The Shih Tzu is a small, lively toy dog breed with a long, silky coat. Originating in Tibet, Shih Tzus were brought to China, where they were kept by emperors as court dogs. Cross-breeding with Pekinese dogs has resulted in the Shih Tzu as we know it today. It wasn’t until the mid-twentieth century that the Shih Tzu was recognised as a proper breed in the West.
Both male and female adult Shih Tzus measure up to 27cm at withers and weigh between 4.5 and 7.5 kg. They are sturdy dogs with a soft, dense coat of long hair, and a tail that curls over their backs. Coat colours include black, gold, silver, grey, red, beige and brindle, often combined with white.
Shih Tzus have a playful and outgoing temperament. They get along easily with other household pets if introduced young, and are very suitable for a family with children. This dog is loyal, affectionate and intelligent, and is happy to stay and play indoors most of the time, although it does need some exercise so be prepared to take your Shih Tzu for a short walk each day.
Its long coat means the Shih Tzu needs daily grooming. It also needs regular (e.g. weekly) baths and its face needs daily cleaning as this dog easily gets food stuck in its hair. You often see Shih Tzus with their hair tied in a knot on top of the head to keep their face free of hair.
The Shih Tzu is a generally healthy breed but with its protruding eyes, it is prone to eye problems. The average life expectancy of Shih Tzus is 15 years.