The Shih Tzu (also known as the Chrysanthemum Dog), is a toy dog breed. The exact origin of the breed is unknown, but DNA analysis places the dogs ancestors of todays breed in the group of “ancient” breeds, indicating “close genetic relationship to wolves”. Its name comes from the Chinese word for “lion dog” because the dog was bred the lion that is depicted in traditional oriental art. It has been said that the breed originated in china, hence its name “lion dog”, in 800 B.C.
This breed is a very sturdy little dogs sporting a short muzzle and eyes that are dark and large. It stands no more than 26.7 cm at the withers with an ideal weight of 10-16 lbs. Their drop ears are covered in long fur, and its heavily furred tail is curled over the back. A very noticeable feature is its underbite, which is a required breed standard. This dog’s body is slightly longer than it is tall. The dog sports long silky coat, which will reach the floor. The coat may be any color, though white and with blazes of grey are often seen. The range of colors include various shades of gold, white, brown, and black. Other colors include black and white, black mask gold, solid black, liver and white, solid liver, brindle, white, red and white, and grey and white.
The temperament of the breed varies from dog to dog, but typically the dog has a temperament and personality that is affectionate, loyal, outgoing, and alert. The Shih Tzu is prone to stubbornness when it comes to training, because of this proper socializing and training should start early on in order for it to obey basic commands. Even though the breed was not bred for the purpose of being a watch dog, it does make an excellent one because of its alert and active nature. This dog prefers to be close to its owners and is often affectionate with strangers too. Due to the dog’s friendly nature, the Shih Tzu interacts well with children, adults, and other dogs. If not properly disciplined at an early age the dog may become needy and cry often. The dog requires minimal exercise, and they make excellent house pets, especially in apartment living.
There are a number of health issues related to the breed. These issues include, hypothyroidism, intervertebral disk disease, breathing problems, various eye issues, hip dysplasia, portosystemic shunt of the liver, epilepsy, and anemia. The median life span of the Shih Tzu is 13 years and two months, but most live 10-16 years.