If you're a dog lover, you would love to know about the Shih Tzu dog breed. Shih Tzus, as most claim, do not originate from China but rather from Tibet. Shih Tzus are actually toy dogs because of their small size. They do not grow anywhere close to big dog breeds, weighing between 9-16 lb. The best feature for which these dogs are famous is their beautiful coat and adorable face. They can be found in around 14 various colors, gray and white, black and white, and much more.
Tibetans sent the first Shih Tzu dog as a gift to Chinese royalty in ancient times. Since then, the royalty of China treated them as companion dogs, and hence, there is some pride that Shih Tzus carry with them. They look like royal dogs, fulfilling the meaning of their name Shih Tzu, which means little lion. They hold their heads high and tails curved. Their coat gives them a royal look that the Shih Tzus rightly deserve, being companion dogs of the ancient Chinese emperors.
All these features and Shih Tzu's appearance makes you want to hold the dog in your arms! Before you do that, continue reading our fun Shih Tzu facts. You may also like to check out our other articles on pocket pitbull or Chow Lab mix.
What do they prey on?
Chicken, turkey, and small birds
What do they eat?
Average litter size?
How much do they weigh?
8.8–16.5 lb (4–7.5 kg)
How long are they?
7.9–11 in (20-28 cm)
How tall are they?
What do they look like?
Brown, chocolate, red, gold, yellow, black, blue, white
What are their main threats?
What is their conservation status?
Where you'll find them
Tropical and temperate regions
Asia, North and South America, Europe
Canis lupus familiaris
Shih Tzu Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a Shih Tzu?
The Shih Tzu is a dog breed that is famous among dog lovers. This particular dog breed is popular among celebrities.
What class of animal does a Shih Tzu belong to?
The Shih Tzu belongs to the class Mammalia just like all other dogs.
How many Shih Tzus are there in the world?
The number of this breed was registered to be around 3000 after they were recognized as a pure breed. The Shih Tzu dog breed is a famous toy breed dog among the top 20 ones around the globe.
Where does a Shih Tzu live?
The adorable dog, Shih Tzu, is known to be from China famously. However, the fact is that they belong to Tibet, the western neighbor of China. The modern-day Shih Tzu that we see is actually the original Shih Tzu bred with Pugs or Pekingese. Chinese did so after Tibet sent these dogs as gifts to Chinese emperors. They live comfortably with their human masters as long as they are taken care of well, with proper grooming and diet.
What is a Shih Tzu's habitat?
The habitat of the Shih Tzu is like that of any other dog bred for companionship. The Shih Tzu lives with their humans. As their size is small, they can play indoors, and even a small area that is fenced is enough for them to stay safe and active.
Who does Shih Tzus live with?
The Shih Tzu is a dog breed that can live with pet owners, who have decided to adopt them, and other dogs. In an apartment or a home where there are many humans or other dogs or animals, these dogs are sure to be happy. As they will have so many members around them to play with, these toy dogs are sure to be the happiest pet and will also make you happy with their adorable looks.
How long does a Shih Tzu live?
The lifespan of this toy dog is between 12-16 years. The average life that Tzu Shih lives is around 14 years. They become old dogs by the age of 9-10 years. The oldest dog (of the Shih Tzu breed) lived to the age of 23 years. His name was Smokey and was from St. Petersburg, FL.
How do they reproduce?
Like other dog breeds, this toy dog breeds once the male and female reach sexual maturity. Big dog breeds take a longer time to reach sexual maturity, like 18 months, but as Shih Tzus are small dogs, they take around eight to nine months to reach sexual maturity. The male Shih Tzu is ready to mate any time whereas the female Shih Tzu has an estrous cycle. Once, the female dog accepts the advances of the male dog, they mate. After mating, the female conceives and has a gestational period of 56-63 days. The litter size of this breed is four. Many veterinarians suggest that the female Shih Tzu should be sterilized after it breeds because they start having their estrous cycle till the end of their life and this can put a lot of stress on these small dogs.
What is their conservation status?
The conservation status of the dog breed isn't recorded clearly but it is safe to say that they are not endangered or extinct. Although, during the Communist Revolution, the number of Shih Tzus started dwindling and the breed vanished. The reason for this was the death of Tzu Hsi, the Dowager Empress in 1908. She was the supervisor of the breeding program for Shih Tzu, Pugs, and Pekingese which was famous worldwide. After her death, the possibility of getting a Shih Tzu became difficult as the breeding program fell apart. At the beginning of the 20th century, Shih Tzus almost became extinct. The breed you see now has an ancestor from one of the 14 dogs (seven females and seven males) that helped in rebuilding the breed.
Shih Tzu Fun Facts
What does Shih Tzus look like?
A Shih Tzu is a toy breed with a long, luxurious, silky double coat. They are available in 14 different colors, among them black and white, gray and white, black, and red and white. Many Shih Tzu dogs have a small white spot present right on their forehead. That spot is known as the 'Star of Buddha' and makes them very heavily prized.
These dogs are small but strong and have dark brown eyes. The feature that is the most noticeable one in this dog breed is their underbite. As they have a wide lower jaw and narrow upper jaw, when they close their mouths, the upper jaw fits in snug in their lower jaw, giving them the underbite look. Their unique smiles, because of the undershot bite, make them look super adorable. Their facial hair grows everywhere, even from their snouts.
How cute are they?
The Shih Tzus are one of the cutest dogs present in the world. Their small size makes them a perfect toy breed, and because of their hair, they look really stylish. Although they need proper grooming, their undershot bite, and their innocent big eyes make them so adorable that you would definitely want to own one.
How do they communicate?
No matter which breed they belong to, dogs are truly expressive animals, especially in terms of showing their love to humans. The Shih Tzu breed communicates much the same way as other dogs do. These dogs have a way of communicating through their barks and body language.
A Shih Tzu barks shriller than other dogs. The low-pitched growls or barks mean that they aren't ready to be friendly and should be taken as fair warning. This also shows their aggression. On the other hand, the loud barks are actually the friendly ones. If your dog is whimpering, it means that they want you to pet them or want some treats.
Other than vocalized communication, you can see how your dog behaves visually. The wagging of the tail means that they are excited and happy. They often jump and lick their humans if they are excited and are showing love to you.
How big is a Shih Tzu?
As Shih Tzus are small dogs, their height ranges from 8-11 in along with the weight ranging from 9-16 lb (4-7 kg). These dogs get mature quickly as compared to other dog breeds. By 10 months of age, they are considered to be an adult.
How fast can a Shih Tzu run?
These small-sized dogs have muscular bodies and have a speed of 6-8 mph. They are surprisingly capable of being good watchdogs, as they are alert and have good energy levels, but are not exactly bred for the category of working dogs.
How much does a Shih Tzu weigh?
The Shih Tzu dog breed's weight ranges between 10–18 lb (4.5–8 kg). The adult dog is also of small size, and hence, their weight does not increase as much as other breeds.
What are their male and female names of the species?
Neither female nor male of the dog breed Shih Tzu has different names. Both genders have the same name - Shih Tzu. Although commonly, they can be referred to as dog for a male and bitch for a female in this species. Their name Shih Tzu means little lion. So, a Shih Tzu is a lion dog.
What would you call a baby Shih Tzu?
A baby Shih Tzu is called a Shih Tzu puppy. Shih Tzu puppies make charming puppies with long fur all across their body and face. The small size of breeds Shih Tzu makes them super cute and a great choice for a small family. A Shih Tzu puppy has a good energy level and it can turn into the right pet when trained properly as a puppy.
What do they eat?
The adorable tiny dog, the Shih Tzu, has the risk of getting obese if it consumes more than the required carbohydrates as a part of its diet. A good protein-rich diet is needed for the growth of these dogs. The food that can provide these dogs with enough protein is chicken, eggs, turkey, and fish. For carbohydrates, you can feed Shih Tzus oats, sweet potatoes, barley, rice, and more. You can also feed vegetables to your Shih Tzu.
The food that you should never feed your dog for their good health is onions, chocolate, salt, grapes and raisins, soda, tea and coffee, and fruit pits and seeds.
Are they slobbery?
The Shih Tzu is known to be slightly slobbery. They have a lower jaw that's wider than the upper jaw. When they see food, they will be sure to salivate.
Would they make a good pet?
Shih Tzus are a perfect pet. They have no problem while interacting or playing with other dogs or animals. They love their masters and have a very docile nature. Also, their small size makes them a perfect pet to play with. Kids can play with the breed without any worry but keep the hand away from their dry eye as it can get injured easily.
Did you know...
There are various facts that you don't know about the life of Shih Tzus. Here are some interesting facts for kids about the Shih Tzu dog breed.
Shih Tzus were actually from Tibet and not China.
They are known as lion dogs as their name means little lion. These dogs are also known as Chrysanthemum dogs as their hair grows all over their nose and face. Shih Tzu is pronounced 'sheed-zoo'.
They are loved for the small size and the energy level that they have. Shih Tzus are more of a celebrity pet dog. Many celebrities like Beyonce, Bill Gates, Mariah Carey, and more have Shih Tzu as their pets.
The breed was saved and their population was rebuilt by only 14 dogs (seven males and females each) as they almost went extinct.
The Shih Tzu has a shiny coat that has different colors, almost 14.
Do Shih Tzus bark a lot?
The Shih Tzu does not bark a lot. It does not have changes in its behaviors like other dog breeds have. These are clever dogs that go along well with other dogs and their humans. They only sometimes bark at strangers, other dogs, or unfamiliar things while walking on the street or while they look at them out of the window.
You can start training the baby Shih Tzu so that they can understand your commands. You will have to potty train them as well so that they have a proper timing for their potty and feeding.
Looking after your Shih Tzu
It is very important for Shih Tzu owners to know that being originated in Tibet where llamas are from, this dog has a lot of hair. They need proper grooming so that the hair does not go into their dry eye or nostrils that can cause problems for the dog. The beautiful coat of the dog that comes in different colors like white and gray, liver and white, black and white, and more, makes them look gorgeous. You have to take care of them with daily brushing to ensure your Shih Tzu puddle mix or Shih Tzu always has a shiny and beautiful hair coat. Also, you can look for Shih Tzu puddle haircuts when needed so that you can give your pet different hairstyles. You should also bathe your Shih Tzu around every three weeks as the long coat of hair makes it difficult for the dog to be hygienic.
The puppy of these breeds is the same as any puppies are. They need proper care for everything that they do. So, keep these cute dogs groomed, and also you can get a lot of help by referring to the American Kennel Club guides. Also, even though their coat looks beautiful on them, do not forget to groom them for their own good and yours too as you won't like their shedding.
As with all purebred dogs, there are certain health problems that this breed faces. These health issues are hereditary in the lion dog breed Shih Tzu. Firstly, eye problems. This is the most common health issue that Shih Tzu can face at any age. This issue becomes more prevalent when they get older. The older dogs might develop cataracts, whereas the younger ones have eye irritation and form excess discharge around the eyes. Their large eyes give them such a cute look, but they can easily get scratched, leading to the formation of an ulcer. The formation of epiphora is another common issue that Shih Tzu faces with their eyes.
Also, ear infections. This is another common health problem that Shi Tzu faces. As they have a long coat of hair, it grows inside the ear, and if their ears are not cleaned properly at proper intervals, ear infections can occur easily. Other than these health problems, there are many other problems that these small-sized dogs face. The weight of Shih Tzu is between 4-7.5 kg but they are prone to become overweight as well. Since Shih Tzus famously have an underbite, this can also lead to certain health problems. One of those is Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), which causes respiratory problems due to their smaller face. They could also suffer from rostral bite problems as they have less room in their little mouths.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including pitbull Chihuahua mix, or Cheagle.
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