The Imperial Dog: A History of the Shih Tzu Breed

shih tzu

The Shih Tzu is a small, toy breed of dog with a distinctive long, flowing coat and a cute, flat face. Known as “The Imperial Dog,” this breed is highly prized for its beauty, charm, and regal bearing. However, few people know the fascinating history behind the Shih Tzu breed.

The Shih Tzu is an ancient breed, with origins dating back to the Tang Dynasty in China (618-907 AD). At that time, the breed was known as the “Lion Dog” due to its resemblance to the Chinese guardian lions. The breed was highly prized by the Chinese imperial court and was often given as a gift to foreign dignitaries. Legend has it that the breed was created by crossing a Lhasa Apso with a Pekingese, although the true origins of the breed are still debated by experts.

During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD), the Shih Tzu was further refined, and its appearance became more like the breed we know today. The breed was highly favoured by the ruling class and was often seen in the imperial courts. It was during this time that the breed’s name was changed from Lion Dog to Shih Tzu, which means “lion” in Mandarin.

In the 19th century, the British invaded China, and many treasures, including the Shih Tzu, were taken back to England. Queen Victoria was particularly fond of the breed and kept a large kennel of Shih Tzus. From England, the breed spread throughout Europe and eventually to the United States.

In the early 20th century, the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), and the first Shih Tzu was registered in the United States in 1955. Since then, the breed has become a popular pet and has been featured in many movies, TV shows, and advertisements.

Despite its popularity, the Shih Tzu breed has faced many challenges over the years. During the Chinese Revolution in the 1940s, many Shih Tzus were killed or abandoned, and the breed was nearly wiped out. However, dedicated breeders were able to save the breed, and it has since made a remarkable comeback.

Today, the Shih Tzu is known for its affectionate nature, charming personality, and adorable appearance. It is a beloved companion dog and is often used as therapy dogs due to their gentle and friendly nature. However, it is important to remember that the Shih Tzu is a high-maintenance breed and requires regular grooming and care to keep its long coat healthy and tangle-free.

In conclusion, the Shih Tzu is much more than just a cute and cuddly pet. Its history is rich and fascinating, and it is a true testament to the resilience and dedication of breeders who have worked tirelessly to preserve this beloved breed. The Shih Tzu may be small in size, but its impact on the world of dogs has been immense, and its legacy will continue to live on for generations to come.

Related posts