The Shih Tzu is an ancient breed of dog originating from China, also called Chinese Lion Dog and Chrysanthemum Dog. It is believed to have descended from the Lhasa Apso and the Pekingese. This small toy dog breed weighs from 9 to 16 pounds and has a maximum height of 11 inches. It has a round and broad head with a short and square muzzle and a defined stop. The nose is broad and has open nostrils. The eyes are round, large and dark in colour (although may appear lighter on blue or liver-coloured coats). The nose, lips and eye rims bear the same colour as the coat- i.e., blue on blue coats, liver on liver coloured coats and black for all other coat colours. It has large ears that are covered with profuse hair, low set, pendant and hang down. Its tail is high set and always carried over the back with abundant hair. It also has a profuse bear and moustache. The coat is long, silky and glossy, oftentimes reaching down to the floor and requiring daily brushing. Colours come in various shades including gold, white, black, brindle and dark or light brown.
Alert, lively, happy yet gentle are traits which make the Shih Tzu an ideal companion. They make good watch dogs as they are spunky, courageous and respond well to training. They like to be around their people and are also good with other pets. Because of their long back and short legs they are prone to slipped stifle and spinal disc problems. Do not overfeed this small dog breed as they tend to gain weight easily. They have long lives of about 15 years or more.