Are you a proud Shih Tzu’s owner or are Shih Tzus your favorite dog breed? How well do you think you know your fur babies?
Read on to find out if you really know them – inside out.
FUN FACT #1: THEY ARE A VERY ANCIENT BREED, MORE THAN 1,000 YEARS OLD
Based on DNA research, Shih Tzus are one of the world’s 14 most ancient breeds with documentation relating to Shih Tzus going back at least 1,000 years. However, nobody can determine exactly how old this breed is.
There are various theories regarding the origin of Shih Tzus and one of the most common theory stated that Shih Tzus stemmed from a cross breed between the Lhasa Apso and Pekingese, a Tibetan dog given by Dalai Lamai to Chinese emperors near the end of the 17th century.
The first Shih Tzus were imported into Europe (previously England and Norway) in 1930 and were initially classified as “Apsos” by the Kennel Club, and re-categorised again as Shih Tzu. After World War II in the mid-1950s, Shih Tzus were brought to the United States when U.S. military members returned back to U.S. with dogs from Asia and Europe.
Finally, in 1960, Shih Tzu is categorized by the American Kennel Club under the Toy Group.
FUN FACT #2: THE REAL PRONUNICATION OF SHIH TZU IS “SHEED ZOO”
Shih Tzus are pronounced as “Sheed Zoo” which means lion in Chinese as Shih Tzu is derived from the Chinese term – Shizigou. Shizigou literally translate into “Lion Sun Dog” as Shih Tzus were initially bred to resemble Lion.
Nowadays, Shih Tzus are known as 西施犬 in Chinese which translates to “Xi Shi Dog”. In ancient China, Xi Shi was regarded as one of the most beautiful women, hence implicating that this breed is one of the most beautiful dog breed.
“Chrysanthemum faced dog” is another common nickname for Shih Tzu due to their hair on their face growing in all direction which resembles a flower.
FUN FACT #3: THEY ORIGINATE FROM TIBET
Contrary to popular belief that Shih Tzu originate from China, this breed actually originate from Tibet which was China’s western neighbour. In the past, Tibetan monks bred a number of lion-like dogs as they deemed them as “holy dogs”.
In Tibetan monasteries, these Shih Tzus are more than just companion animals as they acted as alarm dogs or guard dogs and even assisted in turning prayer wheels during the daily Buddhist prayer rituals.
In the early 20th century, the Empress Dowager Cixi was gifted a pair of Tibetan lion dogs whereby she created a world renown breeding program by breeding these lion dogs with Pugs and Pekingese – hence creating the modern-day Shih Tzu.
FUN FACT #4: SHIH TZUS ALMOST WENT EXTINCT IF NOT FOR 14 DOGS
During the Chinese Communist Revolution, this breed was almost completely destroyed and nearly went extinct. Another main contributing factor to its near extinction was due to the death of Empress Dowager Cixi.
The breeding program of Shih Tzu, Pugs and Pekingese came to a halt after her death in 1908 which results in the gradual decrease in the number of Shih Tzus.
During the early 20th century, there were only 14 last remaining Shih Tzus left – seven males and seven females and they were used to rebuild the breed. General Douglas and Lady Brownrigg imported a few of them to U.K. in 1930 which marked the beginning of Shih Tzu’s origin in Europe.
FUN FACT #5: VERY POPULAR BREED AMONG ROYALTIES AND CELEBRITIES
During the early 20th century, Shih Tzus were gifted as companion animals to royalties whereby they lived very comfortably in palaces, enjoying all the luxurious treatment.
They were even a fashion statement in the palaces as royalties would kept them tucked away in large robe sleeves as their thick coat made them “walking radiators”.
Rated #20 by AKC as the Most Popular Dog Breeds consecutively in both 2018 and 2019, it is one of the most popular dog breed for celebrities.
Renowned celebrities owners include Geri Halliwell, Mariah Carey, Colin Farell, Nicole Richie, Beyoncé, Jane Seymore, Bill Gates and even Queen Elizabeth II (she owned several corgis and a Shih Tzu named Choo Choo).