The Shih Tzu is a small dog with a big character! With firmness and love they will develop into a really lovely dog.
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.
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 waving their paws in the air, which looks like they are “doing their exercises”!
THEY LOVE COMPANY!
Shih Tzu are not usually lap dogs, as they are quite independent, although many like to sit on laps, but on their terms.
They love company, human 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, they will be miserable. You will be amazed how destructive they can be if they are bored!
THEY NEED A PACK LEADER
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 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. Because they are very intelligent dogs, they would take over this role if you allowed them to and therefore become the boss over you – which is no good for either of you!
HISTORY & ORIGINS
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 (one of the most knowledgeable Shih Tzu doyens), it originated in Tibet – bred by the country’s monks as alarm dogs in their monasteries.
Indeed you will find they have very keen hearing, are very alert and sometimes very vocal!
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