The Chinese lion dog also is known as the Shih Tzu has occupied a special place among the Chinese royalty for thousands of years and could as well as be the link between the spiritual class and the ruling class for eons: bred by the Tibetan Monks and gifted to the Chinese Emperors and Empresses for millennia. They occupied such an important place in the corridors of power during Empress Tzu Hsi reign. They had that their palaces and were taught to sit and wave at her when she came in, so important were they that among her first royal edicts were that anyone caught harming them would be put to death!…….so much so for the “little lions.” It is not hard to understand why their friendly and adorable nature has made them a friend to both man and fellow beast to the point of being a companion of hunting lions during the reign of Mongolian Emperor Kubla Khan. Shih Tzu is Chinese for Little Lion, so it is known in China as the “Little lion dog” or the “little lion.” The resemblance to the lion is strong that I believe a stranger to the animal kingdom can think it is a puppy to the lion…..ha! Now how did this pocketful of sunshine occupy such a big place in the heart of the Chinese?
The Chinese Lion Dog is regarded a toy breed that hardly weighs more than 16 pounds averaging at 9 pounds. Its favorite chill spot is close to your heart preferring the comfort of your lap to spend its time without giving you that terrible rib is shattering sneeze as it is hypoallergenic- no more worries about allergies here and hurray for all asthmatics. Its beautiful showy coat of lustrous locks does not shed though it needs regular grooming as it matters easily- we are talking about royalty here, and its long association with them must have caused it to pick their dainty habits. Perfect for apartment dwellers as it does not mind small spaces since its place is yourself and will happily follow you from room to room and wherever you go struggling to keep up with your pace wearing a joyful smile with that distinctive, cheerful pant. Emotionally intelligent by nature with an uncanny ability to empathize with your mood he can easily take you from the lows to the swings by his loving presence which makes it perfect for older people to brighten the gray skies in their sunset years.
This Chinese lion dog is also a long-lived breed living up to 16 years when given the royal treatment though most take the beating to see their 10th birthday. It calls for wisdom when purchasing this piece of heaven, with such a long lifespan. Endless trips to the vet would not be a wise investment; buying from puppy mills, and backyard breeders would be financial suicide as they are prone to some genetic defects that careful breeders watch out for and isolate such as canine hip dysplasia, juvenile renal dysplasia, and portosystemic liver shunt. Common ailments that plague this breed include numerous eye problems due to it sensitive eyes, ear infections, reverse sneezing, bladder stones and bladder infections, allergies, patellar luxation and retained baby teeth with tooth and gum problems. A majority of these can easily be avoided by frequent regular grooming and don’t skip those important vet visits to nip any problem in the bud that may arise for our little Chinese lion dog. During the hot season, he should be kept in a cool room or any air-conditioned place as his short snout can make him particularly prone to heat stress. From recent industry reports dogs that are fed a natural diet consistent with what they feed on in nature are less likely to fall sick. It would be wise to feed this breed what it has been accustomed to eating for thousands of generations-plenty of meat and its products; ditch the dog food though it wouldn’t mind to eat what you eat, give it the best though this is subject to how long you want to see it.
Though it bonds well with children leaving it with toddlers is dangerous not to them but him as the risk of unintentional injuries is highly multiplied as it cannot cope well if dropped from heights which may seem small for us but dangerous to it considering its small size. It also goes without saying that if held, it should be gently lowered when being let go to avoid knee cap displacements (patella luxation)that are fairly typical for this breed.
This Chinese lion was bred for companionship and expecting it to guard, bark and other traits consistent with other dogs is an unrealistic expectation from him though it heavily compensates with its genuine love and affection, though it may not win many awards its emotional intelligence fringes on the uncanny. Eager to please its master it can be taught to do tricks and has started becoming a common appearance in dog shows. In spite of its intelligence, it doesn’t cope well with house training, and it is imperative that this should be done in its first eight weeks of its life. Though it doesn’t require much exercise, it should be provided with toys to keep it busy when the master needs some time away.
One might ask what the biggest disadvantage of this breed is? I must say that it is its stubborn nature which can be hard to overcome though this can be overcome by early house training in its first eight weeks of its life making it doubly important to get this one from a reputable breeder after two months if you cannot house train him yourself. It has a sense of entitlement and expects you to do most of the things that you would expect other dogs wouldn’t mind doing, but it would help to remember that this was bred for thousands for centuries as a royal court companion.