Shih Tzu – The Chrysanthemum Dog

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The Shih Tzu, is a breed of dog which originated in China. The name is both singular and plural. They are reported to be the oldest and smallest of the Tibetan holy dogs. This type of dog has been around for a long time. They were bred to bark when people or animals approached the palace of the Emperor of China this alerted people to the presence of unwanted visitors. It is believed that this ornamental breed was created by breeding the Pekingese with a Tibetan dog breed, the Lhasa Apso. Recent DNA analysis confirms that this is one of the oldest breeds of dogs. This dog is also known as the Chinese/Tibetan Lion Dog or the Chrysanthemum Dog. It is called the chrysanthemum dog because its face looks very much like the flower.

The Shih Tzu is characterized by its long, flowing double coat, sturdy build, intelligence, and a friendly, energetic, lively attitude. In breeding all coat colors are allowed. The Shih Tzu coat can be styled either in a short summer cut, or kept long for conformation show. This dog does not have fur like many other breeds; they have hair similar to a human’s. Instead of shedding, it loses hair gradually, much like humans lose hair in the shower or while grooming. They need to be brushed daily with a bristle brush and any topknot should be tied with a bow or band so the dog can see well. This breed sheds little to no hair or dandruff making them great for most allergy sufferers.

The American Kennel Club Shih Tzu breed standard calls for the dog to have a short snout, large eyes, and a palm-like tail that waves above its torso. Their height at shoulders is 9 to 10 1/2 inches. The dog should stand no less than 8 inches and not more than 11 inches tall. The Shih Tzu should never be so high stationed as to appear leggy, or so low stationed as to appear dumpy or squatty. Regardless of size or gender, they should always be solid and compact, and carry good weight and substance for its size range. This falls under the Toy category of the AKC.

The American Kennel Club and the American Shih Tzu Club defines them as a dog that weighs between 9 to 16 pounds as the official breed standard. Descriptions like “imperial”, “teacup”, “tiny teacup” are used, but dogs that fit such descriptions are often an undersized or underdeveloped Shih Tzu. Both the AKC and ASTC consider these variances to not be in conformity with the official breed standard. These tiny variances are also not what were defined as a standard by the Chinese imperial palace or by the professional circuit. Breeders who deal in designer dogs are not eligible for membership in some clubs. For example, the American Shih Tzu Club, the official guardian of the breed standard, denies membership to such breeders.

The life span of it is 11-14 years, although some variation from this range is possible. Some health issues common among the breed are wheezing, snoring, spinal disc disease, Porto systemic liver shunt, renal dysplasia, and hip dysplasia – in standard sizes. In addition, they also can suffer from various eye problems. These as well as many other breeds, may present signs of allergies to red dye #40, and owners should respond to scratching in the absence of fleas by eliminating pet foods that contain this commonly used additive. Also they should have their teeth checked regularly because they tend to lose them early.

The Shih Tzu requires a little more care than some other breeds, and potential owners who are looking for a low maintenance dog should probably choose another breed. Because their snouts are small and borderline nonexistent, drinking water from a bowl often contributes to their unclean faces. Owners sometimes use water dispensers like those used in hamster and rabbit cages. If the dog is drinking from a bowl, it is sometimes necessary to keep on eye on them; water can enter their face-level noses more easily and inhibit breathing. The area around the eyes should be cleaned gently each day, with cotton and warm water. Providing them with bottled water or water that does not contain chlorine helps to keep eye mucus to a minimum. These dogs are high maintenance regarding grooming and cleaning.

The Shih Tzu can be very independent when it comes to play and exercise. Unlike bigger dogs like Golden Retrievers and Labradors, they tend to be quite content when left alone. Most enjoy exercising outdoors and, when exercised regularly, have plenty of stamina. Most enjoy a long walk, although they are also quite happy to run around the house. However, owners must remember that they have quite short legs, so a Shih Tzu’s idea of a long walk is much shorter than ours. They can tire very easily. A dog whose coat is allowed to grow out needs daily brushing to avoid tangles .A short haircut, also known as a pet trim or puppy cut, avoids this extra level of care. However, since the breed is obviously adapted to a cool climate, letting the coat grow out for the colder seasons is appropriate.

These dogs are considered to be snub-nosed dogs which makes them very sensitive to high temperatures. This is why airlines that ship dogs will not accept them for shipment when temperatures at any point on the planned itinerary exceed 75 degrees. Also, like many other breeds, the claws need close attention. This is not specific to them but all small dogs. It is important to remember predators that normally hunt rodents and rabbits do not know the difference between such and a Shih Tzu. When caring for the owner must remember that they should not be let out with the protection of a real or electric fence but with its owner’s watchful eye because a hawk or eagle can swoop down from above and carry a dog off.

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Source by Penny Taylor

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