The Shih Tzu is an ancient toy dog breed with a rich history dating back over a thousand years. The breed’s origins can be traced to Tibet, where they were revered as sacred dogs and cherished by Tibetan royalty and Buddhist monks. They were originally known as “Lhasa Lions” or “Chrysanthemum Dogs” due to their lion-like appearance and the way their facial hair radiates outwards, resembling a chrysanthemum flower.
Tibetan monks regarded the Shih Tzu as symbols of good luck and fortune. They were believed to bring blessings to their owners and were often kept as companions in monasteries and palaces. The monks selectively bred these dogs, and the breed’s lineage was carefully guarded, leading to their exclusivity in ancient times.
In the 17th century, the Shih Tzu made its way to China when some of the dogs were given as gifts to Chinese emperors by Tibetan royalty. The breed gained immense popularity in the Chinese imperial court and was selectively bred to further enhance its appearance and temperament. Chinese emperors and aristocrats treasured the Shih Tzu, and they were often seen in elaborate palaces and lavish gardens.
During the early 20th century, the breed faced significant challenges due to political turmoil and the fall of imperial China. Many Shih Tzus were scattered, and their numbers dwindled, threatening their existence. Fortunately, some of these dogs found their way to Europe, where they were cherished and bred by dog enthusiasts.
The Shih Tzu’s presence spread to England in the 1930s, and the breed was officially recognized by The Kennel Club (UK) in 1940. Its popularity continued to grow, and by the mid-20th century, Shih Tzus were introduced to the United States, where they quickly became a beloved companion dog.
Today, the Shih Tzu is a popular and well-regarded dog breed worldwide. They are known for their affectionate nature, playful demeanor, and distinctive appearance. Shih Tzus make wonderful family pets and continue to be adored by dog lovers for their charm, loyalty, and regal demeanor, a legacy that dates back to their revered status in ancient Tibet and imperial China.
Negative aspects of Shih Tzus
While Shih Tzus are charming and affectionate companions, like any dog breed, they have certain traits that may be considered negative or challenging for some owners. It’s essential to be aware of these aspects before bringing a Shih Tzu into your home. Some potential negative aspects of the Shih Tzu breed include:
- Grooming Requirements: Shih Tzus have long, luxurious coats that require regular grooming to prevent matting and tangles. Their hair can get easily dirty, so frequent bathing may also be necessary. The grooming process can be time-consuming and may require professional assistance.
- Shedding: Despite having hair instead of fur, Shih Tzus do shed, and their loose hairs can end up on furniture and clothing. Regular grooming can help manage shedding, but some people may still find it challenging to cope with the loose hairs.
- Health Issues: Shih Tzus are prone to various health problems, including brachycephalic airway syndrome, eye issues, dental problems, allergies, and joint-related concerns. These health issues may require frequent visits to the veterinarian and can potentially lead to higher medical costs.
- Stubbornness and Training Challenges: Shih Tzus can be stubborn and independent, which can make training a bit more challenging. Consistent and patient training methods are essential to help them learn obedience commands and proper behavior.
- Separation Anxiety: Shih Tzus form strong bonds with their owners and can be prone to separation anxiety when left alone for long periods. They thrive on companionship and may become anxious or develop behavioral issues if left alone frequently.
- Barking Tendency: Shih Tzus are alert and can be vocal, making them prone to excessive barking. This behavior can be managed through training and socialization, but it’s something to be aware of, especially in apartment living or close neighborhoods.
- Sensitive to Extreme Temperatures: Due to their flat faces and brachycephalic traits, Shih Tzus can have difficulty regulating body temperature. They are sensitive to extreme heat and cold, which means you must take precautions to keep them comfortable in various weather conditions.
- Patellar Luxation: Shih Tzus are susceptible to patellar luxation, a condition where the kneecap dislocates from its normal position. This can cause lameness and discomfort and may require medical attention or surgery.
Remember that individual Shih Tzus may display varying degrees of these traits, and not all dogs will exhibit every negative aspect. Proper training, socialization, and regular veterinary care can help mitigate many of these challenges and ensure a happy and healthy relationship with your Shih Tzu.