A Shih Tzu is a toy dog breed weighing 5–7.25 kilograms (11–16.0 lb) with long silky hair. The breed originated in China. Shih Tzu were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1969. The name is both singular and plural.
DNA analysis placed the ancestors of today's Shih Tzu breed in the group of "ancient" breeds indicating "close genetic relationship to wolves". Ludvic von Schulmuth studied the skeletal remains of dogs found in human settlements as long as ten thousand years ago.
Another branch coming down from the "Kitchen Midden Dog" gave rise to the Papillon and Long-haired Chihuahua and yet another "Kitchen Midden Dog" branch to the Pug and Shih Tzu. It is also said that the breed originated in China, hence the name "Lion Dog", in 800BC. There are various theories of the origins of today's breed. Theories relate that it stemmed from a cross between Pekingese and a Tibetan dog called the Lhasa Apso.
Dogs during ancient times were selectively bred and seen in Chinese paintings. The first dogs of the breed were imported into Europe (England and Norway) in 1930, and were classified by the Kennel Club as "Apsos". The first European standard for the breed was written in England in 1935 by the Shih Tzu Club, and the dogs were recategorised as Shih Tzu. The breed spread throughout Europe, and was brought to the United States after World War II, when returning members of the US military brought back dogs from Europe.
The Shih Tzu was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1969 in the Toy Group. The breed is now recognized by all of the major kennel clubs in the English-speaking world. It is also recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale for international competition in Companion and Toy Dog Group, Section 5, Tibetan breeds.
A number of health issues, some of them hereditary, have been found in individual Shih Tzu, and are listed below. There is no data on the percentage of dogs with these ailments. A 7-year-old male and a 3-month female puppy
The Shih Tzu is a small dog with a short muzzle and large dark eyes. With a soft and long double coat, it stands no more than 26.7 cm (101⁄2 in.) at the withers and with an ideal weight of 4.5 to 7.3 kg (10 to 16 lbs).
Drop ears are covered with long fur, and the heavily furred tail is carried curled over the back. The coat may be of any colour, though a blaze of white on the forehead and tip of the tail is frequently seen. The Shih Tzu is slightly longer than tall, and dogs ideally should carry themselves "with distinctly arrogant carriage". A very noticeable feature is the under-bite, which is required in the breed standard.
Although a Shih Tzu's temperament varies from dog to dog, the breed has an personality and temperament that is loyal, affectionate, outgoing, and alert. Training and proper socializing must start at a young age for the Shih Tzu to obey basic training commands.
While the Shih Tzu is an excellent watch dog because of its alert and active nature, it was not specifically bred for this purpose. Unlike the Lhasa Apso, which was bred to be a sentinel dog that enjoys high perches and is wary of strangers, the Shih Tzu prefers to be close to its companions and will often offer strangers its affection. Due to its friendly nature, the Shih Tzu tends to interact well with other dogs and with children and adults. Shih Tzu dogs have been observed to get peevish if provoked, so an owner should be mindful when the dog is in the presence of children. Overall, they are friendly and outgoing companions.