Although small in stature, the name Shih Tzu actually means "lion dog". They are similar to the Lhasa Apso but with shorter muzzles and a much more outgoing personality.
They are a little, sturdy dog with an abundance of hair that comes in all colours. It flows down their hanging ears, in a long beard and moustache over their round, broad head, over their body and from a tail that curls over their back. The hair on their head is often tied back so that you can see their round, dark eyes and short muzzle.
Chinese royals kept them as a prized companion dog for hundreds of years and refused to sell or give them away as gifts until the 1930s. They are an alert an busy little dog, gentle, loving, brave, and full of character. They make a good watchdog. They are naturally people, children and animal friendly and make a delightful companion, unless their cuteness encourages their owner to spoil them. They are quite an active dog indoors but enjoy a daily walk outside too.
Their long coat needs a good deal of daily brushing and combing. They are prone to slipped stifle and spinal disc disease, ear infections and eye problems and tooth decay. Their short muzzle also makes them prone to respiratory problems. They gain weight easily, too.