croaking toad Shih Tzu puppies

croaking toad shih tzu

    MOMS and DADS

What makes a Shih Tzu "pronounced Sheed Zoo" a Shih Tzu?  There are many technical aspects that make them who they are.  AKC standards have defined both the look and temperament of the breed. Thanks to the diligence of breeding programs of the past, a well bred Shih Tzu puppy can be expected to grow into an adult dog that will fit this standard.  On this page you will find a quick look at some of those technical attributes.  I have also included a not so technical section on these funny little creatures from the observation of my dogs and their relatives.

The ancestry of the Shih Tzu is generally thought to be of Tibetan origin. The Shih Tzu (whose namemeans “lion”) is thought to have been the oldest and smallest variety of the Tibetan “holy dogs”. The breeding of this small dog was a favorite pastime of imperial rulers during much of China's history.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) promotes the sport of purebred dogs and closely monitors the registration of the various purebred breeds.  The AKC formally recognized the Shih Tzu breed in 1969.  The AKC has developed a standard that defines what a Shih Tzu should be, both physically and temperamentally.  The following are excerpts from the AKC Shih Tzu breed standard.  For the complete standard, click on the AKC link.

General Appearance
The Shih Tzu is a sturdy, lively, alert toy dog with long flowing double coat.  The Shih Tzu is proud of bearing, has a distinctively arrogant carriage with head well up and tail curved over the back. Although there has always been considerable size variation, the Shih Tzu must be compact, solid, carrying good weight and substance.

Mature weight between 9 to 16 pounds.   Ideally, height at withers is 9 to 10 1/2 inches; but, not less than 8 inches nor more than 11 inches.  Regardless of size, the Shih Tzu is always compact, solid and carries good weight and substance.

Round, broad, wide between eyes, its size in balance with the overall size of dog being neither too large nor too small.

Warm, sweet, wide-eyed, friendly and trusting.

Large, round, not prominent, placed well apart, looking straight ahead. Very dark. Lighter on liver and blue pigmented dogs.

Large, set slightly below crown of skull; heavily coated.

Square, short, unwrinkled, with good cushioning, set no lower than bottom eye rim; never down turned.

Nose, lips, eye rims are black on all colors, except liver and blue pigmented dogs.

Undershot. Jaw is broad and wide. A missing tooth or slightly misaligned teeth should not be too severely penalized. Teeth and tongue should not show when mouth is closed. 

Neck, Topline, Body
Utmost importance is an overall well-balanced dog with no exaggerated features.
    Neck - Of sufficient length to permit natural high head carriage and in balance with height and length.
    Topline - Level.
    Body - Short-coupled and sturdy with no waist or tuck-up. The Shih Tzu is slightly longer than tall.
    Chest - Broad and deep with good spring-of-rib.
    Tail - Set on high, heavily plumed, carried in curve well over back. 
    Legs - Straight, well-boned, muscular, set well-apart and under chest, with elbows set close to body.
    Feet - Firm, well-padded, point straight ahead.
   Legs - Well-boned, muscular, and straight when viewed from rear.      

Luxurious, double-coated, dense, long, and flowing. Slight wave permissible.

Color and Markings
All are permissible.

Straight effortless movement with good front reach and equally strong rear drive, level topline, naturally high head carriage, and tail carried in gentle curve over back.

As the sole purpose of the Shih Tzu is that of a companion and house pet, it is essential that its temperament be outgoing, happy, affectionate, friendly and trusting towards all.

The dog that will make you feel like royalty.
The original goal in breeding the Shih Tzu was to produce a companion for Chinese royalty.  Today the Shih Tzu does an awesome job of fulfilling this roll, whether its owner is royalty or not.  The Shih Tzu was not bred to herd, hunt, pull sleds or dig rats out of holes, so it does not have some of the bothersome instincts found in many other breeds that interfere with its suitability as a house pet. 

One of the nice advantages about buying a Shih Tzu puppy is the breed's consistency in personality.  If you buy a well-bred puppy you can reasonably predict a lot about it.  Each dog is an individual, some are more out going, some are more reserved. It is, however, uncanny how much they are alike.  These little dogs win everyone over with their funny antics, their silly way of lying and sitting in such undog like positions and their "I love you" adoration.  Top that with having a small dog that isn't yappy and does not shed and the perfect package is complete.

I have never met a Shih Tzu that is not a toy freak.  Give a Shih Tzu a little stuffed toy with a squeaker hid inside and it will be as happy as the proverbial clam.  Toys not only make the dog happy but provide hours of entertainment for the owner, as they watch the dog play.  

These little guys are the Cadillac of lap dogs.  Be prepared for company if you ever sit down.  They love lying on their backs cradled like a baby and being on the receiving end of a good tummy scratch.  If your hands are busy they are more than happy to curl up anywhere on your person where they can find or make a little spot.  Shih Tzu are very much people dogs and thrive on contact with people.  They are not a good choice for those who want a back yard pet who occasionally requires their humans attention.

Although the Shih Tzu is the Cadillac of lap dogs, it is by no means a sissy or a wimp.  These little guys are sturdy dogs.  They love rough and tumble play and long adventurous walks.  A pile of leaves or a snow bank will provide them with hours of fun and keep you entertained in the process.  Their small size makes them a snap to clean up when the smell of adventure clings too strongly to them.  A quick dip in the sink and a blow dry and your lap dog is all set to curl up under your chin for a snooze. 

Shih Tzu come in all sorts of colors and patterns of colors.  These variations give each dog added personality.  The puppies dark markings often lighten or completely change color by the time they reach adulthood.  Many people are surprised when the red and white pup they brought home, changed to such a light gold and white that as an adult they could no longer see their markings.  Looking at the parents and being aware of the colors in the puppies pedigree can give strong clues to their adult color.  Dogs with dark faces do not have the visible face staining problem that affects so many of the dogs with light faces.

The coat of the Shih Tzu can differ more than by color.  Some will have very straight coats, while others have a slight wave to their coat.  Regardless of their coat characteristics, the coat will continue to grow and the length it reaches is determined by whether you choose to cut it or not.  Shih Tzu's who are shown professionally will have full long coats and a top knot to hold the hair out of their eyes.  Many pet owners choose to keep their Shih Tzu's trimmed in what is often referred to as a Puppy Cut.  A trimmed Shih Tzu is more than adorable and the advantage to a trimmed dog is obvious ... unless you like to spend hours taking care of all that hair.   Since the Shih Tzu does not shed its coat, they make perfect furniture ornaments.  It does not get much better than that! 
 Male or Female?   A large percentage of prospective puppy buyers are looking for a female. This desire for a female probably stems from previous experiences with other breeds. Unlike many larger breeds, the Shih Tzu does not have sex-linked temperament differences.  Males are every bit as affectionate as females (some say more), and an aggressive Shih Tzu of either sex is unusual and undesirable. 

When looking for the perfect pup remember you cannot ask too many questions.  It is often hard to tell a pup's personality during a short visit.  A very playful and out going pup may appear reserved if he is exhausted from some previous excitement.  Observations from the owner of the litter can clue you into each pup's personality.  Even though color and size cannot be guaranteed, the owner, will be able to make an educated guess based on bloodlines and previous litters.

The Shih Tzu is a companion that will be thoroughly enjoyed by everyone in the family.

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