The Shih Tzu (SHEED-zoo) is one of the elegant, aristocratic dogs from China, cherished by royals there for over a thousand years. He is believed to have descended from a crossing of the Lhasa Apso or Tibetan Mountain Dog and the Pekingese.
American soldiers discovered the Shih Tzu in England during World War II, where the breed had been brought after the British invaded China in 1860. The Americans were charmed by the dogs and brought some home when they returned from the war.
The silky Shih Tzu is sweet and playful. He's also got plenty of spunk. He's not afraid to stand up for himself, though he usually gets along nicely with strangers and other animals. The Shih Tzu seems especially to dislike hot weather.
One big part of the Shih Tzu's life is grooming. The coat needs daily attention. It is luxurious, long, and flowing, and it must be brushed every day. All colors are allowed. His plume-like tail curls over the back.
Excerpts from the Standard
General Appearance: A sturdy, lively, alert toy dog with a long flowing double coat, proud, compact, and solid.
Size, Proportion, and Substance: Height--9 to 101/2 inches at the withers is ideal; between 8 and 11 inches is acceptable. Weight--9 to 16 pounds.
In the Buddhist religion, lions are important symbols of power. So the royal Chinese, practicers of Buddhism, valued little dogs
that looked like the sacred lion. Shih Tzus, with their mane and proud carriage, were prized for this resemblance. In fact, the word Shih Tzu means "lion." Shih Tzus also have the nickname Chrysanthemum Face. The hair on their faces grows out in a circular direction, making the faces look like flowers.
Excerpted from The Complete Dog Book For Kids © 1996, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.