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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Shih Tzu


Shih Tzu Facts

  • Group
  • Toys
  • Affiliations
  • Height
  • 8" - 11"
  • Weight
  • 9-16 lbs.
  • Lifespan
  • 14 years | Add yours

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  • Exercise Requirement
  • Low - This breed requires little daily activity
  • Training Requirement
  • Difficult to Train
  • Grooming Requirement
  • Difficult
  • Colors
    • Various Colors
  • Breed Characteristics
    • Adapted to city living
    • Good with children
    • Should sleep indoors

True Cost Of Ownership

Alternate Names

Foo dog, Chrysanthemum-faced dog


The Shih tzu originated in China.

Date Of Origin

It is believed that this breed developed as early as the sixth century.


The history of the shih tzu is somewhat cloudy. It may have existed in China as far back as the Tang dynasty during the seventh century, or it may not have arrived in China until the tenth century. Regardless, it is well documented in Chinese art, including carvings and embroideries. It was selectively bred in the Forbidden city in Beijing and was probably developed to resemble the tame lion, or Foo dog which is sacred to Buddhists. It was only kept by royalty. Recent DNA analysis confirms that the ancestors of today's Shih Tzu breed are among the most ancient of dog breeds. Ludvic von Schulmuth studied the skeletal remains of dogs found in human settlements as long as ten thousand years ago. Von Schulmuth created a genealogical tree of Tibetan dogs that shows the "Gobi Desert Kitchen Midden Dog", a scavenger, evolved into the "Small Soft-Coated Drop-Eared Hunting Dog" which evolved into the Tibetan Spaniel, Pekingese, and Japanese Chin. Another branch coming down from the "Kitchen Midden Dog" gave rise to the Papillon and Long-haired Chihuahua and yet another "Kitchen Midden Dog" branch to the Pug and Shih Tzu. Because it was associated with the ruling class, most of these dogs were killed during the Chinese revolution. Some were spared and breeding was continued in England and the U.S.


The shih tzu is a small, sturdy, well balanced dog that is slightly longer than it is tall. It is compact substance and an arrogant carriage. It head is round and broad with the eyes set wide apart. The unwrinkled snout is short and square, with a broad jaw. It has large drop ears. The tail is set high and curls over the back. The breed is double coated with a dense, long, flowing outer coat. The long hair on the head is tied in a top knot. It can be of any color or color combination.


The shih tzu is a friendly, trusting, and companionable dog. It gets along with everyone, including children, strangers, and other animals. It is lively, alert and affectionate.


The shih tzu is a typical drawing room dog, but it has the hardiness of a working dog. It is also long lived easily reaching fifteen years.

Health Concerns

Allergies, cleft palate, eye problems, renal disease, von Willebrand's disease.

Additional Information

The shih tzu's coat requires daily care and professional grooming every 3-4 weeks if kept long and 4-6 weeks of kept short. In just one short week of neglect, the coat may become so unmanageable that it may need to be shaved completely off. If you car considering owning a shih tzu be sure to plan for the financial aspect of professional grooming.

Show Sources & Contributors +


The Howell Book Of Dogs

Publisher: Wiley Publishing Inc, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Author: Liz Palika

Dog Bible

Publisher: BowTie Press, 2005

Website: http://www.bowtiepress.com/bowtie/

Authors: Kristin Meuh-Roe, Jarelle S. Stein

Simon & Schusters Guide to Dogs

Publisher: Simon & Schuster inc, 1980

Website: http://www.simonandschuster.com

Author: Elizabeth Meriwether Schuler

The New Encyclopedia of the Dog

Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 2000

Website: http://www.dk.com

Author: Bruce Fogle


Publisher: WikiMedia Foundation, On Going

Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/

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