Shih Tzu dogs are energetic, playful pets that usually are inside companions. The dogs are small, but sturdy and strong. Consider the following tips for living with and enjoying a Shih Tzu.
A Shih Tzu has two coats of hair, the inner coat shedding to the outer coat. The outer coat sheds hardly at all so a regular brushing results in almost no noticeable shedding, making the dogs recommended for people with allergies. The coat is long and if kept long for show requires intensive maintenance. Many owners have the coat buzzed short which makes it much easier to maintain. Longer hair also tends to dry and mat as it grows.
Shih Tzu noses are small and flat so eating and drinking sometimes makes for dirty, wet faces. Often owners clean the face with a towel after eating to eliminate a food build-up. This is one area where a shorter haircut helps with maintenance. When drinking the dogs can get choked, since the nose is so small and close to the mouth. Closely supervise drinking.
Mucus from the eyes tends to collect on the face too. This should be wiped clean frequently to avoid problems.
Shih Tzu are sensitive to high temperatures. They are considered a cool climate dog and should be supervised as temperatures rise.
The expected lifespan of these dogs is 13-15 years. Common health issues include porto systemic liver shunt, renal dysplasia, and hip dysplasia. They also suffer from various eye troubles. Some dogs are sensitive to red dye #40 and unexplained scratching may be a reason to change pet foods.
Shih Tzu dogs are normally inside dogs but they need regular exercise. Sometimes behavior issues are simply a result of lack of exercise and lack of interaction with people. Daily exercise will solve many problems including the tendency to gain weight over time.
Basic training including housebreaking will make your pet a more pleasant member of your household. Shih Tzu can be housebroken using any of several methods. Many owners use the crate training method. This works well if you can closely supervise your pet.
With the proper care a Shih Tzu can be a valuable part of your life for many years.