Shih Tzu Breed Standard

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James Mumsford, an American teacher and composer, said this about Shih Tzus: “Nobody knows how the ancient eunuchs managed to mix together: a dash of lion, several teaspoons of rabbit, a couple of ounces of domestic cat, one part court jester, a dash of ballerina, a pinch of old man, a bit of beggar, a tablespoon of monkey, one part baby seal, a dash of teddy bear, and, for the rest, dogs of Tibetan and Chinese origin.”  I think that sums it up pretty good. This page has a few more additional paragraphs about the Shih Tzu….

American Kennel Club Says…

The American Kennel Club Breed Standard describes the Shih Tzu as “A compact and solid dog, the Shih Tzu’s long, flowing double coat is its most distinctive feature. The word Shih Tzu means ‘lion’ and although this dog is sweet and playful, he is not afraid to stand up for himself! One of the most popular dogs in the United States according to AKC® Registration Statistics, this portable pooch has a distinctively arrogant carriage with his head well up and tail curved over the back. All colors of Shih Tzu are allowed.”

The AKC also states that the Shih Tzu was “Cherished by Chinese royals as prized house pets for over a thousand years, it is believed to have descended from crossing the Lhasa Apso or Tibetan mountain dog and Pekingese. The Shih Tzu was the house pet for most of the Ming Dynasty and was discovered by soldiers in England during World War II.”   (Wow! How awesome is that? Royalty in a tiny package!!)

The AKC further states “As the sole purpose of the Shih Tzu is companion and house pet, he should be lively, alert, friendly and trusting towards all. He requires minimal exercise, but his long, luxurious coat needs daily brushing and maintenance.”

A few quick facts from the American Kennel Club (AKC):

  • Shih Tzus are classified into the Toy Group; AKC recognized in 1969.
  • Shih Tzus range in size from 8 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder and 9 to 16 pounds.
  • Companion, house pet.

Common Shih Tzu Characteristics

 These little dogs are loyal and devoted to their people and ours are true to this characteristic and routinely follow us from room to room.  It is hard to resist the breed.  The Shih Tzu simply doesn’t allow anyone to ignore him. It was created for the purpose to be a human companion and it is very good at that.  Further, I do not think my own Shih Tzus have ever met a stranger… although they will bark to greet newcomers.

Legend Says…

Incidentally, did you know there is legend that Buddha traveled with a Shih Tzu? This is where their nick name of “Lion Dog” came to be known. In one of the travels, there were people intent upon harming Buddha but the Shih Tzu changed into a lion and scared the shady individuals away. As soon as the villains departed from sight, the lion turned back into a Shih Tzu and Buddha kissed the little dog’s head. Have you ever noticed the white spot on most Shih Tzus head? Well, that is supposed to be where Buddha’s kiss was planted. The Shih Tzu has been documented to be one of the 14 oldest dog breeds, and their bones have been found in China proving their existence as early as 8,000 B. C.

Imperials? Tea Cups?

There are overly small Shih Tzus but there is not an “Imperial” or “Tea Cup” Shih Tzu recognized breed standard that we are aware of. Shih Tzus have undershot bites. Its lower jaw is a touch wider than the upper jaw. The upper teeth will set inside the lower teeth when they close their mouth. Shih Tzus faces are flat. Supervise their activities during hot weather because they are susceptible to heatstroke. I keep our dogs indoors during hot weather at a constant temperature of about 80 degrees. They sometimes snore as well.

Shih Tzu Hair Coat and Caring for That Beautiful Coat

The hair care is not as bad as it looks. The easiest way to tackle this is to brush their coat daily just as you would brush your own hair. Long ago, Malinda often scoffed at long coated dogs (even though she, herself, has had waist length hair of her years). The long, silky Shih Tzu coat is gorgeous, and it comes in many colors: black, black and white, gray and white, or red and white. A white tip on the tail and a white blaze on the forehead are highly prized. (Remember that kiss we talked about earlier?) Many a Shih Tzu lovers give up and hires a professional groomer to clip those long locks short. Gone is some of his beauty, but so is the chore of daily brushing. If you trim the coat short and want to keep it that way, plan on grooming appointments every six to eight weeks.

At about 10 to 12 months of age, the Shih Tzu coat changes from puppy fluff to a silky adult coat. This was the hardest thing for us to adapt to. It literally seemed to have changed overnight.  During this stage, you’ll probably think the coat mats faster than you can brush. Don’t give up! This lasts for about three months. Once the adult coat comes in fully, brushing gets easier.