Donna Lea Jones on everything you need to know about Shih-Tzus

Shih Tzus are one of the cutest dog breeds in existence, so it’s no surprise that they are a popular dog around the world. These adorable creatures originated in China and have become known as some of the sweetest, most playful pups around. Donna Lea Jones is a proud Shih Tzu owner based in Orlando, Florida. She is very active in her community, is an avid yoga enthusiast, and of course, loves spending time with her beloved dog.


Although little is known about the origins of Shih Tzus, they are believed to date as far back as the 17th century. Genetic testing has revealed that the Shih Tzu likely originated in Tibet and were bred by lamas in Tibet because they looked like small lions, an animal that holds a special place in Buddhist mythology — that is why in the Chinese language, Shih Tzu translates to “lion dog”. Some theories claim that the Shih Tzu is a cross between a Pekingese and Lhasa Apso.

Regardless of the exact origin, Shih Tzus came to hold an important place in Chinese society. Specifically, Chinese royalty valued them very highly and refused to trade or sell them for many centuries. It was not until the first half of the twentieth century that Shih Tzus started to be imported into Europe. The breed quickly grew in popularity in Europe and later spread to the United States following the end of World War II. Today, the Shih Tzu is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. In fact, it was ranked the 15th most popular breed in the U.S. in 2013.

Defining Characteristics

According to Lea Jones, Shih Tzus are small, sturdy dogs with short snouts and large, dark eyes. Coats are typically white in color, with hints of brown or grey and are soft to the touch. Coats will grow long but can be kept short and curly at the behest of the owner. If you choose to let your Shih Tzu’s coat grow long, be sure to brush it daily to avoid tangles and matting, shares Donna Lea Jones.

In addition, Shih Tzus are known for their floppy ears, curly tails, and pronounced underbite. In terms of their personalities, Shih Tzus are playful and affectionate, which make them an excellent companion. They are generally friendly with other people, including children, but it can take them a bit longer to warm up to strangers or other dogs. They shed very little and are highly intelligent, which are often important factors when choosing a dog breed.

Lea Jones with her adorable Shih-Tzu

Care & Training

When it comes to caring for a Shih Tzu, the first thing to know is that this breed is not intended for outdoor living and should never be kept outdoors for extended periods of time. Beyond that, Donna Lea Jones claims that Shih Tzus should be groomed daily. This is not only for the health of the dog, but also to reduce the amount of shedding. If their coat is brushed on a regular basis, they shed very little, which makes them a great pet for people with allergies.

In terms of training, it is no secret that Shih Tzus can be a bit stubborn. They are highly intelligent, but their stubborn nature can pose a challenge when training. The training of a Shih Tzu should be consistent and firm, but never harsh. Studies have shown that Shih Tzus do not respond well to harsh or overly negative training methods.

Diet & Nutrition

Donna Lea Jones explains that Shih Tzus do not require a lot of exercise, which makes them suitable even for people with mobility issues. Ideally, they should be taken on short daily walks. Walks, combined with play time inside the house or in the backyard, is typically enough to satisfy Shih Tzus. Like all dogs, Shih Tzus should receive quality meals each day. It is up to the owner to decide which type of food to serve their pet, however, it’s best to speak to a veterinarian if you’re unsure. For example, some Shih Tzus might be better suited to wet versus dry food, or food with fillers versus food without.

Potential Health Issues

Like with most dog breeds, there are certain health issues that Shih Tzus are more prone to. Hypothyroidism, respiratory problems related to their short noses, eye issues like cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy, and intervertebral disk disease are some of the most common health issues for Shih Tzus. That said, most do not suffer from any sort of health problem in their lifetime. With proper love, care and regular vet checkups your beloved Shih Tzu is very likely to live a full life, which is between 11 and 16 years.

I’m Lea Jones, a pharmaceutical sales rep from Orlando, Florida. Follow along my journey!