The Little Lion of the Dog Family: Shih Tzu, SLC, UT – Rocky Mountain Pooper Scoopers

The Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu (SHEED-zoo), or Chrysanthemum Dog, means “Little Lion” but this dog is far from fierce. He’s more of a lover than he is a fighter which means he’s the perfect companion for just about anyone. They’re called Chrysanthemum Dogs because of the way their hair grows up from their nose. If you’re familiar with this breed of dog, you’ll also notice that his hair grows out in every direction on his face. Little is known about where the Shih Tzu has its’ origin though it’s possible that the Shih Tzu originated in Tibet to be a small replica of a lion, an association with Buddhist mythology. The monks were said to have used the Shih Tzu for companionship and as a watchdog in the lamaseries but no one knows for sure. What is known, however, this that they were once bred for Chinese royalty by the lamas of Tibet.

They fell out of style after the end of the Chinese empire and nearly fell off the face of the Earth all together. It wasn’t until they were presented to General Douglas and Lady Brownrigg who brought them back to England. All modern Shih Tzu dogs alive today are descendants of just 14 dogs.

The start of WWII once again interrupted the development of the Shih Tzu in England but the breed managed to survive. They made a comeback in the 1950’s and the 1960’s and were recognized by the American Kennel Club as a breed in 1969.

Today they are popular because they are loyal, gentle and cheerful dogs. They rank among the Top 10 among all breeds that are registered with the American Kennel Club. They’re so popular in fact, that they’ve held the same spot in the ranking for more than a decade.

Shih Tzus are not guard dogs and they do not hunt but they will retrieve a ball if you toss them one. Their sole purpose in life is to be a companion to the one who is lucky enough to own one. Sit down in a chair while in the company of one and it won’t be long before he’s on your lap seeking your attention. They are not demanding or high strung and they make great companions for those who are older in age. They are quite laid back and tend to just go with the flow. Wherever you are, they are. They are good with other dogs and children and while some enjoy the company of cats, others don’t.

They are intelligent and good at learning though it might take a bit longer to train a Shih Tzu especially when it comes to potty training. Once trained, however, they are quite good at being obedient. If you are considering a Shih Tzu as a companion, it’s important to remember that training should begin as soon as you bring him, or her, home. If you wait until your Shih Tzu is older, his personality is set. You might end up with a stubborn, headstrong dog that is already set in their ways.

Shih Tzu colors include gold and white, red and white, black mask gold, solid red, black and white, solid black, solid liver, liver and white, blue and white, brindle and white, silver, and finally, solid white.

Their are common health problems associated with tiny dogs and the Shih Tzu is not immune to any of them. They can have teeth that are out of place or even missing and a small mouth often contributes to overcrowding teeth. As is the case with many small dogs, their knee caps may come out of place, a common condition known as luxating patellas. Their eyes also protrude out of their head which means they could be easily scratched or even injured.

There is also renal dysplasia, an inherited condition, that occurs when the kidneys don’t develop properly. This is something that a Shih Tzu inherits from its’ mom and dad which means it’s important to speak with the breeder before bringing your puppy home. Ask about the history of the dog that you are interested in and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you have written documentation that both parents have had the following evaluations:

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals–Patella, or kneecap evaluations

Canine Eye Registration–Eye clearance

These are just a few of the conditions that may affect the health of the Shih Tzu. Other problems include cataracts, ingrown eyelashes and respiratory issues.

If the breeder you are speaking with is not able to tell you about the bloodline of the puppy you wish to bring home, it’s best to speak with another breeder. An honest breeder will screen all of their dogs for genetic issues and hopefully, they’ll only breed the healthiest and best looking dogs that they have in stock.

They are of course, small dogs, which means they are perfect for apartment dwellers but they easily adapt to wherever they are living. Keep in mind that the Shih Tzu is an indoor dog that does not do well outside because they are sensitive to the heat. Make sure, however, that your Shih Tzu has a healthy diet and that you make sure he gets plenty of exercise. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things that you can do in order to maintain the life of your new companion. The average lifespan of a Shih Tzu is somewhere between 10 and sixteen years of age.

When it comes to the coat of the Shih Tzu, the average owner keeps his coat clipped. The long, flowing coat you sometimes see is a coat meant for show and it’s generally worn while in the ring. Some owners trim their dogs’ at home while others take them in every other week to the groomer for a bath and tidy. If you bathe your Shih Tzu at home, be sure to remove any tangles BEFORE you bathe your dog. Tangles tend to tighten and get worse once you get them wet. Be sure to brush the teeth with toothpaste approved by a veterinarian or ask your groomer to do it on your next visit.

Today we would like to thank www.vetstreet.comfor helping us with this post. Visit their website to learn more information about your favorite breed of dog and how to properly care for it.

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