The Shih Tzu is a breed of dog originating in China. The spelling "Shih Tzu", most commonly used for the breed, is according to the Wade-Giles system of romanization. The actual pronunciation of this name is approximately like the "sher" of "sherbet" followed immediately by the "dds" of "adds". The meaning of the breed name was originally "lion dog" because this variety of dog was bred to resemble a miniature lion. It is now often called by a homonymic name, "xi shi quan" , based on the name of Xi Shi, regarded as the most beautiful woman of ancient China.


Shih tzus come in variety of colors including black, white, gray, tan, and gold spotted to a mix of several-colored hairs. A model Shih Tzu should have a short snout, large eyes, a slight underbite, and a tail that waves above its torso. The Shih Tzu's hair can be styled in a short, summertime hair cut or a well-groomed long hair style like that used for conformation shows.

James Mumford described the breed in an American Shih Tzu magazine, giving a picture of the versatile character of the Shih Tzu: "Nobody knows how the Ancient Eunuchs managed to mix together…And now here comes the recipe: A dash of lion, several teaspoons of rabbit, a couple of ounces of domestic cat, one part court jester, a dash of ballerina, a pinch of old man (Chinese), a bit of beggar, a tablespoon of monkey, one part baby seal, a dash of teddy bear and the rest dogs of Tibetan and Chinese origin."

Southern Shih-tzuThe Shih Tzu is usually calm and gentle. The breed makes a good children's pet. Shih Tzus are actually a bit light-headed at times and do not take severe punishment well.

This Shih Tzu is prepared for cold weather with a longer haircut and wearing a dog coat.
This Shih Tzu is prepared for cold weather with a longer haircut and wearing a dog coat.

The Shih Tzu is easy to care for. The breed does not especially enjoy exercise and tires easily. When out for a romp, they may suffer abrasions on their paws. A short haircut avoids having to care for their longer natural coat. However, these dogs do not tolerate cold temperatures well, so longer hair during the colder seasons is more appropriate.



Brundo 2005