American vs. European Shih Tzu: Unveiling Key Distinctions

In the realm of canine breeds, a common point of discussion among dog breeders is the difference between American and European Shih Tzu pups. This topic often surfaces in kennel clubs. These variations among dog breeds are often overlooked but are crucial for potential owners to understand before bringing these furry animals home from breeders.

It’s essential to know what to expect from different pups. The key differences in dog breeds lie in their physical attributes and temperament, largely influenced by breeders’ practices in the United States versus Europe post World War II. This impact can be seen in the pups and their training requirements. A widespread misconception is that both dog breeds are identical; however, this fact couldn’t be further from the truth, especially considering their standard behavior around small children.

Each breed, whether an imperial dog or a style-conscious one, has distinct characteristics shaped by geographical location and breeding standards, even those suitable for small children. This article aims to dispel myths and comprehensively compare these two popular dog breeds, the Shih Tzu standard and style, especially about small children.

Physical Traits of American Shih Tzu

Size, Weight, and Coat Characteristics

American Shih Tzus, an original breed, are compact, sturdy dogs that adhere to the breed standard. Their size, often described as imperial, ranges from 9 to 10.5 inches tall at the shoulder. This dog breed typically weighs between 9 to 16 pounds when fully grown, adhering to the breed standard of the original imperial breed. The coat of an American Shih Tzu, an imperial dog breed, is one of its most distinctive features, closely tied to the breed standard. It’s long, flowing, and can be styled in various imperial or standard ways. The hair, boasting an imperial density, is not curly but adheres to a standard luxury look.

  • Long coat
  • Dense hair
  • Size: 9 – 10.5 inches
  • Weight: 9 – 16 pounds

Unique Facial Features

The face of an imperial American Shih Tzu is another unique standard trait that sets it apart from other breeds. They have imperial, wide-set eyes that are round and large, often dark in standard color, giving them an expressive look. Their standard noses are short and broad, with imperial nostrils set wide apart.

  1. Wide-set eyes
  2. Round and large eyes
  3. Short, broad nose

Color Patterns

Imperial American Shih Tzus offers a standard variety unlike any other breed; they come in all colors! The possibilities are endless, from the standard solid black to imperial white or combinations like black and white, red and white, or gray and white!

Characterizing the European Shih Tzu

Physical Attributes

European Shih Tzus, both imperial and standard, are cherished for their distinct physical attributes. This imperial breed variant typically weighs between 4-7.25 kilograms (8.8-16 pounds), a standard size that classifies them as small dogs, ideal for suburban and city living.

Their coat is one of their most striking features. It’s double-layered, with a dense undercoat and a long, flowing outer coat that can grow to imperial floor length if not trimmed to standard regularly. The hair meets the standard of being straight and silky, giving it a lustrous sheen.

Distinct Facial Traits

The facial traits of European Shih Tzus set them apart from their American counterparts. They have large dark eyes that are round and give off an expression of warmth and friendliness.

One unique facial feature exclusive to this breed variant is the “chrysanthemum” face – where the hair grows in different directions around the nose area, creating an adorable effect reminiscent of chrysanthemum petals.

Common Color Schemes

European Shih Tzus come in various color schemes:

  • Solid: Entirely one color, such as black, blue, silver, or white.
  • Dual-colored: Two colors like black and white or red and white.
  • Tricolor: Combinations of three colors, usually black, white, and gold.

These color schemes add to the overall appeal of this charming breed variant.

Unveiling the Imperial Shih Tzu Misconceptions

The ‘Imperial’ Myth

Let’s cut to the chase and address one of the most common misconceptions in the world of Shih Tzus – the term ‘Imperial.’ This term often confuses, with many assuming it refers to a separate breed or subtype. However, this is far from accurate. In reality, ‘Imperial’ is simply a marketing term to describe smaller-than-average Shih Tzus.

To put it into perspective, consider how some people refer to small cups of coffee as ‘teacup’ size. It doesn’t mean there’s a new type of coffee; it’s just a smaller serving. Similarly, an ‘Imperial’ Shih Tzu isn’t a distinct breed but a pint-sized version of the standard breed.

  • Standard Shih Tzu: Typically measures 9-10.5 inches at shoulder height.
  • ‘Imperial’ Shih Tzu: Generally ranges between 8-9 inches tall.

Debunking Size and Health Myths

Another widespread myth about these so-called ‘Imperial’ pups revolves around their health due to their petite stature. There’s a prevalent belief that smaller dogs are inherently less healthy or more prone to health issues than their larger counterparts. However, this is not necessarily true.

While it’s accurate that breeding for extremely small sizes can sometimes lead to health problems, this isn’t always the case. Many factors contribute beyond mere size to an animal’s overall health and well-being. Genetics, diet, and exercise routine play vital roles in determining whether an individual dog will be healthy.

Marketing Tactics Exploiting Misconceptions

Unfortunately, some breeders exploit these misconceptions about ‘Imperial’ Shih Tzus for profit. They may market these smaller dogs as rare or unique variants of the breed, charging exorbitant prices for them. These pups are simply on the lower end of the normal size range for Shih Tzus.

It’s essential to remember that size doesn’t determine a dog’s worth or value. A smaller Shih Tzu isn’t inherently more valuable than a larger oneā€”each has unique charm and personality. As potential pet owners, focusing on finding a healthy, happy pup that fits your lifestyle is crucial rather than getting caught up in misleading marketing terms.

Temperament and Health Differences

Behavioral Tendencies

The key differences in temperament between the American and European Shih Tzu can be quite noticeable. The American variant is often more outgoing and energetic and more likely to display separation anxiety. These traits make them great companions for families with small children, as they love constant interaction and being part of the action.

On the other hand, European Shih Tzus are generally calmer, showing less interest in vigorous play. They’re known for their relaxed demeanor but can also exhibit signs of stubbornness occasionally. It’s important to note that individual temperaments can vary widely within each type due to upbringing and environment.

Health Issues

Health-wise, there are also significant differences between the two types:

  • American Shih Tzu: Common health issues include hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and eye problems such as cataracts.
  • European Shih Tzu: They are susceptible to kidney diseases, brachycephalic syndrome (breathing difficulties), and ear infections.

While both variants have unique health concerns, regular vet check-ups will help in the early detection and treatment of these conditions.

Lifespan Variances

In terms of lifespan variances based on geographical lineage:

Variant Average Lifespan
American Shih Tzu 10-16 years
European Shih Tzu 12-15 years

As observed from the data above, there isn’t much difference in life expectancy between the two types. However, it’s essential to remember that a dog’s lifespan depends heavily on its overall health condition and lifestyle.

To sum up:

  • The American variant is outgoing, while the European one is usually calmer.
  • Each breed type has specific, prevalent health issues.
  • There isn’t much difference in life expectancy between both types.

Although these are general observations, each Shih Tzu is unique. Understanding the differences between the American and European variants can help prospective owners make informed decisions about which type might better fit their lifestyle and family dynamics.

Grooming Needs for Both Breeds

American Shih Tzu Grooming Requirements

The coat of an American Shih Tzu is notably long and flowing, requiring a high level of regular grooming. This breed’s extravagant coats often sweep the floor, creating an elegant but high-maintenance appearance. Here are some key aspects to consider:

  1. Brushing: Regular brushing is essential to prevent matting and tangling. A daily routine would be ideal.
  2. Bathing: A weekly bath with a gentle dog shampoo can help keep the coat clean and shiny.
  3. Trimming: Regular professional grooming every 4-6 weeks is recommended to maintain the length and health of the coat.

European Shih Tzu Care Routines

Unlike their American counterparts, European Shih Tzus have slightly shorter and denser coats, necessitating regular grooming attention but differently.

  1. Brushing: Although their fur is less likely to tangle, brushing 2-3 times weekly will help control shedding and distribute natural oils throughout the coat.
  2. Bathing: They also benefit from weekly baths, but drying their thicker coats is crucial to prevent skin issues.
  3. Haircuts: These dogs may require more frequent haircuts due to faster hair growth.

The Importance of Regular Grooming

Regardless of whether your pet is an American or European Shih Tzu, one thing remains constant – the importance of regular grooming cannot be overstated.

  • Health Check: Routine grooming allows you to check your dog for abnormalities, such as lumps, fleas, or skin infections.
  • Bonding Time: Quality bonding time between you and your furry friend.
  • Comfortable Pet: Regularly groomed pets are more comfortable as they prevent problems like matting, which can cause pain.

Both breeds share similar grooming requirements due to their long, dense coats. They both require regular brushing and bathing and frequent trips to the groomer for haircuts. However, the American Shih Tzu’s longer coat may require more time and effort than the European breed.

While grooming might seem daunting, especially for new pet owners, it is essential to caring for your Shih Tzu. Regular grooming helps maintain a healthy coat and contributes significantly to their health and well-being.

Addressing Health Concerns

Common Genetic Disorders

Whether American or European, Shih Tzu is susceptible to certain health issues. Common health problems include hip dysplasia, eye conditions like cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and brachycephalic syndrome, which affects breathing.

  • Hip Dysplasia: This genetic disorder causes abnormal formation of the hip joint. It can lead to arthritis or even lameness if not treated.
  • Eye Conditions: Cataracts and PRA can lead to blindness if not detected early and treated properly.
  • Brachycephalic Syndrome: Shih Tzus often struggles with respiratory issues due to their short noses. They may have difficulty breathing, especially during hot weather or strenuous exercise.

Preventive Measures

Preventing these health conditions requires attention and care from family members. Regular vet check-ups are crucial for early detection of these problems. Here are some ways families can look after their furry family members:

  1. Maintain a healthy diet: Obesity can exacerbate many health issues in dogs, including hip dysplasia and breathing problems.
  2. Regular Exercise: Keeping your Shih Tzu active helps maintain a healthy weight and keeps joints flexible.
  3. Regular Vet Check-ups: Early detection is key in managing most health conditions.

The Importance of Vet Check-ups

Regular vet visits are integral to maintaining the quality of life for both American and European Shih Tzus alike. Vets can advise on proper care, diet, and exercise regimens and conduct routine tests to identify potential health risks before they become serious problems.

In pet care, prevention is always better than cure; families should be proactive rather than reactive.

One aspect often overlooked is mental health. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from anxiety. Regular vet check-ups can also help detect signs of anxiety and provide ways to manage it.

The Debate: American vs. European Shih Tzu

There is no clear winner in the American and European Shih Tzu debate. Both breeds have their own health issues requiring attention and care. However, with regular vet check-ups, a healthy diet, and exercise, these problems can be managed effectively.

Whether you choose an American or European Shih Tzu, remember they are not just pets but family members who deserve the best possible care.

Weighing Your Options

Deciding between an American and European Shih Tzu is a matter of personal preference, considering physical traits, temperament, health issues, and grooming needs. Both breeds have unique characteristics that make them endearing to different individuals. The choice ultimately depends on which breed’s traits align more with your lifestyle and personal preferences.

Before you decide, conducting thorough research and consulting with reputable breeders or pet professionals is crucial. They can provide valuable insights about the breeds’ specific needs and help guide you in making an informed decision. Remember, owning a pet is a long-term commitment that requires careful thought and preparation.

What are the main differences between American and European Shih Tzus?

The primary differences lie in their physical appearance and temperament. American Shih Tzus tend to be more active and playful, while European Shih Tzus are generally calmer. In terms of appearance, American Shih Tzus usually have a rounder face compared to their European counterparts, who often have square faces.

How do I choose between an American or European Shih Tzu?

Your choice should depend on your lifestyle, living situation, and personal preferences. Consider factors such as activity level, grooming needs, health concerns, and overall temperament of the breed.

Are there any specific health concerns for each breed?

Both breeds may be prone to certain genetic conditions like hip dysplasia or eye problems. It’s essential to consult with a vet or breeder for detailed information regarding potential health risks.

What are the grooming requirements for these breeds?

Both breeds require regular grooming due to their long hair. However, some owners report that the coat of an American Shih Tzu might need slightly more maintenance than that of a European one.

Is one breed better suited for families than the other?

Both breeds are known for being friendly and good with children. However, the calmer temperament of a European Shih Tzu might be more suitable for families with young children or elderly members.

Can I own both an American and a European Shih Tzu?

Yes, you can. Both breeds generally get along well with other dogs. However, it’s important to properly introduce them and ensure they have enough space in your home.