Shih Tzu – The lion dog

9 Mar

Many of my followers will now recognize the wonderful Solomon from some of my posts… so of course, its Shih Tzu time!

Would you mess with this guy?

Hey there Solomon!




Although small, this dog is pretty sturdy. generally they will reach up to 11 inches in height and weigh in at 4-7kg (9-16 pounds). Its body is slightly longer than it is tall, it has a broad, round head which has a wide gap between the eyes. The muzzle is short with an inch or less from the tip of the nose to the defined stop (this is a brachycephalic breed). The teeth should meet in a level underbite and the nose, eye rims and lips vary in colour depending on the dogs coat (i.e. blue in blue dogs). The eyes are large and round, usually dark in colour (lighter in blue or liver dogs). The ears are large, pendant in shape, are covered in hair and hang down. The tail is high set and carried over the back, also covered in hair. They have a very dense and long, double coat which will flow over the dog when kept long. They look as though they have a beard and mustache with short hair on the muzzle. Their coat comes in a variety of colours.


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Health problems:

Due to their long back and short legs they are prone to slipped stifle and spinal disc disease. It is common to find your Shih Tzu suffering from ear and eye problems and also early tooth loss. Due to their flat faces, these dogs are brachycephalic and suffer from respiratory problems as well as wheezing and heavy snoring. This is a breed that will gain weight easily and so should not be overfed.



This is an ancient breed, said to have originated in the 17th century by crossing the Lhasa Apso or Tibetan mountain dog and Pekingese. The dogs were favorites of the Chinese royals and were so prized that for years the Chinese refused to sell, trade, or give away any of the dogs. The first pair was imported to England in the 1930’s, when it was discovered by soldiers in world war 2. It was recognized in England in 1946 and by the american kennel club in 1969. You might also be surprised to know that this breed is more closely related to the wolf than any other breed!



This is an alert and lively little dog which due to its “yappy” nature makes a great watch dog. They are very affectionate and love to be around people and will usually get on well with other pets. The breed is gentle and loyal and will respond well to training (as long as it is persistent). They are fairly intelligent and often do well at both obedience and agility. However they do sometimes require a little more time as they can be stubborn,  and can be problematic when it comes to housebreaking. This is a breed that needs to know that all humans in the house are its pack leaders, with house rules being consistent and clear, otherwise he will see it his duty to fill the gaps and boss everyone else around. These dogs may become snappy with a host of behaviour problems if they decide that they can boss their humans around as a result of “small dog syndrome”. It is vital that you give this dog limits and rules, making sure that you are a consistent, firm pack leader. Providing you treat your dog like a dog and not a cute little baby to cuddle, you should get on fine and have a playful and affectionate companion.  They do not have any particular “job” instincts such as herding or guarding, but they are perfect at what they were bred for: being a companion animal as they are definitely lap dogs who love nothing more than to be loved.




Living conditions:

This little dog is perfect for apartment life as they are fairly inactive indoors and will do fine without a yard if they are exercised sufficiently. They will adapt easily to live almost anywhere (except for outside). Although they are a small dog, they do need at least one walk a day. Two short walks a day would be perfect. Play does take care of much of its exercise needs, however it does not fulfill the dogs instincts to walk. Dogs (of any breed) that do not get a daily walk are likely to display some behavioural issues.



These little fluff balls do need a fair amount of grooming. A good daily brush using a bristle brush is a basic need. Many people will tie the hair up in a topknot (particularly those kept with long hair) in order to keep the hair out of its eyes. Having the coat trimmed does minimize the amount of grooming needed, making grooming less time consuming ( the “puppy cut” is a popular cut). The ear passages and area around the eyes need to be kept clean. This breed has sensitive eyes and sometimes require special drops. Although these dogs need a lot of grooming, they shed little to no hair and are therefore good for allergy sufferers.


Life expectancy:

15 plus years.


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