Breed Portrait – Shih Tzu - AniForte UK

Breed Portrait – Shih Tzu

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shih tzu

Are you looking for a small, uncomplicated dog breed that's is suitable for first-time dog owners and is also fond of children? Then the Shih Tzu is exactly the right companion for you! Find out everything you need to know about the Shih Tzu dog breed.

Shih Tzu origin and history

The Shih Tzu is a cross between the Pekingese and Lhasa Apso and originally comes from Tibet. These dogs were particularly popular at the Tibetan and later the Chinese court. At the beginning of the 20th century, the breed also spread through travelers to Europe and the USA. While today the Shih Tzu is hardly available in China and Tibet, it is one of our popular family and companion dogs.

What does a Shih Tzu look like?

The Shih Tzu reaches a size of up to 27 cm and its body weight varies from 4.5 to 7 kg. Compared to other mini dogs, the Shih Tzu’s stature is a bit more robust. However, Shih Tsus tend to become overweight and should therefore be fed accordingly. Your Shih Tzu’s food should mainly contain meat and be supplemented with fresh fruit and vegetables. We recommend choosing lean meat for Shih Tzu food due to its tendency to be overweight.

Particularly noticeable in the Shih Tzu are the bent tail and the the so-called top knot on top of the head. The dog’s long hair is rarely shortened, but rather tied in a braid on the head. However, the Shih Tzu’s long facial hair should be trimmed regularly, otherwise the small dog will have trouble eating.

Because of his goatee and whiskers and his square muzzle, many see the little Shih Tzu resembling the king of the animals, the lion. The Shih Tzu has big googly eyes you can’t resist, and they clearly show when something displeases the dog. The Shih Tzu comes in all kinds of colours, his coat is particularly long and has a very thick undercoat. It should be maintained regularly.

The Shih Tzu’s Character

The Shih Tzu’s character is similar to that of other small dogs - he is quite relaxed and not snappy. The Shih Tzu is also not prone to barking or aggression. He is a very lively dog ​​that is not difficult to train. It is suitable for inexperienced dog owners or people who do not want to put a lot of energy into training their dog.

Furthermore, the Shih Tzu is intelligent, friendly, attentive but also likes to be independent. He can get involved with his family and likes to follow them wherever they go. He also needs a lot of attention from his caregivers, otherwise he may become mopey. The breed also gets along well with children and is happy getting a lot of affection. Shih Tzus don’t like cold or moisture and like to be cozy and warm.

Caring for your Shih Tzu

Despite their long and thick fur, Shih Tzus shed little or no hair. However, the coat requires significantly more care than short-haired breeds and should be brushed daily. This furry friend should also be bathed to avoid dirt and grime buildup,which can cause diseases. Make sure to use the right shampoo for this breed. The dog shampoo should make it easier to comb and ensure a shiny coat. For particularly sensitive dogs that tend to itch and intolerance, we recommend an aloe vera-based sensitive shampoo.

The Shih Tzu has only a moderate need for exercise and is completely satisfied even with short strolls. It can be kept well in the city apartment as well as in the country with a large garden. The Shih Tzu is not only easygoing with children and other dogs, it also quickly gets used to other pets. The small dog has no hunting instinct and does not make for a good good herding dog.

Prevent typical diseases for your Shih-Tzu

This breed has an average life expectancy of 12-15 years. Although this dog is quite robust and fit, there are still diseases typical for this breed, mainly eye and respiratory issues. The latter is mainly due to the flat, indented nose. Narrow nostrils are generally undesirable in any breed because they restrict the dog’s breathing and prevent enough air from getting into the lungs.

Joint diseases are also common in Shih Tzu. As with many other small dog breeds, the kneecap frequently gets dislocated (patellar luxation). In order to strengthen the joints of the little friend at an early stage, green-lipped mussel powder for dogs should be fed in combination with rose hip powder. The glycosaminoglycans contained in it in connection with galactolipids from the rose hips help to keep the joints healthy and can also be fed to dogs with osteoarthritis and breed-specific joint diseases.


The Shih Tzu is one of the small dog breeds and originates in Tibet. The little furry friend is well adjusted and suitable for people with and without prior dog experience. He gets along well with children and other pets and does not have high demands.

Shih Tzus are very robust, but tend to have some diseases specific to this small breed.

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