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Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu Books

Group: Utility - Breed Standard


Whilst it is agreed that the Shih Tzu is an ancient breed, its exact origins are not so clear. Many believe that the breed originated in Tibet, where it was kept in temples as a sacred dog. During the Manchu Dynasty (17th Century), they were occasionally given to the emperors of China as a tribute of great honour, and thus became established as a companion dog in the emperor's palace. Whilst some believed that the Shih Tzu had developed as a pure breed in Tibet, others believed that they were developed in China by crossing the Tibetan Apso and the Pekingese.

General Sir Douglas and Lady Brownrigg first introduced the breed to Great Britain in 1928, and in 1933 the Shih Tzu became recognised as a separate breed from the other Tibetan breeds. Gradually, the breed became more popular, more dogs were imported and it was in 1946 that they became recognised by The Kennel Club.


Height at withers not more than 27 cms (10½ ins). Weight: 4.5-8 kgs (10-18 lbs). Ideal weight 4.5-7.5 kgs (10-16 lbs).

A sturdy, small dog with an ideal weight between 10-16 lbs. Their head is broad and round, and the large, dark, round eyes give a warm expression. Their drop ears are large and long, heavily coated so that they seem to blend into the neck. Their coat is long and dense, falling to the ground. They have a beard and whisker, and the hair on their nose grows upwards, giving it a chrysanthemum-like effect. The hair that hangs over their face is usually tied up into a "top-knot". They come in a wide range of colours, from total black, to black and white, grey and white, gold and white or pure gold. In parti-colours a white blaze on the forehead and a white tip to the tail are highly prized.


The Shih Tzu is a friendly, lively dog that is an excellent family companion. Active and alert, they make excellent watchdogs. They adore people, and love to be fussed over, making firends wherever they go. They love to play and romp, but are equally happy to be a simple lap dog, as long as they are with you.

Breed Health

Breeders should test for eye problems. Lifespan 12-14 years.

Breed Care

Regular grooming of the long coat is important to keep it looking beautiful and matt free. Start brushing as soon as you get your puppy in order to get them used to it and ensure they enjoy the grooming sessions. Spending about 10 minutes a day on grooming and adult will keep the coat in good condition, and if matts do occur they will be small and can be dealt with quickly. The topknot should be combed and put up every day. Check daily to ensure there are no matts beginning to form in the coat and brush the adult thoroughly once a week. Never brush the coat whilst it is dry, always first spray it with either water or a solution of one part creme rinse to eight parts water.

The right sort of brushes and combs is important, and whilst you do not need many items it is important to purchase good quality products. The most important item is a bristle brush. A pure bristle brush is preferred to a nylon brush, which can cause static in the coat. With a price tag from about ?20 this may seem an expensive brush, but it should last forever and be the gentlest on the coat. A pin-brush can be used to finish the coat. A metal comb is also required to comb the face and topknot. You can purchase metal combs with wide teeth one end and narrower at the other. Do the topknot last. Carefully brush the hair on the top of the head away from the eyes, part it down the middle.

Some owners prefer to have their Shih Tzu's coat trimmed to make it easier to look after. Bathing does not need to be done regularly, unless of course you are showing your Shih Tzu, only when they are dirty and really need one.


Whilst the Shih Tzu does not require a lot of exercise, a daily walk will help keep them fit and healthy.


Shih Tzu are intelligent but can also be independent and stubborn, so persistence and consistency are required in training. The Shih Tzu does not respond well to harsh methods and reward and motivation ways of training are required. See our books on training

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Last link added: 16 Mar, 2008