The Shih Tzu is a toy dog breed originating from Tibet and believed to be bred from the Pekingese and the Lhasa Apso.
Shih Tzus are known for their short snouts and large round eyes, as well as their long coat, floppy ears, and short and stout posture. They are well known for their playful personality and their calm and friendly temperament.
They can adapt well to different situations. Due to their highly independent nature, they are not considered as a very obedient breed.
Because of their long coat and fast-growing hair, regular grooming is necessary, which may be expensive. The traditional long silky coat, which tends to reach the floor, requires daily brushing to avoid tangles. The coat can be clipped short to simplify care, but still requires frequent brushing. For showing, the coat must be left in its natural state, though trimming for neatness around the feet and anus is allowed. The shorter cut is typically called a “puppy cut” or a “teddy bear cut” when the puppy cut is accompanied by a fuller, rounder face, resembling a stuffed animal.
One theory is that the Shih Tzu descended from a cross between the Pekingese and Lhasa Apso. The dogs were favorites of the Chinese royals and so prized that, for years, the Chinese refused to sell, trade, or give any away. The first dogs of the breed were imported into Europe (England and Norway) in 1930 and were classified by the Kennel Club as “Apsos”. The first European standard for the breed was written in England in 1935 by the Shih Tzu Club and the dogs were categorised again as Shih Tzu. The breed spread throughout Europe and was brought to the United States after World War II, when returning members of the U.S. military brought back dogs from Europe and Asia, in the mid-1950s. The Shih Tzu was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1969 in the Toy Group. There are fourteen total iterations of the Shih Tzu in the breed’s gene pool today. In 1934, the Shih Tzu Club of England was founded and the breed was officially recognised by the Kennel Club (UK) on 7 May 1940. When it became eligible for Challenge Certificates, none were awarded until 1949. The breed is now recognized by all of the major kennel clubs in the English-speaking world. It is also recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale for international competition in Companion and Toy Dog Group, Section 5, Tibetan breeds. In the United States, the Shih Tzus were ranked the 15th most popular breed in 2013, falling slightly in popularity since 2012 when it was placed in 11th position.
A number of health issues, some of them hereditary, have been found in individual Shih Tzu, and are listed below. The popularity of the breed has allowed for extremely poor breeding in general, leading to generalized and lifelong diseases, often from a fairly early age.