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Shih Tzu
Characteristics, History, and Health

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is an ancient breed, believed to have originated in Tibet and China. They were bred to resemble lions and were highly prized by Chinese royalty. These dogs were such treasured pets that for many years the Chinese refused to sell, trade, or give any away. The breed became more globally known in the late 1920s and 1930s when it was introduced to Europe, and later to the US after World War II. The Shih Tzu was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1969.

Main Info
Alternate Names
Chrysanthemum Dog, Lion Dog
Life Expectancy
10-18 years
Average Male Height
9-10.5 inches
Average Female Height
9-10.5 inches
Average Male Weight
9-16 pounds
Average Female Weight
9-16 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Coat Colors
Black & White, Black White & Silver, Blue, Blue & White, Brindle, Brindle & White, Gold, Gold & White, Liver, Liver & White, Red, Red & White, Silver, Silver & White, Silver Gold & White, White, Black Gold & Silver, Black Gold & White
Coat Pattern
White Markings, Tan Markings, Black Markings, Black Mask

Genetic Predispositions and Health

Shih Tzus can suffer from degenerative myelopathy, progressive rod-cone degeneration, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and keratitis. The breed has a known association with prekallikrein deficiency; though a benign disorder, it is beneficial to be aware of this condition. A specific hereditary condition for which they should be tested is chondrodystrophy mutation, a short-legged phenotype which may lead to increased susceptibility to intervertebral disc disease.

Personality and Behavior

Shih Tzus are renowned for their outgoing, friendly, and affectionate nature. They love being with their family and can be quite playful. Shih Tzus are also known for their alertness, which makes them good watchdogs. Despite their small size, they have a big personality and can be quite stubborn at times. Shih Tzus are also great charmers; they may charm their way out of learning tricks or obeying commands, which may make them difficult to train. Early socialization and consistent training is needed to help them develop into a well-rounded dog.

Fun Facts

In Mandarin Chinese, "Shih Tzu" means "lion", referring to their lion-like appearance. They are also often called "Chrysanthemum Dogs" because of the way their hair grows outward from the middle of their face, similar to the petals of a chrysanthemum.

Despite their small size, Shih Tzus are known for their courageous and sometimes stubborn nature. They are not afraid to stand their ground!

These dogs have a royal background. They were so cherished in ancient China that for many years, the Chinese refused to sell, trade, or give any away.