Shih Tzu History
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According to the American Kennel Club, the Shih Tzu is one of the world’s fourteen oldest dog breeds. What the AKC does not explore is just how complex, fascinating and elusive the history of this ancient Tibetan temple dog actually is. For example:
In the sixth century B.C. a small, amiable “Lion Dog” is said to have accompanied the Buddha on his travels across India. Whenever his master was endangered, this mythical ancestor of the modern Shih Tzu would morph into a full-sized lion and kill or chase away the highwayman or wild animal that had posed a threat.

The Shih Tzu—which means “Lion Dog” in Chinese—also can boast progenitors that reportedly nursed at the breasts of royal concubines and harbored the souls of mischievous household gods.
The Shih Tzu reached its apotheosis— and evolved into roughly its current form—in the royal kennels of China’s “Dowager Empress,” Tzu Hsi (1835-1908), which were tended by the palace eunuchs.
You will find more fascinating facts and legends of Shih Tzu history in “A Brief Semi-Apocryphal History of the Lion Dog” in the book Shih Tzu Nation.
Photo: Michael Hauptschein/Photo Impressions
Portrait of Tzu Hsi by Hubert Vos