A small member of the Utility Group of dogs, the Shih Tzu was developed in Peking, China during the 17th century by introducing Tibet’s Lhasa Apso to the Pekingese to create one of the world’s most favourite companion dogs.

That at least is the commonly held belief as to the origins of the Shih Tzu. There are others, but that is the most likely. That this development took place during the Tang Dynasty, which ruled China between 618 and 907 AD, can never be proven, but certainly by the early part of the 17th century dogs looking uncannily like today’s Shih Tzu began to appear in Chinese paintings.

Much later, during the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the mid 1960s, the Shih Tzu breed was almost wiped out completely. It is actually believed to have become extinct in its native China, only being saved by a small number of dogs brought to Europe in the 1930s, and from which every Shih Tzu today can be traced back.

The Shih Tzu was introduced into The Kennel Club in 1946, and remains to this day one of the most popular breeds of companion dog, the purpose for which it was originally created all those centuries ago.