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The 7 Most Unusual Habits of Shih Tzus

Written by: Arlene Divina
Arlene Divina, one of the content writers at IHD, loves going on adventures with her adorable fur baby. She now creates informative content for pet parents. Read more
| Published on April 12, 2024

Shih Tzus, with their flowing locks and distinctive face, embody a charm that has captivated dog lovers for centuries. Originally bred in China to be royal lap dogs, these small, sturdy canines are not just prized for their beauty but also for their friendly, affectionate temperament. Despite their regal origins, Shih Tzus display a range of behaviors that might seem unusual to those unfamiliar with the breed. These behaviors are not only endearing quirks but also reflect their deep-seated instincts and historical roles. From their playful antics to their unique ways of communicating, each habit provides insight into the Shih Tzu’s personality and needs. This article delves into seven of the most unusual habits of Shih Tzus, exploring how these traits make them both intriguing and delightful companions.

1. Circle Spinning Before Lying Down

Shih Tzus have a peculiar habit of spinning in circles before settling down to rest or sleep. This behavior can be traced back to their ancestors who would do this in the wild to flatten grass or leaves to create a comfortable sleeping spot. While now seen in the comfort of modern homes, this instinctual behavior persists as a ritual to prepare their resting area just right. For Shih Tzu owners, understanding this behavior is a charming reminder of their pet’s ancient lineage and instincts. While generally harmless, if the spinning seems excessive, it could be a sign of anxiety or a neurological issue, and consulting a vet might be necessary.

2. “Shih Tzu Stomp”

The “Shih Tzu Stomp” is a unique behavior where these dogs will use their front paws to tap or stomp, often when they want attention or are excited. This amusing action is thought to stem from their history as dogs that needed to signal their presence in a non-threatening way in the imperial courts. The stomp is typically a playful gesture that indicates they are in a happy mood or want to engage with their owners. Owners can look forward to these displays as a sign of their Shih Tzu’s affection and eagerness to interact.

3. Snorting and Grunting

Shih Tzus often make a variety of noises, including snorts and grunts, which are particularly pronounced due to their flat faces and short nasal passages. These sounds can be endearing or sometimes alarming to new owners but are usually normal for the breed. These vocalizations can increase with excitement, heat, or when they’re trying to communicate their needs. Keeping an eye on these noises is important as they can sometimes indicate breathing difficulties, especially in overly warm or stressful environments.

4. Picky Eating Habits

Shih Tzus are notorious for their picky eating habits, which can be a challenge for even the most patient of owners. This fussiness with food can stem from their royal breeding where they were likely offered a variety of foods and could afford to be selective. Owners should ensure that their Shih Tzu’s diet is balanced and nutritious, introducing new foods gradually and ensuring that meal times are calm and stress-free. Consulting a veterinarian for dietary advice can also be beneficial if a Shih Tzu becomes too finicky.

5. Paw Licking

Excessive paw licking is another habit seen in Shih Tzus, often linked to allergies or boredom. The texture of their long hair also tends to trap dirt or debris that can irritate their paws, prompting them to lick excessively. Regular grooming and checking their paws for any lodged debris can help reduce this behavior. Additionally, ensuring they have plenty of mental stimulation can prevent licking from becoming a boredom-related habit.

6. Sudden Bursts of Energy

Shih Tzus may appear calm and dignified, but they can exhibit sudden bursts of energy, known as “zoomies,” where they run around in playful spurts. This behavior is a healthy release of pent-up energy and provides essential physical exercise and mental stimulation. It’s a delightful contrast to their typically serene demeanor and a reminder of their playful and youthful spirit.

7. Sleeping with Their Eyes Partially Open

A rather eerie but common habit among Shih Tzus is sleeping with their eyes partially open. This can be disconcerting to owners, but it’s generally harmless and related to their eye structure. Their large, round eyes can make it difficult to fully close their eyelids, which might not fully cover the eyeball. While usually just a quirky trait, it’s important for owners to ensure that their Shih Tzu’s eyes are kept moist and checked regularly to prevent dryness or irritation.

Learn More About the Shih Tzu Dog Breed: Information, Facts & Pictures

Shih Tzus are much more than their petite size and beautiful coats suggest, possessing a host of unique habits that reflect their noble heritage and complex personalities. These habits, from the charming “Shih Tzu Stomp” to their picky eating, enrich the lives of their owners with endless amusement and affection. Understanding and accommodating these behaviors can help deepen the bond between Shih Tzus and their families, ensuring these delightful dogs live happy, healthy lives.

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