20 Cool Facts You Didn’t Know About the Shih Tzu

They are called “Dynasty Dogs”. They are regal looking Shih Tzu originated in Tibet and lived a pampered life as it was bred in the Chinese Imperial Palace long ago. The Shih Tzu, also known as “little lion” and the “chrysanthemum dog” is a wonderful companion dog. The dogs are happy, energetic, alert, loyal and affectionate. With a bit of a stubborn streak, the Shih Tzu still loves those that live in its household and even other people and other dogs. Its long silky hair and rounded teddy bear face make this toy dog a beloved pet. Although a bit high maintenance, the Shih Tzu makes a wonderful pet and is a pro in the dog show circuit. The Shih Tzu is unique because it is a breed that is both glamorous and athletic. Here are 20 cool facts you didn’t know about the Shih Tzu.

1. Origins

The Shih Tzu is believed to have originated on the Tibetan Plateau. The breed was more than likely developed by Tibetan monks. It’s believed that the monks offered the dogs as gifts to Chinese emperors. Images of the Shih Tzu appear in tapestries over 2000 years old. The Buddhist monks most likely bred the dogs to look like little lions as lions are an important part of Buddhist mythology. In Chinese, Shih Tzu means “Lion Dog”. The dogs’ regal look made them popular in the Imperial Chinese court. Palace eunuchs bred the little dogs and they were considered palace pets. During some dynasties, people living outside of the Imperial Palace were not able to own a Shih Tzu. The Shih Tzu led a pampered life in the Palace. Nobel women carried them in their robes. The dogs were often used to warm the beds of royalty.

Shih Tzu

2. Purebred

The Shih Tzu is not considered to pure bred until the mid-nineteenth century. That is when the Dalai Lama presented Empress Tzu Hsi with a pair of purely bred Shih Tzus. The Chinese Empire gifted the beautiful small long haired dogs to nobility in England and other parts of Europe. The first Shih Tzus began to arrive in the United States in the late 1930’s. The numbers increased dramatically during the 1940’s and 1950’s. This is due to the fact that American soldiers stationed in England brought Shih Tzus home with them when they returend to their families. The Shih Tzu breed’s popularity dramatically increased during the 1960’s. The breed remains very popular in the United States today. All pure bred Shih Tzus are related too the Chinese bloodline.

Shih Tzu

3. Name

The name Shih Tzu is derived from the Chinese term Shizigou. This means “lion sun dog”. The dog breed has also been called little lion. Another popular nickname for the Shih Tzu is the Chrysanthemum Dog. This is because of the way its facial hair grows out from its nose. This cute little lap dog has a face that looks like a Chrysanthemum flower with a cute little black button nose in the center.

4. General Appearance

The Shih Tzu is a small toy companion breed with a notable long, silky coat. The dogs are longer than they are tall. The average Shih Tzu weighs between 9 and 16 pounds and stands about 9 to 10 inches. The dog is small but sturdy. The Shih Tzu has a short muzzle and big dark colored eyes. Its ears drop and are covered with long hair. The dog has a pronounced under bite which is a breed standard. The Shih Tzu’s tail is covered in thick fur and curls backward over the dog’s body. In keeping with its regal lion name, the Shih Tzu carries itself with an air of arrogance and distinction.

Shih Tzu

5. Coat

Its coat is one of the defining characteristics of the Shih Tzu. The hair is long and silky. It’s also fast growing and often reaches the floor. As mentioned, the Shih Tzu’s facial hair extends from its nose like a flower so the Shih Tzu’s face looks like a chrysanthemum. The long body hair can be wavy or coarse. The coat comes in a variety of colors but is typically white with brown or gray. Other coat colors include solid white, black, brown, gold, liver, red, silver and blue. The coat can come in a variety of color combinations and patterns including black and white, liver and white, red and white, brindle and tri-color. The Shih Tzu often has darker brown pigments at its shoulders and between its arm pits. The coat features a warming undercoat. Despite this, the dog doesn’t shed that much. Although the dogs are often advertised as hypoallergenic, this is not completely true. Some people with fur allergies do find that being around a Shih Tzu does not cause problems.

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