Years ago we owned a black cocker spaniel. When my son started to crawl the dog took exception to another small creature invading its territory and snapped at his face. Needless to say, we quickly found the dog a new home without children.

After that experience, we had a dog-free household until my son started school. Then we decided he was big enough to cope with another dog. This time I researched thoroughly to find a friendly breed that wouldn’t mind the attentions of children. The result: we found ourselves proud owners of a small fuzzy pudding on legs. A Shih Tzu!


This breed has an ancient and proud heritage, descended from the oldest and smallest of Tibetan dog breeds. The type we know today originated in China from dogs gifted to the Chinese Emperors. In the seventeenth century, the Dowager Empress, Tzu Hsi, instituted a breeding program. The dogs were bred to resemble the lion, venerated by the Chinese because it was symbolic of Buddha. Eunuchs in the Imperial Palace in Peking vied with each other to breed the most leonine specimen.


The Shih Tzu is characterized by its long, flowing coat, sturdy build, intelligence, and a friendly, energetic nature. They have a variety of coat colors and the long coat can be allowed to grow or clipped short. Their coat is not like the fur of other breeds; it’s more like human hair. Instead of shedding, Shih Tzu lose hair gradually. If the coat is allowed to grow it requires daily grooming, but if kept short, the coat is as easy to care for as any short-haired breed.


They generally stand about 9 to 11 inches high at the withers (above shoulders) and weigh between 10 and 16 pounds.


Some interesting cross breeds are available: the Shizapoo, a Shih Tzu and a Poodle; the Shih-wawa, a Shih Tzu and a Chihuahua; the Peki-Tzu, a Pekingese and a Shih Tzu. (Hmm, Peki-Tzu sounds familiar! I wonder if that’s where the writers of Pokemon found the name?)

Unlike some dog breeds, Shih Tzu are usually content when left alone. Most enjoy exercising outdoors, although they don’t need a lot of exercise and are quite happy to run around the house or yard.

The choice of breed was certainly the right one for us. We now have two who tumble around together and love family life, especially if it involves eating!

3 comments

  1. Beth Trissel // October 4, 2007 at 8:33 PM  

    These are such darling little dogs. I love the pic!

  2. Mary Marvella // October 5, 2007 at 12:10 AM  

    Too cute!

    Mary

  3. Mona Risk // October 5, 2007 at 8:16 PM  

    He is so cute. Do you still have him?

    Mona