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rec.pets.dogs: Shih Tzus Breed-FAQ
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997
There are nearly 100 FAQ's available for this group. For a complete
listing of these, get the "Complete List of RPD FAQs". This article
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This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below.
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
alteration provided that this copyright notice is not removed.
It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other
than the URL listed above without the permission of the Author(s).
This article may not be sold for profit nor incorporated in other
documents without he Author(s)'s permission and is provided "as is"
without express or implied warranty.
Ruth A. Grimaldi,
Table Of Contents
* Personality and Temperament
* Health Issues
* The American Kennel Club Standard
* What the buyer should know
* Puppy Care
The origin of the Shih-Tzu is obscure. The Shih-Tzu originated in
Tibet where it was kept in temples as a sacred dog. It is known that
they were occasionally given to the Emperors of China during the
Manchu dynasty (17th century) as a tribute of great honor and that is
how they came to be established in China.
In that country, the dogs became little temple dogs and were kept in
the palace and carefully guarded and cared for by the court eunuchs.
When the Peking Kennel Club was formed in 1934 there was much
confusion as to the difference between certain small breeds. In 1938
an individual standard was set for the Shih-Tzu and it was recognized
as a separate breed from certain other Tibetan breeds.
With the war and the takeover of Peking in 1949 there were no more
exported from China. In 1952 there was a strong fear that the breed
was developing poor structure and it was decided to cross a Pekingese
into the line in England. The purpose was to obtain a less leggy dog
with a better coat and shorter muzzle. This was accomplished, however
the bowed front legs of the Pekingese are something that still can be
seen on some Shih-Tzu today.
There was also a faction in England called the Manchu Club that
believed a smaller dog better represented the ture heritage of the
temple dogs. The Kennel Club recognized this in their 1938 standard by
stating the ideal weight was between 9 to 16 pounds which is what the
current standard recognizes.
In the United States, fanciers obtained the first Shih-Tzus in the
late 1930s. The breed gained in popularity in 1960, with many imports
coming from England and Europe. The breed was shown in the
Miscellaneous class at AKC dog shows. It was not until 1969 that the
Shih-Tzu were permitted to be shown as a separate breed in the Toy
Group. In 1969, 2,811 Shih-Tzu were registered which increased to
14,894 in 1978. Within that nine year period over 85,000 Shih-Tzu were
registered with the American Kennel Club, placing the Shih-Tzu in the
top 25 most popular breeds according to the AKC. It is no surprise
that the temple dog had come into the homes of many owners -- this is
due not only their Imperial background but also to their personality.
Personality and Temperament
One of the strongest characteristics of the Shih-Tzu is its
personality. The Shih-Tzu is a friendly, nonaggressive dog that is a
good companion for children and other breeds of dogs. Shih-Tzus are
known for their fun-loving play, romping around the apartment or in
the country side.
The Shih-Tzu is a people oriented dog, they cherish no more than the
love of people. They will sit patiently, remaining still with their
eyes gazing intently on your face waiting for you to call them over to
be patted. The Shih-Tzu is not a one person dog. Shih-Tzus are happy
to entertain any stranger, once accepted by the family. This is one
reason that they are becoming popular. They make friends where ever
The Shih-Tzu has a lap dog personality. It is not high strung nor
demanding. The pet Shih-Tzu is content during the day to lie in a
corner with his legs stretched out behind him, snoring softly. If he
has a choice he would prefer to be curled up in your lap.
The size of the Shih-Tzu is between 9 to 16 pounds. The appropriate
weight is a matter of personal preference, with the breed standard
allowing a wide range. They are sturdy dogs. In the city these little
dogs become easily accustomed to noises and apartment living.
The coat is one of the characteristics that exemplifies the truly
regal nature of the Shih-Tzu. As with the size, the coat comes in a
wide range of colors: from total black, to black & white, gray &
white, red & white or pure gold. A white blaze on the forehead and a
white tip on the tail are highly prized. The coat is not straight as
in a Yorkshire Terrier, a slight wave is normal with a curl not
appropriate. The coat has an under layer and when the dog is full
grown this undercoat helps give an overall graceful appearance to the
coat as it falls naturally to the ground. The coat however does
require care and attention. Daily grooming is necessary, otherwise the
coat can become matted and tangled which will require cutting the
coat. As a puppy little work is needed except to get the dog used to
lying still on a table or your lap for a couple of minutes to get
brushed. If one cuts the coat down, this takes away the elegant
aspects of the breed.
A kidney disease known as Renal Dysplasia is common in the Shih-Tzu
breed. It bears some similarity to kidney disease in the Lhasa Apso.
Whether the disease is inherited is not yet known but a good deal of
evidence points in that direction.
the occurrence of renal disease in young Shih-Tzu puppies and the fact
that usually more than one puppy in a litter and in some instances,
the entire litter is affected leads us to suspect it is inherited and
that every effort should be made by Shih-Tzu breeders to avoid
breeding any stock whose former offspring have been affected.
Currently the disease is irreversible and death is inevitable.
There are 3 stages of development. Unfortunately there are no clinical
symptoms of early renal disease which may progress over a period of
months or years to the second stage,when symptoms first become
obvious. The affected dog will develop an excessive thirst and will
pass greatly increased amounts of urine. The urine will appear to be
very diluted or watery. Some dogs will be listless, poor eaters, and
may suffer a weight loss. In the final stage, the symptoms of stage
two are more pronounced and may be accompanied by severe depression,
diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration -- all evidences of kidney
dysfunction which will sooner or later result in coma and death.
Renal disease runs high in all breeds of dogs. After the age of eight
years, 85% of all dogs have some kidney degeneration or will have
developed chronic nephritis. This is known to be a congenital,
hereditary progressive kidney disease in certain breeds, whereby the
kidneys do not maintain sufficient function to sustain life.
Kidney and bladder stones
Stones occur more in males than females because of the male anatomy:
the urethra in the male is small and can easily become obstructed by a
stone. The urethra in the female is larger and less prone to stone
development. Phosphate stones are the most common and greater
incidence of this type is found in the female than in the male. They
are associated with alkaline urine and frequently with a bladder
Urate stones, composed of uric acid are more frequently found in the
urinary system of males and in these cases the urine is acid. Cystine
uroliths composed of the amino acid cystine makes about five percent
of all stones and occur exclusively in males. It is an inherited
defect wherein cystine is reabsorbed into the kidneys rather than
excreted in the urine and it accumulates in the bladder where stones
form. They must be removed by surgery.
The American Kennel Club Standard
The Standard is the physical "blueprint" of the breed. It describes
the physical appearance and other desired qualities of the breed
otherwise known as _type_. Some characteristics, such as size, coat
quality, and movement, are based on the original (or current) function
for the dog. Other characteristics are more cosmetic such as eye
color; but taken together they set this breed apart from all others.
The Standard describes an _ideal_ representive of the breed. No
individual dog is perfect, but the Standard provides an ideal for the
breeder to strive towards.
Because of copyright concerns over the collection of all the Standards
at any single site storing all the faqs, AKC Standards are not
typically included in the Breed faqs. The reader is referred to the
publications at the end of this document or to the National Breed Club
for a copy of the Standard.
What the buyer should know
Breeders should be willing to let you see not only the quarters in
which the puppies are housed, but all puppies, whether for sale or
not. Be wary of the breeder who takes you into an anteroom and bring
out one puppy for you to see. If a breeder is honest, he or she has
nothing to hide and it is only by comparison that a buyer can judge
the quality of a prospective pet. Watch the puppies play, do their
eyes sparkle and are their coats clean. Their ears should be free of
wax and inflammation. Their teeth should be white,their gums firm and
pink. Evaluate the breeder too, you have every right to ask questions.
It won't take long to distinguish between the true breeder and one
interested only in making a sale. The breeder should be able to answer
questions about the origin and history of the Shih-Tzu, and general
care of the breed. The responsible breeder will urge you to have the
puppy throughly examined by a vet of your choice within 48 hrs after
the sale. The breeder should to willing to take the puppy back, if
need be. The breeder should show you how to groom the Shih-Tzu.
There is a great selection of shampoo, conditioners and grooming
equipment available to the dog owner. A small bath towel placed in
bottom of sink prevents water from accumulating and gives puppy secure
footing. Holding the puppy securely under its chest with one hand,
soak its body with lukewarm running water, shampoo the body and rinse
well. Leave the head for last. Carefully wet the head with a wet
sponge and clean the hair with a no-tear baby shampoo.
Still holding puppy securely, rinse thoroughly, being careful not to
get water in its nose. A few minutes of cuddling in a towel reassures
the puppy and soaks up excess water.
Use a small hand dryer, low heat is normally all that is necessary. if
puppy shivers,it is usually due to nerves rather than from being cold.
Avoid blowing the warm air directly into the puppy's face. Use a
toothbrush to clean the whiskers and ears---ears on drop-ears need
special attention. Ears should be cleaned with a cotton swab dipped in
mineral oil or panolog. To aviod accidental injury to the eardrums,
fluff the cotton out from around the end of the swab with fingertips.
Wipe the ear clean and dry with another swab, being careful not to
probe too deeply into the ear.
A Shih-Tzu's eyes are large and vulnerable and prone to ulceration.
Special attention should be given to them daily. Living close to the
ground.it is easy for dust or dirt or a stray hair to get into the eye
and cause irritation. Use human eye wash daily, such as collyrium.
This is a gentle eye wash, remove any matter from eye corners. A flea
comb may be used to remove any dried food in the beard or moustache.
_This Is the Shih-Tzu_ by Reverend Allen Easton and Joan McDonald
_The Joy of Owning a Shih-Tzu_ by Ann Seranne and Lisa Miller
_American Shih-Tzu Club, Inc._
837 Auburn Ave.
Ridgewood, New Jersey 07450
Write for information and brochures.
Ruth A. Grimaldi,
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