Continuing the cycle of what are my hands-down favorite dogs, I decided to talk next about what I believe is the most underrated breed: the Shih Tzu. Pronounced shee-zoo, this breed of dog looks just as funny as it sounds. They are primarily show dogs, known for their long coats that may often grow out to look like mustaches. Shih Tzus as show dogs are often very successful because of their petite frame and ability to remember commands, tricks, and skills very well. However, Shih Tzus are also bred to be family dogs, at which they are immensely talented.
Shih Tzus were initially bred in Tibet by crossing the Pekingese and the Lhasa Apso, and were used mostly in royal families as lap dogs. Because of their soft, pillow-like fur, emperors would sometimes use them as foot warmers when they slept. These dogs were loved by everyone and charmed people everywhere, becoming one of the most beloved dogs of its time. However, after the British invasion of China, practically almost all of the Shih Tzu were wiped out, leaving only fourteen. Today, each Shih Tzu in the world can be traced back to one of those remaining fourteen dogs.
Despite their descent from royalty, Shih Tzus are perhaps the most loving and kind dogs there are. Of course I own two, Chipper and Coco, and love them more than I can even say. But, as usual, I am very biased. I grew up around both of them so I have been able to witness the attributes which are harbored in almost all Shih Tzus, all of them being wonderful traits for a dog to have.
1. They are Couch Potatoes
As most dogs love to lay on the couch and snuggle up with their owner, Shih Tzus are no exception. In fact, they may be the laziest of dogs. Of both of my two, neither one of them particularly enjoys going on walks or swimming nearly as much as my lab does, if at all. I will sometimes come down from my room and find them in the exact same position on the couch as I left them four hours earlier. They are certainly one of the most laid-back dogs, very low control in terms of worrying about if they are going to chew on something or destroy something. They rarely have the energy for it. It’s not necessarily that they don’t enjoy to play, in fact they love squeaky toys the most, but they have to be in the mood for it. If you try to exercise them or play with them whenever its convenient for you, they won’t budge. They call the shots, and unfortunately, you just have to roll with it.
2. They crave attention
I mean, who doesn’t? We are all guilty of being attention hoarders at points, but Shih Tzus do it like no other. Both of my dogs get insanely jealous if I start to pet one more than the other, or hold one more than the other, or play with one more than the other, etc. They will often start barking or scratching at my leg, indicating its time to stop whatever I’m doing and pay attention to them. Shih Tzus always want to be held or have some sort of physical contact with their owner, as its how they show affection, and get envious when the owner may turn that affection to another dog. This leads to my next point:
3. They love, love, love their owners.
It’s a simple fact that dogs have no bad intentions, no hidden agenda or personal vendetta against anyone. They simply want to provide love, and want to be loved in return. Shih Tzus have this quality more than most dogs I’ve met, I would say. I’m almost positive this is true for most dogs, but it is certainly a proven fact among Shih Tzus that in order to show affection to their owner or even to other dogs they live with, they will lick them. My dog, Chipper, will sometimes just start licking my hand or my leg out of nowhere. Even if you tell him to stop, he’ll come back and do it again. He will lick our lab’s ears if she’s laying down, my mom’s arm if he’s next to her– it’s pretty bizarre. However, it’s how they show affection. Shih Tzus have probably the biggest hearts of all of the dogs and the emotional capacity to fill it, always aiming not to please their owner, but to make sure their owner know that they love them.
Although I have so much more to say on Shih Tzus, as they are probably my favorite breed, I’m going to continue next week with a specific Shih Tzu, one who I am completely obsessed with. I won’t give anything away, but if you haven’t already seen her or heard of her, you really need to.