A Tibetan toy breed, the Shih Tzu was created to be a furry friend. Although this breed has been there since the fifteenth century, the American Kennel Club did not officially acknowledge the dogs until 1969. According to the Shih Tzu Club, these tiny “lion dogs,” as their name implies, were connected to Buddhism. Since there were no natural lions in Tibet, the spiritual leaders trained their dogs to resemble lions. These dogs were developed by imperial rulers to use their harsh barks to warn people of approaching strangers.
As people in China started mixing them with Western breeds like Pugs and Pekingese, this breed eventually stopped being used as working dogs and became more of a companion animal. England received the first Shih Tzu breeding pair export the year 1930, and during the ensuing decades, the breed arrived in the United States. The upper class adopted Shih Tzus rapidly, and they are still among the most well-liked dog breeds in the country.
The Shih Tzu breed is gregarious and energetic. They are robust canines that range in weight from 9 to 16 pounds and have an average height of 10 inches. Their features include short, floppy ears, a compressed nose, a noticeable underbite, and long, smooth haircoats. They have round heads and eyes that are bulbous and expressive.
Caring for a Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu make cheerful, active pets. With people (and other animals!) of all ages, they are usually content and gregarious and would rather not be left alone. Shih Tzu should be socialized from an early age to prevent anxiety; if not, they may dig or bark.
Although this breed doesn’t need much exercise—less than 30 minutes a day—they do like taking quick walks. Shih Tzu are eager to please their pet parents and are generally quick to pick up new skills in order to receive the attention and goodies they so much desire. They love to be spoilt with attention and food.
The majority of a Shih Tzu’s maintenance is focused on his opulent, long double coat of hair, which grows continuously. Although the dogs don’t shed much, their coats are prone to matting and tangling. Because the fur on this coat can grow so long that it drags on the ground if left uncut, it is frequently shaved short into a “puppy cut” to prevent constant brushing. A longer coat means that a Shih Tzu will require weekly brushing and washing, with sporadic professional grooming treatments.
Another interesting fact about Shih Tzu is that they have a short, compressed muzzle because they are brachycephalic. They should avoid the hot summer weather because this can increase their risk of overheating or heat stroke.
Shih Tzu Health Issues
Although they can be susceptible to specific medical issues, Shih Tzus are generally thought to be a healthy breed with an average lifespan of 10 to 18 years. This breed is prone to the following medical issues:
Since Shih Tzu aren’t particularly athletic, they frequently gain weight. Treats should be kept to a minimum, and each day, make sure they get in 20 to 30 minutes of regulated exercise, including playing and walks. Dog obesity increases the risk of developing diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and respiratory problems.
When the kneecap slips out of place, it can lead to patellar luxation, which can cause pain, limping, and eventually arthritis. On occasion, dogs with luxating patellas will be observed holding up their back leg while walking and skipping steps.
The patella usually realigns itself on its own, but in extreme circumstances, surgery may be necessary.
Shih Tzu dogs frequently suffer from periodontal disease, also known as dental disease, as a result of their small mouths readily becoming overcrowded with teeth. The accumulation of tartar and plaque is caused by this crowding. Your Shih Tzu’s mouth will remain healthy with regular brushing, professional cleanings, and surgical extraction of any remaining baby teeth.
When the hip joints don’t fit together correctly, hip dysplasia develops, which can later cause arthritis, difficulty walking, and pain. Radiographs are often used to identify hip dysplasia, and oral painkillers, joint supplements, and, in extreme situations, surgery are used as treatments.
Numerous hereditary eye disorders, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and chronic dry eyes, are common in Shih Tzu dogs. Eye disorders can cause excruciating discomfort; symptoms include:
- Red eyes
- swollen eyes
- ocular discharge
- Scratching the eyes
- Lack of vision
If you have any worries regarding your dog’s eyes, get in touch with a veterinarian.
A liver disorder called portosystemic shunt (PSS) makes it so that toxins enter the bloodstream instead of the liver, which is responsible for filtering them out of the body. As the toxins accumulate, they can lead to long-term digestive problems, growth retardation, and even neurological symptoms including ataxia, also known as the “drunk sailor gait,” or seizures.
This ailment is diagnosed by blood testing, abdominal imaging, and frequently, surgery to repair the shunt, if feasible. Dogs with lesser indications can also be managed with diet modifications and oral medicines.
The floppy ears of Shih Tzus cause two problems:
- It prevents air from entering the ear canals.
- It permits hair to develop within their ears.
This mixture may cause the ears to become red, uncomfortable, or itchy by trapping moisture in the ears. In addition to performing a complete examination, your veterinarian will take a sample to look for bacteria or fungus in order to diagnose ear infections. Oral and/or topical medicines are frequently used to treat these infections.
This breed is prone to a genetic kind of renal illness. It results in the body losing too much protein and can lead to renal problems early in life. Clinical indicators may comprise:
- Absence of hunger
- heightened urination and thirst
- Loss of weight
- muscle atrophy
Treatment options for chronic therapy may include food modifications, oral medicines, and even fluid therapy.
Brachycephalic condition affects dogs, like the Shih Tzu, who have round faces. The following upper airway anomalies are indicative of this:
- tiny nostrils
- A lengthy, gentle palate
- Trachea that collapses
- An abundance of tissue in the throat’s back
These factors can all make it harder for Shih Tzus to breathe and increase their risk of overheating. When your Shih Tzu is a puppy, if the problem is serious, your veterinarian might talk about having surgery to help with some of these problems.
What To Feed a Shih Tzu
Given that Shih Tzu can become obese, it’s critical to provide them with a diet that is well-balanced and to refrain from giving them too many treats at once. It is advised that adults consume a balanced small bite meal twice a day. In order to reduce the risk of periodontal disease, pet parents should feed their Shih Tzu dry kibble rather than canned food because it is abrasive and can help eliminate some plaque buildup.
How to Feed a Shih Tzu
Depending on veterinary advice, Shih Tzu puppies should be fed frequently (about three or four times a day) to reduce the danger of hypoglycemia. Meals high in fat, protein, and complex carbohydrates will reduce the likelihood of hypoglycemia, and puppy small breed diets that are carefully designed typically have all of these ingredients.
Considerations for Pet Parents
Shih Tzu are content to simply be with you and don’t need a lot of activity. However, this breed has to go to a household where the pet owners will take care of regular grooming. They require playtime and attention to be happy, just like all dogs do. They will try their hardest to please you and love you without conditions if you are the one showing them your affection. This breed gets along nicely with both children and other animals if socialized from an early age.
Shih Tzu FAQs
Is a Shih Tzu hypoallergenic?
Shih Tzu are commonly referred to as “hypoallergenic” dogs because they don’t shed much. However, since skin and salvia still contain allergies, no dog is completely hypoallergenic. Yet, some individuals with canine allergies may find that a Shih Tzu is a good option for them.
Before taking home a Shih Tzu puppy, prospective pet parents should spend time with the breed to observe how their allergies react.
How much does a Shih Tzu cost?
Shih Tzu are tiny dogs, growing to a maximum height of 10 inches and weighing between 9 and 16 pounds.
How big do Shih Tzu get?
Shih Tzu were first developed to warn spiritual leaders and monarchs of intruders, but it was quickly realized that they also made wonderful companions because of their kind dispositions.