The origin of Shih Tzu is ancient and is covered in a lot of mystery. It has been established that this dog is among the 14 oldest breeds and bones excavated in China proves it has been in existence in 8,000 BC. Some believe it was created by Monks in Tibet by crossing breeds then gifted to the Chinese royalty. It is true this dog was treasured companion of the high in society as evidenced by writings, paintings, and art from the Tang Dynasty.
It is referred to as a lion dog that trained with hunting lions to keep them calm. Writings report that this dog breed was small, shaggy, intelligent, strong and docile resembling lions. Competition in breeding the best looking dog produced both good quality and poor quality Shih Tzu breeds. The good quality ones were at times smuggled from the palace and gifted to visiting foreigners and Chinese nobles. This is how the Shih Tzu found their way to England in 1928, and a few years later, they entered the US. By 1960, there were already three clubs for Shih Tzu owners in America, two of these merged in 1963 forming one club.
Even though their name means the little lion, these shaggy dogs are not ferocious or fierce as the lion. It is the best breed all-around and can live in any home size, can live well with other pets in the house. The Shih Tzu is excellent with families and even single people and is an excellent companion for the senior citizens. They are well behaved, easy to train and are cute to look at. It is a lovely pet to have around to make friends with and hold.
The Shih Tzu has short adorable legs that need exercising. If you let it be dormant, the dog will become frustrated and obese, and since every type is different, you can figure out what works best for your Shih Tzu and your schedule.
A 30-minite walk every day is adequate for the dog; you can break this into sessions throughout the day instead of taking a walk at once. It will take breaks to sniff, pee and take in the environment as you walk so do not rush it with walking continuously without letting it enjoy the outdoors.
When you break the dogs walk into two short walk sessions, your schedule is easy to manage. 15 minutes n the morning and the other half in the evening is good for both of you. It will tire quickly due to their short legs that force them to make many steps to match yours. The moment he Shih Tzu begin to drag its walk, pants heavily, lie on the ground or totally refuse to walk is the time you stop since the walk has become too long for it.
Walking may not be necessary if the dog gets enough play around the yard or house. You can also plan play activities with the dog every day for exercises and bonding.
Suitability as a family pet
The Shih Tzu is a very friendly dog breed and likes children. Their comical personality makes them suitable for family. They are also well suited for both country and town life. If left alone for extended periods the dog will develop tendencies that are antisocial including defecating and barking in the house. They learn to accept other dogs and pets if you introduce them early enough. Their loyalty to family is assured but is wary of strangers. It lives for about 10 to 15 years making a perfect dog for a family since they grow up with the children. They love to be cuddled and petted by children.
Known health issues
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
Shih Tzu commonly develops breathing issues like collapsed larynx, elongated soft palate, trachea issues and stenotic nares. With one problem, the dog can breathe on its own but it if has more than one issues, the health issues can be severe. The symptoms can occur from age 1 to 6 even if they are born with the health issues.
The invertebral disk disease is common in the breeds with a longer back and shorter legs. The enormous pressure can cause a disk to slip in the back then press on its spinal cord.
Dogs weighing under 25 pounds can develop this issue with the knee cap. The kneecap slips out of place and can happen anytime if not present at birth.
This disease happens when the hip ball joint slips out of place. This can happen as early as 4 months of age but may show symptoms when the dog is an adult.
The Shih Tzu with its playful and affectionate behavior makes it one of the top 20 dog breeds in America. Its small size and moderate exercise needs make it an ideal pet for city living.