What to Look for When Buying a Shih Tzu and Other Toy Breeds

What is considered a toy breed? Dogs that are smaller than 10 kilograms and less than 50 centimetres in height, fall into this category. There are dozens of breeds in this category including the Shih Tzu, Maltese, Jack Russell Terrier, Pomeranian, Pug, Dachshund, and the Bichon Frise, to name a few.
What should you consider when looking at these toy breeds as potential pets? Many factors should be evaluated, such as the following: Temperament of the Breed
A little research can be done to determine which small breed would work best for you and your household. All dogs differ in personality and temperament. Even though small, many of the toy breeds can take on huge attitudes. Some become very territorial and could have behavioural or emotional issues.
For example, the Pekingese may be a loyal companion and good little watchdog, but its known aggressive nature makes it unlikely suitable for families. On the other hand, the Shih Tzu is known to be very loving and friendly with other animals and children, making it a great family pet.
A dachshund attaches well to its family (including children) but has been known to become aggressive around children it is not familiar with.
Many of the breeds make wonderful family pets and are loyal to the end. Some may not do well being separated from their owners, however. The Maltese is a prime example, as it has been specifically bred to be a companion dog. This breed may not be a good choice if you are gone often. Time and Commitment
Smaller breeds of dogs can be adorable. Cute as they may be, don’t let the size fool you on the time and commitment they still require.
Several dogs in this category need a lot of exercise. Walking your dog on a regular basis is good for their health and mental stimulation. In addition, many breeds will want to run around, play tug of war, and play fetch. Even at age four, my Schichon (Shih Tzu and Bichon Frise mix) wants to play or walk from sun up to sun down. I can devote a lot of time to him and make sure he gets plenty of walking and play. He will often do sprints around the house to exert energy, even after a day full of playing.
Training is another important element in committing to your small breed. Proper obedience and house training are a must. Some people may think that smaller dogs don’t necessarily need to be trained to obey. This is a misjudgement. If you do not take the time to properly train your pet, he or she will take full advantage of the lack of discipline and believe that they are in charge.
Whether you decide to do the training yourself or opt for hiring a professional, it will still be necessary to devote time and following through, after training. Some of the most important things for your dog to know are that you are the alpha, along with the commands of sit, stay, come, heal, and leave it.

If you are starting out with a puppy, vaccinations and wellness checks will add up. The veterinarian bills can cost anywhere from R6000 – R7000in the first year, not to mention the amount you will spend on preventative medicine for heart worm and guarding against fleas and ticks.
Many small breeds require a lot of grooming and attention to their coat. As an owner, if you are not going to put the time in to groom your dog, you will have to rely on a professional to do so. My Schichon visits the groomer at least every 5 weeks.
In between the grooming visits, I brush him and comb around his face every other day, at least. This keeps his coat looking nice and reduces the chance of him getting tangled or matted fur.
Other costs could be boarding your little one when traveling away from home. Even if you opt for traveling with your dog, most hotels charge a pet fee. If you are flying your pet, airlines charge a fee each way.

Potential Health Issues
Some dog breeds are naturally more susceptible to health problems as compared to others. This does not necessarily mean that your dog will develop such health issues, but should be taken into consideration nonetheless.
Pancreatitis has been a common health concern among miniature poodles. Pugs have been known to develop respiratory illnesses.
Allergies are common in many dogs and can lead to visits to the vet, medications, and trying various things to obtain relief for the dog.

Other Considerations
Are you planning to buy your pup from a breeder? Or is there a chance you can adopt? There is no right or wrong answer here only a few considerations.
Some dogs are bred for specific things, such as being hypoallergenic. If you are looking for a specific breed that can only be found through an actual breeder, the important thing to determine is that the breeder is reputable. So many people are running puppy mills with inhumane conditions, overcrowded cages, and poorly treated animals. While some may see this as a chance to “rescue” the puppy from these conditions, the truth is that the puppy could have very serious and negative emotional effects from this situation. This could lead to difficulty in training and impact the personality of your pup. Always visit the breeder at their location, giving you the opportunity to see where the dogs are kept and how they are treated. If the breeder does not allow you to visit, that is a red flag. A reputable breeder will be happy to show you around.
Oftentimes, toy breeds and full bred dogs can be found at adoption centres, as well, making that a viable option. All in all, take the time to research the breed of dog that you are interested in, and you will be able to find the perfect match for you and your family.