History and Origin: originating in China during the Tang Dynasty. Little dogs were brought to the Chinese court. Another theory is that the breed came from Tibet to the Chinese court and the Imperial Dog Book described these small dogs as lion dogs which is the meaning of Shih Tzu. Most likely developed from crosses with Pekingese and Lhasa Apso. Royal family favoured these lovely little dogs and selected animals were bred for the emperor. Almost becoming extinct during the communist revolution a few were found and imported to England and the breed continued in Europe. Admitted to AKC in 1969.
General appearance: dense long flowing coat. Longer than tall. Rectangular, solid, sturdy, body. Long tail curved over the back. Head carried well up, skull is broad and rounded with short muzzle, round dark eyes, and black nose. Large ears hang down and are heavily covered with hair. Mouth (teeth) is an undershot bite. (Lower teeth protruding further than upper) Facial expression is soft, sweet, and charming, never stern, dull, or harsh. . Size: Height 9-10 ½ inches Weight: 9-16 pounds.
Coat and Colour:The coat is long, flowing, thick and quite plush and lavish to the touch. Double coated with soft under coat. Top coat has slightly more texture and lies flat. Considered a drop coated breed as long hair falls down like a drape. All colours are acceptable. If the shih tzu is maintained in natural hair length, he will require daily brushing and frequent bathing and hair conditioning to keep the coat looking beautiful. Long hair on the head may be tied up with bands and the same with the moustache to protect it while playing and eating. This would be considered a dog in show coat. If not wishing the long coat care, this breed may be trimmed into a suitable short clip, often referred to as a cut down trim. It is cut short over the body and legs, ears and facial hair is trimmed and hair removed from in front of the eyes. This cute, perky, and neat trim is much easier to manage and less problem when walking the Shih Tzu on rainy or snowy days.
Feeding: Generally good eaters, and easy keepers, a good quality kibble fed once or twice daily is all that is required.
Training and Obedience: As a lively and happy little breed they can be trained in various dog sports like rally, obedience and agility. However, they are not good swimmers and do not like extreme heat so care would need to be taken outdoors on hot humid summer days when exercise should be limited.
Temperament: Happy, outgoing, exuberant, and lovable, this is a perfect breed for seniors and apartment dwellers. They are excellent with dogs and children and are great therapy dogs. They are happiest when within the family unit and enjoy cuddling on the couch. A delightful breed full of fun, great energy, a joyful interest in life, and a never ending source of enjoyment.