When it comes to finding the perfect furry companion for small living spaces or areas where large dogs cannot roam freely, small canines are the way to go. And if you happen to have a soft spot for pint-sized pooches, then Shih Tzu dogs are sure to bring you joy with their adorable looks and playful personalities.
These little pups are known for their small size, unwavering loyalty, sweet nature, and affectionate demeanor - all traits that make them wonderful friends. Read on to discover more about this delightful breed.
- Weight: Between 9 and 16 pounds.
- Coat type: Straight and long.
- Personality: Playful, Smart, Affectionate, Intelligent, Fearless.
- Health: Healthy.
- Life expectancy: Between 10 and 16 years.
Let's learn a little bit about Shih Tzu dogs.
The tiny Shih Tzu breed originates from Tibet, where they were highly prized as protectors and guardians of the families that cared for them. In fact, their name in Chinese means "Lion Dog", which perfectly describes their appearance as the Tibetans intentionally bred them to resemble the Chinese guardian lion - in the hopes that they would protect them and keep them safe from harm.
This breed of dogs was highly regarded in Tibet, and their fame spread throughout Europe and America as explorers began to venture into Asia and discovered these little dogs that caught their attention.
Phisical characteristic of a shih tzu dog
Shih Tzu dogs are a small breed that typically have a longer body than height. They can grow up to 10-12 inches in height, and their ideal weight ranges from 9 to 16 pounds, depending on their gender, although some can weigh up to 22 pounds. Despite their small size, they are energetic and can enjoy both long walks and short but fun strolls.
The Shih Tzu's head is round, with black, expressive, and splendid eyes that catch the attention of anyone around them. Their face is somewhat flattened with a short muzzle, giving the Shih Tzu's head a unique touch that is often compared to a chrysanthemum flower, thanks to the amount of fur and the way it falls.
Their tail is also long and has the same long and smooth fur as their body, which requires a lot of attention and care to keep it beautiful. Being long, it can sometimes cause accidents because when the Shih Tzu is very excited, they move their tail energetically, sometimes knocking over objects.
However, it's important not to cut the tail to maintain its length, as it's a very sensitive part not only from an aesthetic point of view but also for the development of our furry friend.
The Shih Tzu's famous and splendid feature is its coat. We have all undoubtedly seen these little canines with their long, straight hair waving in the wind as they walk or run down the street. Their coat is a double layer of hair that can grow immensely, which means that maintaining this type of coat requires a lot from the Shih Tzu's owner. Their hair can come in various colors, ranging from white, reddish, to dark gray and black. The most well-known and beloved ones are those with a white and dark brown coat, with small black circles around their eyes that resemble a "mask." There are also many owners who prefer to keep their Shih Tzu's hair short, which does not detract from the beauty, charisma, and loyalty of these beautiful dogs with their owners.
Shih Tzu personality
There is no breed more active than that of the Shih Tzu. They are always looking for new activities and challenges. This breed is known for having active and intelligent individuals, without leaving behind their great loyalty, charisma, and friendship with their owners and any other dog around them.
Shih Tzu walk with incredible majesty, as if to leave no doubt that they come from Chinese royalty. But that does not mean that they are not friendly and playful with those around them. Shih Tzu have great intelligence, sometimes even being manipulative as they are very persistent and clever in getting what they want. It is good to keep them occupied with games and tricks that are fun for both them and their owners.
When it comes to living in a residential area or urbanization, one important thing to note is that Shih Tzus are relatively quiet. While they can socialize with other dogs around them, it is rare for them to bark loudly at any person or animal in their environment. On the contrary, they are highly affectionate and love to be surrounded by people who want to give them lots of love, as well as other dogs with whom they can play and share.
As a small breed, they are not as energetic as larger or more robust dog breeds. However, they can adapt to various types of moderately demanding training or long walks. The best thing for Shih Tzus is not to push them to their limits, but to give them some exercise to keep them fit while maintaining their energy and vitality at their maximum level to continue sharing with everyone around them.
Shih Tzu care
Shih Tzu dogs are lightweight with dense, soft, and long hair. Despite being a breed that typically does not have serious health problems until they reach old age, they still require essential care to keep them healthy. Shih Tzu dogs are not typically fond of outdoor games, preferring to enjoy the company of their owners in small spaces and doing so on a daily basis. They also enjoy short walks, especially during warmer seasons.
It is important to take reproduction seriously when it comes to this breed. Female Shih Tzus can have litters ranging from 1 to 8 puppies, although there have been cases of up to 10 puppies in one litter. However, multiple pregnancies can be risky for the health of the mother due to their small size. It is also important that both the male and female are of an appropriate size to avoid birthing complications or malformations in the puppies. It is crucial to provide a dry, comfortable, and warm environment for the mother and newborn puppies to ensure their healthy development.
Since they are a small breed, Shih Tzus have an excessively fast metabolism and a small stomach, which means they do not have much space to store food and tend to burn energy at a very high rate. Due to this, they should receive small meals but with a higher frequency compared to other breeds. The best way to ensure that our Shih Tzus maintain their energy levels is to distribute their food intake throughout the day, for example, feeding them 2 or 3 times during adulthood.
It is also important to ensure that they are provided with a type of food that contains all the nutrients they need, through kibbles that adapt to the size of their mouth. A mini dog food will do. There are specific cases where certain digestive sensitivities occur related to the intake of foods that do not correspond to their diet, such as some vegetables or fruits. In conclusion, nutrition is a determining factor in maintaining the well-being of our Shih Tzu.
Bathing and brushing
It is important to brush their fur daily since their coat is prone to tangling. Additionally, their bulging eyes require daily care and cleaning to prevent infections.
Their bangs tend to fall over their eyes, causing discomfort. Some owners choose to let their bangs grow and brush them daily, while others prefer to visit the groomer regularly to keep them trimmed.
Daily cleaning of their eyes is essential to prevent possible eye diseases since Shih Tzus are prone to developing them.
An eye ulcer can occur from scratching or an unnoticed bump, so at the first sign of discomfort in the eye, it's important to contact a veterinarian. Early treatment increases the chances of a full recovery without lasting effects. Eye problems, even those that don't seem severe, could result in a vision issue or even loss of vision, so it's crucial to give our canine's eyes the necessary attention.
Bathing and nail trimming are care tasks that should start in the puppy phase. A monthly bathing frequency is recommended, taking advantage of the opportunity to do a thorough brushing and complete drying. Since they are indoor dogs and do not wear down their nails through play in designated dog areas, it's best to trim their nails regularly to prevent them from accidentally hurting themselves or their owners during playtime or damaging household items.
Ensuring good dental health is also crucial. Small breed dogs are more prone to bacteria buildup in their gums due to plaque accumulation, as they have the same permanent dental structure as other dogs (42 teeth), but their jaw is smaller.
As a result, their teeth often spend a lot of time in a zigzag pattern, which allows bacteria to accumulate and cause dental diseases. Therefore, it is important to dedicate the necessary time to care for their teeth.
To prevent this, it is recommended to start daily teeth cleaning with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste starting from the 7th month of life. Once our Shih Tzu reaches one year old, this routine can be combined with the daily supply of a dental snack that promotes chewing and encourages physical "brushing" on the surface of the teeth. This includes their posterior teeth, which are usually harder to reach and where plaque and tartar tend to accumulate more frequently.
It is also recommended to have our Shih Tzu's dental health checked by a veterinarian during regular check-up visits. This breed does not usually present serious hereditary diseases, however, they may present some potential problems such as small nostrils, back problems, snoring (due to their short face and snout), and heart disease with some frequency.
These problems can be observed in the first months of life or in old age. Regardless of the case, it is necessary to have an evaluation with the veterinarian to rule out chronic pathologies or provide the necessary treatment for our Shih Tzu.
Shih Tzus are cheerful, happy, playful, and cute dogs that we love to have as pets in our homes. However, we must not forget that they require a lot of personal attention and socialization. They are not just pets, they are family members, and because they enjoy human company so much, it can be easy to spoil them.