- Pets and Animals
All About Shih-Tzus
No matter how you choose to spell the name of the breed - Shih-Tzu, Shitzu or Shitsu - we love our cuddly little furballs. This is a picture of my two adorable little boys who are affectionately known in our family as "the slippers".
Historically, Shih Tzus are of Chinese ancestry and were a highly valued, prized companion and palace pet. That may explain the proud bearing and distinctively arrogant carriage that remains even today with this breed.
Learn more about Shih-Tzus
Five Things Shih-Tzus Love
Have you ever wondered what makes these adorable little creatures really happy? Here's a quick list of what our dogs (and their brothers and sisters) really enjoy.
1. A big blanket/comforter/afghan draped off the side of a couch or chair. They love sleeping on it, and often like to hide behind it between the blanket and couch and snooze (so watch where you're stepping!).
2. Side scratches. Not unlike the tummy scratch, they will lay on their back and contort themselves slightly sideways so you can scratch the side of their head, ears and body all the way down to their legs.
3. A big cushion. I bought a body cushion for the cottage but ended up bringing it home when we redecorated. It's got a velvet like cover and is approximately 4 feet long. They love to sleep on it - one on either end - at night. But not on top of it...they sleep like we do on their backs with their bodies on their sheepskin rugs and their heads and necks on the pillow. They also love to scratch at it, fight with it, drag it around and, at times, it can serve as the barrier when they're chasing each other in circles. Overall, an excellent $14.99 investment.
4. Sitting at the highest point of a chair or couch. Our little guys love being up high and have made the top of the couch's back cushion a favorite resting place. I put a blanket there and they both park themselves side by side and gaze out the window, watching people and dogs go by, storms, birds, bugs and, sometimes, absolutely nothing at all.
5. Music. Our little guys love soft, easy-listening music. We have a channel on TV that just shows continuous weather information and in the background they play relaxing music. I often leave that on for them when we go out and often, when I'm doing housework and don't want them in the way, I'll put it on and they automatically wander over to their cushion and settle in for a nap.
These are just a few things that we've noticed, and I'm sure the list will grow over time. But if you're wondering how to make your Shih-Tzu happy, give some of thse things a try.
5 Things Shih-Tzus Love...and we wish they didn't
My last post was the top five things that Shih-Tzus love. However, there are other things they really (really!) like that drive me nuts. Here's the list...
1. Mud. They love to eat it, roll in it, stick their faces in it and dig it up. And what a mess I end up with when my two little white pooches come tearing proudly into the house after a mud wrestling session. Their favorite mud is wet...but dry mud is okay with them too.
2. Poop. They're fascinated with their own and other dogs' droppings. However, we live next to a small, man-made lake that is a favorite gathering place in the spring and fall for Canada geese. Of course, with gaggles of geese come piles of poop, and if I take my dogs walking near the lake, they gobble up the goose poop like it's fine caviar. Not pleasant to watch, and even more unpleasant to wrestle from their mouths.
3. The latest...dead birds. Occasionally, a bird flies into a window and kills itself. I couldn't figure out why Rocki was so occupied in the yard until I found the "treasure" he was gnawing on. Oh...and was he mad when I tried to take it away! Not healthy at all, and disgusting to witness. Where did my sweet little boy learn to be such a monster??
4. Moths. In the fall, they love to go outside, chase moths, toy with them and, after torturing them for while, eat them.
5. Newspaper. If I'm out for a while, I'll leave some newspaper out for them to use if they have to do their business. In an emergency they will use it. However, they prefer to take the paper and rip it into itsy, bitsy tiny pieces which they manage to scatter all over. Then they pee...on a quarter-inch piece. Sigh...
The Shih-Tzu Personality
In a nutshell, sweet, playful and wee bit stubborn!
For anyone looking for a loyal canine companion, look no further than a Shih-Tzu.
Each Shih-Tzu, like all breeds, has a distinct personality. Even if you blindfolded me, I could tell you which of my dogs is on my lap at any given time based on his unique characteristics and habits.
Generally, Shih-Tzus are warm, loving housedogs. They love everyone who comes to visit, including strangers who come to the door or pass by the yard. They love the elderly, babies, children and adults equally. But don't think that they are not on guard in your home - if a stranger passes our home at night, they are the first ones at the door and their playful yip turns into a deep, menacing bark that sounds like a much bigger dog.
Shih-Tzus love to play and toys are a must! However, they are very possessive and once you give them a toy, don't even dream of taking it back. Our oldest must have at least 30 squeaky dog toys, bones and chew ropes in his collection. When we are cleaning, we lift up the pile and move it so we can vacuum. When the toys are replaced, he takes stock and ensures every toy is in the pile. If one is missing, he will not rest until he hunts it down. Whether he plays with it or not is irrelevant...it's his and it must be there. If he absolutely cannot find it, he will come to me, make a grunting noise, run back to his toy pile, and then come back to me and grunt more. That means his toy is gone and usually I have to go help him find it or I get no peace either. When my niece brought her two-year old to visit, the little one automatically went to the dog toys and began playing with them. Our dogs were not amused. However, they did not touch her or try to take it from her. They patiently watched that toy from a distance and, when she dropped it and walked away, they scooted to it, picked it up and ran away to a safe place with their precious item.
A unique characteristic of the Shih-Tzu is the "racetrack". Everyone we know or meet who has a Shih-Tzu mentions it. The "racetrack" occurs at any time. At first, your dog will appear to be a bit rowdy, and then they get a little gleam in their eye and take off! They will run as fast as they can on a path through your house, usually a circular path, over and over at full speed until they wear themselves down.
Shih-Tzus are very intelligent dogs and can easily be trained. They understand commands and phrases. I taught mine to "go get your toy" because they often bring one with them when they go outside or play in the garage, so when I let them back in they've forgotten it. I say "go get your toy" and they will immediately run back out, grab the toy and come in. This is particularly useful in winter! They love praise and coddling, so if you incorporate these two items in their training routine, you will have a very obedient dog.
They are also very clean animals. Mine will clean their paws thoroughly once a week, getting in-between the nails and pads on the their feet. Mine also clean each other's faces twice a day - once in the morning and once at night.
On the down side...
Shih-Tzus are stubborn. If they do not want to do something, they won't. Therefore it's imperative you find the things they love and use them as a tool when you need to in order to get them to do what you want.
I mentioned before that Shih-Tzus love people, and their masters are at the top of the list. They need to know where you are at all times. They will not necessarily be sitting on your lap, but they will be within range of where you are keeping an eye out. For example, my dogs will not come into the basement because we have not carpeted the stairs and they're quite steep. (they'll go up but they won't come down) So if I'm in the basement, they will sit at the top of the stairs until I come up. If they are left alone frequently for long periods of time, they will not be happy. And if they are not happy, that's when you can expect the unexpected. They will defecate, pee and mark where they know they shouldn't because they are mad at you. And when Shih-Tzus are mad, they do what they know they are not supposed to in order to get your attention. When I first brought our second dog home, our oldest was so mad at me he marched right up to the island in the kitchen, lifted his leg and peed on it while looking at me as if to say "yea, so what are you going to do about it?". He then stuck his nose in the air and walked away. Which brings me to another point - when they are upset with you (as opposed to mad at you), they will make a point of showing their displeasure by openly shunning you. My oldest would sit near me - just close enough so I could see him but far enough that I couldn't reach him to pet him - and turn his back to me. If I reached over to pat him, he'd move a little further away and sigh.
But in the end...
Shih-Tzus are loving, happy, playful dogs. With the right amount of attention, you will have a loyal companion who will bring many hours of joy into your life.
Finding a Good Groomer
When our regular groomer was having a baby and took some time off, I had to find someone else. I called a number of groomers...got a lot of voice messages...and each said none of them were taking new clients. I was kind of desperate so I remembered we had once gone to Petcetera and they did a good job so I called them. Also, I remembered that their grooming area used to be completely enclosed in glass so I thought that there was no chance of the dogs being abused since the groomer was on view to everyone in the store. The one near our place did not have a groomer anymore but were in the process of hiring one so I called one slightly further out and got an appointment right away. I was kind of surpised but happy because the boys needed cuts and nail clipping. I dropped them off, left my number, and went shopping while I waited.
When I picked them up, the oldest had slightly longer hair but the youngest was shaved to the bone. And I mean, to the bone! There were patches of pink skin where he was clipped harshly. There was a huge chunk take out above his nose. For three days now, he is shaking, will not leave my side, and jumps when the raw areas (particularly around his private parts) irritate him. I have never in my life seen such a butchering job on a dog. I don't know where their groomer got her license, but I suspect it was in a meat packing plant.
I trim my dogs on a regular basis and they are used to scissors. I also trim around their eyes and they are very calm when I do it. So to have someone, like the Petcetera groomer ("oh...he moved a couple of times"), make out like they were not makes me suspicious.
So this is my story. Please check out your groomer. If you have a new one, make sure you investigate them and for the first couple of times, insist that you stay and watch the process. I wish I had but I never thought that a company as large as Petcetera would be so callous when hiring a groomer.
Food that is toxic for dogs
There are some foods that we eat every day and don't give a second thought to. These foods, however, can harm your dog. Here is a list:
- Chocolate - dangerous because it contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which are toxic to dogs. However, carob, white chocolate and cocoa butter contain little or none of these toxins. Unsweetened chocolate is the most dangerous. One ounce for a 20 lb dog is dangerous.
- Macadamia nuts - one ounce of nuts for a 20 lb dog can be toxic.
- Tomatoes and tomato plants - the plants contain atropine which can cause heart arrythmias and tremors. The highest levels of atropine are in the leaves and stems of the tomato plant, followed by unripe green tomatoes and then red tomatoes.
- Onions and garlic - one tablespoon of onion or one teaspoon of garlic per 10 lb dog can destroy red blood cells.
- Grapes and raisins - 4 ounces ingested by a 20 lb dog will cause kidney failure
- Any food that has mould on it or is spoiled (even slightly)
- Raw meat and raw bones (this one is debatable. There are some advocates of this kind of food and some against it. Do your own research)
- Alcoholic beverages, marijuana, coffee and tobacco - I think it goes without saying that you do not give these products to your pets. However, pets have been known to eat and drink thing they shouldn't. How many times have you seen the gobble up something they shouldn't? Call your vet immediately if your pet has ingested any of these products. And please, if you are a smoker, don't leave your ashtrays within reach of your pet or throw your cigarette butts in the yard where your dog can roam.
Grooming Your Shih-Tzu
Whether their hair is short or long, regular grooming is a must
The first image that comes to mind when thinking of a Shih-Tzu is usually that of long, silken hair that dusts the ground.
In the case of my two dogs, I've had their hair cut short for the summer because our weather is typically very hot and extremely humid. In the fall, they get a bit of a trim and then allow their hair to grow so it's long and thick during our harsh, cold winters.
However, whether you choose to have a short haired Shih-Tzu or a long haired one, they require constant grooming. Brushing every day is a must. For short hair, every second day. You may wonder why so often if their hair is short? Because it still gets knots that can lead to those nasty clumps of hair (known as the dreaded "mat") that are almost impossible to brush out. Even with short hair, they still can get sloppy looking so keeping them brushed is a necessity. It also cleans their fur of dust, debris and dead hairs while redistributing their natural oils and stimulating the circulation.
The hardest part of the Shih-Tzu's grooming, regardless of the length of their hair, is trimming their face. The biggest hurdle is getting them to sit still and allow you to come near their face. That's where good training comes in. But the second phase, keeping the eye area free of stray hairs, is vital because the stray hairs that rub against the eyeball can cause eye infections. It is imperative that you keep this area neatly trimmed. You can buy professional snub-nosed shears and do it yourself or let your groomer do it. However, keep up with it.
Of course, there are many other aspects to grooming a Shih-Tzu, from the beard to the paws to the tail to the ears and everything in between. I found a great little video below that takes you through the steps of a full-body grooming with a long-haired Shih-Tzu. So if you feel ready to try trimming your pet up on your own, have a look at it.
A step-by-step video that illustrates how to groom a Shih-Tzu
More Information on Grooming Your Shih-Tzu
In this dog grooming video, award winning groomer Greg Kellas demonstrates how to groom Lhasa Apso's and Shih Tzu's. DVD shows how to manage and care for a full-coated dog, plus three clips; a Puppy Clip, a Utility Clip and a Pantaloon clip. Additionally, it shows how to trim the eyes and feet, topknots and other styles to finish the head.
Thirty-five years experience... Enough said. Your dog grooming instructor is a veteran in the dog grooming industry. You will learn how to groom your poodle, bichon frise, maltese or shih-tzu the right way. Absorb the lessons about shaving your dogs face and paws. Take control of your dogs health by learning how to routinely pluck your dogs ears and clean its anal glands. Master your clipping and scissoring techniques just by watching the Vet. Your instructor will guide you, and you will see how easy grooming your dog(s) can be. This dvd is a great value and loaded with helpful information.
Grooming your dog is a wonderful way to keep your pet happy and healthy, but with little experience your task may seem scary. By watching several professional groomers on this DVD, you will quickly get the confidence that you need to groom your buddy meticulously at home. All basic dog grooming techniques that you need to know are covered. The dog breeds listed below are groomed: Poodle, Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise, Havanese, Cocker Spaniel. This is an outstanding instructional DVD.
What Kind of Flooring is Best for Small Dogs?
I need to replace the carpet in the family room that is open to the kitchen. So with two little boys who spend the majority of their time in the family room, one who is very obedient and one who pees sporadically in the house, what do you choose?
I was recently at a family wedding and a friend of the family owns a flooring store. I asked him this question. His immediate response was "vinyl". I have vinyl flooring that looks like hardwood which I put in our basement. It looks great and cleans easily, but what happens if I decide to put real hardwood in my living room and dining room which lead into the kitchen and family room? Will it look stupid? I go back to my research...
I asked the breeder of our dogs because she has dark chocolate-colored hardwoods throughout her home, including the kitchen. She said she loved her hardwoods and would never have anything else. She has one Shih-Tzu who had two litters of five puppies and she regularly dog-sits for our little guys and others who have bought puppies from her. Her floor looks fabulous. Okay...file that away and keep digging...
I spoke to my mother's real estate agent who has been in the business for 23 years. I asked him "laminate or hardwood?" without mentioning dogs. He didn't hesitate when he said "hardwoods" because he said that in all the houses he has seen, laminate tends to buckle and move after 5 years and the floor basically needs to be replaced. Hmmm...I'm thinking that I need to do more research...
I have ceramic tile in my entry where Rocki decided that marking the territory was a really great idea. It cleaned like nothing, even the grout. No smell...no fuss. After cleaning a couple of times, he never went back there so obviously I got the scent out. My flooring looks great and there is no odor. Ceramic tile is great in a kitchen and can run into the family room. So perhaps tile is the way to go?
I spoke to a flooring contractor who came to give me a quote and I learned some interesting things. First, he told me marble floors do not mix well with dogs. He said he has a client who put marble tile in the front entryway and it looks awful because her little dog's nails have ruined the finish. I asked about ceramic. He said it works well, but if we drop something on it in the kitchen and chip it, it will leave a white mark because the stain is only on the top of the tile. He suggested porcelain tile. It's about the same cost and if we do drop something on it and chip it, because the color runs through the entire tile it will be less noticeable. Also, it is easy to clean in case the dogs have an accident and you can remove the scent so they will not keep coming back to the same spot.
I don't know...I'm still trying to decide because flooring is not something you change each year like toss cushions. Once you pay the price and put it in, it's there for awhile. I'm leaning towards porcelain. So if anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear from you.
Speaking of booties...
I bought little booties for the boys for winter to keep their paws warm. Bruiser was being extremely uncooperative on the day I was going to try them on the boys so I nabbed Rocki and put one of the booties on him to test the fit. I had just got the first one on when he jumped out of my grip, ran to the side, ripped the bootie off his foot and proceeded to beat the crap out of it. The lone bootie is now his go-to stress reliever...he has ripped it apart. Little does he know I have more...