Last Updated on August 31, 2021 by Dogs Vets
Want to know more about your Shih Tzu?
We cover the most interesting facts to help you understand their lineage and their temperament better.
7 Interesting Facts to Know About Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu, pronounced ‘sheed-zoo’, is a popular dog breed in the United States, and for good reason too. This dog breed is fun to be around, affectionate, and anything but ‘yappy’.
However, there’s so much more to them than their beautiful coats and personalities!
If you have the pleasure of being a pet parent to this loveable dog breed and are interested in knowing more about it, then this article is for you. Here are some things to know about Shih Tzu that will give you a new perspective on one of the friendliest dog breeds on the planet.
They’re An Ancient Breed
Shih Tzu can be traced back to more than 1000 years. It is believed that their existence goes back further. Images of Shih Tzus appear in Chinese tapestries over 2000 years old! Our documentation, then, does not cover the full expanse of their lineage.
Their exact origins are still unknown because the dog toy breed has been around for thousands of years. To point an exact time, is thus, impossible. Some Chinese paintings record a depiction of dogs that are believed to be Shih Tzus. These paintings date back to around 500 C.E.
They Have Many Names
Shih Tzu, a mandarin phrase, translates to ‘little lion’. It may have gotten its name because of its association with the Tibetan Buddhist God of Learning.
If the legends are to be believed, the Tibetan Buddhist God traveled with a small lion dog who’s believed to transform into a lifesize Lion – now that’s an origin story!
That’s not all. Shih Tzu’s are also called ‘Chrysanthemum-faced’ dogs. It may be because the hair on their face tends to grow in all directions, resembling a Chrysanthemum.
A Shish Tzu’s hair grows up from its snout and can be a nuisance if not clipped regularly.
They’re The Descendants Of 14 Royal Dogs
A lot of people blame the decline of Shih Tzu’s population on the Communist Revolution, however, that’s far from the case.
The death of Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi, the supervisor of a world-class Shih Tzu breeding program, is said to be the motivating factor that almost resulted in the extinction of the Shih Tzu breed.
The ‘Tzu’ in the breed’s name is sometimes attributed to her and all the efforts she undertook to maintain this lovable dog breed.
However, when she died, it led to the falling apart of the breeding program, making it impossible to find a Shih Tzu.
Luckily for us, significant attention was paid to ensure they don’t disappear from the face of the earth.
Every single Shih Tzu alive today can be traced to the seven males and females that were bred to rebuild the breed.
All 14 dogs had direct ancestry ties to original Shih-Tzu’s that lived in the Imperial Palace of China.
They Came From Tibet To The U.S Through Military Personnel
Despite their long, historical association with Chinese culture, Shih Tzus did not actually originate in the country. Their ancestors, in fact, came from its neighboring nation Tibet, who gifted them to China.
Multiple breeding patterns later, the modern-day Shih Tzu was born in China. So, the answer to the question, why do Shih Tzus have short snouts? can be attributed to their breeding with Chinese dogs.
Shih Tzu was imported to England from China. Then, the dog toy breed was then exported to other countries in Europe.
The first Shih Tzu arrived in the U.S in the late 1930s.
Their number drastically increased when American soldiers aka military personnel stationed in Europe, sealed the deal by taking Shih Tzu’s with them when they returned to their home country where Shih Tzu’s quickly became a fan favorite.
They Lived The Royal Life
It is believed that Shih-Tzus were sent to China by Tibet as a gift for Chinese royalty. They served as royal lap warmers and lived in palaces alongside royalties and emperors. They were bred by palace eunuchs and the pressure of owning them was restricted to royalties.
Shih Tzu’s were, in fact, considered palace pets. This means common people aka people who lived outside of the Imperial palace were not able to own this beautiful and loveable dog breed.
Shih Tzu’s enjoyed a pampered lifestyle, even going so far as being carried in luxurious robes by noblewomen!
Wondering what Shih Tzus like to do? That’s simple. They like to stay close to their humans and cuddle with them.
Even today, this dog breed has retained its popularity. A few celebrity owners are Queen Elizabeth II, Bill Gates, and Beyonce – making them attached to the rich and famous even today!
They’re Both Glamorous And Athletic
What is special about a Shih Tzu? If you thought your Shih Tzu was just another small dog breed that excelled in being glamorous and the center of attention in dog shows, you’re in for a surprise.
Underneath the beautifully long coats is a surprisingly muscular body that gives new meaning to the word agility. Go ahead, enroll your Shih Tzu in agility competitions and watch it bag the champion title.
Among the many questions you ask yourself as a dog parent, ‘what do Shih Tzu love the most?’ is probably the most important of them all.
The answer to that is pretty simple. It’s not treats, nor is it chasing squirrels. Shih Tzus love to follow their favorite humans from one room to the other.
With this attentive, human-centered mindset, they also tend to work well with trainers.
Their Coat Comes In Many Colors
Shih Tzu’s long, beautiful cones in a variety of colors including, but not limited to, black, white, brown, gold, and blue. According to the American Kennel Club, this toy breed comes in 14 different colors and 3 distinct markings. Talk about variety!
Their coat features a warming undercoat and despite this double coat factor, they surprisingly don’t shed much.
Many owners assert that Shih Tzu’s are low maintenance as they can be clipped into a ‘puppy cut’.
To protect their eyes from being irritated, it is advised to tie up the hair on top of their heads into a topknot.
There are so many things to know about Shih Tzus! Every time you think you know all about your Shih Tzu, another thing pops up, increasing your appreciation of their existence so much more.
This breed is so much more than just a toy breed or a companion animal. It’s a cultural, historical marvel that beat all odds to survive and is now a proud member of the world’s most popular dog breeds.
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