The Shih Tzu Breed: A Lovely small dog

Shih TzuThe Shih Tzu is a toy dog; characterized by its proud, sturdy and miniature stature – this dog breed is one of the most popular of the miniature breeds. 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 – the Shih Tzu is one of the oldest breeds of dog. The name comes from that of Xi Shi who is regarded as one of the most beautiful women in ancient China.

The earliest history of the Shih Tzu dates back many centuries. The Buddhist monks bred what is now believed was a cross between the Pekingese and a Tibetan dog breed called Llasa Apso.

The Buddhist monks were known for breeding 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 the Tzu Hsi – the Empress of the Manchu Dynasty. She fell in love with her little dogs and they became common around the palace from then on.

From the middle of the 19th Century the Shih Tzu was bred as a watchdog for the emperors of the Manchu Dynasty. Typical of a Shih Tzu; these little dogs were expected to do little else that sit on laps and be pampered. You can now see where the “pampered princess” aspect of the breed originated from! The Shih Tzu 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 dogs.

Shih Tzu Breed:  A Lovely small dogThe Shih Tzu’s were not kept separate from the other palace dogs and today’s Shih Tzu’s 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 China between various palaces to produce the best looking dogs with the most beautiful colorings and coats. Breeding practices became guarded secrets and sadly the records of the Shi Tzu’s rich and unique heritage will never be known.

Today’s Shih Tzu’s are a popular breed of small dogs which is widely loved and make a great royal companion.

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