The Shih Tzu

Exercise Requirements  
Grooming Requirements  
Weight4 - 8 Kg (approx)
Life Span12-13+ Years (approx)


Sturdy, abundantly coated dog with distinctly arrogant carraige and chrysanthemum - like face. The head should be broad, round, wide between the eyes with large, dark, round, eyes placed will apart but not prominent. Ears are large, with long leathers, carried drooping. Set slightly below crown of skull, so heavily coated they appear to blend into hair of neck. The mouth is wide, slightly undershot or level. The body of the Shih Tzu should be longer between withers and root of tail than height of withers, well coupled and sturdy, chest broad and deep, shoulders firm and back level. Legs short and muscular with ample bone. Straight when viewed from the rear. The tail is geavily plumed carried gaily well over back. Set on high. Height approximately level with that of skull to give a balanced outline. Movement is arrogant, smooth-flowing, front legs reaching well forward, strong rear action and showing full pad. The coat is long and dense, not curly, with good undercoat and slight wave permitted. All colours permissible, white blaze on forehead and white tip to tail is highly desirable in parti-colours.


The ancestry of the Shih Tzu is rather obscure, but it is probable that the breed is primarily of Tibetan origin. The history of the Tibetan "Lion Dogs" is interwoven with the tenets of Buddhism, which originated in India. The lion was closely associated with Buddhism, but the lion was not indigenous to China, so the Chinese and the Tibetan lamas bred their toy dogs to resemble lions. The Shih Tzu (whose name means "lion", is reputed to have been the oldest and smallest variety of the Tibetan "Holy dogs" and bears some similarity to other Tibetan breeds. It is pronounced "Shid Zoo". For much of the long and illustrious history of China, the breeding of the small "Lion Dog" was a favoutite pastime of succeeding imperial rulers.
It is likely that the first small Tibetan Lion Dogs from which the Shih Tzu is probably discended came to China during the Qing (Ch'ing) Dynasty (1644 - 1662) as tributes from the Grand Lamas to the Chinese Imperial Court, and that the chinese interbred these Tibetan dogs with the early western imports and with the Pug and the Pekingese.
The existence of the Shih Tzu as we know it today is owed to the Dowager Empress Cixi (T'zu His) whose kennel of Pugs, Pekingese, and Shih Tzu was world renowned. Although she carefully supervised the kennel during her lifetime and attempted to keep the three imperial breeds separate, the actual breeding was carried out by palace eunuchs who secretly crossed the breeds to reduce size and produce unusual and desirable markings. After her dear in 1908, the kennels were dispersed and palace breeding became haphazard. Some breeding was still practiced by private individuals and specimens were exhibited, but the dogs were almost impossible to acquire. So far as is known, the breed became extinct in China after the Communist revolution. Seven dogs and seven bitches comprise the gene pool af all excisting Shih Tzu. Three Shih Tzu imported from China that became the foundation of the Taishan kennel of Lady Brownrigg in England and eight additional imports to England between 1933 and 1959. Three other Shih Tzu were imported into Norway from China in 1932 by Mrs Henrick Kauffman. The Shih Tzu came to Australia in 1954 with three dogs imported by Tony and Soo Dobson (NSW) and then spread to other States.


Friendly and independent. The Shih Tzu is intelligent, active and alert.

Care / Grooming

If the Shih Tzu is kept in its naturally long, flowing coat, it requires a lot of grooming and care. However, if the dog is to be a family pet, it is recommended that the coat be clipped short. This requires much less grooming and care. There is always some general care required to keep the Shih Tzu looking its best....regular bathing and clipping, and cleaning around the eyes and moustaches is recommended.


The Shih Tzu is generally a very sturdy, healthy little dog with few major health problems. Luxating patellas can be a problem in the breed, and in-grown eyelashes (entropian) also can be a problem. Liver and kidney disease can also be found in the Shih Tzu.

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