Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu is a lovable dog who loves the attention of their master. Their barking may sound like they are about to unleash their most fierce attack, but all they will trigger is their love towards other people. This is an intelligent dog breed and are good learners as well being the reason people are now using this breed to win competitions around the globe.

History

Shih Tzu is one of the oldest dog breeds present in our World. The exact origin of this breed is still a controversial topic as some claim it to be originated from Tibet, while others claim China as its home. Many different theories are wandering in the minds of people, and one of them claim that this breed was a mix between the Lhasa Apso and Pekingese. The cross between these two breeds was gifted to the Chinese emperors by Dalai Lama in the 17th century.

Chinese emperors fell in love with this dog and will not let anyone sell this breed, trade or give it to anyone else. Their fondness can be clearly seen in the Chinese paintings. It took a little while for the world to know about this breed and the first dog of this breed was imported to Europe in 1930, and they were recognized as Apsos. The Shih Tzu Club of England was established in 1934 which helped this breed in its recognition. The standards of this race were set in 1935 by the Shiz Tzu club giving it the name it has today.

When it comes to the introduction in the United States, it was after the Second World War when the soldiers were returning from Europe. They took these dogs with them in the 1950s. It took a while for the American Kennel Club to register this breed and it was finally recognized in 1969.

Size

The American Kennel Club has categorized this dog under the toy category. The reason behind this is their compact size. The male Shih Tzu will have a height of approximately nine to eleven inches while the female’s height will vary around eight to ten inches. The weight of both the genders is the same which is near to six to eight kilograms.

Personality and Temperament

This dog breed is extremely loyal and affectionate towards their master. They have high senses which make it a flabbergasting watchdog. Being always alert, they can identify any suspicious activity around their home and will make their master aware about this. However, this extra attentiveness can take away your sleep. They will continuously bark at every moving object which will not only cause problems to you, but to your neighbors as well. The best thing to do is train your dog about its barking habits when it is a puppy, or it will be challenging for you to get rid of its barking.

When we talk about its training, then you need to keep one thing in mind that this breed is very stubborn. For the beginner dog trainers, it might be daunting to train a Shih Tzu. The best way to train them is by using different treats. Though they will not listen to the commands very quickly, but when they know that there are treats involved, then they can easily get a hold of it. In addition to the treats, you should also praise your pet for the good activities, and remind them about the bad ones so that they stay interested. Make sure that you do not scold your Shih Tzu as it may lead to behavioral changes.

This is one of those breeds which are extremely friendly with children. They will play with them, and due to their small size, you do not have to worry about any injury to either the kids or the dog. Though they may take some time to accept strangers as friends, but they will eventually do it after some time. If they are socialized with strangers at a younger age, then there will not be any problem.

When it comes to introducing this dog to other dogs, then you do not have to face any trouble. They might bark at unknown dogs, but they are always open for friendships. All they need is the opposite pet’s approach, and they will have new friends in a tick.

Shih Tzu

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Shih Tzu in front of a white background. By Eric Isselee / Shutterstock

Health

The average lifespan of a Shih Tzu is twelve years, but dogs of this breed with a healthy lifestyle may live up to sixteen years. This is without a doubt a high age for a dog, but they can also catch some of the deadly diseases.

The most common problem with small breeds like Shih Tzu is reverse sneezing. This problem is not fatal for most of the dogs, but it can lead to breathing problem for a few time. Another major problem for Shih Tzu’s health is allergies. Food, inhalant, and food allergies are the three types of allergies that you need to take care of.

Their small size is also the reason for many of the diseases including snuffles. It is a dental disease where the gums of the dog swell. This illness can result in excessive snoring, snorting, snuffling, and wheezing.

Bone diseases like hip dysplasia and patellar luxation are also common in the smaller dog breeds. They are painful for the dog which may even make your dog paralyzed.

Juvenile renal dysplasia is one of the most dangerous diseases of a Shih Tzu. It is a genetic disease where the kidneys are defected by birth. The dog may be found to inhale too much of water and urinate too frequently. Other symptoms of this disease are vomiting, sudden weight loss, and lack of stamina. If you want to avoid this disease, then you should always adopt a dog with a certified breeder who can provide you with the health certificate of both its parents.

Though eye problems are not common in this breed, but some of them still exist. Eye diseases include keratoconjunctivitis sicca, keratitis, distichiasis, ectopia cilia, and distichiasis. These disorders are not lethal to the life of your dog, but some of them might make your dog blind.

They have closed ears which stay warm and make it perfect for the bacteria to live. Due to this, they are known to catch ear injections easily. To avoid this infection, all you have to do is clean their ears every once in a while with a damp cloth.

Bladder stones and infections are also present in this disease. Their main reason is excessive protein intake or longer time gaps in urination. In addition to that, they can also be caused by poor quality food or bacteria. The most common symptom of bladder infection is bloody urination.

Apart from that, an umbilical hernia is also found in Shih Tzus. Sometimes the hernia may close with the growing age, but it may require surgical treatment as well. The portosystemic liver shunt is a liver problem among this breed where the blood is not cleansed by the liver. Surgical treatment is the best option for this illness.

Care

The best thing about small breed dogs is that you do not need a big lawn or a big home to keep them and certainly this is also the case with Shih Tzu as well. Whether you live in an apartment, or you stay in a big villa, Shih Tzu will not have any problem in staying unless you are with it. They are lovable dogs who need a lot of attention and affection. The primary thing that you need to keep in mind is to give enough time to them.

People believe that watchdogs can be left outside their home for safety reasons, but forget that this is a house dog as well. For your Shih Tzu’s best health, you should never leave your dog leashed outside your home.

Playing with your dog is necessary, but small breeds like Shih Tzu love to play with their toys. However, they are not active dogs. They get tired too easily and will need a lot of rest before they are ready for the next play session.

One of the things that Shih Tzus love to do is jumping; be it from the furniture or your arms. If you are very fond of carrying your Shih Tzu in your arms, then keep their jumping factor in mind. They get excited too easily which can result in sudden hops to the ground. Often sometimes, this jumping behavior could result in severe injuries to the head or their small legs. You need to take care of this behavior to avoid any such injury.

Short face dogs are vulnerable to heat. You need to keep this factor in mind and make sure that your dog is in cool conditions. It is best that you keep it in an air-conditioned room and provide it with enough water to stay hydrated.

As mentioned above, this breed may also catch some dental problem which could result in misaligned teeth. It is best that you take care of its teeth by regularly brushing. Plaque buildup could end up in infections and tooth loss. In the worst case, they can completely lose their ability to use their mouth for eating.

Other caring tips are basic including frequent visits to the vet for a healthy dog and regular nail clipping with a professional dog nail clipper.

Feeding

By looking at their size, people may believe that they might not require too much food to keep them healthy. Unlike some of the toy dog breeds, Shih Tzus require more nutritional food. However, the feeding habits solely depend on the age, size, and the metabolism of the dog, but it is necessary that you provide your dog with high-quality food in the growing months.

Toy breeds and small dog breeds are more likely to get obese than other breeds. The reason behind this is that even a small quantity of additional food will contribute to helping them in gaining weight. You need to make sure that you do not provide your Shih Tzu with too many carbohydrates.

Dogs have a weak digestive system, so deciding what should be given to them or what shouldn’t is a concern for every owner. Chicken, eggs, lamb, sweet potato, sweet peas, cottage cheese, raspberries, pasta, and blueberries are the foods that you can give to your Shih Tzu without thinking.

However, there are some foods which you should avoid feeding your dog. Those foods include onions, salt, soda, alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, and seeds. All these foods could cause health issues to your dog. Continuously feeding these foods to your dog could also damage their organs, and in some cases, it could even take the life of your dog.

If you are giving your Shih Tzu packed food, then make sure to keep an eye on its ingredients. This is one of those breeds which are allergic to some of the foods. By identifying the ingredients of the food, you will know that whether the food is suitable for your dog or not.

Coat

Coat of a Shih Tzu is one of the most alluring things, and the best thing about it is that it comes in tons of colors. You can found a Shih Tzu in brindle, liver, black and white, blue, liver and white, light brown, black, white, gold, and dark brown colors. This breed is one of those breeds which require great coat maintenance. You need to brush its coat daily to keep its coat stunning, and baths at least thrice a month.

It all depends on you that whether you want its hair to be long or short. Grooming their coat is also necessary to keep its coat in perfect shape. Self-grooming is not recommended until you know all about it. The best thing to do is hire a professional groomer to handle the grooming requirements of the dog.

Closing Thougts

Shih Tzus are friendly dogs who love to be with their family. Sometimes they may be stubborn, but that is normal for small dog breeds. They do not require much physical exercise, and keeping them fit is easy as well.

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