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The sweet and lovable Shih Tzu is one of the most popular dog breeds in the US, and it's no wonder since anyone who's ever met one of these little "lion dogs" comes away smitten with them for life!
While many dog breeds were created to help us with tasks like hunting game, guarding property, and pulling sleds, the Shih Tzu was bred to be our loving companion, a job these affectionate little guys do very well! Interested in learning more about the adorable Shih Tzu? Read on!
Some experts say they originated in Tibet and eventually made their way to China. Others say China is their place of origin. Either way, they quickly became treasured lap dogs of Chinese royalty.
The name Shih Tzu can be translated as "little lion" or "lion dog"—a nod to their furry heads and faces. They are also called "chrysanthemum dogs" because the fur on their faces grows out from their button noses every which way, like the petals of a flower!
Imperial China couldn't keep the irresistible Shih Tzu a secret in the forbidden city of Peking (now Beijing) forever. This dog eventually made its way to the UK and then to America, where it consistently ranks as one of the AKC's most popular dog breeds.
Some experts speculate that the Lhasa Apso and possibly the Pekingese went into creating the Shih Tzu. In fact, in its early years in England, it was initially classified as a type of Apso but became a separate breed in the early 1900s.
Shih Tzus are adaptable, fun-loving dogs eager to please their human companions. They make good apartment dogs and also love to be around children. Remember that their favorite place is by your side, so be prepared to have a permanent snuggle buddy!
You'll see Shih Tzu dogs at shows with long, flowing, silky hair, but grooming the full coat takes a good amount of work, and many Shih Tzu parents prefer to give their dogs a "puppy" cut to make grooming more manageable.
You can still gather your pup's trimmed hair into a little topknot like the show dogs. Just be sure to use a band made for this purpose.
Don't buy Shih Tzu puppies from pet stores or online ads; chances are these dogs came from a puppy mill. Check out the American Shih Tzu Club to find reputable breeders (and for lots of great information on the breed), or find a Shih Tzu rescue organization near you for adoptable pups needing a good home!
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Shih Tzus were bred solely to be companions, so they weaponized cuteness. Those big eyes, smooshy faces, and fluffy fur were designed to make humans squee. You will coo over your Shih Tzu, baby talk them, and carry them around like a stuffed animal. Resistance is futile.
Shih Tzus don't shed much, but their hair grows and grows. Trimming helps them see and prevents tangles. However, their long locks are a big part of their charm. Regular brushing and bathing will keep their coat clean and mat-free if you prefer the natural look.
Sweet as honey! Bred as companions, Shih Tzus are playful, gentle, and affectionate. They tend to bond closely with their owners and love spending time together. While lively and energetic, they are usually not aggressive or territorial. Shih Tzus get along well with new people and other pets.