Shih Tzu are covered in flowing long hair, including a tuft above the nose which provides its trademark “chrysanthemum” (i.e., floral) face. On a typical Shih Tzu, the rounded head has a long beard and moustache, a short muzzle and a black nose (except in reddish brown dogs which have a reddish-brown nose). Most Shih Tzu have round, dark, wide-set eyes with pendant (hanging) ears that are engulfed in hair. The frame is longer than tall, and the tail curls over the back. Shih Tzu can come in almost any color.
Shih Tzu are lively and energetic companions. Yet, they are also amazingly low-key and satisfied—assuming they get an adequate amount of attention. They like nothing better than to be held, stroked, petted and pampered by their owners, and are perfectly happy sitting on the couch with you for hours while you dote on them. This is a noble breed—sometimes translating into arrogance and haughtiness, other times into courageousness and politeness—but they are never too proud for a roll on the floor with a treasured squeaky toy.
A good family dog and highly interactive, Shih Tzu usually adapt well to adults and children alike. Not especially suspicious of strangers, they still make an alert and consistent watchdog, barking heartily when people approach the house.
As you can see by looking at one, Shih Tzus require more care than other breeds, especially when the hair is kept long. They need daily brushing and regular haircuts to avoid tangles. However, they shed very little dander, making them a great pet choice for people with allergies.
Though good family dogs, Shih Tzu are not especially good with very young children. They cannot be handled roughly or awkwardly and tend to get snappish when their patience wears thin.
Feeding note: Keep an eye on Shih Tzu while they are drinking. Because their noses are so centrally located, water can easily block their breathing.
A healthy Shih Tzu can live as long as 15 years. Common health issues include hip dysplasia, ear and kidney infections, and eye problems. Check their ears and eyes regularly for cleanliness. (You can even find special eye drops for them).
They are great apartment dwellers, but not happy in hot climates. And while they don’t require as much exercise as a Lab, a daily walk is necessary.
The Shih Tzu is undoubtedly one of the world’s oldest dog breeds. Chinese paintings from the 6th century A.D. show Shi Tzu-like dogs, while documents from the period claim these pets were a gift to the Chinese court from the Byzantine Empire. Shih Tzu were house pets during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 A.D.) and since that time they’ve been highly prized and fiercely guarded by the Chinese. In 1908, they made their way to England, where they were bred and dispersed to Europe and Australia. The AKC certified the breed in 1969, and it has been a popular competitor and pal ever since.