Owning a Shih Tzu is like owning any other breed of dog is rewarding, fulfilling, and occasionally challenging. It is important to understand what is required when owning a Shih Tzu before taking on the responsibility, as it can be a long-term commitment. The information below provides a comprehensive guide to what is involved in caring for and living with a Shih Tzu.
Overview of the Shih Tzu Breed
The Shih Tzu is an ancient breed of dog originating in Tibet. It is thought has been around for more than 2,000 years, existing in many forms but mainly taking the form of a small, sturdy, and portrait-like dog with a flat face and long hair. The name roughly translates as a lion in Chinese, which may help explain why these little dogs tend to be rather brave for their size.
Shih Tzus can reach up to 28 cm in height and weigh up to 8 kg, although most are usually a bit smaller than this. Their long hair, which may hang down their sides and cover their eyes, may need frequent grooming to prevent matting. They have a lifespan of up to 14 years and may be prone to genetic health issues and other ailments which can be worsened through environmental triggers.Shih Tzus are known for being friendly and loyal companions, and they are often very affectionate with their owners. They are also known for being quite intelligent and can be trained to do a variety of tricks. They are generally good with children and other pets, although they may be wary of strangers. With proper socialization, they can make great family pets.
Pros and Cons of Owning a Shih Tzu
The primary benefit of owning a Shih Tzu is their sweet and gentle temperament. They are generally friendly, loyal, and affectionate. They are known to be good around children and other pets if introduced at a young age. They can be lap dogs, enjoy being cuddled, and do not require a lot of exercise.
On the downside, Shih Tzus can be quite vocal dogs, barking and whining when startled, excited, or anxious. They also require regular grooming to keep their coat in good condition. If not groomed properly, their fur can become matted and tangled and even cause health issues. While very self-sufficient when alone during the day, they can become destructive if left alone for too long.Additionally, Shih Tzus can be prone to certain health issues, such as eye problems, respiratory issues, and dental problems. Therefore, it is important to ensure that they receive regular veterinary check-ups and that any health issues are addressed promptly.
Grooming Requirements for a Shih Tzu
Due to their long fur, Shih Tzus need to be groomed regularly. Ideally this should be done every two weeks. This includes brushing their coat, trimming their fur, cleaning out any knots or tangles, checking the eyes, cleaning the ears, and trimming their nails. This can be done by a professional groomer or at home.
When grooming your Shih Tzu at home, it is important to use the right tools and products. A good quality brush and comb are essential for brushing out the coat and removing any knots or tangles. You should also use a gentle shampoo and conditioner to keep the coat clean and healthy. Finally, you should use a nail clipper to trim the nails and a cotton swab to clean the ears.
Exercise and Socialization Needs of a Shih Tzu
Shih Tzus are relatively low-energy dogs and do not require extensive exercise. They enjoy brief walks or playing outdoors but can happily live in an apartment setting without a yard. They may become bored quickly when indoors so should have toys to play with and other activities. They also need to unfamiliar people, environments, and other animals in order to be sociable and friendly.
Shih Tzus are very social animals and need regular interaction with their owners and other people. They should be taken on regular walks and outings to help them stay active and engaged. They also need to be exposed to different environments and situations to help them become more confident and comfortable. Socialization is key to helping a Shih Tzu become a well-rounded and happy pet.
Health Issues Related to the Shih Tzu Breed
Shih Tzus may suffer from some genetic health issues due to a lack of diversity in their gene pool over time. These may include eye problems such as cataracts, hip and knee issues due to their small size, heart problems, and respiratory illnesses. Regular vet visits and screenings should be scheduled to help detect any issues early on.
It is important to note that the Shih Tzu breed is also prone to dental issues, such as periodontal disease. Therefore, it is important to brush their teeth regularly and have their teeth checked by a vet at least once a year. Additionally, regular grooming is important to keep their coats healthy and free of mats and tangles.
Training Tips for a Shih Tzu
Shih Tzus are quite easy to train due to their intelligence. Since they can be stubborn, patience is key when training them. It is essential to keep sessions short so that they stay focused. Positive reinforcement works better than punishment and commands should be said one at a time with rewards offered for good behavior.
When training a Shih Tzu, it is important to be consistent and use the same commands each time. This will help them to understand what is expected of them. Additionally, it is important to provide plenty of praise and rewards when they do something correctly. This will help to reinforce the desired behavior and make them more likely to repeat it in the future.
Diet and Nutrition for a Shih Tzu
Shih Tzus have small stomachs and should be fed small meals throughout the day. Their diet needs to be balanced between dry kibble and wet food for optimal health. High-quality animal proteins should be the main ingredients in all food. Avoid giving them table scraps, bones, or people food as it can cause digestive issues.
It is important to provide your Shih Tzu with a variety of foods to ensure they are getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals. You can supplement their diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Make sure to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your pet.
Common Behaviors Exhibited by Shih Tzus
Shih Tzus tend to bark quite frequently when something new or exciting comes into their environment. This makes them good watchdogs but they should not be relied upon as guard dogs due to their small size. They are also fairly bright dogs but can become bored quickly if not kept stimulated with plenty of mental activities and toys. As fair pack animals, they may look for comfort in the company of people or other pets.
Shih Tzus are also known for their loyalty and affection towards their owners. They are very social and enjoy being around people, making them great companions. They are also known for their intelligence and can be trained to do a variety of tricks. They are also very playful and enjoy playing with toys and other animals. Overall, Shih Tzus are a great breed of dog that can bring a lot of joy and companionship to their owners.
Tips for Living With a Shih Tzu
Shih Tzus are very loyal animals and will bond closely with their owners. Therefore it is important that they are given plenty of love, attention, and affection on a daily basis. Provide them with regular exercise and mental stimulation in the form of games or puzzle toys. Taking them to obedience classes can help ensure that they stay well-behaved when out and about.
With the right care and attention, a Shih Tzu can make an excellent companion for life. Understanding what is required before bringing one home will help ensure that both the dog and their owner get the most out of their relationship.