The Shih Tzu is a small, sturdy dog with a body that is slightly longer than it is tall. The head is round and broad, and wide between the eyes. The square muzzle is short, with an inch or less from the tip of the nose to the defined stop. The nose is broad, with well-open nostrils. Nose, lips and eye rims are liver on liver colored dogs, blue on blue dogs and black on all other colors. The teeth meet in a level or under bite. The large, round eyes are dark in color, but lighter on blue and liver dogs. The large, pendant, low-set ears hang down and are covered in abundant hair. The back is level. The muscular legs are straight and well-boned. The high-set tail is carried over the back and is covered in abundant hair. Dewclaws are sometimes removed. The double coat is dense and long, flowing down over the dog. The hair above the eyes is often tied in a topknot. There is a profuse beard and mustache and the hair on the muzzle is short. Their coat comes in all colors.
Sixteenth century documents and paintings show dogs resembling the Shih Tzu. The Shih Tzu is said to have descended from crossing the Lhasa Apso or Tibetan mountain dog and Pekingese, in the city of Peking in the 17th century. The dogs were favorites of the Chinese royals and were so prized that for years the Chinese refused to sell, trade, or give away any of the dogs. It was not until the 1930s that the first pair was imported to England, when it was discovered by English soldiers during World War II. The Shih Tzu was recognized in Britain in 1946. The AKC recognized the Shih Tzu breed in 1969.
The Shih Tzu is an alert, lively, little dog. It is happy and hardy, and packed with character. The gentle, loyal Shih Tzu makes friends easily and responds well to consistent, patient training. It makes a very alert watchdog. It is courageous and clever. Playful and spunky, this affectionate little dog likes to be with people and is generally good with other pets. Some can be difficult to housebreak. The Shih Tzu needs all of the humans in the house to be pack leaders, with the rules of the house made consistently clear. Owners who allow their dogs to take over may find them to be snappish if they are surprised or peeved. Because of this dog’s small size and its adorable face, it commonly develops Small Dog Syndrome, human induced behaviors where the dog believes he is the boss of humans. This causes a varying degree of behavioral issues, such as, but not limited to separation anxiety, guarding, growling, snapping, and even biting. These dogs may become untrustworthy with children and sometimes adults, as they try and tell the humans what THEY want THEM to do. They will be obstinate as they take their stand and defend their top position in the pack. They may bark obsessively as they try and TELL you what they want. These behaviors are NOT Shih Tzu traits, but rather behaviors brought on by the way they are treated by people around them. Give this dog rules and limits as to what it is and is not allowed to do. Be its firm, stable, consistent pack leader. Take it for daily pack walks to burn mental and physical energy. Its temperament will improve for the better, and you will bring out the sweet, trustworthy dog in it.
Shih Tzu's are expected to live around 15 years or more.
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