Shih Tzu Temperament: How Does This Classic Breed Behave?
The classic breed of dog is known for its loyalty, devotion and love. These traits make it perfect for a family pet. However, if your furry friend shows any signs of aggression or hostility towards other dogs or humans, then you need to take immediate action. You have been warned!
When it comes to personality type, there are four main types:
1) The “Loyal” Type: This is the most common type.
They are very loyal and will follow commands without question. If they see another dog doing something wrong, they will immediately stop them from doing so. Their behavior is usually calm and quiet, but when necessary they may display their strength in order to protect themselves or others.
2) The “Aggressive” Type: This is the second most common type.
They exhibit aggressive behaviors towards other dogs and humans. Their behavior tends to be much more than that of a typical shih tzu, but not necessarily dangerous.
3) The “Dominant” Type: This is the third most common type.
They tend to show dominance over other dogs and humans, which means they want to dominate everything around them and everyone else too. They tend to be more vocal and arrogant.
4) The “Passive” Type: This is the rarest type.
They are very quiet most of the time and tend to display submissive behaviors towards other dogs and humans. They generally just want to get along with everyone around them.
Personality traits are in no way connected to the physical traits of a dog. Even if a dog is large and muscular, it does not necessarily mean that it will have a more dominant personality. Also, small and weak dogs do not necessarily have a more passive personality.
Physical Traits of the Shih Tzu
Below are a few of the main physical traits of the shih tzu:
1) The “Lion Face”: This is a very unique feature among all dogs.
They have what is known as a “lion face”. They have a broad and rounded head, which resembles that of a lion’s; they also have a short and rounded muzzle.
2) The “Puffy Cheeks”: All shih tzus have puffy cheeks, which give them the appearance of always smiling.
Their cheeks are referred to as “double-chins”, even though they do not really have two of them.
3) The “Dense” Coat: Their coat is one of the most unique features.
The hair is very long and thick, so it gives them a full appearance. They are designed to protect them from the cold while still looking elegant at the same time.
Common Diseases that Affect Shih Tzus
Just like any other living creature, dogs can suffer from various diseases. While some of the diseases may not be able to be prevented, there are many that can be easily avoided with proper care. Here is a list of the most common diseases that shih tzus suffer from:
1) Hyperkeratosis: Also known as “Bubble-Skin Disease”, this is a genetic disease that is typically inherited through the genes.
The appearance of the dog manifests small bubbles on the top layer of skin mainly on parts of the legs, face, and ears. They are not actually filled with air, but they can be easily popped and they tend to bleed. Along with this disease, the dog may also suffer from alopecia, which is the loss of hair anywhere on the body.
2) Patellar Luxation: This condition affects the knees of the dog and causes it to have a dislocated knee cap.
It is very rare in shih tzus and is typically brought on by trauma or obesity.
3) Cataracts: The lens within the dog’s eye begins to harden and cloud over, causing the vision to become blurred and eventually completely blind.
It typically occurs in older dogs.
4) Allergies: Allergies in dogs occur when they begin to have an overreaction to usually harmless things, such as food and pollen.
It can cause them to have irritated skin or itchy paws and can lead to other respiratory problems.
5) Cherry Eye: Usually found in younger dogs, cherry eye causes the glands of the eyelids to protrude and become swollen.
It is not typically painful and usually does not cause any other symptoms. However, some dogs may have their tear ducts blocked which can lead to it becoming a serious problem. In this case, surgery is usually necessary in order to correct it.
6) Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome: This disease is typically found in breeds that have a pushed in nose, such as pugs and shih tzus.
It is caused by the width of the nostrils being too small to allow sufficient airflow during breathing. This can lead to other respiratory problems.
7) Allergic Dermatitis: This condition causes itchy skin which leads to excessive grooming and hair loss.
It can be caused by a number of things, such as parasites, food, and environment allergens.
8) Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia: This disease causes destruction of the red blood cells and a decrease in the amount of oxygen going to the organs in the body.
It can be very serious and is typically found in dogs that are three years of age or older. The cause is not well understood, but it is believed to have a genetic origin.
9) Sebaceous Adenitis: This disease causes inflammation of the sebaceous glands within the dog’s skin.
It is very rare and only found in shih tzus. It can cause hair loss, redness, or scabs on the skin, but does not typically affect the dog’s health otherwise.
10) Demodicosis: Also known as “Demodex Mange” or “Demodectic Mange”, this is a very common disease that is not it itself harmful to the dog, but if left untreated can lead to other more serious problems. It is caused by a microscopic mite that burrows into the skin of the dog causing hair loss and sometimes skin sores. It is very contagious among dogs and treatment typically involves topical or injectable medications to kill the mites.
Health Conditions in the Shih Tzu
1) Gastric Torsion: Also known asBloat, this condition typically occurs when the stomach is full of gas and food and begins to twists upon itself.
It can be fatal if not treated promptly.
2) Liver Shunt: The liver is responsible for cleaning toxic substances from the blood.
In some dogs, the liver does not develop properly and a direct vein connection goes from the heart to the liver, bypassing the normal venous drainage. This can be serious and cause a buildup of toxins in the dog’s system. It is typically diagnosed with a ultrasound and treated with surgery to redirect the blood flow back to the liver.
3) Eye Problems: A number of eye diseases are known to occur in the shih tzu.
a.) Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA-PRCD) is a genetic disease that causes deterioration of the retina. It gradually gets worse over time and eventually leads to blindness. There is no treatment or cure.
b.) Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens and can cause blurry vision and in some cases total blindness. They may develop due to age or injury, but in many cases are hereditary. This condition is typically treated through surgery.
c.) Corneal Dermoids are a group of cysts that grow in the transparent layer of tissue (cornea) on the front of the eye. They typically cause a decrease in vision and can be treated by surgery to remove them.
d.)Corneal Ectasia is a condition in which the cornea thins and begins to bulge outwards. It typically occurs after other eye traumas such as burns or an infection. It can be very painful for the dog, and treatment typically involves eye drops, but if severe enough it may require surgery.
4) Patellar Luxation: Sometimes known as “Floppy Knee”, this condition causes the kneecap to pop out of place.
It is a fairly common condition in smaller dogs and while it typically corrects itself as the dog grows, if left untreated it can cause arthritic deterioration of the joints.
5) Legg-Perthes Disease: This is a condition in which the head of the femur (thighbone) dies and no longer provides bone matter to the rest of the bone, which begins to deteriorate.
It typically causes lameness in the hind legs. It is usually treated through therapeutic massages and resting the leg. If it progresses far enough, surgery may be required to replace the entire head of the femur.
6) Syringomyelia: This is a condition in which the skull is too narrow for the spinal cord.
As the dog grows, the spinal cord attempts to grow with it and in doing so it also puts pressure on the spinal cord. This can cause pain, loss of feeling or paralysis in the back half of the body. It is typically diagnosed through a MRI and treated with therapy, pain medication or surgery to remove the excess fluid in the area.
Sources & references used in this article:
Why Does My Dog Act that Way?: A Complete Guide to Your Dog’s Personality by JA White – 2010 – Howell Book House
Breeds and Breeding by S Coren – 2006 – books.google.com
Ameloblastic carcinoma in a Shih Tzu dog by K Stafford – The Welfare of Dogs, 2006 – Springer
Bilateral granulosa cell tumor of ovary with systemic metastasis in a Shih-tzu dog by SH Jang, JH Kim – 대한수의학회 학술대회발표집, 2016 – scholar.dkyobobook.co.kr
How does temperament and breed influence learned aversion training in domestic dogs by MH Kang, CM Lee, HM Park – 대한수의학회 학술대회 …, 2016 – scholar.dkyobobook.co.kr
Breeding Dogs for Dummies by R Taylor – 2017 – researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au