Shih Tzu Breed History

The history of the Shih Tzu breed may surprise you. While the exact date of origin of the Shih Tzu is unknown, evidence of their existence was revealed sometime around A.D. 624 through documents, paintings, and d’art.  Around the mid-17th century, Shih Tzu’s (which means “lion”) were introduced to China from Tibet and given to the Chinese court.  These dogs were bred in the Forbidden City of Peking and were reported as being the smallest and oldest of the Tibetan holy dogs. 

The Shih Tzu breed was a highly favored pet among the royal families in China and its sole purpose was to be bred as a house pet and companion.  Therefore, the Shih Tzu temperament was to be outgoing, happy, friendly, affectionate, and trusting towards all.

When Dowager Empress Cixi (T’zu His), a renowned breeder of Pugs, Pekingese and Shih Tzu, passed away in 1908 the Shih Tzu breed dispersed.  Moreover, after the Communist Revolution in China the Shih Tzu breed became almost extinct.  The good news is Shih Tzu were imported to England around 1930 where breeding began again. Interesting enough the first breed was actually classified as an “Apsos” but the Kennel Club in England ruled that Lhasa Apso’s and Shih Tzu were two separate breeds. As a result, the Shih Tzu Club of England was formed in 1935.

American soldiers stationed in Europe brought the Shih Tzu breed to the United States during the late 1940s and 1950s.  The unique temperament and beauty of this new breed quickly became one of the most glamorous and popular canine companions.

Shih Tzu Breed Characteristics

• Weigh 9–16 lbs. and stand up to 8-11 inches tall (at the shoulder)
• Average life span is 8-15 years
• Have wide, broad heads with big wide eyes
• Have heavily coated ears that are placed just below the skull
• Have  long, silky, smooth, luxurious, and full body coats
• The body is longer in length then it is in height
• Additional detailed information can be found at American Kennel Association or the  American Shih Tzu Club