Animal stories: shih tzu

Shih Tzus are little, sturdy dogs covered over with a coat of long hair. They move in quite an arrogant manner with their tails carried over their backs. They have hair above the nose growing upward. The head is rounded, with a profuse beard and moustache, short hairy muzzle, and black nose except in liver-coloured dogs that have liver noses. The eyes are large, round and wide-set, dark on most dogs but lighter on liver and blue coloured dogs. The pendant ears are so covered with hair that they blend right into the body coat. The heavily plumped tail is curled over the back.

Shih Tzus are proud looking dogs gifted with loads of character. Being gentle and loyal, they make friends easily. They do love children and will accept other dogs and household pets as well if introduced in an early age. They are also a very alert watch dog. These courageous and playful dogs likes to be with people. As a breed they can be independent and wary of strangers. They are fairly active indoors and will do okay without a yard. These breeds are sensitive to the heat.

Average size

Shih Tzus are up to 11 inches tall and weigh 4-7kg.

Coat colour

The coat comes in colours like black, gold, grey, silver, red, beige and brindle. All the colours can have white with them.


These breeds enjoy learning and like to please. They can be obstinate at times and can give the impression, with their dignified attitude, that some tasks are beneath them. With patience and consistency, they can become relatively obedient.

Food requirements

These dogs gain weight easily and should not be overfed.


They have a lifespan of 15 years or more.

Pet grooming

These dogs require a good daily grooming using a bristle brush. A topknot is usually tied so that the dog can see properly. The hair can be trimmed to make the coat easier and less time consuming to care for. The ear passages and area around the eyes should be kept clean.

Country of origin

Tibet (China): They are believed to have originated in Tibet, where they lived in the Temples and were occasionally given as a gift to the Emperors of China. Documents and paintings dating from the sixteenth century show dogs resembling a small lion (which the Shih-Tzu is sometimes called). Once they were in China they were crossed with the Pekinese to become the breed we recognise today. The breed was so revered that for many years after the Chinese began trading with the West, they refused to sell, or even give away, any of the little

dogs. It was not until 1930 that the first pair was imported to England, but they were not given recognition until 1949. They were recognised in America only in 1969. Today the breed is very popular, both as a companion and as a glamorous show dog.