Breed of the Month: Shih Tzu!


The “Little Lion Dog” originated in the 17th century in China and is believed to be a cross between the Tibetan Spaniel and the Lhasa Apso. She is a new breed to America: in the 1960s there were only 100 registered in this country! Their popularity rose quickly and they were recognized by the AKC in 1969. They are sensitive to the heat and require only moderate exercise. They are primarily a companion dog, and they take their job very seriously. Shih Tzu love to be with and on their family whenever possible. The Shih Tzu is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of 13-15 years.

Amazing Traits:

  • Excellent companion
  • Needs minimal exercise
  • Sweet, playful, and friendly
  • Alert, curious, and busy
  • Good around other pets and dogs
  • Intelligent, friendly, and easily won over
  • Full of personality
  • Adorable underbite

Some less than favorable characteristics:

  • An indoor dog that doesn’t do well in the heat
  • May have a tendency to bark excessively
  • Can be aggressive, fearful, or snappy if not socialized properly
  • Can be difficult to housetrain
  • Fragile and easily injured because of her small size
  • Needs frequent attention from her family

Taking Care of Your Shih Tzu at Home

Watch their diet, make sure they get plenty of exercise, regularly brush their teeth and coat, and call us or a pet emergency hospital when something seems unusual. Be sure to give them the necessary “check-ups” and test for diseases and conditions that are common in Shih Tzu’s. Another very important step in caring for your pet is signing up for pet health insurance. There will certainly be medical tests and procedures they will need throughout their life and pet health insurance will help you cover those costs.

Routine Care, Diet, and Exercise

  • Supervise your pet as you would a toddler. Keep doors closed, pick up after yourself, and block off rooms as necessary. This will keep them out of trouble and away from objects they shouldn’t put in her mouth.
  • Regular brushing and grooming are needed to keep their coat beautiful.
  • Shih Tzu’s often have serious problems with their teeth, so you’ll need to brush them at least three times a week, use an oral rinse, or enzymatic powder (for more information call MVH at 201-646-2008)!
  • Clean their ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—we’ll show you how!
  • They are well suited for apartment living but will need a daily walk and regular inside play.
  • They can be sensitive to warm temperatures; avoid any prolonged exposure and be very alert to the signs of heat stress (see other blogs!).
  • They are highly intelligent and can be taught to perform a variety of tricks to keep them mentally stimulated.
  • Keep your dog’s diet consistent and don’t give them people food.
  • Feed a high-quality diet appropriate for their age.
  • Exercise your dog regularly, but don’t overdo it at first.

For more information on how to care for your precious Shih Tzu, call Meadowlands Veterinary Hospital at 201-646-2008 or

By |October 2nd, 2017|