Introduction of the Breed
The Shih Tzu is a small, strong, and robust dog, a little longer than tall, with a short snout, small head, and large, hanging ears. A representative feature of Shih Tzu is that the nose hair grows upward, giving the face a chrysanthemum shape. They are the product of the crossing between the Lhasa Apso and the Pekingese. Its name comes from the Chinese word “lion dog”, its name is Chrysanthemum in England, and Tibetan Lion.
This old breed originated in the Buddhist temples of Tibet, in southwest China. The monks considered him a sacred dog and were responsible for raising them. They developed in China, and their ancestors are the Lhasa Apso that the Dalai Lama would have given to the Chinese emperors towards the seventeenth century. Because of this, it is a breed closely linked to the Buddhist religion. Until the beginning of the 20th century, Shih Tzu was unknown outside of China.
In the early thirties, they began to be in the houses of notable Chinese, leaving their ivory tower, and in 1934, the Peking Kennel Club opened. The invasion of Japan in 1937 caused the extinction of the Shih Tzu in China. However, travelers who had visited the eastern country had already extended their popularity to the West, first to Europe and later to America, where they caused a sensation.
The Shih Tzus arrived in the West from the hand of Lady Brownrigg, wife of a British general. They initially received the name “Apsos” for their physical resemblance.
Their life expectancy is between 14 and 15 years on average. However, one who has received well cares and has not had major health problems can live for about 23 years, being one of the longest-known dog breeds. Its weight ranges between 4.5 and 7.3 kg.
In this breed, the hair comes in two layers: the long, thick, curly outer layer; and the inner layer of soft texture.
Their fur is hypoallergenic since they do not generate allergies and can be of any color. However, some usually have a white spot on the forehead and at the end of the tail, which makes them more striking.
This breed needs daily care as far as its fur is concerned. Otherwise, its hair will entangle and form complicated knots, as well as accumulating dirt. Normally, dogs that present themselves to canine competitions and such activities usually have longer hair. For pet dogs, however, it is better to leave it shorter.
These dogs are loyal, affectionate, sociable, independent, and playful. Because of their instinctive alertness, they turn out to be good watchdogs. Even the Chinese raised and fixed them to look like living carpets. These dogs prefer to be close to their owners and are tolerant and affectionate to strangers. These dogs are not suitable for living in large spaces. They adapt well to life in the city and small spaces, such as apartments.
This type of dog likes to be fit, so you must practice a good exercise routine. Its small size facilitates this task since they do not need to leave home to be able to practice some type of exercise. It is enough to exercise inside the house in the company of its owner or other family members. They are sensitive to hot and humid climates, and exercising in them can be a problem since they have respiratory difficulties in this matter.
These dogs are excellent pets for single people, couples, and families with children of different ages. They usually get along very well with children as long as they know how to respect the dog and do not mistreat it. They are also excellent pets for novice owners. However, they are not good pets for families and people who spend most of the day away from home, unless they can take their dogs to work.
They obtained an independent registration at the Kennel Club in 1940, with certificates since 1949. They are Group IX: Company Dogs, according to the Cynological Federation classification.
The Shih Tzu has become a popular breed, and in recent years it has been between the eleventh and twelfth place in the ranking of the most popular races in all of Britain. With generally more than 4,000 new annual entries in the Kennel Club’s book of origins throughout the 1990s, the Shih Tzu is, numerically, the most important breed of the Utility Group in England.
Although some Shih Tzu participate in Mini-Agility and obedience competitions, they are not famous for being a particularly obedient breed, due, in some way, to their independent nature.
History and Origin of the Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu are dogs that have a long history. They are originally from ancient China, and there are several theories about their origin. It is difficult to know exactly how this breed emerged, being complicated for historians since there are no written records, and the oldest traces are works of art.
There are two theories about the origin of the breed. The first relates to the Tibetan monasteries, where monks could have raised them together with other breeds from the region, having arrived in China as gifts for emperors.
The other theory talks about the Chinese origin of the breed, with the eunuchs from the royal palaces having bred them from Tibetan dogs that were gifts of these noble families. Both theories have evidence for and against, which makes it difficult to locate their exact origin.
Its popularity grew during the late nineteenth century. However, in the previous years and during World War II, the Japanese army invaded China. This period of history was difficult for the Asian nation and for the Shih Tzu that completely extinguished in the country.
That is why the current specimens of the breed can trace their lineage to dogs that grew outside of China, mainly in Europe. That is how a dog with genetics that places it near the wolves with probably 2000 years of history, was on the verge of disappearance and resurfaced as one of the most popular breeds among small dogs.
Origins of the Breed, from verbal to written tradition
The origin of this breed is between two theories, the first one and the one that defends that the Tibetan monks developed these dogs in the monasteries of this country, as they did with the Lhasa Apso, having arrived in China as gifts from the Dalai Lama for the Chinese Emperor.
The other theory that has received more support recently argues that they were raised purely in China, and it was in this country where the breed developed. There are representations of dogs similar to the Shih Tzu in records found in ancient Chinese art, especially in the Tang dynasty art between 618 and 907 AD.
Likewise, in representations from the Ming dynasty, between 1368 and 1644, there are dogs similar to these. They show up with the royal families of the dynasty. It demonstrates that these dogs were popular in court during this period.
When Marco Polo visited the region, he noted that Emperor Kublai Khan had dogs they called “lion dogs”. These served to accompany the emperor’s hunting lions and keeping them calm in their cages when they were not hunting.
History of Empress Tzu Hui
Tzu Hui was a royal concubine who came to power and became the Chinese Empress in 1861. As a sign of respect and good wishes for the beginning of her reign, the Dalai Lama sent her two Shih Tzu dogs, which became the Empress’s adoration.
Her first royal edict was to issue protection for these dogs, thus it was forbidden to mistreat them in any way, and they should receive the same treatment throughout the kingdom as in the imperial palace. This action greatly raised the condition of these dogs as the favorites of the most important person in all of China.
The chief of the eunuchs of the palace had the task of taking care of these dogs, making sure that they did not receive mistreatment and that their breeding was given in the best possible way. In this way, the population of Shih Tzu in the palace grew a lot. Unfortunately, with the death of the empress in 1908, the protection and popularity of these dogs decreased significantly.
World War II and Today
The history of the Shih Tzu moves away from its native China with the events related to World War II and the war between China and Japan. In this, the Japanese invaded and imposed controls on their continental counterparts.
With this, many nobles died and lost their assets, so the already diminished population of Shih Tzu fell forward into extinction during the duration of the armed conflict. The survival of the breed was thanks to its expansion to Europe in the hands of the English Lady Brownrigg in 1928.
With the arrival of the Americans to the conflict between the Asian nations, the soldiers met the breed in its homeland with the specimens that remained. Then, when they returned home, some took these little ones with them.
Surviving the extinction
After the war, Lady Brownrigg managed to reunite 7 couples with dogs that she imported from China and Norway. These crossed during 1952, and from them come most of the current Shih Tzu descend.
During this time, there was a crossing with a Pekingese that represented a serious problem for the activists in saving the breed. However, it did not affect the standards of the breed.
Recognition as a Breed
When the canine clubs began to appear, and this breed became known, they were simply known as Tibetan dogs. It did not exist any separation between the different breeds that made up this group of dogs.
By 1934, they finally received recognition as an individual and separate breed. In 1935, in England, the Shih Tzu club officially opened. In the United States, the American Kennel Club integrated them into their breed list, as a miscellaneous breed in 1955, and an independent breed in 1969.
The Shih Tzu is a lively, alert, and robust dog. It is a miniature dog or toy dog. Its fur is double and long and has a lot of mobility, which makes it very attractive. In fact, in its ancestral past, people made them look like living carpets.
Likewise, their noble past as a companion dog of Chinese royalty endowed them with a particular bearing that they still preserve. They walk with pride and have an arrogant attitude. They always carry their heads up and their tails on their backs.
Its size may vary slightly, but it must always be a compact and solid dog. It should wear a harmonious body proportion, like any other dog breed, especially among small dogs. Its physical configuration must be balanced, deviations from the breed standard receive strong penalizations.
These dogs are Toy size, that is, they are extremely small dogs. The height of the cross in these dogs should not exceed 26 cm or 10 ½ fleas. A lower limit for the size is 9 inches or 23 cm. However, some specimens that are up to 8 inches or 20cm in weight are accepted. They must be between 9 pounds or 4 kilograms to 16 pounds or 7 kilograms.
Besides, from the shoulders to the root of the tail, the length should be slightly greater than the ground to the top of the cross. It is important to consider that the appearance of the Shih Tzu should never be so high that it seems to have long legs, nor so small to make it look chubby. Regardless of its size, it should always look compact, and with weight and bulk according to its size.
It is round and wide, and there is a good separation between the eyes. Its size is according to the size of the rest of the dog, without looking too big or too small concerning the body. A narrow head or eyes close together is considered a lack of the standard.
The expression of these dogs is more appreciated than the individual evaluation of their parts. They must have a sweet and confident expression with big eyes. At the time of being evaluated, you have to be careful not to get carried away by the haircut techniques that can give the wrong impression about the dog..
The eyes are large and round, without being prominent. They are separated from each other and always have a look straight ahead. The color varies according to the color of the fur, but they will always be very dark. In dogs with reddish or bluish fur, they can be lighter.
Small eyes, those that are close together, and are light in color, are considered standard errors. If it looks too white in the eye, it is considered a penalty.
The ears are slightly below the skull crown line, are large, and well covered with abundant fur.
It is short and square, without wrinkles. It is just below the lower eyelids of the dog. Ideally, it will be no more than 2.5cm or an inch from birth to the tip of the nose, varying concerning the overall size of the dog.
The snout should be flat in the front, with the chin and lower lip without bulging or being too far behind the upper jaw. It is necessary that it does not look upset or that it has no defined limits.
The nose has wide and open nostrils. It is always black in all colors. In the case of reddish fur, the pigment will be red, and in the case of blues, it will be blue. They are the only exceptions accepted, valid for lips, eyelids, and nose. The pink color in any of these parts is considered a penalty.
It must be small, as the jaws are wide. Misaligned or missing teeth should not receive penalization. It is important to keep in mind that while the mouth is closed, the tongue and teeth should disappear. If the bite looks large, it will be a penalty.
Neck and body
The physical characteristics of Shih Tzu are quite common in dogs of its size. The most important thing in this regard is that it does not look disproportionate and that its physical configuration allows it to have adequate mobility and ease.
This dog’s neck is long enough so it can keep its head high without much difficulty, always according to the size and proportion of the rest of the body.
As for the body, it is robust without a waist. These dogs are slightly longer than wide, and they should not have long legs. The chest is wide with the ribs wide enough without having a barrel chest, and the ribs slightly exceed the elbow.
The tail is always high, and it is covered with dense fur, which gives it the appearance of a plume. It bends over the spine and remains there. A very loose tail, coiled, flat, or that is far below where it should be born, are severe penalties.
The shoulders have are well angled and backward. They fit well to the body and integrate smoothly into the spine. The legs are straight, with good muscle mass and bone structure. They are apart from each other under the chest, and the elbows are attached to the body.
The pasterns are perpendicular to the legs and are strong. If they have a spur, it is best to remove them. The feet are firm, with thick pads always pointing forward.
The hindquarters should be like the front. The legs are muscular and with a good bone structure. They are straight and should be seen as angled from the side, not too close together but rather in line with the front legs. The hock is perpendicular and quite low.
Fur and color
Shih Tzu’s fur is luxurious. They have a double coat to protect them from the cold, and it is dense, long, and with a lot of movement. It can be smooth or slightly wavy in the head, and they usually have a bun to hold it.
It is a penalty that it has poor hair, a lack of double fur, or that this is curly. There are no limitations as to the color of the dog, as they come in all varieties and combinations.
Behavior with other Pets
The nature of the Shih Tzu is sweet, and they fully enjoy the company of other pets around them. They are not used to being alone, as they formerly grew in large groups within the Chinese palaces, so they are adapted to share with other dogs.
They are friendly with any dog breed, regardless of their size or activity level, and they are not particularly aggressive dogs. Although, they get along very well with other Shih Tzu, with whom they share many temperament traits.
The most important thing to know about how to relate them to other pets is to give it and its companions their place at home. That is something necessary to keep the peace in any house where more than one animal lives. It allows creating limits and safe and peaceful spaces for each of them. It allows them to leave when the games are intense, especially if there is a difference in age.
Another aspect to keep in mind is the behavior of dogs. Certain behaviors need correction and others do not, as shocking as they may seem. Only in this way, a natural balance is born between the animals.
Creating limits to avoid conflicts
Limits form more easily when dogs have spaces to take as their own, especially when it comes to the things that are most important in their lives, such as food, rest, and toys.
If they cannot have certainty about these aspects, then they may feel that to satisfy any of these needs, they must compete. That will create unnecessary stress for the dog’s life, which can be a trigger for conflict situations.
The first space that helps to create these limits is at the time of the meal. Dogs can eat in the same room, but each one must have their place and respect that of the other. As the owner, you have to ensure that this happens correctly.
Secondly, it is the sleeping space. Many dogs enjoy sleeping together with their canine companions, but it is always good to make it clear to the dogs in the house that everyone has their bed and can use it whenever they want. Especially when one of the dogs is older, because they soon get tired of the intense games of the puppies and need a place to rest without being disturbed.
As for toys, it is also important to create limits, since many times the Shih Tzu are not very good at sharing their toys. It is best that each dog has its own and know how to respect their peers.
When two dogs are part of a family, a system of their kind creates. Each one will assume a position within the pack. Without this hierarchy, they can feel insecure about how to act concerning others.
As they spend time together, this hierarchy will begin to settle, and little by little, each dog will know its place in the house. As owners, you have to be attentive to this hierarchy to respect them and not create conflicts of power between dogs.
There will always be an alpha and a beta dog. The alpha is the one who makes the decisions and the first in everything. If it does not receive reaffirmation in this position with simple actions, it can try to reaffirm itself by attacking its partner. These actions include serving its food first and letting it in or playing first.
The beta dog will know how to wait and will not take as something negative to be left in second place. It is also not necessary to assume that the fact that it waits is something bad or that its position as a beta decreases it or anything similar.
Attention to problematic behaviors
Older dogs will always impose their rules on younger ones. This is reasonable and normal behavior among dogs. The problem may appear when the corrections become very aggressive, and the puppy is injured. Here, it is necessary to put a limit on these corrections.
The acceptable thing and what you shouldn’t have to worry about are the grunts or thrusts between the dogs, especially around the toys. That is a healthy way among dogs to set limits.
That dogs ignore each other is also acceptable behavior, especially when they barely know each other. At this time, they can maintain a distance between them until they are sure of their position and know the limits with their partner.
Another behavior that may appear is that the resident dog begins to have behavioral changes that can be disconcerting for their owners. However, it is necessary to understand that sometimes changes in routines can cause a playful dog to become distant a few days. The important thing is not to stop keeping it in mind and be patient.
When a Shih Tzu puppy meets another older dog, one must be attentive to how the relationship is taking place. These little ones can be very hyperactive and deplete the patience of an old dog who is not in the mood for games.
In general, the diet of a Shih Tzu is quite simple to carry. Being small dogs, they are full with relative ease. However, when the food is not of quality, they can spend the whole day hungry. If it also contains too many chemicals such as dyes, they can have skin and digestive reactions like diarrhea.
With that in mind, the frequent questions any responsible owner has would be the frequency with which this small dog should eat, especially if they are inexperienced in canine care. Each breed of dog has its demands, and these are closely related to the activity and size of the breed.
Similarly, you must consider the number of rations for each meal. The overall health of the dog depends largely on this since, although the Shih Tzu are not gluttonous by nature, they can reach obesity if you overfeed them.
Like any other dog, there are certain foods that they should not eat. Certainly, many of the ingredients we use at our table are not suitable for canine consumption and can cause digestive complications in small 4-legged ones. The ideal is to always select foods formulated for them of higher quality.
Frequency and Amount of Food
The diet will always be according to the age and the particular requirements of each animal. That is, at each stage of life, they must eat correctly to guarantee nutrition that allows them to have a good life quality.
In their puppy stage, especially between 8 and 12 weeks of age, these little ones are very vulnerable to suffer from hypoglycemia. It means that their blood sugar level can fall and make them feel weak and stunned. In a period of life where they consume so much energy and are in full growth, running out of fuel can affect them for a lifetime.
At this stage, it is best to use a free demand feeding method, which means keeping a little food constantly available to the puppy. Ideally, leave a small amount on the plate, but not always leave it to the top. If there are other dogs, you have to be careful they do not eat it.
After 3 months and until the first year of life, it is advisable to move from free demand to meal times. In this period, their stomachs are already able to receive larger rations and thus have a lower risk of hypoglycemia. Distributing rations in 3 meals a day will help your Shih Tzu create habits and keep it healthy.
After the year, they are already considered adults. Here, it is best to reduce their meals to two in the day. Some dogs that are anxious or have very little appetite can have food 3 times a day, as they do not eat their full ration in one food.
As for the quantity, it will also be according to the age and weight of the dog. The general recommendation is:
- ½ cup to ¾ cup from 2 to 3 months.
- ½ cup to 1 cup from 4 to 8 months.
- ¾ cup to 1 ¼ cups from 9 to 12 months.
- Weight from 9 to 12 lb (4 – 5kg) serving of ¾ to 1 cup daily
- Weight from 13 to 16 lb (6 – 7kg) serving of 1 to 1 ¼ cup daily
All these measures are daily, and they should eat them throughout the day according to the number of meals per age.
Half-day meal, tool for anxiety
In addition to being necessary for some specimens, a mid-day meal serves as a tool to handle separation anxiety, which is very common in this breed that appreciates human company so much. Of course, this should always be respecting the recommended daily rations.
When a dog has little appetite, that is to say, it leaves food on its plate using two meals a day, it is necessary to include a meal in the middle of the day. This behavior can be problematic when their master is away from home, which being alone for too long will also make them anxious.
Leaving the portion of food served on the plate can be useful since the dog will eat it when it feels hungry. However, it is beneficial to use dispensing toys, since the dog will spend its time attentively taking out its food from the toy and will not notice that it is alone. That is an excellent technique to avoid separation anxiety.
Problems associated with diet
There are certain foods such as some fruits (peaches, grapes, pears), seeds such as apples and cherries, other foods such as avocado, onion, caffeine, and chocolate that the Shih Tzu should never eat as they are toxic for them. That is one of the reasons for not giving them food from the table and not complying with the sweetness of their pleading eyes.
Additionally, there is the risk of giving them some toxic food without knowing it and leaving the recommended diet scheme, causing obesity. Obesity is a problem to which these little puppies are prone, especially as they age. That is why, since they are young, they have to eat according to the established quantities, with quality food, and enough exercise.
They also tend to have allergies to certain foods, it is rare in this breed, but it can happen. The symptoms that should make you suspect an allergy are skin irritation, constant scratching, and hair loss. If you see any of these symptoms, it is necessary to see a veterinarian.
A problem that appears in this breed is coprophagy. It can be disturbing for their masters because they eat their feces or those of other dogs. Despite being an extremely disgusting habit, it does not jeopardize the health of your dog outside of obtaining some parasites.
This strange behavior probably comes from mothers, who, in the process of caring for puppies, stimulate their little ones to defecate and then clean them with their tongues. Correcting this behavior can be difficult, but it is best to collect feces before they have the opportunity to eat them.
Cares and Health
As a breed, the Shih Tzu has few hereditary health problems to be aware of. However, some diseases present as a result of their physical structure, such as eye diseases.
On the other hand, the care they need to maintain their elegant and beautiful appearance can be overwhelming for owners who do not have the time to dedicate to that task. That is something that you must consider before choosing a partner like this since the time that you dedicate them will determine their life quality.
Taking them to the hairdresser is only one of the obligations that will become part of the routine. Although they are not dogs that require large days of exercise, they do require constant maintenance at home. Their attractive fur only remains beautiful with daily care, and their health depends a lot on the vigilance that their master puts on certain aspects of their life.
In general, they are quite healthy dogs. Although, as everyone can suffer from different common diseases, there are certain conditions to which they are prone and which you must keep in mind when taking a small Shih Tzu home.
They are prone to suffer eye problems due to their large bulging eyes. Likewise, their short snout and flat face make them prone to have certain respiratory difficulties that may startle some owners.
Infections: having very large eyes and eyelids, foreign bodies easily target them, which can be difficult to eliminate. That increases the risk of constant inflammation and infection.
Corneal ulcers: exposure to wind, rubbing of the legs, and foreign bodies that fall into the eyes are also agents that cause abrasion of the cornea and cause these ulcers that limit vision.
Cataracts: they are the product of the progressive opacity of the lens, which is the natural lens of the eye. It can appear in one or both eyes. In the case of bilateral involvement, it causes blindness.
Entropion: it is the inversion of the eyelid towards the inside of the eye, leaving the eyelashes in contact with the eyeball. That causes constant irritation of the eye, and the solution is surgical.
Epiphora: It is characterized by excessive production of tears that also do not drain as they should by an obstruction of the tear ducts, this can be congenital or product of infections or other eye conditions.
Snorting: During the teething process, between 3 and 4 months, the gums swell and press on the nose, which causes respiratory difficulty. The dog can snort or breathe with whistles, and the nasal obstruction in this process can be such that they can drip in the nose.
Inverse sneezing: When the dog is excited, is eating, or encounters an allergen in the food or the air, this type of event can occur. What happens is that the nasal secretions fall on the soft palate, and this closes the trachea. While this happens, the dog breathes with difficulty, with a whistle that could scare him a lot. Some owners recommend trying to calm the dog to shorten the duration of the episode.
This breed can suffer from hip dysplasia and patellar dislocation. Both are conditions that cause alterations in the larger joints of the body, the hip, and the knee, limiting their mobility and hindering the life quality of the dog.
Urinary and Kidney Problems
Juvenile Kidney Dysplasia: It is a genetic problem that affects the renal condition. It appears when the dog seems to be thirsty all day, urinates too much, is constantly tired, and moody. This problem has no cure and severely affects the life quality of the dog. There are genetic tests that you can perform on breeding dogs to try to reduce the presence of the disease in the puppies.
Urinary Infections: They can be viral or bacterial, and their main symptoms are an increase in the frequency of urination, blood in the urine, and difficulty or pain when urinating.
Bladder stones: They occur in dogs that are high in protein, phosphorus, or magnesium in their diet, or when they spend a lot of time without urinating during the day.
Other health problems
Retained milk teeth: It is a frequent problem that usually does not require veterinary intervention. The milk teeth and the permanent ones can remain together. However, if they cause discomfort, a veterinarian should remove them.
Umbilical hernia: it is a defect in the midline of the abdominal wall. When they are small, they disappear as the dog grows. If they are large, they require surgery later in life.
Portosystemic hepatic shunt: congenital vascular malformation that causes blood to not pass through the liver, so it is not filtered by this organ, and toxins accumulate in the dog.
Allergies: as a breed, they are susceptible to food components, contact allergies to certain cosmetic products (shampoos or pulguicidal powders), or airborne allergens (dust, mold, and pollen).
Ear infections: the anatomy of their ears, with abundant hair and drooping ears, makes it a damp and dark place where bacteria proliferate.
The health status of these small dogs depends largely on their care. To have a good life quality, you have to commit to giving them the best possible care.
Baths and brushing
The Shih Tzu are dogs that require great care with the fur and need baths with relative frequency. The general recommendation is to bathe them once a month. If necessary, they can bathe in a week. If they become too frequent, their skin may become irritated.
Keep in mind that Shih Tzu’s coat is of hair, like that of people, not of hair like other dog breeds. You must properly take care of it since they do not shed their hair, and it grows constantly.
Brushing them daily is necessary to avoid getting tangles and to keep the hair soft and shiny. When the hair is long, it is important to make sure that there are no knots, as this will be painful for the dog. You can fix it with a bun over the eyes, to prevent hair loss, and to ensure that they are as clean as possible.
The growth of their hair is continuous, so if you do not cut it frequently, they can become more hair than the dog. Visits to the hairdresser and maintenance at home are a fundamental rule for the owner of a Shih Tzu.
The frequency with which they should go to the hairdresser is between 3 and 4 weeks. These visits will allow them to receive a professional cut as well as nail cutting and a hairstyle of the breed.
Between visits, it is always good that along with daily brushing, they receive maintenance with weekly cuts to reduce hair in certain delicate areas, such as around the eyes, near the anus, and between the pads of the legs.
In case the dog is not going to be exhibited, it is best to keep them with a puppy haircut, which is easier to maintain and with less annoying daily care than the traditional long hair. This recommendation is especially important for those owners who have no experience with the breed.
Toothbrushing and ear care
As a small dog breed, the Shih Tzu have a natural propensity to have dental problems. Their small mouths are a place of bacterial plaque and may suffer from gum disease and bad breath.
Brushing their teeth frequently helps to significantly reduce these problems, as well as allowing you to detect incipient problems before they appear. Ideally, do it once a day with products suitable for dogs.
Weekly cleaning of the ears with antiseptic products suitable for dogs prevents infections from forming at this level. It is also necessary to keep the hair inside the ears as short as possible.
They are small breed dogs that grew to be companion dogs and nothing else, so they do not feel a deep need to hunt, dig, or run around. Their greatest need is to be in their master’s lap most of the time possible.
That does not mean that they want to spend the whole day lying on the couch without doing anything. Exercise helps them handle certain aspects of their behavior that can be complicated, such as the need to bite. Therefore, taking them out for short walks daily is more than enough for them.
Likewise, having home game sessions will satisfy their need for affection and help them drain their energy. Biting toys are extremely important to them.
Educating a Shih Tzu can be a task that is complicated for people without experience, and, in particular, for those who are impatient. Despite this, it is necessary to be firm if you want to have a dog that does not cause problems at home.
One of the most difficult skills to master for the Shih Tzu is to know where to do their needs. Learning to do it can be difficult, and, for some time, they can make disasters in the house, especially if they spend the day alone. Another problem is their need to bite, which is very powerful during their puppy times, but, if not properly oriented, it can be a problem in adulthood.
To achieve training that makes them able to face different circumstances without difficulties, maintaining behavior that is pleasant for everyone, you have to keep proper socialization since they are puppies. This step is essential for them to be able to interact healthily.
When you want to teach them obedience skills, you must be patient and constant. Their general attitude is giving to receiving, so motivation is something fundamental for them. Obeying simple orders is especially useful with these types of dogs, which people enjoy a lot but can be a bit disrespectful at times.
Socialization at an early age
Although they are brave and curious puppies, their small size makes them vulnerable to injuries due to simple things. That is something they know so they may feel intimidated by certain circumstances, especially if they have never been exposed to them before.
Meeting a large and menacing person for the first time, with a loud car, or a great Dane’s barking could awaken shyness even in the bravest Shih Tzu. Although everything is easier in life when you know you are small.
That is why socializing them early, as small puppies, is important. It is at this tender stage when they are more susceptible to learn and familiarize themselves with elements that could cause them fear will greatly facilitate adult life.
The best way to achieve this type of interaction is to take them for a walk to different places every time, outside the house, so they will know different smells and sounds. Going out to the street familiarizes them with cars and bicycles, going to a dog park with other dogs, and going to stores or parks where they can interact with strangers, make them more receptive to other people.
If you carry this out frequently during its youth, it will be much more likely to stay calm when they are in public places or with a lot of noise during its adult life. It will allow you to walk with your Shih Tzu without fear of stress or running away before some unknown stimulus.
Where to go to the bathroom?
Learning the place where they are allowed to do their needs is a real challenge for these little ones. During their learning phase, they can do it anywhere in the house, and they are not restricted. This can be one of the most stressful things for the owners of a puppy that needs guidance.
At this stage of the learning process, leaving them alone will only hinder the process of forming a firm habit. Hence, some people consider it impossible to teach them to do what they want. The truth is that everything related to Shih Tzu is a matter of patience and perseverance.
Using these powerful tools, perseverance, and patience, you can even teach them to use a dog litter box. It is very important to limit the space in which they are, especially after eating, and rewarding them when they use the place we want, in this case, the box.
Another technique is to take them for a walk right after meals. They will most likely feel the need to evacuate, and they will do it outside. If this is constant, the habit forms, and they will only need to do it outside the house. Now, if there is not enough time to take them for a walk or there are days when it is difficult, joint training with the box is useful.
Teaching them obedience
It is a useful tool for any dog owner. That your big or small dog can obey an order, simple or complex, is of great help to be able to control it and, above all, to get them to do what you need and want from them.
Shih Tzu are dogs that respond well to positive reinforcements and badly to negative ones, which is why they learn better when they receive prizes than with punishments. Candies are always a good option to use during the training process. However, you have to be aware of their consumption to avoid obesity.
Although they are stubborn, they learn well and quickly with appropriate motivation. That is why turning the training routine to a pleasant day will make learning easier for the dog. Using toys not only rewards them but also gives them the right place to discharge their need to bite, thus avoiding destroying things that they shouldn’t.
Relationship with Humans
Dogs are man’s best friend because they have served as support in countless tasks throughout history. That is why many breeds have their origin in certain activities, and their relationship with their masters and with other creatures is apart from those ancestral tasks they performed.
In the case of Shih Tzu, its only function was to be loyal companions of the members of the Chinese royalty, which is why its relationship with its masters, and with people in general, is very close and largely represents an important part of the dog’s life. If they are not partners, they have nothing else to do.
That is why these dogs are extremely friendly and get along well with anyone who comes to the house, so you should not expect them to be guard dogs. At first, they can bark at a stranger insistently, but once he is comfortable with its masters, the dog will adopt him as another friend.
This little one gets along very well with the children of the house, so it is an ideal dog for families. They will always find someone with whom to share their time and a warm lap where to receive affection. They will also be loyal companions of the adventures of the smallest of the house.
The qualities of the loyal, alert, and vivacious temperament of the Shih Tzu, as well as its practical size and intelligent mind, make them an ideal choice for certain activities, such as service dogs, especially as a medical alert.
Shih Tzu, family dog
One of the most attractive features of the Shih Tzu is precisely their strong desire for company. Their greatest desire and satisfaction is to share their time with their masters, which is why family life suits them very well. In a house where there are many people, there will always be someone who is with them.
When there are children at home, it is always a concern if they get along with pets, if the small dog can bite or hurt him in some way, or if the child will be mature enough to know how to behave with this new being at home.
In the case of Shih Tzu and the children, they have born chemistry, in which the affection is mutual, and the most important thing is always to set clear limits so that there is respect between both parties. Children must be actively involved in dog care, so they are leaders and not equals, so respect and obedience will occur naturally.
Safety is essential, both for dogs and children, and it will always be the responsibility of those who decide to take the small animal home. If there is no commitment to educating both parties in this regard, it is best to reconsider if they want a pet.
Children must be aware of the need for certain rules to be able to live with a Shih Tzu, and, thus, ensure their safety:
- They must know how to approach the dog, always by the side or from the front, never from behind where they can surprise him. They must also hold it firmly and never drop them. Shaking or subjecting the dog to sudden movements is prohibited.
- Teach them to respect the eyes and nose of the dog, as they should never bite it. Likewise, pulling the tail is out of the question.
- Supervise them and teach them the appropriate techniques to groom the dog. It will allow them to be responsible for the animal and will be a great support in their care throughout their life.
- Never feed them from your plate, no matter how pleading they may be, because this can be harmful to the health of the dog.
- For both children and everyone at home, you must always be vigilant so as not to step on them. They tend to move under the feet of their masters.
It is necessary to teach dogs that children’s fingers are not toys to bite, especially during the process of permanent dentition, but once this stage is over, it is something that they do not repeat.
A new baby at home
Something common in toy dogs is that they love being the center of attention, and a Shih Tzu, a companion of emperors, more than any other, loves being in the center of looks and attention.
This changes dramatically when a baby arrives at home. After all, nothing attracts more attention than a human puppy. At this time, jealousy can shine. However, there are ways to handle these circumstances positively.
When you expect a baby, you have to prepare everything for their arrival, including the involvement of your pet. It is best to stimulate the dog’s senses to new smells with baby lotions, so it will not be strange when the baby finally arrives.
Also familiarize them with the things the baby will use, such as the crib, the pen, and the toys, and teach them that they are not for them, that they should not bite them or play with them. Consequently, the change will not be radical when the new member arrives in the family.
Medical Alert Dog, a small great assistant
A service or medical assistance dog is a dog that has trained to meet a range of needs that a person with limitations, whether physical, sensory, intellectual, or psychiatric, could not by themselves.
There are no limitations to being an assistance dog, but the Shih Tzu are particularly useful in certain areas of this type of work. Since they love being close to people, they are extremely intelligent animals, and their size makes them practical to transport.
They serve as Alert Dogs and medical response. They train to detect situations where their master will urgently need the help of a third party and can seek help or carry some medication that allows them to solve the problem.
Some of the situations where they serve are:
- Diabetic Alert: they use their powerful sense of smell to detect if their master has very high or low sugar, and they give a warning.
- Allergen Alert: they detect components that can cause severe allergic reactions in their masters, such as peanuts and shellfish in different foods, and give them the warning.
- Sleep apnea: during periods when their masters stop breathing during sleep, they wake them up.
They train to call emergency through a special telephone if their masters do not respond. After the training process, they usually receive a certificate that qualifies them as assistance dogs and have access to places where other dogs do not.
These little puppies were born to live in palaces, and now your house will be their palace, so they don’t expect anything else in life. They are indoor animals, and, although they enjoy a walk in the open air, they will always prefer a comfortable bed near the feet of their family than a house in the yard for themselves.
Something that can be counterproductive for them is that they are not aware of their limits. Although they certainly cannot fly, they are sure that they can, so they will jump from any furniture regardless of height, just as they will do with the stairs. Getting injures is very easy if their masters are not attentive.
Another feature to consider in this breed is that its dense fur and the characteristics of its flat face make it very sensitive to heat, so you have to be considerate of them on the hottest days of the year.
Keeping them safe inside home
The most important thing to keep in mind about the environment of the Shih Tzu is that they must always be inside the house. Their excursions abroad must have supervision, and they should never remain alone outside the house. Their lively and curious temperament can lead them to get into problems.
Keep in mind that they can become a real disaster if they spend a lot of time exposed to the wind and humidity. Their hair can get tangles, and their eyes can get dirty, exposing them to infections and ulcers.
After playing outside, you must groom them to avoid any of these inconveniences. Even though they adore the comfort of the palace, they occasionally enjoy the fun of the outside.
The biggest risks inside the home are the furniture and high beds where they enjoy playing with their humans. They always have a helping hand to go up to these places, but often they do not seek help to go down and simply jump.
That may seem natural and of no greater concern. However, a fall in a dog of this size can cause more damage than you might imagine. The main problem comes with age and their long back, which weakens.
Also, falling from a piece of furniture and hitting their head is not uncommon. So, being vigilant of where the Shih Tzu is and how it intends to get out of there, is a necessary precaution to avoid future health problems.
Heat strokes, they are not friends with summer
Its double fur withstands the low temperatures of the Himalayas, as it was for its Tibetan ancestors. Additionally, its short snout and its flat face do not give it too much space to release heat like larger dogs. Therefore, keeping the temperature of its body can be difficult for them on warm days.
It is important to consider all of this since it is very easy to forget the needs of these little ones and let them suffer from heat without realizing it. That is why they must always have fresh water available, as dehydration is the most serious problem of heat.
In summer, you should avoid walking them in the most intense hours of the sun. It is preferable to go for a walk in the cool hours of the morning and close to sunset. You should also keep in mind that if they feel overwhelmed by the heat, it is best to let them rest in a cool place and not push them.
Inside the home, they should always have a cool and covered place where they can rest at this time of year, keeping them fresh is a priority. If the place where they live has high temperatures, it is good to make hair cuts as short as possible to help them with this purpose.