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Shih Tzu: Breed Characteristics, Care & Exercise Needs (Lion Dog)

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About Shih Tzu

Country of Origin, History of Shih Tzus

This Breed is the smallest and oldest, with a Tibetan origin. It is a cross between the Tibetan mountain dog, the Lhasa Apso and the Pekingese.

The Chinese royals favored Shih Tzus to such an extent that, for years, they refused to sell, trade, or give any away. Because of its cuteness, the dog was named after the most beautiful woman in China, Xi Shi.

The first Shih Tzus were imported into Europe (England and Norway) in 1930. Slowly the popularity of the breed spread across Europe. Finally in 1950s, after World War II, this breed was introduced in the United Sates by army men travelling back from Europe and Asia. It was in 1969 that the AKC registered the breed as a Toy dog.

Shih Tzu Tools

Breed Selector Tool - is the Shih Tzu the right breed for you?

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Are you aware dogs also have a learning style that can greatly affect their ability to housetrain as well as be trained correctly. Evaluate your Shih Tzu's learning style and personality using our free Learning Style tool so that you are better able to provide him with the proper Shih Tzu training methods.

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Shih Tzu Calorie Calculator

Do you know how many calories your Shih Tzu needs every day and how many cups of food you should be giving it every day? Click here to use our Shih Tzu Calorie Calculator.

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A General Description of the Dog

The dog has a round, wide, hairy head which is in proportion with the    rest of the body.  It   has round, large, very black expressive eyes and large, heavily coated pendulous ears. Another characteristic of the dog is its square, short, well-cushioned muzzle. These dogs have a broad, wide chest and are not barrel-chested.  Shih Tzus have short, well-muscled legs with well padded, firm feet and heavily  plumed  tails. 


Shih Tzus are double coated. They have a long, luxurious, thick, flowing coat and at times they might even have wavy hair.


All colors are permissible

Weight: 9-16 lbs for both males and females


Male - 8-11 inches
Female - 8-11 inches

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Shih Tzu Personality Traits

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The Spanish Water Dog is an extremely intelligent, fearless, ever-active, strong, attentive, happy and well balanced versatile working dog with strong herding, hunting and guardian instincts. It is a devoted companion. It is reserved, not shy, with strangers. They can be protective and territorial.

Are they suited to families with kids?

Most of them are good with children and other animals if properly socialized.


A Greyhound puppy should be trained on a leash and given verbal praise, correction, and food rewards. This breed becomes upset with physical discipline. The dog puppy should be exposed to various sights and sounds, and all training needs to be consistent and administered by a patient guardian. This breed is difficult to housebreak and requires consistent crate training and a doggy door for outside access. This dog puppy may resist going out into cold weather or rain; as a result, a guardian needs to use consistent phrases, rewards, and verbal praise when training the dog to go outside.

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Shih Tzu Activity Level

The dog does not require rigorous exercise. Taking him on walks once daily should be   perfect. It is fairly active indoors.

They enjoy lazing indoors for long hours and may even become fat. In such cases, short walks or indoor exercise can help a great deal.

Is your Shih Tzu causing you trouble by eliminating inside your house? Get our Free tips on Housebreaking your Shih Tzu and put an end to all the housetraining nightmares - permanently.

Training your Shih Tzu can be fun and a rewarding experience for both you and your dog. Get step-by-step tips on Shih Tzu Training – now.

How to take care of a Shih Tzu Puppy?

Shih Tzu puppies should be fed at regular intervals and are never to be force fed as they eat only when hungry. Some food and water should be left in front of their crates at night. Restricting their movements by baby gates or confining them to a secure spot with chewable toys is a must, to prevent accidents. Vaccination should be administered carefully to boost their immunity.

Pups are fragile and owners should not play with them for more than 30 minutes at a stretch. Small children often confuse them with toys and might  harm them unknowingly and thus, the pups should be kept under strict watch.

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Shih Tzus need elaborate grooming because of their luxurious, flowing coats. These dogs should be bathed at least once every week with a mild pet shampoo. They should be brushed daily. Their coat and nails should also be clipped at regular intervals. Ears should be cleaned with an ear cleaning solution. Cleaning teeth at least twice a week will prevent infections from setting in. During bathing, their anal glands should be cleaned.

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Free Course on Shih Tzu Training & Obedience
Stop All Bad Behavior, Excessive Barking and Biting

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Health and Care

While the SWD seems to be a very healthy breed there are some issues that the SWD have, just like all other breeds. There are cases of Hip Dysplasia in the breed, so choose your breeder carefully.

All breeding dogs should have their hips tested, either by OFA or PennHIP. There have been a few cases of PRA reported in Europe so it is advised that all breeders should test their breeding stock for PRA and other such genetic eye diseases with a yearly CERF exam. A responsible breeder will be able to produce the results in writing.

Like other Water Dogs and related breeds, they grow hair in their ear canals and can be prone to ear infections. The ears must be kept dry and clean. . Because these dogs are (as a general rule) so active and energetic as puppies, they may seriously injure themselves from too much running and jumping when their skeletal structure is still developing.

National Breed Clubs

National Breed Club

British – Shih Tzu Club –
U. S. – American Shih Tzu Club –


Group: Toy Group.

AKC Popularity Ranking: 20

Also Known As: Little Lion Dog, Chrysanthemum dog

Train Your Shih Tzu To Listen To You

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  • How to lead and think like a pack dog - the new psychology.

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Whereas other dog training related web sites and books offer generic information for dogs in general, ours is the ONLY web site that offers Shih Tzu information specifically, from a renowned panel of experts - because as you probably know, Shih Tzus have their own special training requirements that other dogs don't have.

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Our Dog Experts

The Shih Tzu training information you will read here was developed by a panel of renowned dog training experts whose combined wisdom represents nearly 100 years of specialist experience training dogs.

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