Did you know?
The Shih Tzu is also known as the “Chrysanthemum Dog”. It is called the Chrysanthemum Dog because it is believed that its face looks very much like the flower.
My little dog….a heart beat at my feet. – Edith Wharton
The ancestors of the Shih Tzu (pronounced “shid zoo”) include the temple dogs of Tibet and the Pekingese. Because of their long, flowing coats, the Chinese called the little dogs Shih Tzus or “Lion Dogs”.
The Tibetan temple dogs were given to the Chinese emperors as tribute and were crossed with the Pekingese to produce the Shih Tzus we know today. Seen as national treasures, Shih Tzus were prized by the Chinese royal family. As such, the Chinese refused to sell, trade, or give any away these dogs and they were never seen outside China until the early 1920s.
The first dogs of the breed were imported to Europe in 1930.
Photos displayed courtesy of Phyllis and Bob Stoddart, Ovations Reg’d, British Columbia
Modern DNA analysis indicates that the ancestors of the Shih Tzu were part of an ancient group of dogs most closely related to wolves.
Reputed to be the oldest and smallest of the Tibetan holy dogs, recent DNA testing has confirmed that Shih Tzus are one of the oldest breeds of dog. They were bred as companions rather than watch dogs and exhibit affectionate friendliness, even to strangers. Since their introduction to Europe and North America, Shih Tzus have become immensely popular.
The Shih Tzu stands up to 10.5 inches (27 cm) tall at the shoulder.
He has a long, straight, double coat that falls to the ground and may be parted from the tail to the back of the skull. The hair on the head is often tied up to form a topknot. The coat may be any colour or colour combination and is often trimmed so the dog’s movement is not impeded. The Shih Tzu’s fur is fast growing and requires daily grooming.
Many pet owners simply cut the fur close to the body. Considered hypoallergenic by many, the Shih Tzu does shed but retains the shed fur on his body. However you chose to maintain the coat, long or short, the fur will require daily brushing to keep it tangle free and remove the shed hair.
The Shih Tzu has a proud posture that conceals a gentle and playful nature. An alert, lively little dog, he makes a good watchdog. He is also loyal, affectionate, and loves to play the lapdog! He makes a great snuggler for the shut-in or elderly.
His size ensures that he fits into any accommodation. He gets along well with children and other household pets. He is also less of a yapper than many of the toy breeds.
Shih Tzus are intelligent and can be obstinate but patient and consistent training is the key to controlling this tendency. Training should begin early and will be most successful if you use food rewards! Housebreaking will be the most challenging training.
He requires minimal exercise but is a sturdy, active little dog who enjoys playing fetch or going for a walk outside.
Perhaps as befits a dog with such an ancient and aristocratic heritage, Shih Tzus have been described as being distinctly arrogant, full of life, and possessing an air of importance that cannot be denied. Having said that, they are also exceptionally good natured.
The British Kennel Club did a survey that pegged the median lifespan of a Shih Tzu at 13 years and 2 months. However, most live 10 to 16 years according to the same survey. The oldest living Shih Tzu was Smokey from Florida who lived until the ripe old age of 23 years old.