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Shih Tzu

Outgoing. Friendly. Trusting. Despite their name, meaning "Lion Dog" in Chinese, Shih Tzus are docile creatures that make excellent companion dogs for families and seniors.

If you are looking for a sweet natured, toy-sized dog with the longest luxurious locks in the canine kingdom, then a Shih Tzu might be the right dog for you.

Where I'm From

Shih Tzus are one of the world's oldest breeds of dog with mysterious beginnings. Thought to have originated in Tibet, where they lived in temples and later were given as gifts to Chinese royals. The dogs became prized in China's regal circles and named Shih Tzu, meaning "Lion Dog".

Shih Tzus are featured in many Chinese artworks reaching back millennia. The Fu Dog statues that protect Buddhist Temples are thought to be depictions of the Shih Tzu. One legend tells of a Shih Tzu that protected the Buddha from robbers by temporarily turning into a lion. Thus winning the Buddha's blessing and a kiss on the forehead, which turned into the white spot still visible on the brow of many Shih Tzus today.

The dogs were late imports to Europe and the breed was officially recognised in 1935.

What I Look Like

Shih Tzus are a unique longhaired dog breed. With a toy-sized frame and long coat that often reaches the floor, they often live up to their little lion reputation. Shih Tzus come in a variety of white, brown, gold and black colour combinations. Their luxurious hair is also hypoallergenic. They have little faces with floppy ears and a long soft beard. One of their distinguishing traits is a pronounced underbite whose beauty lies in the beholder.

How I Act

Shih Tzus were bred as companion dogs. They do not guard, hunt or fetch. Even so, Shih Tzus are lively dogs. At home curled up in your lap or happily greeting houseguests. They love attention and affection, and thrive when socialising with doting friends and family. Shih Tzus are good with children, but children need to play gently to prevent injury.

Shih Tzus are easy to train but need a patient hand. Early training and socialisation is important for the dog to become confident despite its small stature.

Shih Tzus can be slow learners when it comes to house training. They need ample opportunity to do their business outside, which needs to be relatively often as puppies, until they learn to control their needs.

Whilst Shih Tzus are very outgoing pups, they are so small that they do not require much exercise. Playing with family members and short walks are enough to keep this dog fit and healthy.

Excitedly jumping off furniture and out of people's arms should be discouraged to avoid injury.

Looking After Me

Shih Tzus can suffer from a number of health issues, which can include thyroid, back and breathing problems. They are not good in hot weather and should be kept cool indoors. Eye complaints or ulcers leading to blindness can also affect the breed.

It is advisable to check the temperament and medical history of a puppy's parents and view veterinarian clearance certificates to ensure you get a healthy dog. Be very wary of uncertified backyard breeders.

Shih Tzus have a lifespan of 12-14 years.

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