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Playful and mischievous, small but sturdy, Shih Tzus are famous toy dogs with long, lush, double hair coats. Bred solely to be companions, the Shih Tzu is an ancient breed which served as prized lap dogs for royalty in China.
See the fact file below for more information on the Shih Tzus or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Shih Tzu worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
HISTORY AND ETYMOLOGY
- Originally bred to look like a lion, the name “Shih Tzu” was derived from the Chinese word for “lion”.
- “Shih Tzu”, in the modern Chinese language, is recognized as the “Xi Shi dog”. Xi Shi was one of the renowned Four Beauties of ancient China.
- The Chinese also called them “Chrysanthemum dogs” because their hair grows in all directions, similar to the petals of the flower.
- As an ancient breed, Shih Tzus are believed to originate in Tibet, bred by Tibetan monks to be a small replica of a lion, based on Buddhist mythology.
- They acted as companions and watchdogs of the monks, and are the smallest of the Tibetan breeds. These monks introduced these dogs as gifts to Chinese emperors, and it was at the Chinese imperial courts that they got the name Shih Tzu, meaning “little lion” or “lion dog”.
- Shih tzus were believed to be incarnations of impish household gods.
- These dogs were also thought of as possessed bodies by the souls of the Tibetan monks who had not yet reached nirvana.
- The Chinese follow a “recipe” for breeding Shih Tzus: “a dash of lion, several teaspoons of rabbit, a couple of ounces of domestic cat, one part court jester, a dash of ballerina, a pinch of old man (Chinese), a bit of beggar, a tablespoon of monkey, one part baby seal, a dash of teddy bear, and the rest dogs of Tibetan and Chinese origin”.
- The Beijing Kennel Club also wrote a fancy description for this breed, having “the head of a lion, the round face of an own, the lustrous eyes of a dragon, the oval tongue of a peony petal, the mouth of a frog, teeth like grains of rice, ears like palm leaves, the torso of a bear, the broad back of a tiger, the tail of a phoenix, the legs of an elephant, toes like a mountain range, a yellow coat like a camel, and the movement of a fish”.
- This breed might have perished after the end of the imperial rule in China; however, some were handed over to a very remarkable woman, Lady Brownrigg, in 1928. She was the wife of Douglas Brownrigg, the Quartermaster General to the North China command.
- When the couple returned to England, they brought a pair of Shih Tzu’s with them, named Hibou and Shu-ssa, both having black and white coats.
- In 1933, Mrs. Hutchins carried to Ireland the offspring of Hibou and Shu-ssa, naming it Lung-fu-ssa.
- Maureen Murdock and Philip Price were the first to breed Shih Tzus in the United States.
- World War II delayed the breed’s development in England, but succeeded and flourished in the 1950s and 1960s.
- In 1969, the American Kennel Club acknowledged the breed.
- Shih Tzus are small but sturdy breeds covered with long, silky, straight hair, having a double coat which needs a lot of maintenance as it sweeps the grounds. They vary in colors, such as gold and white, red and white, black mask gold, solid red, black and white, solid black, solid liver, liver and white, blue and white, brindle and white, and silver and white.
- Weighing 9 to 16 pounds, Shih Tzus stand 9 to 10 inches, appearing to be slightly longer than tall. They have round heads, prominent dark eyes, short muzzles with an undershot bite, and heavily-furred curved tails.
- Just like any toy breeds, Shih Tzus mature and reach adult size after 10 months. They often live up to about 14 to 15 years of age.
- Many Shih Tzus have a tiny white spot on their foreheads, often called the “star of Buddha”. Legend has it that burglars tried to attack Buddha and his little Shih Tzu while they were travelling. The dog quickly turned into a fearsome lion to protect him. As a sign of his gratefulness, Buddha kissed his dog and gave it a little white mark – the star of Buddha. The patterns on the Shih Tzu’s back are believed to be the saddle Buddha used to ride his loyal dog.
PERSONALITY AND DIET
- They are bred solely to be companions. Whatever you do, Shih Tzus have your back. They are up for anything and are not demanding.
- Outgoing dogs, they enjoy following their owners everywhere. They simply want to be with their humans, so they are not expected to hunt or guard – they might welcome thieves in your house with open paws.
- As affectionate dogs, your lap is their go-to spot. Shih Tzus are attention seeking dogs; they are happiest when they give and receive attention from their owners.
- Shih Tzus are perceptive and cheerful and may bark at strangers, but they’ll make friends with your guests in no time.
- Playful and mischievous, Shih Tzus love to steal your shoes, making you chase them after they play with you. They are smart dogs who can be a little stubborn too, so owners need to be extra patient when training these dogs. They are good at agility, making it easier for them to obey commands. Shih Tzus are confident and may be conceited at times, but that is a given trait because of their imperial background.
- They are easy to keep and gain weight fast if fed with too many treats. As small dogs, Shih Tzus are only required to have 1 cup of dry dog food daily, which also depends on the breed’s age, activity level, size, and health factors.
- Misaligned or missing teeth. Known for their undershot jaw and small mouth, Shih Tzus might suffer tooth crowding; they are also prone to periodontal diseases which need regular veterinary dental care.
- Renal dysplasia. This is a hereditary condition in which the dog’s kidneys don’t develop normally. Dog owners should be mindful if their Shih Tzus are excessively thirsty and urinates frequently.
- Eye problems. Disorders such as keratitis (inflammation of the cornea resulting to a corneal ulcer and loss of eyesight), proptosis (dislocated eyeball from the eye socket and eyelids that fasten behind the eyeball), distichiasis (unusual growth of eyelashes), ectopic cilia (hairs rub against the cornea, causing intense pain and corneal ulcer), progressive retinal atrophy (causes blindness), and dry eye (dryness of the cornea), are common among Shih Tzus because of their bulging eyes.
- Ear infections. Shih Tzus have drop ears which lead to a dark, warm ear canal – a perfect spot for infection.
- Snuffles. Because of their undershot jaws, teething tends to be a bit difficult for them, making their gums swell in their fourth month.
- Puppies may snort and sneeze when plagued by this condition, and may even experience a clear nasal drainage.
- Reverse sneezing. This happens when Shih Tzus get really excited, digest their food too fast, or allergens are present. Talk calmly and try to get them relaxed to lessen the reverse sneezing.
- A Shih Tzu’s hair coat constantly grows. Most owners keep their hair trimmed short, others want to keep it long and luxurious. Thus, regular maintenance and grooming is a must.
- Brush their hair once or twice a week. Haircuts might also be needed every several weeks. Facial hair can also irritate their eyes.
- Their nails should be trimmed once a month; however, their teeth should be brushed regularly to observe proper oral hygiene.
- They have a moderate energy level so daily short walks and fun activities would make them happy. They can live in an apartment as long as owners allot time to play with them. But most of all, they just love to sit on your lap.
- Their flat faces makes them sensitive to heat. It is best if they stay indoors especially on hot days to avoid heat exhaustion.
Shih Tzu Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Shih Tzu across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Shih Tzu worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Shih Tzus which are famous toy dogs with long, lush, double hair coats. Bred solely to be companions, the Shih Tzu is an ancient breed which served as prized lap dogs for royalty in China..
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Shih Tzu Facts
- Shih Who? Shih Tzu
- Shih Tzu Anatomy
- Little Lion Facts
- Shih Tzu Growth
- Colors and Patterns
- Someone Needs a Haircut
- Made in China
- Handle With Care
- Treat Me Better
- Own Shih Tzu Tale
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.