Let's Know A Little Bit More About Shih Tzu!

Shih Tzu, an ancient Chinese breed that today is known as one of the most popular pet choices. A dog breed that resembles a lion and even nicknamed " The Lion Dog, " this miniature dog is one of the most sought after dogs courtesy of their interesting characteristics and inevitable cuteness. Here are the 10 fun facts of Shih Tzu! 

 

Fun Fact #1 : Old Breed

 

The Shih Tzu's exact origins remain mysterious because the breed has been around for thousands of years, and the details of its development are lost. There are Chinese paintings dating back to around the year 500 C.E. that depict dogs believed to be Shih Tzus. There are also documents describing the dogs as gifts to China from the Byzantine Empire. According to one popular theory, the breed was started in Tibet by Buddhist monks and eventually made its way to China. 

 

 Fun Fact #2 : Lion Dog

The Mandarin phrase "Shih Tzu" translates to little lion. The Shih Tzu was likely given this name because of its association with the Tibetan Buddhist God of Learning, who, according to legend, traveled with a small lion dog that could transform into a full-sized lion. There is some confusion about how to pronounce the name Shih Tzu.  Pronounced "Sheed zoo" it means lion in Chinese.



Fun Fact #3 : Descendants of Wolves

They may not look like it, but the modest Shih Tzu is more closely related to wolves than many fiercer-looking breeds. In 2004, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle tested the genetic data of 414 dogs from 85 different breeds. They concluded that Asian breeds, from the imposing Akita all the way down to the diminutive Pekingese, are some of the oldest and most closely related to "Canis lupusfamiliaris's  wolf ancestors. 

Fun Fact #4 : Tibetan Monks 

People commonly associate the Shih Tzu with China, but they actually came from China's western neighbor, Tibet, which was a sovereign nation until the 1950s. Tibet probably sent dogs to the Chinese royalty as gifts. The Chinese then bred them with Pekingese or Pugs to create the modern day Shih Tzu. Shih Tzus and similar breeds were present in Tibetan Buddhist Temple, where Tibetan monks revered the dogs as holy. More than just companion animals, these Shih Tzus worked beside the monks, acting as guard dogs or alarm dogs, and even turning prayer wheels during daily Buddhist prayer rituals.

Fun Fact #5 : Ming Dynasty 

Shih Tzus have been popular in China for centuries, but particularly during the Ming dynasty lasting 1368-1644 A.D. Shih Tzus served as house dogs for the royal family during most of those years. They remained popular throughout further dynasties too, but nearly went extinct in China following the Communist Revolution.

Fun Fact #6 : Chrysanthemum Dogs

 
While the breed's name means "lion dog," Shih Tzus are also nicknamed "Chrysanthemum Dogs." The nickname reflects an apparent resemblance between the the long hair on Shih Tzus' faces and the petals of a chrysanthemum flower. It's also an indirect reference to the breed's Chinese heritage, because chrysanthemums are important Chinese cultural symbols.


Fun Fact #7 : 14 Dogs

 

As with other Chinese dog breeds, the Shih Tzus were nearly wiped out when the Communist party began its takeover during the early 20th century.  Luckily for Shih Tzu lovers, some dedicated fanciers protected the breed and seven males and seven females survived. General Douglas and Lady Brownrigg imported a few of the dogs to the U.K. in 1930. The Brownriggs owned Shih Tzus named Ta Chi, Shu Ssa, Yangtse and Tzu Hsi. All modern Shih Tzus can be traced to 14 of all these dogs brought to England in the 1930's. These 14 dogs were responsible for rebuilding the entire line. 

 

Fun Fact #8 : US Debut

After Shih Tzus were imported to England from China, the English exported them to other countries in Europe. World War II introduced American military personnel stationed overseas to dog breeds unknown in the United States. Many soldiers returning from the European theater brought Shih Tzus back with them, and the breed quickly gained popularity among American dog lovers. According to the American Kennel Club, the Shih Tzus come in 14 different colors and three different markings. 

Fun Fact #9 : Athletic

Given the long flowing coats of Shih Tzu show dogs, we tend to think of this breed as more glamorous than sporty. But underneath that gorgeous coat is a muscular body that can perform well in agility. Many Shih Tzu have won agility competitions. In 2014, a Shih Tzu became the first of his breed to win both a champion title and an agility title.


10. Tricky in Training

Before you get a Shih Tzu, consider how much free time you have. The little dogs are notoriously difficult to train and it takes a lot of patience to housebreak them. In fact, it can take around forty to fifty repetitions of a bathroom routine before the stubborn pup catches on. Owners are urged to start training immediately at puppyhood so irreversible bad habits don’t form.