With a name that means “little lion” in Chinese, you might expect something more fierce. However, the Shih Tzu is more comfortable in your lap looking cute than outside prowling for prey. This adorable little dog was bred solely to be a companion and is ranked 20th out of 193 breeds by the American Kennel Club.
The Shih Tzu was developed centuries ago by imperial breeders for the Chinese Emperor. Well-suited for palace life, Shih Tzus spent most of their lives lounging and being pampered. However, they were also unknown to the outside world until the 1930s, when they were first brought outside of their palaces and breeding clubs started to form. Since then, the Shih Tzu has grown to become one of the most popular toy dog breeds in the U.S. and the U.K.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SHIH TZU
Here is some additional information about the appearance and temperament of the Shih Tzu.
Shih Tzus are classified as toy dogs: they stand roughly 10 inches tall and generally weigh between 9 and 16 pounds. They are small but much sturdier than you might expect. They have short legs and tire easily. Their flat faces make it breathing slightly more difficult, and it also makes them more susceptible to heat stroke. They do best when kept in a cool, air-conditioned environment.
Shih Tzus can come in a variety of colors, often mixed with white, such as gold, red, black, silver, and more. Their coats require a lot of upkeep – daily brushing is recommended. You will get what you put into it – a well-groomed Shih Tzu has a brilliant, gorgeous coat. It tends to mat easily, so take good care of it. Bathing them once a month or so is generally recommended to keep their coats clean. Additionally, their eyes can become irritated by their fur, so keep it in a topknot or trim it around their eyes, and periodically wipe them with a damp washcloth. Keep their coat dry by using a dog hair dryer.
Shih Tzus are a fun, playful breed who are eager to please their owner. They don’t require a ton of exercise – they are happy to follow you from room to room, burrowing in your lap when you take a seat. They are affectionate and excellent around kids and are a great choice for seniors as well. However, due to their small size, they may not be the best option around toddlers who can present danger. Their favorite activities seem to be watching TV and napping.
Shih Tzus are great with other dogs as well, though they can go either way on cats; if they are raised from an early age with cats they tend to do better. They can occasionally be mischievous, though – if you find that you’re missing a sock, odds are that your Shih Tzu has it. They are lively and alert, and they tend to bark when someone new enters the house. However, once they see and smell the person, they will make instant friends. Shih Tzus live long lives: often up to 18 years. They tend to do well on their own, so long as you come home and give them lots of attention.
CARING FOR A SHIH TZU
Shih Tzus are, besides their coat upkeep, a pretty low-maintenance breed, but they still have some needs. Here is some information about their nutrition, exercise, training, and health requirements.
Some people consider Shih Tzus to be picky eaters; this is mostly an owner-created issue. Give your Shih Tzu time to adjust and they will be fine. They do best with high-quality dog foods full of nutrients. How much they eat will be dependent on their age, size, and activity level. Since they are a more sedentary breed, your Shih Tzu won’t require as much food as other breeds. Be careful not to overfeed, as toy breeds, in particular, can be prone to getting overweight. Consult with your vet to figure out which food is best for your dog. Also, get an automatic dog feeder to ensure you’re giving the same amount of food every time.
Since the Shih Tzu was bred to be an in-house companion, they don’t require much exercise. Short daily walks are plenty, along with some indoor playtime. They don’t require big spaces or yards; for that reason, they make great apartment dogs. They are great at adapting to whatever living situation needed.
Shih Tzus are notorious for charming their owners into letting them have their way. As such, they can be fun, but frustrating, to train. However, training is very important for them, as it is with all dogs. Puppy and obedience classes should be started early on. As with many toy dogs, housebreaking can be difficult, so remain steadfast. Crate training is highly recommended. Avoid harsh corrections – stick to positive reinforcement and you will see better results.
Due to their thick, long coats, Shih Tzus do not like heat; air conditioning and cooling pads will be energetically welcomed by your companion. They also do not like swimming; many owners will get their Shih Tzu a raincoat for winter walks.
Shih Tzus, like most breeds, are generally healthy dogs. Be sure to work with a breeder who screens for the usual genetic diseases, such as hip dysplasia, eye diseases, and patellar luxation. Allergies can be a problem for Shih Tzus as well, so be sure to understand the symptoms.
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Best Puppy Food for Shih Tzus
Here are our Shih Tzu puppy food reviews.
The Instinct Puppy Grain Free Natural Dry Dog Food is a high-protein kibble perfect for Shih Tzus in their formative years. It is made with calcium and phosphorus for bone and teeth strength, and natural DHA for brain and eye development.
- Limited component diet with single animal protein source
- Dried natural cage free chicken
- Fiber blends promotes healthy digestion
The NUTRO WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Puppy Dry Dog Food is a nutrient-dense food ideal for puppy Shih Tzus. This dog food is made with calcium to build strong bones and joints, which is important for an active dog like a Shih Tzu.
- Essential antioxidants for a healthy immune system
- Omega 3 fatty acids to support development
- Available with chicken or lamb as main component
The Royal Canin Size Nutrition Mini Puppy Dry Dog Food is a great deal on a high quality dog food for puppy Shih Tzus. The small kibble size is designed for puppies during their intense growth period. It will help to boost a Shih Tzus immune system with a blend of anti-oxidants and vitamins.
- Meets the high energy needs of a puppy
- Highly digestible proteins and prebiotics promote healthy digestion
- Perfect for Shih Tzus up to 10 months old
The Natural Balance Mixture L.I.D Dry Dog Food is a good value, varied food for puppies. It provides a range of nutrition that a Shih Tzu puppies need. Smaller kibble is used to support smaller teeth and easy digestion.
- Grain free formula
- Made from real, natural components
- Includes prebiotics and omega
The NUTRO ULTRA Puppy Dry Dog Food is a highly nutritional food for Shih Tzu puppies. This dog food contains a trio of proteins and is tailored to meet the nutritional needs of growing puppies. It also promotes brain growth development.
- Contains chicken, lamb and salmon
- Contains 15 super foods
- Specially formulated for puppies
Puppy Food for Shih Tzu Buyer’s Guide
Purchasing the right puppy food for a Shih Tzu is an absolutely essential choice for a dog owner. The price of around $20 is well worth the cost when you consider the benefits healthy food can have on the development of a dog in its formative months. This is especially true with Shih Tzus as they are active dogs and so need good quality nutrients to help their muscles to repair and grow. Therefore it is vital to fuel them with high quality nutrition.
Our buying guide reviews the best dog food for Shih Tzu puppies on the market so you can choose the right food for your puppy. The following are attributes commonly found when looking at dog food for Shih Tzus which will help you to choose the best food for your dog.
Diets vary for Shih Tzu depending on whether they are fully developed yet. Adults can handle whole meats and more nutrient dense food, whereas puppy Shih Tzus will need smaller food as their teeth may not be able to break down larger chunks. Antioxidants are especially important for puppies as they help to develop their immune system and fight off viruses.
Proteins & Carbohydrates
Shih Tzu will thrive when eating a diet rich in animal proteins and some carbohydrates. This is due to their high speed output, and their energetic instincts, which burns off a lot of energy throughout a day. With all of this physical work, it is vital that they get proteins to repair and strengthen their muscles while they rest. Meat based protein is great for Shih Tzu puppies.
The more easily digestible the dog food is for a Shih Tzu puppy, the easier it will be for it to absorb the vital nutrients from the food.
Vitamins & Fatty Acids
The level of importance of vitamins in a Shih Tzu puppy’s diet shouldn’t be overlooked. Vitamin E and Omega-6 fatty acids will help their coat growth. Vitamins are also vital to help the immune system to develop in a puppy Shih Tzu. A mixture of fatty acids and vitamins will make for a happy, healthy and thriving dog.