What's my history?
There are many variations on our name, but the one I like the best is ‘Xi Shi’. She was one of the four renowned beauties of ancient China. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course, but if you like your beauty in small packages, then there are perhaps few better than us. The translation of Shih Tzu is “lion dog”, so named because we were bred to resemble the lion as depicted in Ancient China. Personally, I think there’s a lot more kudos to that than the “Chrysanthemum dog” tag given to us by the English upon our arrival on their shores. Our lineage extends over 2,000 years and was likely a cross between the Tibetan Lhasa Apso and the Pekingese. We were introduced into Europe around 1930 and subsequently the U.S. after World War II. We are now recognised by all worldwide bodies on dog breeds worth their salts.
What do I look like?
We look much like a lion really, just without the roar. Our coat is naturally long, although some owners clip us. For dog shows, the long coat needs to stay – and what a might fine coat it is too. It should reach to the floor, be wonderfully silky and can come in a variety of colours through gold, white, brown, red and even charcoal black. We are a big bag of fur in fact, which includes our drop ears and curled tail. Fortunately our coat barely sheds at all. You may notice a distinctive confidence in our carriage. It’s more of a bounce. Some dogs mistake this for arrogance. We’re not lofty at all – it’s just the Xi Shi in us.
What do I need from you?
Well let’s get the obvious out of the way first. If you woke up with this much hair, you’d soon see the need to set the alarm clock a little earlier. We do need lots of TLC in the grooming department. So if time is not on your side, then you’ll need to get us clipped. There are some great dog groomers out there. A tangled Shih Tzu is not a happy Shih Tzu. Beyond that, we’re very much a family dog, so love being around people. We do love walks but don’t feel the need to go off trailblazing across multiple terrains. A little jog in the park will do us fine. Above all else, we like a lot of play and an opportunity to show off our social skills with your friends and family. Do be aware of what you humans impolitely refer to as “small dog syndrome” (what about “big dog syndrome” for those clumsy oafs?) The truth is, yes we are small and adorable, but you still need to be the boss of the house, otherwise we tend to get lofty ideas and this can lead to trouble. Watch out for some ear and eye problems, but we’re generally quite a healthy dog.
What I will give in return
We are like our cousin the Lhasa Apso in many ways. However, whilst they were bred to guard those monasteries, we weren’t required for such a function. Therefore, we’re less of a watch dog, so don’t bank on us saving the day with intruders – we may possibly just lick them. What we will give is lots of affection and a liking for play. We’re pretty good with children, although will still get a bit uptight if provoked. We also have few issues with being around other dogs. Probably not what you want to hear, but we do have a slight tendency to snore – so I’m told anyway.
How big will I get?
You won’t need to extend the house to accommodate us – about 11in (27cm) and 11lb-18lb (5kg-8kg).
How long should I be around for?
We can live to a good age – 15 years and maybe longer.
How big is our litter?
Unlike most small dogs, we can have quite large litters – perhaps 5-6 pups.
Well now, our list reads like a celebrity coffee table magazine! Here’s just a small selection – Brooke Shields, Elizabeth Taylor, Andie MacDowell, Kim Basinger. And just to negate the ‘Hollywood Leading Lady’ stereotype, how about these icons of raw masculinity – Yul Brynner, David (“The Hoff”) Hasselhoff and…Bill Gates!
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Disclaimer: the views expressed on this page and any comments below are only a guide to typical traits and views on the breed. Individual circumstance and traits will always vary so we can be in no way responsible for any of the information provided.
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