Shih Tzu Puppy.  James Brennan Molokai Hawaii

Shih Tzu Puppy. James Brennan Molokai Hawaii

The name Shih Tzu comes from the Chinese word for "lion dog" because this kind of dog was bred to resemble "the lion as depicted in traditional oriental art," such as the Chinese guardian lions. (There is also the Pekingese breed, called "lion dog" in Chinese.) "Shih Tzu" is the Wade-Giles romanization of the Chinese characters 獅子, meaning lion; Wade-Giles romanization was in use when the breed was first introduced in America, but in modern times Pinyin romanization is used, rendering it shīzi. The Mandarin Chinese pronunciation is approximately SHIRR-dzə. The Shih Tzu is also known as the "Xi Shi dog" (西施犬) because Xi Shi was regarded as one of the most beautiful women of ancient China. Shih Tzu were nicknamed the Chrysanthemum Dog in England in the 1930s. The dog may also be called the Tibetan Lion Dog, but whether or not the breed should be referred to as a "Tibetan" or "Chinese" breed is a source of argument, the absolute answer to which "may never be known".

This puppy is a Tricolor (black, white and red-gold).
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 10.5 inches at the withers and with an ideal weight of 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 underbite, which is required in the breed standard.

The traditional long silky coat, which reaches the floor, requires daily brushing to avoid tangles. Because of their long coat and fast-growing hair, regular grooming is necessary, which may be costly and should be considered when looking at this breed. Often the coat is clipped short to simplify care.

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.

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.
The Shih Tzu dog breed has a personality and temperament that is loyal, affectionate, outgoing, and alert. While the Shih Tzu is an excellent watch dog, they were not specifically bred for this purpose, and will not bark incesantly, as do some small breeds. 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.