The origin of the Shih-Tzu is obscure. The Shih-Tzu originated in Tibet where it was kept in temples as a sacred dog. It is known that they were occasionally given to the Emperors of China during the Manchu dynasty (17th century) as a tribute of great honor and that is how they came to be established in China. The name "Shih Tzu" means "Lion Dog" in Chinese and he received the name because of his long, flowing mane-like coat.
In that country, the dogs became little temple dogs and were kept in the palace and carefully guarded and cared for by the court eunuchs. When the Peking Kennel Club was formed in 1934 there was much confusion as to the difference between certain small breeds. In 1938 an individual standard was set for the Shih-Tzu and it was recognized as a separate breed from certain other Tibetan breeds.
With the war and the takeover of Peking in 1949 there were no more exported from China. In 1952 there was a strong fear that the breed was developing poor structure and it was decided to cross a Pekingese into the line in England. The purpose was to obtain a less leggy dog with a better coat and shorter muzzle. This was accomplished, however the bowed front legs of the Pekingese are something that still can be seen on some Shih-Tzu today.
There was also a faction in England called the Manchu Club that believed a smaller dog better represented the ture heritage of the temple dogs. The Kennel Club recognized this in their 1938 standard by stating the ideal weight was between 9 to 16 pounds which is what the current standard recognizes.
The Shih Tzu is a sturdy, lively, toy dog with a long flowing double coat. He has a distinctively arrogant carriage with head well up and tail curved over the back.
He may display an arrogant personality, but is actually playful and gentle. He adapts well to any family situation and will enjoy a cuddle in your lap, doing tricks, or fetching a tennis ball or other types of toys. The Shih Tzu is found to be very loyal and trusting and begs to be a member of the family unit.