Shih Tzu is a gullible fluffy, “charged” for disinterested love for any two-legged creature. Favorite of the Chinese emperors and nobles, the Shih Tzu remained a living exclusive for a long time, inaccessible to a mere mortal. And only the XX century, rich in changes and conflicts, was able to bring the breed out of the shadows, turning its representatives into adorable pets, combining a non-trivial appearance with excellent companion qualities.
- Breed name: Shih Tzu
- Country of origin: Tibet
- Time of origin of the breed: XVI century
- Weight: 4-7 kg
- Height (height at the withers): up to 27 cm
- Life span: 12-14 Years
- The Shih Tzu is one of the oldest breeds. Recent studies have shown that “chrysanthemum dogs” are much closer to their wild ancestor – the wolf than, for example, Mastiffs and Shepherds.
- Adult animals have a restrained character and stable psyche. They are not cowardly or stressed.
- Shih Tzu love walks in the fresh air, but if walking is postponed for some reason, they will easily survive it.
- A dog’s long coat requires frequent bathing and daily brushing, which can be an additional burden for busy owners.
- Shih Tzu does not dislike strangers, so these pets are not the best watchmen.
- After settling a Shih Tzu in your house, prepare to maintain a constant temperature regime in the room, since dogs suffer equally from heat and cold.
- Because of the bright image, in which a spectacular “fur coat” plays an important role, Shih Tzu is often ranked among decorative pets. In fact, these fluffy, beautiful pets belong to a group of companion dogs willing to follow their master wherever possible.
- It is believed that Shih Tzu does not fuss over trifles, but they cannot be called completely mute. Dogs are capable of barking quite loudly, and if this skill is not curbed, the animal will often demonstrate its “vocal abilities”.
- The presence of a person in a dog’s house is not a whim, but an urgent need. The fear of loneliness turns the Shih Tzu into a depressed, dull, and extremely nervous creature.
History of the Shih Tzu Breed
The official homeland of the breed in China. According to one version, Tibetan monks were the first to breed long-haired dogs. However, stubborn hermits did not want to sell their pets to anyone, which is why the ancestors of modern Shih Tzu could not get into the interior of the continent and settled in the Celestial Empire. According to ancient manuscripts, the first shaggy puppy was presented to the Chinese emperor by the Dalai Lama himself in 1653.
In China, unusual dogs were immediately raised into a cult, having glued them the label of court pets. The imperial family was declared the owner of all rights to animals, which brought the Shih Tzu a lot of privileges but made them hermits. It became unrealistic to see these fuzzies anywhere except the chambers of the Chinese ruler since unauthorized sale and theft of “royal property” were punishable by death.
After the Communist Party came to power, the attitude towards the breed changed dramatically. Supporters of the new regime took decorative dogs as part of the hated monarchist past and began to mercilessly exterminate them. This arrangement turned out to be in the hands of European breeders, who had long dreamed of getting to know the mysterious imperial favorites better.
Taking advantage of the confusion that reigned in the Middle Kingdom, shaken by conflicts, the Europeans began to take the Shih Tzu out of it. The first “lion cubs” were taken out in the period from 1930 to 1932 to England and Norway. About a dozen more animals left China between 1932 and 1959. As for the breeders of the New World, the dogs came to them only after the Second World War, as war trophies.
Chinese fuzzies began to gain popularity among breeding specialists and ordinary people already in the 30s of the XX century. So, for example, in 1933 the first Shih Tzu club was opened in Great Britain. In America, a similar organization began its work in 1959. In 1948, a standard of appearance was developed and approved for “chrysanthemum dogs”, and in 1969 the favorites of Chinese nobles received the status of an independent breed.
From the Chinese, the word “Shih-Tzu” is translated as “lion cub”. The breed owes this name to an ancient legend about a tiny ha-pa dog who accompanied the Buddha on his travels. In case of danger, a brave animal turned into a lion and stood up to protect the spiritual teacher.
A few pounds of pure charm – this is how you can describe the appearance of these glamorous hairy pets. The growth of the average Shih Tzu reaches 27 cm at the withers, and its weight fluctuates between 4.5 and 8.5 kg, therefore, when trying to embrace a dog, be prepared for the fact that an airy, at first glance, creation will in fact not be such a light burden.
Upon a quick examination, the “lion cub” can be easily confused with another famous “Tibetan” – Lhasa Apso, who has the same strong constitution but is distinguished by more impressive dimensions. Some scientists put forward versions about the relationship of both breeds, but since it is not possible to track the process of their development over the years, conjectures remain guesses.
Coat and Color
The Shih Tzu has a double coat, consisting of a long topcoat and a soft undercoat. Ideally, the topcoat should be straight, but wavy varieties are not considered a serious defect either. The head of the Shih Tzu is decorated with a long thick “head of hair”, and on its muzzle “mustache” and “beard” stand out. Despite the decent length, the coat does not interfere with the animal’s organs of vision, so they see no worse than other dogs.
The standard allows for a variety of Shih Tzu colors, but the following varieties remain the most common: black, white-blue, golden-white, brindle, black and white, brown, red and white-red in a mask, ash, cream, black and tan, and blue … For individuals with a spotted “coat”, it is highly desirable to have white markings on the forehead and on the tip of the tail.
Shih Tzu is a friendly, funny, and very sociable pet. A dog living in a family is not looking for an idol in the person of one of its members, trying to distribute its own affection equally among all household members. As for children, these cunning Chinese “lion cubs” will find an approach to them. Philosophically looking at children’s leprosy Shih Tzu help their strong nerves. True, the dogs will not tolerate violence and outright bullying from the younger generation. So if your little one makes it a rule to pull the pet by the tail, get ready for bitten fingers.
Shih Tzu puppies are miniature in size and require careful treatment. Before leaving the dog in the care of a child, give instructions on the rules of conduct. Warn children about the possible consequences of careless handling of the animal and explain to them how to properly take the baby without squeezing his belly.
Shih Tzu is often called dogs for retirees, which, in general, is not far from the truth. They are moderately playful, but not hyperactive and happily lie on a soft sofa if there is no way to go for a walk. Dogs consider the owner’s knees to be a fairly comfortable place for themselves. A well-fed and pacified Shih Tzu can sit for hours on this impromptu “podium”, thinking about something of his own.
Another surprising in all respects character trait of “chrysanthemum dogs” is gullibility. Shih Tzu easily makes contact even with unfamiliar people, seeing in each person a potential friend. At first glance, this behavior is touching. But we have to admit that a watchdog from a dog, whose vigilance is easy to lull with one gentle word, is really none. So, leaving the house and leaving it under the protection of the Shih Tzu, you can hardly count on the safety of your own property.
Do not think that the whole world for an animal is in its owner. Of course, in relation to a person, fluffy babies feel strong affection, but they do not forget about themselves. Dogs are quite peaceful towards other pets, and conflicts over spheres of influence are considered useless. But they may well be jealous of their own owner of a Shih Tzu pet that has recently appeared in the house.
A Shih Tzu can adore his own master to the point of mania, but this will not prevent him from demonstrating his obstinate disposition during training. The “pets of Buddha” do not really like to study, they rather do not see this as an urgent need. Mastering the given material and learning a dozen commands for Shih Tzu is not a problem. The challenge is getting the dog interested in the activity.
The only possible training option for this breed is a game. Attracted by the new type of activity and the insinuating tone of the owner, the pet is able to perform a couple of exercises, especially if a tasty treat looms somewhere on the horizon. It is worth being prepared for the fact that a bored “lion cub” will interrupt training at the most interesting place and go on more important matters. There is no point in trying to get the dog back and keep it. Take time out and wait until the animal is in the mood for further study.
It is necessary to educate the Shih Tzu, like all dogs, from the first days of appearance in the house. The puppy must recognize the authority of the owner, obey the feeding regime, and know its place. Representatives of this breed experience certain difficulties with the toilet. To teach a Shih Tzu to use a tray or at least a diaper will take a lot of effort. However, you should not give up what you started halfway through: “chrysanthemum dogs” are far from stupid, they just need a little more time to overcome their own willfulness.
Conditions of Detention
Shih Tzu does not suffer from being imprisoned in four walls: the owner would be nearby and food would appear in a bowl on time. As for the conditions of detention, there is little work to be done here. Due to the peculiarities of the structure of the skull (the same brachycephaly), these adorable furry friends are very sensitive to temperature. Hot weather for Shih Tzu is no less destructive than cold and drafts. Accordingly, it is necessary to place the pet’s bed away from open doors, heating radiators, and air conditioners.
Shih Tzu would like to walk with you to the nearest supermarket or park, but only if the weather is good. In the cold and slush, the pet will sit at home with great pleasure, surrounded by favorite toys. If for some reason the promenade had to be missed, the dog will not be offended and will find something to do with himself. It is allowed to take Shih Tzu puppies outside from 8 months of age. Walking is usually done after sleeping and eating so that the dog can go to the toilet outside the house. And remember: representatives of this breed are walked exclusively on a leash.
If a Shih Tzu lives in your house, you can be sure that you know exactly what to do in your free time. First of all, the coat of the dog requires increased attention, which in the representatives of this breed has a tendency to dump. The Shih Tzu must be combed daily. If you miss a day or two, a disaster, of course, will not happen, but the outer glass of your “chrysanthemum” will fade slightly. It is better to wrap the clean combed hair of the future participant of exhibitions on papillotes: this way it will get less dirty and tangled. Be sure to buy hair oil and apply it to clean strands, then roll them into flagella.
Brush the Shih Tzu hair in the direction of hair growth, starting from the hind legs. The tangled areas are taken apart by hand, and strong tangles are cut out. It is best to use a bristle massage brush or metal comb. For half-year-olds, the hair on the head is collected in a ponytail and fixed with a hairpin or elastic band. After the Shih Tzu has eaten, its “mustache” and “beard” must be wiped with a clean cloth, as food particles often get stuck in them.
They wash “Buddha’s companions” a couple of times a month. To do this, the shampoo is diluted with water and the resulting substance is applied to the wool. Balm for easier combing is also used diluted. After the hair is washed, it is blotted with a towel and dried with a hairdryer.
Every day, it is necessary to inspect the eyes of the animal and take the fur framing the eyelids to the sides. In the presence of inflammation, the eyelids and eyes are washed with a solution of boric acid. The same boric acid, but already in powder, will help remove the lacrimal grooves on the fur under the lower eyelids. If a pet constantly squints or rubs its eyes, this is a reason to be wary, and the appearance of a white dot on the pupil and clouding of the eyeball signal that it is time to take the dog to the veterinary clinic.
Shih Tzu ear care is standard: examination + cleaning. If hairs have grown too much in the ear funnel, they can be partially removed to allow air to circulate more freely. The paws of the animal will also require their portion of attention. Long hairs on them should be trimmed, and the pads themselves should be lubricated with a nourishing cream when cracks appear. It’s great if the pet got to the pedantic owner who will brush his teeth every day and for their health. In cases where the owner does not have time for regular cleaning, you can try to get by with crackers, seeds, or tomato juice, which are considered good prevention of tartar.
Shih Tzu Haircut
If your pet is not claiming championship titles or you just don’t feel like messing with daily brushing, the Shih Tzu can be trimmed like a puppy or teddy bear. The hair of sheared individuals does not fall off so actively, in addition, the skin under it breathes and the animal does not suffer from overheating (especially important in the summer). You will still have to comb the Shih Tzu after that, but now this procedure will take less time.
For show individuals, there is a separate type of haircut – show. The hair of such animals is shortened slightly, and the hair on the head is braided into a pigtail or knot. Quite a popular type of haircut – “glamor Shih Tzu”. This option is chosen to draw attention to the animal. Glamor-trimmed dogs are the pets of celebrities, Instagram bloggers, and other publicity lovers. Usually, this haircut is accompanied by the use of bright accessories and stylish dog outfits, giving the Shih Tzu the look of an expensive toy.
Shih Tzu with the same pleasure absorbs both natural food and “dry”, so each owner decides on the type of feeding independently. The diet of an animal that is treated with “natural” should consist of 20% animal protein (meat, offal). For example, it is useful for a dog to give soups with meat broth, meat and vegetable stews, and also add cold cuts to cereals. Fillets of ocean fish, dairy products, vegetables, cereals should also be present on the Shih Tzu “table”. Speaking of fish: it can be given raw or boiled in combination with vegetables and a spoonful of vegetable oil.
Of the additives designed to “complete” the dog’s diet with vitamins and minerals, it is worth mentioning meat and bone meal, ground eggshells, kelp, and fish oil (preferably from salmon). Puppies under 3 months of age should receive milk porridge, chicken broth, and butter-flavored fruit and vegetable salads daily.
- potatoes and any types of legumes;
- pearl barley;
- River fish;
- raw liver;
- spicy, spicy, and smoked dishes.
From 4 to 6 months, the Shih Tzu has a change of teeth, so during this period of time, it is better to exclude solid food from his diet.
Shih Tzu, despite not being the most outstanding build, enjoys the reputation of a strong pet. Only heart disease, congenital subluxation of the knee joint, and nephropathy can spoil the dog’s health.
Ailments that can also occur in Shih Tzu:
- urolithiasis disease;
- ear infections;
- heart diseases.
How to Choose a Puppy
The main difficulty in choosing and buying a Shih Tzu puppy is the over-publicity of the breed. In recent decades, all and sundry have been engaged in raising “chrysanthemum dogs”, so the market is full of mentally unbalanced animals with a defective exterior. Usually, potential breeders sell their wards very cheaply, which makes most buyers buy a puppy. However, if your dream is a real thoroughbred Shih Tzu, it is better to close the topic of cheap puppies from unknown “breeders” for yourself.
The optimal age for selling animals is 2.5 months. At this point, the breeder is obliged to give the pet the necessary vaccinations and enter information about them in the veterinary passport. It is better to buy future exhibitors (show class) when they have a change of milk teeth, that is, approximately at 6 months of age. In addition, in half-year-old individuals, their exhibition potential is clearly visible – the quality of wool, anatomical features.
Reasons to refuse to buy a Shih Tzu puppy:
- swollen belly of the baby;
- inappropriate behavior (gloom, timidity);
- the puppy draws its tail, hiding it between the legs;
- the haggard appearance of both the baby and his parents.
An obligatory item in the epic entitled “Choosing the Right Shih Tzu” is to check the living conditions of the puppies. Dirty and cramped kennels are unlikely to offer you a healthy animal. It will not be superfluous to ask the breeder how adequately his wards perceive hygiene procedures. In self-respecting nurseries, babies are taught to bathe and comb from an early age. These animals are not afraid of water and do not throw tantrums during a visit to the groomer.