The Shih Tzu is active, alert, independent and lively. Shih Tzu's are not the easiest breed to train and require a patient and consistent handler for a reasonable level of training to be achieved. Shih Tzu's are somewhat obstinate and independent and are not friends with all. They tend to get on well with children and other household pets and always behave with dignity. Shih Tzu's make sociable, affectionate companions that bark very little.
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Shih Tzu's are very demanding with their grooming. Their coat needs to be combed daily to prevent tangles, or some pet owners choose to have the coat clipped if they do not have time for grooming, which also saves the dog a lot of misery. A hairband is essential to keep the hair out of the eyes and it is also important that the eyes are kept clean and eyedrops may be necessary as eyes are a sensitive area for this breed. The ear canals should be checked regularly and kept clean.
The Shih Tzu does not need a great deal of exercise and is satisfied with short walks.
Dogs similar to the Shih Tzu have been traced back to 624 AD from artifacts that have been discovered. The Shih Tzu, Pekingese and Lhasa Apso were all called Little Lion Dogs and it is presumed that they all have the same ancestry. Like the Pekingese, these dogs were very respected in the Chinese Courts. Around 1930, Lady Brownrigg took some of these small dogs back to England, which resulted in this breed gradually becoming established in the Western world.
General Appearance: Short-legged, proud and with a wide-eyed expression.
Color: All colors. A white blaze on the forehead and tail tip are desirable.
Coat: The outer coat is long, dense and straight or slightly wavy. The under coat is soft. There should be a massive topknot with a good beard, whiskers and a well feathered tail and ears.
Tail: Set high, carried over the back and well plumed.
Ears: Large, drooping and blending in with the hair around the neck.
Body: The body is sturdy and is longer than it is tall. The back is level with a deep, broad chest. The shoulders are well-laid back and the legs are short and muscular.
- The hair grows upwards on the bridge of the nose, which gives a distinctive "chrysanthemum" look. This is why Shih Tzu's are sometimes referred to as Chrysanthemum Dogs.