If you are planning about purchasing a Shih Tzu puppy – congratulations – really! This loyal and adorable breed will most likely become a significant and treasured part of your family.
This breed is a toy dog; characterized by its sturdy, proud and miniature stature – this pet dog breed is surely one of the most popular of the miniature breeds in the world. But did you know it was originally bred to look like a “lion”?
The Shih Tzu’s regal attitude is as a result of its long and distinguished history. Recent DNA testing has confirmed what researchers already suspected – this dog is one of the oldest breeds of them. The name comes from that of Xi Shi who is regarded as one of the most beautiful women in ancient China in Asia.
The earliest history of the Shih Tzu dates back a lot of centuries. The Buddhist monks bred what is now believed was a cross between the Tibetan and Pekingese dog breed called Llasa Apso.
The Buddhist monks were known for breeding very special temple dogs. These monks bred special “palace dogs” for several emperors. As was their custom they sent some of what they then called the Tibetan Shih Tzu Kou or Tibetan Lion Dogs to the Tzu Hsi – the Empress of the Manchu Dynasty. She fell in love with her little poochs and they became common around the palace from then on.
From the middle of the 19th Century the small dog was bred as a watchdog for the emperors of the Manchu Dynasty. Characteristic of a Shih Tzu; these small dogs were expected to do little else that sit on laps and be pampered. Now you can see where the “pampered princess” aspect of the breed originated from! The Shih Tzu pooch was kept along some other toy dog breeds and while originally they were strictly bred in separate quarters but it is believed that after the empress died they were crossbred with the other ones.
These dogs were not kept separate from the other palace dogs and nowadays they have traces of Pekingese and Pugs thanks to the sloppy breeding practices at the palace.
At this time it was somewhat of a competition in Asia, China between several palaces to produce the best looking pet dogs with the most beautiful colorings and coats, of course. Breeding practices became guarded secrets and sadly the records of the Shi Tzu’s rich and unique heritage will never be known.
These days Shih Tzu’s are a very popular breed which is widely loved and make a fantastic royal companion.