A Shitzu is, first and foremost, a lap dog. They love to sit and get all of the attention. Like all pure bred dogs, Shituz's are prone to a number of medical conditions. A reputable breeder will not breed dogs with inherited conditions. They are dedicated to making the breed as perfect as possible.
Scientists have been able to prove, by DNA testing of bones found in excavations, that the Shitzu, or Shih Tzu, was one of the first dog breeds. They have been able to trace them as far back as 10,000 years. The first record of the breed in China is somewhere between 618-907 AD and quickly became a favorite of the Chinese court. The Shitzu was first brought to Europe in the 1930s and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1969.
The Shtizu is a small dog, belonging to the Toy Group. There is a wide range in the acceptable size of a Shtizu with the females falling into the lower end of the spectrum and the males at the higher. A Shtizu will weigh between 9 and 16 pounds and stand from 8 to 11 inches at the shoulder.
The Shitzu does not need a lot of exercise, but their coat is very labor intensive. The coat is a double coat, is long and flowing and needs to be combed and brushed each day. The Shitzu is loyal to his family and loves to play, but will stand up for his rights as well. The Shitzu is not called the Lion Dog for nothing.
A Shitzu can live between 10 to 18 years, a big span in a dog's life. This is because they are susceptible to several health issues that need to be addressed as soon as possible. A Shitzu can suffer from liver disease, hip dysplasia, or breathing problems in high temperatures. The dog's eyes have to be checked every day and cleaned if necessary. Because of the shape of their muzzle, a Shitzu can get water up his nose when drinking, causing more breathing problems.
They are also susceptible to portosystemic shunt (a defect in the blood vessels), hypothyroidism, cataracts, corneal ulcers, turned-in eyelids, inward growing eyelashes, retinal dysplasia, hemolitic anemia, platelet deficiency, a blood clotting disorder, progressive retinal atrophy and dry eye.
The standards that the AKC have set for the Shitzu include a tail curved up over the back and a head held high. The body must be compact and solid and the dog has to fall within the size and weight range. The length of the dog, measured from the shoulders to the base of the tail, must be longer than the height. The head must be round and broad with a wide space between the eyes. The Shitzu can be any color or combination of colors. The AKC has more detailed requirements, but these are the basics.