The Shih Tzu Breed: A Beloved Companion
If you are thinking of buying a Shih Tzu puppy, congratulations! This lovable and loyal dog is likely to become an important and treasured part of his family.
The Shih Tzu is a toy dog; Characterized by its proud, stocky, miniature stature, this dog breed is one of the most popular miniature breeds. But did you know that he was originally bred to look like a lion?
The Shih Tzu’s regal demeanor is the result of its long and distinguished history. Recent DNA tests have confirmed what researchers already suspected: the Shih Tzu is one of the oldest dog breeds. The name comes from Xi Shi, considered one of the most beautiful women in ancient China.
The oldest history of the Shih Tzu goes back many centuries. Buddhist monks bred what is now believed to have been a cross between the Pekingese and a Tibetan dog breed called the Llasa Apso.
Buddhist monks were known to breed special temple dogs. These monks bred special “palace dogs” for various emperors. As was their custom, they sent some of what they then called the Tibetan Shih Tzu Kou or Tibetan Lion Dogs to Tzu Hsi, the empress of the Manchu dynasty. She fell in love with her puppies and since then they have become common in the palace.
From the mid-19th century, the Shih Tzu was bred as a guard dog for the emperors of the Manchu dynasty. Typical of a Shih Tzu; These pooches were expected to do little more than sit on your lap and be pampered. Now you can see where the “spoiled princess” aspect of the breed originated from! The Shih Tzu was kept alongside other toy dog breeds and although they were originally strictly bred in separate quarters, it is believed that after the Empress’s death they were interbred with the other dogs.
Shih Tzus were not kept separate from the other palace dogs and today’s Shih Tzus have traces of Pekingese and pugs thanks to sloppy breeding practices at the palace.
At this time, it was a kind of competition in China between various palaces to produce the most attractive dogs with the most beautiful colors and coats. Breeding practices became closely guarded secrets and sadly the records of Shi Tzu’s rich and unique heritage will never be known.
Today’s Shih Tzus are a popular breed that are well loved and make a great royal companion.