If you love Shih Tzus, you might be interested in learning more about their origin. For centuries, these friendly little dogs have been preferred companions of kings and aristocrats.
Where did Shih Tzus come from? While people often associate the breed with China’s imperial past, there is much more to uncover about the history of Shih Tzus – from their various sizes and temperaments to origins outside of Asia!
Join us as we dive deep into the history of these beloved creatures, discussing 8 different types of Shih Tzus that should be on your radar as an enthusiast.
History of Shih Tzus
According to BilJac, “Shih Tzus were mentioned in documents and seen in different paintings from Ancient China and Tibet dating as far back as 624 A.D.”
The exact origin of the Shih Tzu breed is unclear, but some believe that the breed dates back as far as the 17th century. It was thought that these small dogs were bred by Tibetan monks in lamasery temples and then gifted to Chinese royalty as a sign of respect and loyalty.
The name “Shih Tzu” actually comes from two words in Chinese, meaning “lion” and “dog,” respectively. This is because their unique appearance—longer fur on their heads and faces resembling a lion—was highly prized by Chinese royalty.
It was believed that these dogs were sacred animals that could bring good luck to those who owned them. At this time, their primary purpose was companionship, not work or hunting.
Worldwide Recognition of Shih Tzu Breed
In 1930, the first pair of Shih Tzus were brought to England from Peking (now known as Beijing). Afterward, they gained popularity throughout Europe and North America in the 1950s and 1960s due to their loyal nature and docile temperament. As more people began to show interest in this new type of dog, kennel clubs started forming worldwide to create standards for the breed.
In 1969, they became recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as an official breed. Since then, Shih Tzus have become one of the most popular breeds in America due to their loving personalities, adorable looks, and ease of care (they don’t require much exercise). Today, more people than ever before own a Shih Tzu or two!
8 Different Types of Shih Tzus
The modern-day Shih Tzu remains essentially unchanged from its ancestors. They are still highly sought-after pets due to their friendly demeanor, intelligence, and low-shedding coats. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, and each one is unique! We’ll be taking a look at the eight different types of Shih Tzus:
1. American Shih Tzu
American Shih Tzus are ideal family companions and have been recognized as purebred by the American Kennel Club since 1969. They come in a cute, petite frame with a square-shaped head, short neck, and a chest that looks ready to cuddle. These loyal canines have high legs that face outwards, and they typically weigh between 9 and 16 lbs while standing 11 inches tall- the perfect size for a lapdog!
A confident American Shih Tzu is an enthusiastic and friendly soul who enjoys socializing with its favorite humans and other pups just as much as regular brushing sessions.
2. European Shih Tzu
European Shih Tzus are a sight to behold! The United Kingdom Kennel Club recognized these special purebred dogs in 1946, setting them apart from their American cousins. If you look closely, European Shih Tzus have slightly bent back front legs and a wider stance than their American counterparts. They also have round heads, long necks, and broader chests to complement their unique gait.
Surprisingly, even with their different builds, they tend to be quite similar to American Shih Tzus regarding weight and height!
3. Imperial Shih Tzu
The title ‘Imperial’ Shih Tzu can be misleading as they are not purebred, nor does the National Kennel Club recognize them. That being said, if you put a standard-sized Shih Tzu and an Imperial side by side, you can tell them apart as the latter is significantly smaller.
The height of a typical Shih Tzu falls between 10 and 11 inches, while Imperial ones usually stand at only 6 to 7 inches, making them cute and chubby.
4. Black Shih Tzu
The rarest of all Shih Tzus is one with a completely black coat – no patches of white, no spots or markings – just an all-black luxurious coat. Even as these little cuties age, the color doesn’t change much – it darkens to dark silver but never disappears completely.
Moreover, they also have entirely black noses, eye rims, paw pads, and even lips! If you’re looking for a genuinely unique pup who stands out from the crowd, then look no further than the Black Shih Tzu!
5. Blue-Eyed Shih Tzu
Believe it or not, there’s an incredibly unique version of the lovable Shih Tzu with beautiful blue eyes! It’s a rare variant, usually caused when the pup is missing its black color gene. Because of the eye color, these cuties have gray or dark brown noses, lips, eye rims, and paw pads- so they have a remarkable look! It’s no doubt that these pups will turn heads wherever they go.
6. Brown Shih Tzu
Brown Shih Tzus is perhaps one of the most poetic versions of a canine buddy. Everything from their intelligent personality, bouncy attitudes, and warm colors all make them a perfect fit for any family. What distinguishes them, however, is the range of colors they can come in! Known to have brown or liver-colored fur coats, this breed can often feature an array of colors on their nose, eye rims, lips, and paw pads.
While initially, their dark tones can add a unique punch of elegance to their look, as these pups mature, it’s not uncommon to witness these colors lighten up – further highlighting the uniqueness of this particular breed.
7. Teacup Shih Tzu
With an endearingly small size, Tea-cup Shih Tzus are among the cutest companions available. They usually don’t exceed six inches in height and seven pounds in weight, which is why they get their name!
Breeders often carefully select two of the most miniature pups from the litter to create Tea-cup Shih Tzus. Unfortunately, these adorable puppies can suffer serious health complications by breeding them to stay tiny. Despite this, this significantly more minor version of the imperial Shih Tzu remains famous for those looking for a loyal and loving pet!
8. Brindle Shih Tzu
The brindle Shih Tzu is a showstopper. From dark and light patterns to stripes that are either close together or loose, these dogs have some of the most stunning coats you’ve ever seen! The unique patterning of the secondary coat color on top of their base coat color gives them an exceptional look. With so much to love about this gorgeous breed, it’s no surprise they’re considered one of the best-looking versions!
Shih Tzus Gain Worldwide Recognition
A New Adventure Begins
The story of Shih Tzus took a thrilling turn when these charming dogs ventured from the royal courts of China to the wider world. Imagine a small, fluffy dog traveling across oceans to new lands. That’s precisely what happened! In the early 20th century, Shih Tzus began their adventure westward, capturing hearts everywhere they went.
From China to Europe and Beyond
The first Shih Tzus to arrive in Europe were like celebrities. People had never seen anything like them before! These exotic pets quickly became the talk of the town. Owning a Shih Tzu was a sign of sophistication and worldly knowledge. They weren’t just dogs; they were a piece of the vast, mysterious East people could have in their homes.
A Breed for Everyone
The trend among the elite soon spread to families and dog lovers everywhere. Shih Tzus proved to be more than just pretty faces; their friendly nature and loving companionship made them ideal pets for people of all ages. They adapted well to different lifestyles in a bustling city apartment or a quiet country house.
Recognition and Love
By the mid-20th century, the Shih Tzu’s popularity soared. Kennel clubs around the world began to recognize them as an official breed. This recognition wasn’t just about their beauty but their unique character and the joy they brought to people’s lives. In 1969, the American Kennel Club officially welcomed Shih Tzus, marking a significant milestone in their journey to becoming one of the most beloved breeds.
Today’s Beloved Companions
Now, Shih Tzus are not just pets; they are family members. They’ve gone from royal companions in ancient China to beloved buddies in homes across the globe. Their story is a testament to people’s universal love for dogs, transcending cultures and continents.
A Global Pawprint
The journey of Shih Tzus from the imperial courts of China to the hearts of families worldwide is a remarkable tale of adventure, love, and companionship. These dogs have a magical way of bringing people together, making our lives fuller and happier. As we cuddle with a Shih Tzu today, we’re not just holding a pet; we’re having a piece of history that traveled the world to find its place in our homes and hearts.
Shih Tzus Care, Temperament, and Community
The Joy of Caring for a Shih Tzu
Caring for a Shih Tzu is like having a little buddy who brings happiness and love into your home. These furry friends need your care and attention, but don’t worry; it’s not as complicated as it sounds! With regular grooming, healthy food, and plenty of love, your Shih Tzu will thrive and be your loyal companion for years.
Shih Tzus are known for their beautiful, flowing coats, but keeping them looking their best requires regular grooming. Brushing their fur keeps them looking neat and helps you bond with your pet. Imagine having a little grooming session where you can chat and spend quality time with your Shih Tzu. It’s fun and builds a stronger connection between the two of you.
Healthy Eating Habits
Like us, Shih Tzus needs food to stay healthy and happy. Feeding them a balanced diet keeps their energy up and supports their overall health. Think of it as preparing a tasty and nutritious meal for a friend – you want to ensure they enjoy it and get all the nutrients they need.
Exercise and Play
Shih Tzus may be small, but they have plenty of energy! Regular playtime and walks are essential for their physical and mental health. It’s a chance for them to explore, make new friends, and, most importantly, spend time with you. Whether it’s a game of fetch or a stroll in the park, these moments are precious and bring joy to both of you.
Shih Tzus are known for their friendly and affectionate nature. They love being around their family and are great companions. Their gentle and playful temperament makes them perfect for homes with children and other pets. They’re like the friend everyone loves to have around – always ready to listen, comfort, and make you smile.
A Community of Shih Tzu Lovers
Owning a Shih Tzu opens the door to a community of dog lovers who share your passion. There are clubs, online forums, and local meet-ups where you can connect with other Shih Tzu owners. Sharing stories, tips, and experiences with others who understand the joy of having a Shih Tzu enriches your journey as a pet owner.
A Lifetime of Love and Companionship
Shih Tzus are more than just pets; they’re family members who fill our lives with love and laughter. Their care needs are a small price to pay for the immense joy and companionship they bring into our lives. Every day with a Shih Tzu is an adventure filled with cuddles, playtime, and unforgettable moments. They remind us of the simple pleasures in life and the power of unconditional love.
So there you have a brief overview of where Shih Tzus came from and eight different types of Shih Tzus, all with their unique characteristics, whether physical or temperamentally based! From humble beginnings as beloved lapdogs for Chinese royalty to some of the most popular pets in America today, these little dogs have come a long way over hundreds of years. Whether you already own one or are considering getting one for yourself or your family, we hope this article has given you a better understanding of why so many people love this unique breed!
What Does Shih Tzus Eat?
Shih Tzus are not just pets; they’re part of the family. And just like any family member, we want to ensure they eat right. These little dogs do best on high-quality food full of nutrients. It’s like packing a healthy lunchbox for your best friend daily!
How Long Do Shih Tzus Live?
One of the best parts about having a Shih Tzu is that they’re with us for a long time. These furry friends can live anywhere from 10 to 16 years! Imagine all the adventures and cuddles you’ll share. It’s like having a buddy for some of the best years of your life.
Does Shih Tzus Need a Lot of Exercises?
Shih Tzus might be small, but they have a lot of energy! They love short walks and playtime. Think of it as going on mini-adventures with your furry little explorer. But don’t worry, they also love relaxing and won’t mind if some days are more laid-back.
Are Shih Tzus Good with Kids?
Yes, Shih Tzus is great with kids! They’re gentle and patient, making them perfect playmates. It’s like having a fluffy friend who’s always ready for a tea party or a quiet storytime. Just teach kids how to handle and play with them safely.
Does Shih Tzus Get Along with Other Pets?
Shih Tzus are very friendly and can get along with other pets, including cats and dogs. They have a particular way of making friends wherever they go. Just introduce them slowly and watch them become buddies with their new furry siblings.
How Do I Choose the Right Shih Tzu?
Choosing the right Shih Tzu is like finding a new friend. Look for a puppy or dog whose personality matches your desire. Do you want a cuddly companion or an energetic playmate? Meeting them first will help you know if it’s a perfect match.