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Shih Tzus-A Guide To Owning and Caring.
Member Name: Machair1
Date: 07/10/08, updated on 17/12/09 (618 review reads)
Advantages: Devoted dogs,friendly,
Disadvantages: Coat needs attention,Slightly more eye problems than average
Shih Tzu dogs are wonderful. I know because for the last 8 years I have had Molly who is a gold and white girl.
Now I guess if you are reading this you may be considering buying one, so I really want to give you a personal account of why they make perfect companions for some, and are maybe not suitable for others.
I will also add some really important medical issues which I have learnt from my daughter who is about to qualify as a vet.
They are lively little dogs but are sturdy. A good weight for an adult is about 6kgs. This means you can carry them for a short distance and are lovely to cuddle up to. They are not thin little dogs and they have a waddle when they walk.
They make superb guard dogs because they bark at every noise so you may like to consider this if you finding barking not to your taste.
They are intelligent but they do what they want so are quite difficult to train. Due to their intelligence I would never recommend you buy one if there is no one at home for part of the day. In fact if you rescue one from The Southern Rescue they insist that there is someone there regularly in the daytime. They have an excellent website which tells you how it is to own one even if it is a puppy you are looking for from a new breeder. http://www.southernshihtzurescue.org.uk
If you are looking to buy a new puppy Petplan can help with addresses of those breeders who have puppies.
They are very playful dogs and they get up to mischief if you don't keep an eye on them! This brings me onto the vet advice which may help you decide if they are for you.
First of all actually as dog breeds go they are not particularly prone to certain diseases. Having said that they have large bulging eyes so they can get corneal ulcers which need prompt attention from the vet. This may be related to a problem making tears or just to the trauma of having protruding eyes. Please don't take them in long grass, on beaches where there is loose sand especially if it is windy, and keep your garden free of sharp twigs and sticks as they are so low to the ground it can be easy to forget they are susceptible to this. I know to my cost as Molly had an ulcer three years ago as a result of walking her along a beach, and then letting her run up the dunes. Serious ulcers can be the cause of blindness. Molly was later found to have a condition where she did not make any tears so this is now treated with daily eye drops.
Secondly going on from what I said about them being mischievous they will eat anything if you leave it around.
The most dangerous is chocolate especially dark -1.5 g is enough to poison a shih tzu as it is extremely toxic to all dogs. Also very dangerous are dried fruit and grapes. Easter and Christmas can be dangerous times for these little dogs as these foods are often left out. Watch too your Christmas tree, real ones have sharp needles which are dangerous for the eyes and of course we like to hang chocolate on them. I am sadly saying this because Molly did eat 4 dark chocolates recently which could have been very serious if we hadn't sought immediate vet attention.
Thirdly their coats are quite a challenge. My husband and I bath her each weekend and we trim her so she looks like a teddy. This needs round nose scissors which we use to trim around the eyes and to remove the hairs which grow between her pads. We also trim her claws. If you are not happy to do this there are lots of professional dog groomers out there, but either way it is a necessity to devote either time or money to this, as without it the dog will be in a real state in a few weeks.
Fourthly a word about about neutering. Many people may not know why this is so important. If you buy a girl like Molly she may live for 9-15 years. The following reasons are vital to understand because of the heartbreak which may lie ahead if she succumbs to the diseases resulting from not having the op.
Neutering reduces behavioural problems such as straying from home whilst having a season and some dominance problems.
Neutering also prevents the inheritance of congenital diseases.
It will remove the chances of developing life threatening uterine infections (pyometra) later in life. This is a common cause of death in middle aged bitches.
Early neutering also has a protective effect against breast cancer, another common cause of death. The earlier a bitch is spayed the greater this effect.
Neutering will prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Neutering will not adversely affect the character of your pet!.
Neutering also prevents false pregnancy and ovarian and uterine cancer.
For dogs the advice is
Neutering can reduce behavioural problems such as aggression, libido and straying from home. The earlier he is neutered the more likely this is to succeed.
Neutering prevents the inheritance of congenital diseases
It removes the risk of testicular tumours.
It will reduce the risk of prostate problems in later life.
It prevents unwanted pregnancies.
Although neutering helps reduce behaviour problems, it will not adversely affect the character of your pet!
The final point is that as these dogs have a deep chest they can very occasionally suffer from a condition called gastric dilatation and volvulus syndrome.This comes on after a meal and has symptoms of
Distended or bloated abdomen,
Excess salivation, and
It is a serious emergency and you would need a vet immediately.
It can be prevented by not allowing the dog to the following
Drink large amounts of water immediately after eating
Eat a single, large meal daily
Eating from a raised feeding bowl (In one study, about half of the dogs with GDV had a history of eating from a raised feeding bowl.)
Exercising vigorously on a full stomach
Gulping down food very quickly.
This is a rare problem but just to be aware it is slightly more common in these breeds.
So you will have to factor in the cost of the op, vaccinations, insurance,dog purchase- so you could be looking at about £1000 in the first year.
A word about insurance I think it is so important. Try to pick a company which offers a policy which covers the dog for the same illnesses renewal after renewal, as not all policies are the same. Petplan does and I have been delighted with them.
I have had more love from my shih tzu in 8 years than I ever imagined. They are the most faithful dogs delighted to see you when you get home. They love a walk but are not adversely affected if it is a bit too wet one day to fancy going out with them. They get on well with cats but Tom cats seem more accepting of them. They only need a small amount of food. Molly has two dog Shapes biscuits for breakfast, then in the afternoon she has a small tin of dog food and in the evening a bonio. No other treats and no human food either as this keeps her a nice healthy weight.
Finally I hope this has helped you. I didn't know most of this when I became a novice shih tzu owner, but I now feel that if you know all before you buy one you are prepared for what lies ahead. You will be a million times rewarded by the love and devotion of a best friend!
This review is also posted on Ciao by myself under my user name there Violet1278.
Summary: A Beautiful Dog