The Shih Tzu is a beloved dog breed with a rich history that spans over centuries. This breed has become a popular choice for many dog owners due to its adorable looks, friendly demeanor, and easy-going nature.

In this article, we will delve into the historical context of the Shih Tzu, including its origins, development, and any significant events or figures that played a role in its evolution.

Origins of the Shih Tzu

The origins of the Shih Tzu can be traced back to ancient China, where they were highly regarded as companion dogs for imperial families. The breed’s name comes from the Chinese word “Shih Tzu,” which means “lion dog,” due to its lion-like appearance. The Shih Tzu was bred by crossing various breeds, including the Pekingese and the Lhasa Apso, to create a small and affectionate companion dog.

Development of the Shih Tzu

During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Shih Tzu was highly valued and often given as gifts to royalty and high-ranking officials. In fact, it was during this time that the Shih Tzu’s distinctive appearance was developed. The breed was further refined during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), where it was kept in the imperial palace as a cherished pet.

However, during the fall of the Qing Dynasty in the early 1900s, the breed nearly went extinct. Fortunately, a few Shih Tzu dogs were saved by Chinese and European breeders who worked to preserve the breed’s unique qualities. The Shih Tzu eventually made its way to England in the 1930s and quickly became popular among dog enthusiasts.

Significant Figures in the Evolution of the Shih Tzu

Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV of France, is believed to have owned a Shih Tzu during the 18th century. Additionally, Dowager Empress Cixi, who ruled China during the late 19th century, was a known lover of the breed and is credited with saving the Shih Tzu from extinction.

The breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1969 and has since become a popular breed among families and dog lovers worldwide. The Shih Tzu’s friendly nature, affectionate personality, and loyalty have made it a beloved companion dog.


The Shih Tzu is a dog breed with a rich history that dates back to ancient China. Despite nearly going extinct during the fall of the Qing Dynasty, the breed was saved by dedicated breeders who worked to preserve its unique qualities. Today, the Shih Tzu is a popular breed among families and dog enthusiasts worldwide, known for its adorable looks and affectionate nature. Understanding the historical context of the Shih Tzu allows us to appreciate this beloved breed even more.

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Author: Jane