​​AKC SHIH TZU OF CALIFORNIA

  
The Shih Tzu History


Shih Tzu literally translates into "Lion Dog", and it is believed that these dogs were named so because they were bred to resemble the lions displayed in the traditional oriental art.  One fine illustrative example of this being the works of art depicting the Chinese guardian lions.  Shih Tzu is a very old breed of dogs, and like all ancient things, it is subject to fascinating historical tales and legends.   Shih Tzu’s are also known as Tibetan Lion Dogs, even though no one has successfully determined whether this breed is Tibetan or Chinese

The oldest bits of information about Shih Tzu dogs come from documents, paintings and objects of art dating back as early as AD 624. It is no wonder that there is a lot of mystery involved in the origin of this breed.  
  
Even if the theories surrounding the beginning of the Shih Tzu’s existence are quite numerous, one piece of information is certain: these dogs made a live presence at the ancient Chinese Imperial Court and the breed was so incredibly valued and respected, they utterly refused to sell or trade them.

It is also believed that the Chinese Court received a pair of Shih Tzus as a present during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), and that they were brought from Tibet to China in the middle of the 18th century during the Qing Dynasty.

A very interesting aspect regarding their existence is linked back to the Chinese Revolution when the Shih Tzu breed grew almost extinct, and only seven specimens from each of the two genres were saved. This suggests that, basically, all of these dogs can be tracked back to one of these Shih Tzu.

Europe got to know about these dogs in 1930, when the first specimens were imported into England and Norway. Five years later, the Shih Tzu Club decided in written form the European standard for the breed; and although the dogs were at first categorized by the Kennel Club as "Apsos", the name of the breed was soon brought back to that of Shih Tzu. 

Shih Tzu dogs were brought to the United States by members of the military. This took place during the Second World War when the American army was stationed in England leading many to fall in love with the breed. Upon their return home, they introduced Shih Tzu specimens into their natal country, but it was not until 1969 that the American Kennel Club recognized this breed. The breed now enjoys fantastic popularity as it is highly valued in the United States as both an animal companion and as a show dog.