Origination of the Shih-Tzu

Posted by: Kathy  /  Category: How to care for your Shih-Tzu puppy
Origin of the Shih Tzu Dog

Where did the Shih Tzu come from and who were this dog’s ancestors? The Shih Tzu breed originated in Tibet.  This dog was deemed to be of royalty and lived in incredible temples.  Occasionally, the ancestor of the dog we know of today,  would be given to an emperor of China.  As time went by, China became known as the creators of this breed, more so than the original Tibet.

The Shih Tzu is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world.  Scientists have found fossils from more than 10,000 years ago, showing that the dogs of that day were closely related to the breed that is now recognized.

This breed moved from Tibet into China most likely around the time of the Qing Dynasty between 1644 and 1662.   the Shih Tzu was referred to as the Lion Dog. The Lion symbol played a large role in Buddhism.  Because the actual lion was not indigenous to China, the Chinese bred their dogs to look as much like a lion as possible.

It was the Chinese empress Cixi who bred dogs very carefully to arrive with the breed that we know of today.   However, after the Communist Revolution, her large breeding facilities were destroyed, along with most of the dogs.  Only a few Shih Tzu dogs were saved and imported into England.  It was there that they were bred with the Pekingese.  The breed was perfected from 1930 to 1950.

Only then, did the Shih Tzu breed move into the United States.  In the year 1955, the American Kennel club accepted the dog, but only as a Miscellaneous class.  This was because there were so few Shih Tzu dogs.  Unless a breed becomes popular, the AKC can decide to disallow it from the Miscellaneous class; therefore a group of people decided to form the Shih Tzu Club of America in 1957.

Other clubs started to follow suit, in Texas and Florida.  Still, by 1961 there were only 100 dogs registered in the USA.  Attempting to keep the breed recognized, in 1963 the Texas Shih Tzu Society merged with the Shih Tzu Club of America.  This move proved successful.  One year later, the number of registered dogs tripled to over 300.  By 1965 there were almost 700!

In 1969, the AKC recognized the Shih Tzu as an official breed in the Toy dog class, a huge victory for Shih Tzu owners!  Once this dog was recognized as being its own breed, fully recognized and official, there were over 3,000 dogs registered.

Currently the Shih Tzu is among the top 10 most popular toy breed dogs in the world.  Known for their elegance, amazing personality and unique beauty, we can thank early Tibet for the long but rewarding journey that this breed survived.

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