I first got my beautiful Shih tzu when she was about 6 months old. I got her from a friend of mine that had to part with her dog because she had recently moved into a condominium and dogs were not allowed there. I still remember the day I first got my Sasha. The door opened wide and this big ball of fur came running happily towards me. I was somewhat surprised. It was like this big ball of hair had known me for years. At six months old, her black and white hair was long and dense. I was actually looking at her outercoat. A Shih tzu has two coats (the outercoat and undercoat). The outercoat is the long, silky hair that reaches to the floor. The undercoat is the layers of short hair underneath the outercoat. I’ve had dogs as pets before but never like Sasha. Sasha had some personality! It was like a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde sort of thing. One moment she was happy and playful and the next she was arrogant and proud. At times I would call for her and she would come happily toward me but other times she gave me attitude. I felt I had to have a treat in my hand in order for her to come to me, at least that is what her face was telling me. I guess it has to do with the Shih tzu’s ancestry. Shih tzu means “lion dog” in Chinese. That makes sense. The long hair that is normally short on a dog is pretty long on this particular breed. Believe it or not, they where given to Chinese royalty as a gift and lap dog companions. Wow, who would of thought that I owned a dog that was once considered to be royalty? Sasha did act like a princess though. In the 5 years that I have owned Sasha, she has only licked me twice and it was on my foot. That is not normal for a dog. Dogs love to lick, especially their owners. Oh yes, Sasha has licked me a couple of times more but only when I had food in my hand.

Grooming her was not an easy task for me. Luckily her previous owner had her well groomed. When grooming this particular breed you must play close attention behind the ears, behind the front lets (armpits), chest, stomach and groin. Shih tzu’s have to be groomed daily to prevent matts and tangles. This is especially important if your dog has more then two inches of hair. I normally groom her with a slicker brush, pin brush and dangling spray. I tried using a metal comb but she did not like that one bit. She gave me a hard time when I used the metal comb. I am very careful with grooming her, so I made sure I was handling the comb well but something about the comb freaked her out. Maybe she does not like metal or maybe she is just being Sasha? Being a first time owner to this particular breed, I had no idea she had to be frequently groomed. I would only brush her hair three times a week, less if I was tired from all the work and choirs I did daily. My fiance and daughter could not help with the grooming since Sasha only allowed me to brush her. God forbid if they even stroked her hair! This caused tangles and matts. I took her to a well known groomer in my area and I was embarrassed. I felt like the worst dog owner in the world. Sasha had to be completely shaved off. She looked hysterical. I was able to actually see that she had a long body. Her hair made her look as though she weighed a ton when actually she was only 10 1/2 pounds, which is a good weight for a Shih tzu. They normally weigh 9 – 16 pounds as an adult. The stinky tears that had been accumulated underneath her eyes where gone. I was told to keep hair out of her eyes. Putting her hair up in a little pony tail or snipping of the hairs around her eyes also helps.

The great thing about Shih tzu’s is the long hair that does not shed although it may shed a little when the hair is short. since she does not shed because of her now long hair, I allow her to lay on our bed from time to time. Although I am really paranoid about dirty sheets, I make sure to wash my duvet covers often, especially when Sasha has laid on on my duvet cover. Luckily duvet covers are easy to wash! These past 5 years have been pretty interesting having Sasha around but I love her. Their is still more to Sasha but then this article will turn into a long story. She may have her faults but she also has her good side as well. She can be playful, funny, sweet and a great companion. I would not trade her for anything in the world.


by Linda Aviles