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This is what you need to know about your Shih Tzu – the little lion dogThe Shih Tzu is known for its friendliness and social nature, and it thus belongs to the group of companion dogs. With its characteristic, short muzzle, its round and large eyes, its long eyelashes and its slight underbite, this dog is a cute little companion.
Where does the Shih Tzu come from?The dog breed is over a thousand years old and originates from East Asia - specifically Tibet. The dog breed has roots that stretch all the way to the mountains of Tibet, but it has been highly revered for hundreds of years in the former Manchuria province of China and later in several parts of the country. The imperials of China had Shih Tzu dogs and bred them. When the British arrived, the dog breed found its way to England and later to the United States. The dog's function has always been to socialize with people, and its cheerful nature brings smiles wherever it goes.
How big does an adult Shih Tzu get?The Shih Tzu is a relatively small dog breed that grows up to 20-28 cm tall and weighs 4.5-8 kilos. Its impressive coat is silky soft and consists of an overcoat that is long, smooth and dense, and in addition a soft undercoat that lies very close to the body - just enough to bury your fingers in when you cuddle it. The dog lives between 10-16 years old, which is a high average lifespan for a dog. Therefore, with this breed you can enjoy many years together.
Due to the breed's shortened skull and nasal bones, it is in the group of dogs that are also called brachycephalic dogs, which have less space in the airways. This makes the breed predisposed to a number of health challenges, such as breathing problems and heat stroke. You should therefore be aware of how best to keep your dog healthy. Among other things, you must ensure that you let your dog relax and not over exert on very hot days.
What colors is a Shih Tzu?The dog is available in many shades of white, black and brown and in combinations of these colors. Most often, the fur is darker on the ears and around the eyes and has a white flash on the face. The pigmentation on the fur is also usually darker around the eyes and muzzle. The dog breed is also called the chrysanthemum dog because the fur around the nose, mouth and eyes grows in different directions, so that it resembles the shape of a chrysanthemum flower.
A Shih Tzu's temperament and activity levelThe Shih Tzu has a social nature, and therefore it can only be left alone at home for a maximum of four to five hours. However, this should be the exception rather than the rule. The dog therefore does best in homes with more than one owner, so that there are several people to take care of the dog.
Each dog has its own personality, but overall a Shih Tzu is known to be lively and active and to have a love of play. While some are more contact-seeking, there are also Shih Tzus who are more independent. In order for you to create the best possible conditions for your dog to thrive as a family dog, it is important that it is stimulated socially, mentally and physically - especially as a puppy. A good way to ensure this is by signing up for a puppy training course, where your puppy gets used to new impressions, sounds, people and dogs.
The fact that a Shih Tzu dog is lively does not mean that it must have a lot of exercise. It loves to play and run around. Daily walks, fun activities with dog toys and social contact are the level of activity your dog needs so that it can develop in the very best way.
The dog breed is often quick to learn new tricks with rewards and praise – using positive training principles. In this connection, it is a good idea to reward your Shih Tzu puppy when it is quiet, as the breed tends to make a lot of noise when something is different or new. It is a good idea to choose low-fat treats for training, as this dog breed can easily become overweight.
Grooming and care of your Shih TzuYour Shih Tzu's silky coat requires a lot of care. The dog should have its fur brushed daily. On the other hand, it sheds minimally. When you brush the fur daily, you remove dead hair and you prevent the fur from tangling. This keeps the dog's coat and skin healthy. When you have gone for a walk with your dog, it is also a good idea to remove small objects from the forest floor and pavement that, due to the Shih Tzu's short stature, may have become stuck in its coat.
The fur grows quickly, and if you do not trim your dog yourself, it is a good idea to make a regular appointment with a dog groomer. Some owners choose not to clip their Shih Tzu. That choice is entirely up to the individual, but in that case you should tie the dog's bangs up so that it has a clear view - that's why you may also have seen the breed with a bow or elastic on the forehead. There is thus a purpose to this kind of dog accessories.