The Shih Tzu dog breed’s history has been highly debated. What is known is that the breed was revered during the Tang and Ming dynasties in China, and breedings were carefully planned. The breed was solely a companion dog; it was never a hunter or a guardian.
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The head is round and broad, the eyes are large and very dark, and the ears are large and dropped. The body is compact and sturdy, with a tail carried in a curve over the back. The undercoat is soft, and the outer coat is long and flowing. All colors are permitted. There is only one size and no such thing as an imperial or tea cup; those are simply ploys to sell dogs. This breed’s coat requires time and effort to keep it looking good. Show dogs may have hair that reaches and drags on the ground, but most pet owners keep the hair trimmed. Daily brushing and combing is needed, even if the hair is trimmed, because the coat can easily tangle and mat.
The Shih Tzu is a happy, playful breed. They will enjoy daily walks and a play session or two during the day but are not high-energy dogs. Although not demanding of exercise, daily exercise is important, as this breed can become fat with too many snacks and not enough exercise. Housetraining Shih Tzu can sometimes be a challenge. Owners should be patient, follow a schedule, and supervise the puppy. Although training is not as important with this breed as with so many others, Shih Tzu do thrive in a training program that is fun.
Shih Tzu are also easily spoiled, so training can help prevent bad behaviors. This breed was bred to be a companion, plain and simple. These dogs love people and are friendly and affectionate. The breed is also great with children, as long as the kids are not too rough. They are fine with other dogs and with smaller pets. Health concerns include allergies and eye and kidney problems.