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This month I wanted to give you some info on a more common breed as you would be surprised as common as this breed is how little we know about their ancestry.
Origin: 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 Pekingnese, 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 breed in 1969. The name "Imperial Shih Tzu" or "Tiny Tea Cup Shih Tzu" is often used to describe a smaller sized Shih Tzu, bred smaller than the written standard.
Life Expectancy: About 15 years or more
Health Problems: Prone to slipped stifle and spinal disc disease caused by a long back and short legs. Also ear infections, eye problems such as cherry eye and early tooth loss. Tends to wheeze and snore and can have respiratory problems. These dogs gain weight easily and should not be overfed.
Grooming: These little dogs require a good daily grooming using a bristle brush. When kept in a long coat a topknot is usually tied to keep the hair out of the dog's eyes. Some owners prefer to have them trimmed to make the coat easier and less time-consuming to care for. Keep the ear passages and area around the eyes clean. Shih Tzus have sensitive eyes that need to be kept clean. There are special drops you can buy to put in them if needed. Ask your vet what to use on your dog. This breed sheds little to no hair and is good for allergy sufferers if its coat is kept very well groomed, due to the fact that they shed little skin dander.
Temperament: 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.
Size: Height: Up to 11 inches (28 cm)
Weight: 9 - 16 pounds (4 - 7 kg)
Exercise & Living Conditions: The Shih Tzu is good for apartment life. These dogs are fairly active indoors and will do okay without a yard. This breed is sensitive to the heat. The Shih Tzu needs a daily walk. Play will take care of a lot of its exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, play will not fulfill its primal instinct to walk. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. They will also enjoy a good romp in a safe, open area off lead, such as a large, fenced-in yard. Do not overfeed this breed or it will quickly become fat.
Group & Organization Recognition: Herding, AKC Toy classed under the Non-Sporting Dogs category.
ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
ACR = American Canine Registry
AKC = American Kennel Club
ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club
APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
CCR = Canadian Canine Registry
CKC = Canadian Kennel Club
CKC = Continental Kennel Club
DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain
NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
NKC = National Kennel Club
NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club
UKC = United Kennel Club