The Shih Tzu is a small toy dog breed, originating from ancient China. With a long, flowing coat, distinctive appearance and friendly temperament Shih Tzu’s are a wonderful companion. They can be particularly suitable if you have a less active lifestyle, being content with short walks and indoor play. And they always make their presence felt – their lively and intelligent nature means they are full of spirit and personality.
Originally bred as companion dogs for Chinese royalty, Shih Tzu’s were highly prized by the ruling classes. They became popular in Western countries in the 20th century and today can be found worldwide, even though they became briefly extinct in China during the Communist revolution. Shih Tzus have a flat, round face with a short snout, floppy ears, and large expressive eyes. These lion-like facial features provided the Shih Tzu’s with their name which means ‘little lion’ or ‘lion dog’ in Mandarin.
A double coated breed, Shih Tzu’s have a woolly undercoat and a luxurious, silky topcoat. With such a delicate coat that needs lots of care and attention, regular grooming is vital to stop them from becoming matted. Often the long hair around their face is tied on top of their head giving them a distinctive and recognisable look!
Shih Tzu’s are loving and loyal dogs and are a great choice for both individuals and families, especially given their friendly and affectionate mood.
Over the years several famous individuals have owned Shih Tzus including Beyoncé, and Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates. Zsa Zsa Gabor, the late Hungarian-American actress and socialite was known for her love of Shih Tzus and had several as pets during her lifetime. Nicole Richie, the TV personality, fashion designer, and actress has owned a Shih Tzu named Honeychild.
Famous Shih Tzus
One of the most recognisable Shih Tzu’s is Marnie who rose to internet stardom on Instagram with her lolling tongue, amused expression and tilted gait. Marnie was adopted by her owner at 10 years old and quickly gained followers with her quirky personality. In 2015, the New Yorker named her the most famous American Dog on Instagram. Marnie may have been the first Shih Tzu to gain popularity through social media, but she certainly won’t be the last! With such an adorable appearance, this popular breed has a number of devoted dog-fluencer (dog-influencer) accounts from all over the world. The hashtag #shihtzu has over 16 million posts on Instagram alone.
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