The Shih Tzu Dog
The Shih Tzu is a small dog with a big character. A very quick history of this breed will allow you to understand them a little better. They are generally recognised as a Chinese breed, although, according to the definitive book 'The Shih Tzu' written by the late Audrey Dadds, who was one of the most knowledgeable Shih Tzu doyens, it originated in Tibet - bred by the country's monks as alarm dogs in their monastery's. Indeed you will find they have very keen hearing and are very alert and sometimes very vocal!
In general they have a very happy, intelligent and lively character and will repay a good owner with love and devotion for many years. They are long lived, generally 14 to 16 years being the average life span, some much longer.
Shih Tzu's are not usually lap dogs, as they are quite independent, although many like to sit on laps, but on their terms. They love human company, as well as the companionship of another dog. Therefore, they are not the breed of dog to have if you are working away from home all day, and they are to be left. For this reason they should not be left alone for long periods. You will be amazed how destructive they can be if they are bored!
Each Shih Tzu has their own individual character; it is seen even in the 'nest' as early as 4 - 6 weeks of age.
Shih Tzu's will often have a mad time of running around the house jumping over the furniture and you can often see them lying on their back with their paws in the air, which I call 'doing their exercises'.
You must aim to be 'pack leader' from the moment you acquire your Shih Tzu, but this must be done in a way that they gain mutual trust and understanding. Shih Tzu's are not always the most obedient of dogs but they will try to please you if they can. You must to be firm with them, but this is NOT to be done in any way which would ruin their character or make them feel threatened. If given the chance they will only be too pleased to OWN you.
Well looked after, they have few health problems, the most common being eye ulceration, for as they have very large forward facing eyes, and being very inquisitive, they tend to poke their heads through grass and bushes, amongst other things. This can be mitigated, however, by daily examination and cleaning. Hernia's occur quite frequently, but are generally small and unless they increase in size are not a problem. Heart murmurs are not uncommon, but the majority do not cause any trouble and need no veterinary action. The key to Shih Tzu's health is good and careful "dog watching". Please do get your dog insured if this is possible. Vet bills are very expensive and seem to rise year on year.
It is best they learn as a puppy to be groomed. For this you need to be able to get them to stand still, as well as getting them to lie on their back to groom their underside and legs. You will find that if you 'fiddle' with their ears when they are young it will get them used to having their ears touched, thus making care of ears much easier.
The coat needs a great deal of attention if kept long as they are a double coated breed, with a strong top coat and a soft undercoat, which has to be dealt with separately. If you find you are unable to keep them in full coat or they have already been clipped down into a 'puppy cut', it is possible to get this maintained by a professional groomer, who should also cut the nails and check the anal glands.
You should get into the habit of giving him or her a daily quick brush through, this will help to keep the coat in a clean condition. A weekly thorough groom is recommended. After a grooming session have a playtime too! This means they soon become accustomed to 'grooming-fun' and will look forward to their daily grooming session, rather than dread it.
Do not be tempted to over bath your Shih Tzu, as this could remove the natural oils from the coat. Conditioner's do not replace the coat's natural oils
To apply to Adopt a Dog, or to Become a Member:
Click here for printable forms such as our Adoption Application form, General Adoption Information & to Application to Join the Rescue - that you can print off and send to us.
About Dog Breed Rescue in the UK:
The Kennel Club publish the "Dog Rescue Directory" which is a directory of UK Breed Rescue Organisations and is widely distributed in the UK.
Members of Southern Shih Tzu Rescue have supplied the Kennel Club with references from their veterinary surgeons which enables us to be listed in this directory. This directory is distributed to Vets surgeries and general rescue centres amongst others