

He is an intelligent dog…

Who is quick to learn new tricks. He does very well in obedience and agility classes during training. The Shih Tzu is one of the friendliest dogs, so socializing with him is not much of a challenge.  But housebreaking can be an issue; it takes time to get the Shih Tzu puppy to see things your way. Be patient and firm, and the puppy will learn eventually.

Potential Health Problems

The Shih Tzu is a healthy dog breed with a life expectancy of 10 to 18 years. That’s very high in dog years. But like all dog breeds, big or small, even the Tzu is prone to specific health concerns.

This is not to say that every Shih Tzu will get any or all of these ailments or diseases, but you should be aware of them as a dog owner. The Shih Tzu is vulnerable to the following health issues…

Obesity is also a concern with this dog, as he eats more dog food than he needs. Please be sure to watch out for that.


None of these health concerns are life-threatening by any means. But their treatment can be expensive, especially if they become recurring health issues.  As you know, vet bills these days can be pretty high.

Does that worry you?

If you’re worried, that’s okay; understandable. We here at IndulgeYourPet suggest signing up for Pet Insurance for Shih Tzus. This can help cover some or most of the costs related to the treatment.

Please read this article on   Pet Insurance Policies, do your research, and find out how pet insurance for dogs such as Shih Tzu works and what it covers or doesn’t cover.

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