The Shih Tzu is a sturdy and lively little dog with a round head, an abundant beard and mustache and a black nose. The hair above the nose grows uniquely upward, giving the Shih Tzu his distinctive “chrysanthemum” face. The round eyes are large and wide set, dark colored on most, but light on blue and liver dogs. The muzzle is short, squared and should have no wrinkles. The heavy under bite is a signature characteristic of the breed. The ears are pendant, but they are so profusely covered in hair, that they blend into the body. The high-set tail, which curls over the back, is also thickly plumed with hair. The long, thick coat covers the entire body and may be any color.
Size and Weight
The ideal height for both genders is from 9 to 10.5 inches at the shoulder but no less than 8 inches and no taller than 11. They range in weight from 9 to 16 pounds. Shih Tzus should be slightly longer than they are tall.
Coat and Color
The Shih Tzu's double coat is made up of a thick, wooly undercoat and a long, abundant, silky topcoat. They begin to trade their puppy fluff for their adult coat between 10 and 12 months of age. They may be any color of the canine rainbow, but a white tip on the tail and blaze on the forehead are highly desirable traits.
Grooming a Shih Tzu is a time-consuming endeavor. Daily brushing and combing is a must to remove tangles, and bathing is usually necessary once per week. Brushing must reach all the way down to the skin in order to properly prevent tangles and mats. Owners who do not show their Shih Tzu often opt to clip the hair short to avoid the constant upkeep. Clipped dogs require trims every six to eight weeks.
Check the ears on a weekly basis for signs of infection, irritation, or wax build up. Cleanse regularly with a veterinarian-approved cleanser and cotton ball. Brush the teeth at least once per week to prevent tartar buildup and gum disease. Small dogs are prone to dental problems later in life, so brushing more often is a good idea. Additionally, nails should be trimmed once per month if the dog does not wear the toenails down naturally.