The World of Shih Tzu (World of Dogs)

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Shih Tzu originated in China, and resemble Lhasa Apsos from Tibet. They probably have both Lhasa Apso and Pekinese ancestry, but the Shi Tzu is more outgoing and playful than the Lhasa Apso. If you are wavering between the two breeds, this breed is probably the better bet. Though some Lhasa Apso owners adore their little mop dogs, and argue that they have more dignity, Shih Tzu are, on the whole, much less likely to nip you and other people!

Some individuals can be a little nervy, but generally they are friendly and get on well with children and other dogs. Small children do have to be supervised closely to make sure they don't try pick up or otherwise manhandle these dogs, but they can make excellent companions for older children. Shih Tzuh enjoy walks, and are not likely to pull over young handlers.

They are independent by nature, and will tend to take advantage of any inconsistencies in their training. As with Lhasa Apsos, it helps to bring children into their training programme, so that everyone gives the dog the same commands, and the dog learns to obey the children. Children are more likely to understand why the dog shouldn't have food snuck under the table if they understand more about training dogs!

Shih Tzu aren't especially barky, but need human company, and are more likely to bark if they are bored. They need at least one walk a day, or some off- leash active play in a garden, in order to keep fit. They do make good watchdogs, since they tend to bark to announce arrivals at the door. Their coat needs a lot of grooming if it is left untrimmed, but it's kinder to trim a Shih Tzu's coat if you don't plan to show the dog, since otherwise hair gets in his eyes, and his coat attracts dirt as it flows along the ground. They don't shed much if groomed regularly. Do make sure that your dog is used to standing nicely to be groomed, and being handled by strangers before you take him to the groomers, so that he is a credit to you.

Common Shih Tzu health problems include back trouble, and they should not be allowed to put on weight, because it puts too much strain on their backs. They should never be fed sweet biscuits or sugar confectionary, which are very bad for their teeth. Some individuals have breathing trouble, since their muzzles are quite short, and these dogs may snore. They can feel the heat due to their thick coats, so should not be taken out in the heat of the day in summer, but they do handle cold well. Inherited kidney problems have also affected some lines. This is generally an active breed which ages well, and Shih Tzu tend to live longer than the Lhasa Apso.

This breed guide gives a full account of the history of the Shih Tzu, and provides help for owners who want to breed and show their dogs. There is also help with general care, including health care. The amount of detail in this book make it attractive for experienced as well as novice owners.