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rec.pets.dogs: Shih Tzus Breed-FAQ


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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/shih-tzus
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URL: http://www.k9web.com/dog-faqs/breeds/shih-tzus.html
Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997

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                                 Shih-Tzus
                                      
Author

   Ruth A. Grimaldi, ladytzu@aol.com
   Copyright 1995.
   
Table Of Contents

     * History
     * Personality and Temperament
     * Description
     * Health Issues
     * The American Kennel Club Standard
     * What the buyer should know
     * Puppy Care
     * Resources
       
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
History

   The origin of the Shih-Tzu is obscure. The Shih-Tzu originated in
   Tibet where it was kept in temples as a sacred dog. It is known that
   they were occasionally given to the Emperors of China during the
   Manchu dynasty (17th century) as a tribute of great honor and that is
   how they came to be established in China.
   
   In that country, the dogs became little temple dogs and were kept in
   the palace and carefully guarded and cared for by the court eunuchs.
   When the Peking Kennel Club was formed in 1934 there was much
   confusion as to the difference between certain small breeds. In 1938
   an individual standard was set for the Shih-Tzu and it was recognized
   as a separate breed from certain other Tibetan breeds.
   
   With the war and the takeover of Peking in 1949 there were no more
   exported from China. In 1952 there was a strong fear that the breed
   was developing poor structure and it was decided to cross a Pekingese
   into the line in England. The purpose was to obtain a less leggy dog
   with a better coat and shorter muzzle. This was accomplished, however
   the bowed front legs of the Pekingese are something that still can be
   seen on some Shih-Tzu today.
   
   There was also a faction in England called the Manchu Club that
   believed a smaller dog better represented the ture heritage of the
   temple dogs. The Kennel Club recognized this in their 1938 standard by
   stating the ideal weight was between 9 to 16 pounds which is what the
   current standard recognizes.
   
   In the United States, fanciers obtained the first Shih-Tzus in the
   late 1930s. The breed gained in popularity in 1960, with many imports
   coming from England and Europe. The breed was shown in the
   Miscellaneous class at AKC dog shows. It was not until 1969 that the
   Shih-Tzu were permitted to be shown as a separate breed in the Toy
   Group. In 1969, 2,811 Shih-Tzu were registered which increased to
   14,894 in 1978. Within that nine year period over 85,000 Shih-Tzu were
   registered with the American Kennel Club, placing the Shih-Tzu in the
   top 25 most popular breeds according to the AKC. It is no surprise
   that the temple dog had come into the homes of many owners -- this is
   due not only their Imperial background but also to their personality.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Personality and Temperament

   One of the strongest characteristics of the Shih-Tzu is its
   personality. The Shih-Tzu is a friendly, nonaggressive dog that is a
   good companion for children and other breeds of dogs. Shih-Tzus are
   known for their fun-loving play, romping around the apartment or in
   the country side.
   
   The Shih-Tzu is a people oriented dog, they cherish no more than the
   love of people. They will sit patiently, remaining still with their
   eyes gazing intently on your face waiting for you to call them over to
   be patted. The Shih-Tzu is not a one person dog. Shih-Tzus are happy
   to entertain any stranger, once accepted by the family. This is one
   reason that they are becoming popular. They make friends where ever
   they go.
   
   The Shih-Tzu has a lap dog personality. It is not high strung nor
   demanding. The pet Shih-Tzu is content during the day to lie in a
   corner with his legs stretched out behind him, snoring softly. If he
   has a choice he would prefer to be curled up in your lap.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Description

   The size of the Shih-Tzu is between 9 to 16 pounds. The appropriate
   weight is a matter of personal preference, with the breed standard
   allowing a wide range. They are sturdy dogs. In the city these little
   dogs become easily accustomed to noises and apartment living.
   
   The coat is one of the characteristics that exemplifies the truly
   regal nature of the Shih-Tzu. As with the size, the coat comes in a
   wide range of colors: from total black, to black & white, gray &
   white, red & white or pure gold. A white blaze on the forehead and a
   white tip on the tail are highly prized. The coat is not straight as
   in a Yorkshire Terrier, a slight wave is normal with a curl not
   appropriate. The coat has an under layer and when the dog is full
   grown this undercoat helps give an overall graceful appearance to the
   coat as it falls naturally to the ground. The coat however does
   require care and attention. Daily grooming is necessary, otherwise the
   coat can become matted and tangled which will require cutting the
   coat. As a puppy little work is needed except to get the dog used to
   lying still on a table or your lap for a couple of minutes to get
   brushed. If one cuts the coat down, this takes away the elegant
   aspects of the breed.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Health Issues

  Renal Dysplasia
  
   A kidney disease known as Renal Dysplasia is common in the Shih-Tzu
   breed. It bears some similarity to kidney disease in the Lhasa Apso.
   Whether the disease is inherited is not yet known but a good deal of
   evidence points in that direction.
   
   the occurrence of renal disease in young Shih-Tzu puppies and the fact
   that usually more than one puppy in a litter and in some instances,
   the entire litter is affected leads us to suspect it is inherited and
   that every effort should be made by Shih-Tzu breeders to avoid
   breeding any stock whose former offspring have been affected.
   Currently the disease is irreversible and death is inevitable.
   
   There are 3 stages of development. Unfortunately there are no clinical
   symptoms of early renal disease which may progress over a period of
   months or years to the second stage,when symptoms first become
   obvious. The affected dog will develop an excessive thirst and will
   pass greatly increased amounts of urine. The urine will appear to be
   very diluted or watery. Some dogs will be listless, poor eaters, and
   may suffer a weight loss. In the final stage, the symptoms of stage
   two are more pronounced and may be accompanied by severe depression,
   diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration -- all evidences of kidney
   dysfunction which will sooner or later result in coma and death.
   
   Renal disease runs high in all breeds of dogs. After the age of eight
   years, 85% of all dogs have some kidney degeneration or will have
   developed chronic nephritis. This is known to be a congenital,
   hereditary progressive kidney disease in certain breeds, whereby the
   kidneys do not maintain sufficient function to sustain life.
   
  Kidney and bladder stones
  
   Stones occur more in males than females because of the male anatomy:
   the urethra in the male is small and can easily become obstructed by a
   stone. The urethra in the female is larger and less prone to stone
   development. Phosphate stones are the most common and greater
   incidence of this type is found in the female than in the male. They
   are associated with alkaline urine and frequently with a bladder
   infection.
   
   Urate stones, composed of uric acid are more frequently found in the
   urinary system of males and in these cases the urine is acid. Cystine
   uroliths composed of the amino acid cystine makes about five percent
   of all stones and occur exclusively in males. It is an inherited
   defect wherein cystine is reabsorbed into the kidneys rather than
   excreted in the urine and it accumulates in the bladder where stones
   form. They must be removed by surgery.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
The American Kennel Club Standard

   The Standard is the physical "blueprint" of the breed. It describes
   the physical appearance and other desired qualities of the breed
   otherwise known as _type_. Some characteristics, such as size, coat
   quality, and movement, are based on the original (or current) function
   for the dog. Other characteristics are more cosmetic such as eye
   color; but taken together they set this breed apart from all others.
   The Standard describes an _ideal_ representive of the breed. No
   individual dog is perfect, but the Standard provides an ideal for the
   breeder to strive towards.
   
   Because of copyright concerns over the collection of all the Standards
   at any single site storing all the faqs, AKC Standards are not
   typically included in the Breed faqs. The reader is referred to the
   publications at the end of this document or to the National Breed Club
   for a copy of the Standard.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
What the buyer should know

   Breeders should be willing to let you see not only the quarters in
   which the puppies are housed, but all puppies, whether for sale or
   not. Be wary of the breeder who takes you into an anteroom and bring
   out one puppy for you to see. If a breeder is honest, he or she has
   nothing to hide and it is only by comparison that a buyer can judge
   the quality of a prospective pet. Watch the puppies play, do their
   eyes sparkle and are their coats clean. Their ears should be free of
   wax and inflammation. Their teeth should be white,their gums firm and
   pink. Evaluate the breeder too, you have every right to ask questions.
   It won't take long to distinguish between the true breeder and one
   interested only in making a sale. The breeder should be able to answer
   questions about the origin and history of the Shih-Tzu, and general
   care of the breed. The responsible breeder will urge you to have the
   puppy throughly examined by a vet of your choice within 48 hrs after
   the sale. The breeder should to willing to take the puppy back, if
   need be. The breeder should show you how to groom the Shih-Tzu.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Puppy Care

  Grooming
  
   There is a great selection of shampoo, conditioners and grooming
   equipment available to the dog owner. A small bath towel placed in
   bottom of sink prevents water from accumulating and gives puppy secure
   footing. Holding the puppy securely under its chest with one hand,
   soak its body with lukewarm running water, shampoo the body and rinse
   well. Leave the head for last. Carefully wet the head with a wet
   sponge and clean the hair with a no-tear baby shampoo.
   
   Still holding puppy securely, rinse thoroughly, being careful not to
   get water in its nose. A few minutes of cuddling in a towel reassures
   the puppy and soaks up excess water.
   
   Use a small hand dryer, low heat is normally all that is necessary. if
   puppy shivers,it is usually due to nerves rather than from being cold.
   Avoid blowing the warm air directly into the puppy's face. Use a
   toothbrush to clean the whiskers and ears---ears on drop-ears need
   special attention. Ears should be cleaned with a cotton swab dipped in
   mineral oil or panolog. To aviod accidental injury to the eardrums,
   fluff the cotton out from around the end of the swab with fingertips.
   Wipe the ear clean and dry with another swab, being careful not to
   probe too deeply into the ear.
   
  Eyes
  
   A Shih-Tzu's eyes are large and vulnerable and prone to ulceration.
   Special attention should be given to them daily. Living close to the
   ground.it is easy for dust or dirt or a stray hair to get into the eye
   and cause irritation. Use human eye wash daily, such as collyrium.
   This is a gentle eye wash, remove any matter from eye corners. A flea
   comb may be used to remove any dried food in the beard or moustache.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
Resources

  Books
  
   _This Is the Shih-Tzu_ by Reverend Allen Easton and Joan McDonald
   Brearley.
   
   _The Joy of Owning a Shih-Tzu_ by Ann Seranne and Lisa Miller
   
  Clubs
  
   _American Shih-Tzu Club, Inc._
   837 Auburn Ave.
   Ridgewood, New Jersey 07450
   Write for information and brochures.
     _________________________________________________________________
                                      
   
    Shih-Tzu FAQ
    Ruth A. Grimaldi, ladytzu@aol.com

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