Many dog breeds are intended for a specific purpose, and this is definitely the case with the Shih Tzu. These dogs are companion animals above all else. Loyalty and a strong bond with owners are their most prized qualities. (Shih Tzu’s were also once employed as "alarm dogs" in ancient Chinese palaces.) Shih Tzu’s aren't hunting dogs, or shepherds, or search and rescue dogs.
Shih Tzu’s look proud and off-putting at first glance, but they become incredibly charming and friendly the more you get to know them. They feel most at home when they are in their owner's close company – often quite literally in their laps. A common nickname for the Shih Tzu is "little lion dog." It speaks quite accurately to the outsized personality and bravery these little dogs usually display.
This breed has exceptionally keen ears. A Shih Tzu will let you know as soon as something new or unusual approaches you. While Shi Tzu’s are instinctive barkers, they do not yap endlessly. As soon as they understand that there is no danger to them or their owners, they revert to their placid, easy-going personality.
Some people see Shih Tzu’s as arrogant. Personally, I think this (somewhat erroneous) judgment is made based on three common observations:
* First, the Shih Tzu dog's appearance clearly reflects it noble heritage – it looks like a palace-dweller.
* Second, the Shih Tzu's alert stance immediately suggests confidence and self-assurance.
* Third, the way Shih Tzu’s walk demonstrates more of their famed confidence. The gait of this breed is a delight to watch, especially when you observe long-haired Shih Tzu’s pacing about.
Shih Tzu’s delight in taking moderate exercise; these dogs will happily run, leap, and jump. The dogs like taking short walks when the weather is favourable. As one might expect given their small size, these dogs have limited amounts of energy. Shih Tzu’s don't hesitate to use up all of their energy in short bursts; once they tire out they are ready for a restorative nap. This makes the breed ideal for busy owners or less-mobile ones who aren't prepared to deal with more energetic dog breeds.
Ordinarily, a Shih Tzu will get all of the exercise it needs simply following you about on your day-to-day routine. While they might appreciate a short walk – really more of a stroll – the breed is not built for extended hikes. This is because they are brachycephalic.
The dogs are innately playful and this sort of activity is great for using up their energy. Some Shih Tzu’s will enjoy playing fetch, although in my experience this is behaviour that has to be taught to them. The Shih Tzu is not a predatory breed so it does not have the instincts to chase after prey or a substitute like a ball.
Most Shih Tzu’s deal well with group socialization, but many of these dogs will bond especially closely with a single-family member. Most Shih Tzu’s are quick to get affectionate with people, and the breed does especially well with seniors and young children. Shih Tzu’s are also environmentally adaptable, and they can adjust rapidly to moving to a new home.
There are some toy breeds that are too delicate to be entrusted to children. This is not the case with the Shih Tzu. Though petite, the breed is sturdy and robust. A typical Shih Tzu weighs between nine and 16 pounds. Smaller examples are often called "Imperials" or "Chinese Imperials."
The Shih Tzu is an extremely intelligent dog, and their natural self-interest can sometimes make them stubborn. Many Shih Tzu’s are uninterested in toys or treats, and this can make them challenging to train.
Training a Shih Tzu hinges on finding the right rewards to motivate them. Simple affection (cuddling and praising) will work well with most Shih Tzu’s, but some respond well to small treats too. Since the breed is known for having a brief attention span, it's best to train them in short sessions.
Most Shih Tzu’s deal well with group socialization
Male and female Shih Tzu dogs have very similar temperaments. They have equal levels of energy and become equally attached to their owners. Shih Tzu’s are lovable companions regardless of sex.
Shih Tzu’s of both genders socialize well with other dogs. They're especially comfortable around others of the same breed. Shih Tzu’s generally accept the introduction of a new dog into the family quite well. Owners who decide to keep two Shih Tzu’s usually opt for a male and a female, as this usually (but not always) leads to the best relationships.
Mother-daughter Shi Tzu pairs are usually very well-behaved, as are litter mates. Two female Shi Tzu’s of the right temperament will get along with each other as long as they can be convinced that the humans around them are the leaders of the pack.