The Shih Tzu in English pronounced /??i??t zu??/ ("shee tzoo"), in singular and plural,(Traditional Chinese: ??…???‹—; Simplified Chinese: ?‹®???‹—; Hanyu Pinyin: Sh?«zi G?’u; Wade-Giles: Shih-tzu Kou; literally "Lion Dog") is a dog breed which originated in China. The spelling "Shih Tzu", most commonly used for the breed, is according to the Wade-Giles system of romanization. The Shih Tzu is reported to be the oldest and smallest of the Tibetan holy dogs, its vaguely lion-like look being associated with the Snowlion. It is also often known as the "Xi Shi quan" (????–???¬), based on the name of Xi Shi, regarded as the most beautiful woman of ancient China.
The Shih Tzu has been around for a long time. The Shih Tzu was bred to sit around the palace of the Emperor of China and bark when people or animals approached: this is allegedly to alert people to the presence of unwanted visitors. It is believed that this ornamental breed was created by breeding the Bei-jing gou (Pekingese) with a Tibetan dog breed, the Lhasa Apso. Recent DNA analysis confirms that this is one of the oldest breeds of dog. The Shih Tzu is also known as the Chinese/Tibetan Lion Dog or the Chrysanthemum Dog. It is called the chrysanthemum dog because its face looks very much like the flower. In 1994, the Shih Tzu became the 12th most popular breed of dog in the AKC's 139 breeds with more than 37,000 new individuals. 
Professor Ludvic von Schulmuth studied canine origins by studying the skeletal remains of dogs found in human settlements as long as ten thousand years ago. The Professor created a genealogical tree of Tibetan dogs that shows the "Gobi Desert Kitchen Midden Dog", a scavenger, evolved into the "Small Soft-Coated Drop-Eared Hunting Dog". From this dog evolved the Tibetan Spaniel, Pekingese, and Japanese Chin. Another branch coming down from the "Kitchen Midden Dog" gave rise to the Papillon and Long-haired Chihuahua and yet another "Kitchen Midden Dog" branch to the Pug and Shih Tzu.
James E. Mumford described the breed in an American Shih Tzu magazine, giving a picture of the versatile character of the Shih Tzu: "Nobody knows how the Ancient Eunuchs managed to mix together??¦And now here comes the recipe: A dash of lion, several teaspoons of rabbit, a couple of ounces of domestic cat, one part court jester, a dash of ballerina, a pinch of old man (Chinese), a bit of beggar, a tablespoon of monkey, one part baby seal, a dash of teddy bear and the rest dogs of Tibetan and Chinese origin." 
The Shih Tzu characterized by its long, flowing double coat; sturdy build; intelligence; and a friendly, lively attitude. In breeding all coat colors are allowed. The Shih Tzu's hair can be styled either in a short summer cut, or kept long as is compulsory for conformation shows. Although Shih Tzu owners do not generally find fur on furniture or clothes, they do shed small amounts of fur, but are still considered to be a hypoallergenic pet. The shed hair is usually trapped in the Shih Tzu's dense undercoat until the Shih Tzu starts to engage in activities that involve a lot of movement (e.g., running around.)
The American Kennel Club (AKC) Shih Tzu breed standard calls for the dog to have a short snout, large eyes, and a palm-like tail that waves above its torso. The ideal Shih Tzu to some is height at withers 9 to 10 1/2 inches. The dog should stand no less than 8 inches and not more than 11 inches tall. The Shih Tzu should never be so high stationed as to appear leggy, nor so low stationed as to appear dumpy or squatty. Regardless of size or gender, the Shih Tzu should always be solid and compact, and carry good weight and substance for its size range.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) American Shih Tzu Club (ASTC) defines the Shih Tzu as a dog that weighs between 9 to 16 pounds as the official breed standard. Descriptions like "imperial", "teacup", "tiny teacup" are used, but dogs that fit such descriptions are often an undersized or underdeveloped Shih Tzu. Both the AKC and ASTC consider these variances to not be in conformity with the official breed standard. These tiny variances are also not what was defined as a standard by the Chinese imperial palace or by the professional circuit. 
Below are the terms some breeders use for mixed breeds which include a shih tzu in their ancestry.
- Shiranian: a cross between a Shih Tzu and a Pomeranian (also called "Shihpom").
- Shih-poo: a cross breed between a Shih Tzu and a Poodle.
- Shizapoo: alternate name for a shih-poo.
Life Span and Health Issues
The life span of a Shih Tzu is 11-14 years, although some variation from this range is possible. Some health issues common among the breed are portosystemic liver shunt, renal dysplasia, and hip dysplasia- in Standard sizes.. In addition, they also can suffer from various eye problems. Shih Tzus (and many other breeds) may present signs of allergies to red dye #40, and owners should respond to scratching in the absence of fleas by eliminating pet foods that contain this commonly used additive.
The Shih Tzu requires a little more care than some other breeds, and potential owners who are looking for a low maintenance dog should probably choose another breed. The area around the eyes should be cleaned gently each day, with cotton and warm water. Providing the Shih Tzu with bottled water (or water that does not contain chlorine) helps to keep eye mucus to a minimum. Most Shih Tzus enjoy exercising outdoors and, when exercised regularly, have plenty of stamina. Most enjoy a long walk, although they are also quite happy to run around the house. A dog whose coat is allowed to grow out needs daily brushing to avoid tangles; a short haircut avoids this extra level of care. However, since the breed is obviously adapted to a cool climate, letting the coat grow out for the colder seasons is appropriate. Shih Tzus are considered to be brachycephalic (snub-nosed) dogs. As such, they are very sensitive to high temperatures. This is why airlines that ship dogs will not accept them for shipment when temperatures at any point on the planned itinerary exceeds 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24?°C) . Additionally, like many other breeds, the claws need close attention.
Shih Tzus in popular culture
Two Shih Tzus named Miss Agnes (played by Can. Ch. Raptures Classic) and Tyrone (played by Can. Ch. Symarun's Red Hot Kisses) are featured in the movie Best in Show.
- ^ Shih Tzu Fanciers of Southern CA.
- ^ Shih-Tzus
- ^ Shih Tzu Rescue Southern WI- Brachiocephalic Skull Conformation
- ^ Dry Eye (Keratoconjuctivitis Sicca)
- ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0218839/fullcredits#cast Internet Movie Database: Best in Show full cast and crew. Retrieved May 6, 2007