Temperament: The Shih Tzu has an outgoing, affectionate, and charming personality. Historical paintings and documents show the Shih Tzu has been around at least since the year 624. Over the centuries, Shih Tzus have been bred to be companion dogs. Therefore, your Shih Tzu won't be the best guard dog or animal herder, but they will want to be your best friend!
Training: Shih Tzus are smart but stubborn, which can make training a frustrating experience. For example, Shih Tzus have been known to charm and kiss their trainers in an attempt to have their own way. This can result in a pet that is not fully trained or housebroken. Therefore, owners are encouraged to introduce desired new behaviors slowly and firmly and to immediately correct bad behaviors. Remember that Shih Tzus are people dogs, so praise and rewards are more effective than punishment.
Care and grooming: If you would like a fun companion dog, the Shih Tzu might be perfect for you! Shih Tzus love to spend time with their owners and amuse them with their charming personalities. Shih Tzus are also perfect apartment dogs because they require minimal exercise. Daily walks and indoor playtime will be enough exercise for the typical Shih Tzu. However, before deciding to get a Shih Tzu, make sure you understand the grooming requirements. Shih Tzus have long, flowing coats, which require daily brushing and maintenance to avoid tangles and matting.
Health: Shih Tzus are generally a healthy breed with a life span of 12 to 14 years. Like all purebreds, however, there may be some health issues, like hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and eye disease. Shih Tzus have large eyes, so be careful to avoid eye injuries and notify your vet immediately if you suspect an eye problem. Although rare, a serious health problem with Shih Tzus is juvenile renal dysplasia, in which the kidneys fail to develop normally. These issues can be minimized by working with a responsible breeder who knows the specific health concerns and diseases within the breed. It should also be noted that Shih Tzus have heavy coats and short faces, which makes it difficult for them to swim and to tolerate the heat.
Food: Good nutrition, including proper food, is very important throughout a Shih Tzu's life. The ideal weight of a Shih Tzu is between 9 to 16 pounds. Many dog food companies have breed-specific formulas, depending on the size of your dog. The Shih Tzu is a small breed dog, so consider working with your veterinarian to determine the best diet to make sure your pet remains healthy.