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Dog AdvicePet Truths

Shitzu 101

By November 29, 2012March 26th, 2015No Comments


Americans commonly pronounce the Shih-Tzu as SHEET-sue, however, the actual original Chinese translation is – sure-dsIn the Chinese pronunciation the “ds” is pronounced the same as the “ds” at the end of the word “Words”. It is Chinese Mandarin, and translates directly to “lion”. That is where the term “lion dog” comes from. The moniker “chrysanthemum dog” and “sheet-sue” are common in America, but are both inaccurate American renditions of the original Chinese.


The Shih-Tzu is a small, sturdy dog, with a body that is slightly longer than it is tall. The head is round and broad, wide between the eyes. The square muzzle is short, an inch or less from the tip of the nose to the defined stop. The nose is broad, with well open nostrils. Nose, lips, and eye rims are liver on liver colored dogs and blue on blue dogs and black on all other colors. The teeth meet in a level or under bite. The large, round eyes are dark in color, but lighter on blue and liver dogs. The large, pendant, low-set ears hang down and are covered in abundant hair. The back is level. The muscular legs are straight and well-boned. The high-set tail is carried over the back covered in abundant hair. Dewclaws are sometimes removed. The double coat is dense and long, flowing down over the dog. The hair above the eyes is often tied in a topknot. There is a profuse beard and mustache and the hair on the muzzle is short. Coat comes in all colors.


The Shih-Tzu is an alert, lively, little dog. Happy and hardy, packed with character. The gentle loyal Shih-Tzu makes friends easily and responds well to consistent patient training. They make a very alert watch dogCourageous and clever. Playful and spunky, this affectionate little dog likes to be with people and are generally good with other pets. Some can be difficult to housebreak. The Shih-Tzu needs all of the humans in the house to be pack leader, with the rules of the house made consistently clear. Owners who allow their dogs to take over may find them to be snappish if they are surprised or peeved. Because of this dogs small size and it’s adorable face, they commonly develop Small Dog Syndrome, human induced behaviors where the dog believes he is the boss of humans. This causes a varying degree of behavioral issues, such as, but not limited to separation anxietyguarding, growling, snapping, and even biting. They may become untrustworthy with children and sometimes adults, as they try and tell the humans what THEY want THEM to do. They will be obstinate as they take their stand and defend their top position in the pack. They may bark obsessively as they try and TELL you what they want. These behaviors are NOT Shih-Tzu traits, but rather behaviors brought on by the way they are treated by people around them. Give this dog rules, and limits to what they are and are not allowed to do. Be their firm, stable, consistent pack leader. Take them for daily pack walks to burn mental and physical energy. Their temperament will improve for the better, and you will bring out the sweet, trustworthy dog in them.

Height, Weight

Height:  Up to 11 inches (28cm.)
Weight: 9-16 pounds (4-7kg.)

Health Problems

Prone to slipped stifle and spinal disc disease caused by a long back and short legs. Also ear infections, eye problems and early tooth loss. Tends to wheeze and snore and can have respiratory problems. These dogs gain weight easily and should not be overfed.

Living Conditions

The Shih-Tzu is good for apartment life. They are fairly active indoors and will do okay without a yard. This breed is sensitive to the heat.


The Shih-Tzu need a daily walk.  Play will take care of a lot of their exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, play will not fulfill their primal instinct to walk. Dogs who do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. They will also enjoy a good romp in a safe open area off lead, such as a large fenced in yard. Do not over feed this breed or it will quickly become fat.

Life Expectancy

About 15 years or more.


These little dogs require a good daily grooming using a bristle brush. When kept in along coat a topknot is usually tied to keep the hair out of the dog’s eyes. Some owners prefer to have them trimmed to make the coat easier and less time consuming to care for. Keep the ear passages and area around the eyes clean. Shih-Tzu’s have sensitive eyes that need to be kept clean. There are special drops you can buy to put in them if needed. Ask your vet what to use on your dog. This breed sheds little to no hair and are good for allergy suffers if their coats are kept very well groomed, do to the fact that they shed little skin dander.


Sixteenth century documents and paintings show dogs resembling the Shih-Tzu. The Shih-Tzu is said to have descended from crossing the Lhasa Apso or Tibetan mountain dog and Pekingese, in the city of Peking in the 17th century. The dogs were favorites of the Chinese royals and were so prized that for years the Chinese refused to sell, trade, or give away any of the dogs. It was not until the 1930s that the first pair was imported to England, when it was discovered by English soldiers during World War II. The Shih-Tzu was recognized in Britain in 1946. The AKC recognized the breed in 1969.


Herding, AKC Toy classed under the Non-Sporting Dogs category.



This info was taken from


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