1. What is my relationship with the breed? (ie breeder, first time owner etc) 3rd time owner. And soon to be 4th! 2. Where and why was the breed first developed? Shih tzus originated from Tibet, China and were almost wiped out during the Communist Revolution. 14 shih tzus were then rescued and travelled to the US in 1950s. The breed itself was thought to have been created through the pairing of a Lhasa Apso and a Pekingese. 3. How common is it in Australia? How should I put it? You are more likely to find a a 'Shih Tzu x' than a purebred nowadays. 4. What is the average lifespan? 10-13 years. 5. What is the general temperament/personality? Cheeky, friendly and often open to affection from anyone, not just the immediate family. My little Po orientates more towards people than other dogs and knows she's cute. They can also be difficult to house train and have extremely poor recall. Even though they look like they're suited for children with their friendly faces and soft hairy bodies, I personally think they are better meant for older owners. You will also end up spoiling them. I find it inevitable. 6. How much daily exercise is needed for the average adult? Minimal. They don't really need daily walks if you have a backyard or large house. As for walks, 30 minutes maximum in cool conditions. 7. Is it a breed that a first time dog owner could easily cope with? Easily, in terms of temperament and handling. The only tricky part is grooming and maintenance. 8. Can solo dogs of this breed easily occupy themselves for long periods? Shih tzus love to be around their owners but they're not as much of a velcro dog as a Cavalier or Chihuahua can be. I usually leave the tv on, adequate food and water and plenty of toys around to keep my Po happy. 9. How much grooming is required? A lot! Shih tzus should be properly groomed every 4-6 weeks. I regularly clean Po's face and paws with a wipe as their hairy coats tend to absorb anything they walk past. Brushing should be concentrated in particular around their ears to reduce matting. Unless you're showing your dog, most shih tzus tend to move around perfectly with a puppy cut. 10. Is it too boisterous for very small children or for infirm people (unless the dog is well trained)? I find with shih tzus, it's the other way around. As shih tzus are small and quite soft dogs, care should be taken whenever handling them. 11. Are there any common hereditary problems a puppy buyer should be aware of? Consult your breeder or vet. 12. When buying a puppy, what are the things you should ask of the breeder? (eg what health tests have been done (if applicable) and what is an acceptable result to those tests so the buyer has an idea of what the result should be) Who are the parents? Can I see either the Sire or Dame? Shih tzus are relatively easy to integrate in to your daily lifestyle, especially if you're a homebody. So long as you are aware of the grooming requirements, don't expect a watchdog and don't handle them roughly, they're a great little dog with positive personalities that like to entertain and please.