Shih Tzu History
Our origin is still somewhat obscure, veiled with a certain amount of myth. There are documents, paintings, and other art objects possibly dating us back to A.D.624.
Legend traces our origin to the temples in Tibet where we were little “lion dogs” and were highly honored. We were considered a sacred animal and some believed the souls of erred monks enter our bodies. It is generally believed we were kept in the temples, labeled “holy dogs” and given to emperors of China as a tribute gift of great honor.
Although our origin seems to have been in Tibet, we are classified as a Chinese dog. In China we were referred to as the “little temple dogs” and were kept in the palace, carefully guarded and cared for by the court eunuchs. During the Manchu Dynasty (17 Century) pairs of us were presented to distinguished visitors as a token of good will and good luck.
We found our way to Ireland, Scandinavia and England then to America in the late 1930’s. We were recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1955 and obtain our show classification in the Top Group in 1969 when 2,811 of us were registered.