Bred by Chinese nobility to be a companion dog, the Shih Tzu is a lively, loving pet. The little dog has a low-maintenance personality with a potentially high-maintenance coat. As the sole purpose of the Shih
Tzu is companion and house pet, he should be lively, alert, friendly and trusting towards all. He requires minimal exercise, but his long, luxurious coat needs daily brushing and maintenance.
Here are three important things to know about Shih Tzus before you bring one home.
- The “coat factor.” The Shih Tzu’s long, flowing coat is what makes this breed so glamorous-looking. But maintaining that coat is very time-consuming. “You need to stay on top of brushing their coats,” says Carlene Snyder, chairman of the health and research committee for the American Shih Tzu Club, who lives in the Tampa Bay, Fla., area. That means a thorough grooming every other day and a bath once a week. If you don’t want to spend the time grooming your Shih Tzu, Snyder recommends getting the “puppy cut” that trims the coat to one-inch long. Your dog may be nearly unrecognizable as a Shih Tzu, but will be much lower maintenance.
- Exercise needs. Shih Tzus like to cuddle with their people as much as the next dog, but they are not coach potatoes and require regular exercise. But Shih Tzus adapt well to whatever situation they are in, whether they live on a farm or in an apartment building. While Shih Tzus need and enjoy exercise, they can also be trained to use “potty pads,” notes Snyder.
- Health issues. To keep your Shih Tzu healthy, make sure water doesn’t get trapped in their ear canals. Also pay special attention to their eyes, which are regularly exposed to dust, dirt, and their own hair. In addition, Shih Tzu’s don’t have very good depth perception, says Snyder. So your Shih Tzu may balk at walking on patterned rugs because he can’t tell what he’s about to step on.
Image: dog.happy.art / via Flickr