Famous Emperors and their Shih Tzu

As we delve into the fascinating world of historical figures, it’s no secret that they have been known for their opulence and eccentricity. But did you know that some of the world’s most famous emperors had a soft spot for a particular breed of dog – the Shih Tzu? That’s right! These adorable furry creatures were a part of many royal households, bringing joy and entertainment to their masters. In this article, we’ll explore the rich history of the Shih Tzu and its connection to some of the most powerful rulers in history. Get ready to be amazed at the tales of these fluffy companions and their royal owners.

Emperors and their Shih Tzu

Emperors And Their Shih Tzu
It is said that dogs are man’s best friend, and this holds true even for royalty. Throughout history, many royals have had a fondness for dogs, and the emperors of ancient China were no exception. In fact, the Shih Tzu breed was exclusively bred for the royal family and was regarded as a symbol of nobility and prosperity. These little dogs became a favorite of emperors and empresses alike, and were even depicted in paintings and other works of art. Today, the connection between emperors and their Shih Tzu dogs continues to fascinate and intrigue us. Let’s explore this royal connection and discover more about the significance of these little dogs in Chinese culture. For more information on Shih Tzu in imperial culture, check out our Shih Tzu Royal History page.

Emperor Jiajing

Emperor Jiajing, who reigned during the Ming Dynasty from 1521 to 1567, was known for his love of the Shih Tzu breed. He was so enamored with his furry companions that he even had a special kennel built in the imperial palace to house them.

The Shih Tzu, or “lion dog,” was highly valued in Chinese culture for its resemblance to a lion, an animal believed to hold protective powers. It’s possible that Emperor Jiajing saw his Shih Tzu as not only beloved pets, but also as symbols of strength and good fortune.

Emperor Jiajing’s Shih Tzu were treated royally, with their own servants and luxuries. In fact, the emperor was said to have spared no expense when it came to his dogs’ care, and his Shih Tzu were groomed daily to keep their coats exquisite. It’s also rumored that one of the emperor’s beloved Shih Tzu was known to have a special bond with him and would even accompany him during court meetings.

Despite his lavish treatment of his Shih Tzu, Emperor Jiajing’s reign was marked by political corruption and neglect of his duties as emperor. Nevertheless, his love for his Shih Tzu still stands as a testament to the breed’s significance in Chinese culture and its strong connection to royalty.

Today, the Shih Tzu remains a popular breed among dog owners, with its royal connections and reputation for being loyal and affectionate. To learn more about the role of Shih Tzu in imperial culture, visit our page on the significance of Shih Tzu in Chinese culture. Alternatively, read about more famous royal Shih Tzu on our page dedicated to Shih Tzu and royalty breeding or about how to groom your Shih Tzu like a royal on our Shih Tzu royal grooming page.

Empress Dowager Cixi

Empress Dowager Cixi is one of the most famous figures in Chinese history, not only for her political influence but also for her love of Shih Tzu dogs. The Empress was a big fan of the breed and kept several of them in the Forbidden City. The Shih Tzu was a symbol of luxury and status and was highly valued by the ruling class of China.

Empress Dowager Cixi was known for her lavish lifestyle and appreciation for beautiful things. She believed that Shih Tzu dogs were the epitome of beauty and grace, and she made sure to surround herself with them throughout her life. The Empress would often carry her Shih Tzu dogs in her sleeves during court audiences, which was seen as a sign of her love and devotion to the breed.

In addition to her personal love of Shih Tzu dogs, Empress Dowager Cixi was also responsible for promoting the breed in Chinese culture. She recognized the significance of the Shih Tzu in Chinese culture and worked to ensure that they were given the respect they deserved. Under her influence, the Shih Tzu became a highly valued breed in Chinese society, and it remains so to this day.

The Empress’s love for Shih Tzu dogs was not just limited to her personal life; she was also involved in the breeding and care of the dogs. She established a breeding program in the Imperial Palace, where she would carefully select the best specimens to continue the royal bloodline. This program ensured that only the best and healthiest Shih Tzu dogs were bred, and it helped to maintain the breed’s high status among the ruling class.

Empress Dowager Cixi was a true lover of Shih Tzu dogs, and her influence on Chinese culture and society is still felt today. The breed remains highly valued in China, and its significance in Chinese culture can be traced back to the Empress’s love and devotion towards these beautiful dogs.

If you want to learn more about the significance of Shih Tzu in Chinese culture, you can read our article “The significance of Shih Tzu in Chinese culture” which explores how the breed became so important in China. If you are interested in learning about the history of Shih Tzu breeding among royal families, you can read our article “Shih Tzu royalty breeding” which details the history of the breed and its connections to royalty.

Empress Tzu His

Empress Tzu His is known for her love for her Shih Tzu, which she called “Little Lion.” During her reign in the Tang Dynasty, she had a strong influence on the empire and was widely respected for her intelligence, wit, and beauty.

According to legend, the Empress Tzu His loved her Shih Tzu so much that she even slept with them in her bed, underneath her silk sheets, and went everywhere with them. She was often seen carrying them in her arms as she went about her duties, and it is said that she would even give them bites of her own meals.

This close bond between the Empress and her Shih Tzus is thought to reflect the importance of companionship and loyalty in Chinese culture, as well as the idea that royalty should care for all living creatures, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.

The significance of the Shih Tzu in Chinese culture can also be seen in the breed’s long history, as it is believed to have been bred by Tibetan monks for the imperial court of China as early as the 8th century. Over time, the breed became synonymous with royalty and was highly valued for its small size, affectionate nature, and glamorous appearance.

To this day, the Shih Tzu remains a popular breed, both in China and around the world. It is valued not only for its beauty and personality but also for its historical significance and royal connections.

Fun fact: In ancient China, owning a Shih Tzu was a sign of wealth and status, and these beloved little dogs were often given as gifts between royalty and aristocrats. To learn more about the significance of Shih Tzu in Chinese culture, check out our article on the subject. For more information on the history of Shih Tzu breeding and its connections to royalty, see our article on Shih Tzu breeding.

Emperor Kangxi

During the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Kangxi was known for his love of Shih Tzu. He was a devoted owner who took great care of his dogs and made sure they were well-fed and pampered. In fact, it is said that he had over 200 Shih Tzu in his imperial kennels, which were considered to be the finest in all of China.

Emperor Kangxi’s love for his Shih Tzu extended beyond just owning them, as he also commissioned artists to paint portraits of his beloved dogs. One such painting depicts two of his Shih Tzu, one with golden and one with black fur, both wearing colorful collars with bell decorations. This painting is now considered a priceless treasure and can be seen at the Palace Museum in Beijing.

Emperor Kangxi’s fondness for Shih Tzu was also reflected in his politics. He was known to frequently give Shih Tzu as gifts to foreign dignitaries, believing that they would appreciate the breed’s beauty and affectionate nature. This diplomatic gesture helped to strengthen China’s relationships with other countries and cemented the Shih Tzu’s reputation as a royal companion.

Breed:Shih Tzu
Number of dogs owned:Over 200
Imperial Kennels:Considered the finest in all of China
Commissioned Artists:To paint portraits of his beloved dogs
Diplomatic Gesture:Giving Shih Tzu as gifts to foreign dignitaries to strengthen relationships with other countries

Emperor Kangxi’s love for Shih Tzu helped to establish the breed’s reputation as not only a royal companion but also a symbol of China’s cultural legacy. Even today, the Shih Tzu remains one of the most beloved and sought-after dog breeds in the world, thanks in no small part to the influence of Emperors like Kangxi.

Emperor Qianlong

Emperor Qianlong, also known as Hongli, was the fourth Emperor of the Qing dynasty in China. He was known for his love of luxury, art, and culture. He owned a vast collection of art and antiques, including many pieces of porcelain and jade. In fact, he was so fond of jade that he called himself the “Jade Emperor.”

But Emperor Qianlong was not only a lover of art, he was also a lover of Shih Tzu dogs. In fact, he owned over 500 Shih Tzu dogs in his lifetime! These dogs were pampered and cared for by a team of attendants, who gave them special diets, grooming, and medical care.

Emperor Qianlong’s affinity for Shih Tzu dogs is evidenced by his commissioning of many paintings depicting the breed. One such painting, “One Hundred Shih Tzu,” is a depiction of 100 unique Shih Tzu dogs that he owned. This painting is now considered a national treasure in China and is on display in the Palace Museum in Beijing.

Number of Shih Tzu dogs:Over 500
Famous Painting:“One Hundred Shih Tzu”
Location of Painting:Palace Museum in Beijing

Despite his love for luxury and extravagance, Emperor Qianlong was also known for his benevolence towards his subjects. He was a philanthropist and invested heavily in the arts and education. He even wrote over 40,000 poems in his lifetime, many of which were about his beloved Shih Tzu dogs.

Emperor Qianlong’s legacy as a lover of art, culture, and dogs lives on to this day. His collection of art and antiques is considered one of the finest in the world, and his love for Shih Tzu dogs has made the breed an important part of Chinese culture.

Shih Tzu in Art and Literature

Shih Tzu In Art And Literature
The Shih Tzu breed has captivated artists and writers for centuries, with its undeniable charm and adorable appearance. From paintings to poetry, the Shih Tzu has left its mark on the world of art and literature in more ways than one. Let’s explore the ways in which this beloved breed has inspired creativity and imagination throughout the ages.

Shih Tzu in Art

As one of the oldest dog breeds, it’s not surprising that Shih Tzus have been featured prominently in art throughout history. Let’s take a look at some notable examples:

  • Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) – Shih Tzus can be found in Tang dynasty pottery, which shows that they have been treasured by the Chinese for well over a thousand years.
  • Qing Dynasty (1644-1912 AD) – During the Qing dynasty, emperors and aristocrats commissioned paintings of their beloved Shih Tzus. These works of art featured the dogs in various positions, from sitting regally to playing with their owners.
  • Renaissance – Shih Tzus also made appearances in European artwork during the Renaissance period. For example, the famous painter Albrecht Dürer included a Shih Tzu in his 1495 painting “The Virgin and Child with Four Angels.”
  • Modern Art – In modern times, Shih Tzus have continued to be a popular subject for artists. For example, the famous British artist David Hockney included his Shih Tzu, Boogie, in many of his paintings and drawings.

The enduring popularity of Shih Tzus in art can be attributed to their adorable appearance and charming personality. Their small size, round faces, and fluffy coats make them an irresistible subject for artists. Whether in ancient pottery or contemporary paintings, Shih Tzus continue to capture the hearts of art lovers around the world.

Shih Tzu in Literature

Shih Tzu, with their cute looks and playful demeanor, have found their way into the hearts of many writers and poets over the centuries. Here are some of the notable mentions of this furry companion in literature:

  • The Tale of Genji: Considered to be the world’s oldest novel, “The Tale of Genji” written in the early 11th century by Murasaki Shikibu, features a Shih Tzu dog named Ukon who is a beloved companion of Lady Rokujo.
  • The Poems of Tang Dynasty: The Tang Dynasty poets often wrote about their love for their pet dogs, including Shih Tzu. Bai Juyi, a famous Tang poet, wrote a poem about his Shih Tzu named “Princess.” It translated as: “I have a little dog, with feathers on her feet. She wags her tail when I come home, and barks with joy to greet.”
  • Oliver Twist: One of Charles Dickens’ most famous literary works, “Oliver Twist” features a character named Bill Sikes who owns a Shih Tzu named “Bull’s Eye.” While it is not clear if Dickens intended Bull’s Eye to be a Shih Tzu, the dog’s curly hair and small size suggest that it is indeed a reference to the breed.
  • Peter Pan: In J.M. Barrie’s famous novel “Peter Pan,” a Shih Tzu named Nana is the beloved nursemaid of the Darling children. Nana is depicted as a loyal and protective companion who takes her responsibilities very seriously, just like a Shih Tzu in real life.

As we can see from these examples, Shih Tzu have captured the imagination of writers and authors for centuries. Whether they are depicted as loyal companions, faithful friends, or even villains, these cute and cuddly pups have left their paw prints in the pages of literature.

Shih Tzu in Modern Times

It’s hard to believe that a dog breed dating back to ancient China still holds a special place in modern times. However, the Shih Tzu is not just any dog breed. With its adorable looks and charming personality, this small dog has won the hearts of people all over the world. In this segment, we will explore the Shih Tzu’s presence in modern-day life, including its continued popularity, representation in various media, and the celebrities who have fallen in love with this affectionate breed.

Shih Tzu Popularity Today

Shih Tzus have been a popular breed for centuries, and they still hold a special place in the hearts of dog owners today. With their cute faces and affectionate personalities, it’s no wonder that they are among the top 20 most popular dog breeds in the world.

Here are some reasons why the Shih Tzu is still so popular today:

  • Companionship: Shih Tzus are known for their loyal and affectionate personalities. They make great companions for people of all ages, from children to seniors.
  • Low-shedding: Shih Tzus have hair instead of fur, which means they shed less than other breeds. This makes them a great choice for people with allergies.
  • Small size: Shih Tzus are a small breed, which makes them great for apartment dwellers or people with limited space.
  • Ease of training: Shih Tzus are intelligent and eager to please, which makes them relatively easy to train. With consistent training and positive reinforcement, they can learn a variety of tricks and commands.
  • Long lifespan: Shih Tzus have a relatively long lifespan compared with other dog breeds, with an average lifespan of 10-16 years. This means they can be a lifelong companion for their owners.

The Shih Tzu’s popularity today can be attributed to their lovable personalities, low-shedding coats, and small size. They are a great choice for anyone who is looking for a loyal and affectionate companion.

Shih Tzu Stories in the Media

The media has shown a great interest in stories involving Shih Tzus, and there have been many heartwarming and inspiring stories that have caught the public’s attention. Here are some noteworthy Shih Tzu stories that have been covered in various media outlets:

  • Heroic Shih Tzu Saves Family from House Fire: In 2018, a Shih Tzu named Jasper saved his owners from a house fire in Calgary, Canada. The dog’s barking woke up the family, who were able to escape the fire unharmed.
  • Abandoned Shih Tzu Finds a Forever Home: In 2020, a Shih Tzu named Pepper was found abandoned and tied to a fence in a Los Angeles park. After being rescued and receiving medical attention, Pepper was adopted by a loving family who gave her a forever home.
  • Shih Tzu Stars in Viral TikTok Videos: In recent years, Shih Tzus have become quite popular on social media, especially on TikTok. One Shih Tzu named Marnie has gained millions of followers for her adorable and funny videos.
  • Shih Tzu Hospital Therapy Dog: Some Shih Tzus are trained to be therapy dogs, bringing comfort and joy to hospital patients. In 2019, a Shih Tzu named Lolly became a beloved therapy dog at the Cleveland Clinic, where she brought smiles to the faces of patients and staff alike.
  • Shih Tzu Wins Westminster Dog Show: In 2005, a Shih Tzu named Ch. Ta-Jon’s Miss Congeniality won Best in Show at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. This victory helped to increase the popularity of the breed.

These stories show how Shih Tzus can be both heroes and beloved companions, and they have helped to cement the Shih Tzu’s place in popular culture. It’s no wonder that these little dogs have captured the hearts of so many people around the world.

Shih Tzu Celebrities

When it comes to Shih Tzu celebrities, there are quite a few famous individuals who have shared their lives with these charming dogs. Here are some of the most notable:

CelebrityShih Tzu’s NameInteresting Fact
Marilyn MonroeNone specifiedMarilyn Monroe loved animals and was often photographed with dogs, including a Shih Tzu on occasion.
Bruce LeeNone specifiedBruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon, has revealed that her father had a Shih Tzu named Mr. Famous.
Bill GatesOreoBillionaire Bill Gates has been known to enjoy the company of his Shih Tzu, Oreo, who has even accompanied him on business trips.
Queen Elizabeth IIChoo ChooThe Queen’s mother, Queen Elizabeth, was a fan of the breed and passed on her love to her daughter. Queen Elizabeth II currently has a Shih Tzu named Choo Choo.
BeyonceMunchiePop superstar Beyonce has a Shih Tzu named Munchie, who has been known to appear in her social media posts.

As you can see, Shih Tzus have captured the hearts of many famous individuals throughout history, from Hollywood icons to royalty and even tech billionaires. Whether they are posing for magazine covers or keeping their owners company during business trips, these adorable dogs continue to be cherished by celebrities and everyday pet owners alike.


After delving into the history of famous emperors and their Shih Tzu companions, as well as examining the role of the breed in modern times, it’s clear that these dogs hold a special place in the hearts of many.

From Emperor Jiajing to Empress Dowager Cixi to Emperor Qianlong, Shih Tzu dogs have been loyal companions to some of the most powerful figures in history. The breed’s association with royalty and nobility has continued into modern times, with many celebrities and influencers choosing these adorable dogs as their pets.

But the appeal of the Shih Tzu goes beyond their regal history. Their charming personalities, adorable looks, and relative ease of care make them wonderful companions for people of all walks of life. From their soft, silky coats to their affectionate natures, it’s easy to see why they’ve remained such a popular breed.

And of course, we can’t forget their contributions to art and literature. Paintings, photographs, and even children’s books have prominently featured these beloved dogs, further cementing their place in popular culture.

Overall, it’s safe to say that Shih Tzus will continue to hold a special place in the hearts of dog lovers worldwide. Whether you’re a fan of their storied history, their charming personalities, or simply their cute looks, there’s no denying that these dogs have a lot to offer. So the next time you come across a Shih Tzu, take a moment to appreciate just how special these furry little friends really are.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history of the Shih Tzu breed?

The Shih Tzu has a long history, dating back to ancient China where they were raised by royalty as companion dogs.

What is the lifespan of a Shih Tzu?

The average lifespan of a Shih Tzu is around 10-16 years.

Are Shih Tzus good with children?

Yes, Shih Tzus are generally good with children as long as they are trained and socialized properly.

Do Shih Tzus shed a lot?

Yes, Shih Tzus are known for their long, silky hair and they do shed, but their shedding can be minimized with regular grooming.

Are Shih Tzus high maintenance dogs?

Yes, Shih Tzus require regular grooming to keep their coat healthy and they can be prone to health issues, making them high maintenance dogs in terms of both time and money.

What is the personality of a Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzus are known for being affectionate, loyal, and playful, making them great companions for anyone looking for a small dog with a big personality.

Do Shih Tzus make good apartment dogs?

Yes, Shih Tzus are adaptable and can do well in smaller living spaces as long as they get enough exercise and mental stimulation.

Do Shih Tzus get along well with other dogs?

Yes, with early socialization, Shih Tzus can get along well with other dogs and pets in the home.

What is the average weight of a Shih Tzu?

The average weight of a Shih Tzu is between 9-16 pounds.

What is the best way to train a Shih Tzu?

Positive reinforcement training is the best method for training a Shih Tzu, as they respond well to praise and rewards.


Britta Thygesen

Britta Thygesen

A passionate dog owner and a full-time certified dog trainer. Aspires to make DogCareHacks a go-to place for all the doggo info. Shares personal experience and professional knowledge.

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