Shih Poo: A Treasured Breed in Chinese Royalty

As we delve into the intriguing history of Chinese royalty, one particular furry creature has captured our attention – the enigmatic Shih Poo. With its charming looks and adorable demeanor, this beloved breed has been a symbol of royalty for centuries. However, the origin of the Shih Poo is shrouded in mystery and debate, with some claiming it is a relatively new crossbreed, while others trace its lineage back to ancient Chinese dynasties. In this article, we will embark on a journey to uncover the fascinating history of the Shih Poo in Chinese royalty and discover the truths about its mysterious origins.

Origin of the Shih Poo

Origin Of The Shih Poo
The mysterious origins of the Shih Poo breed have fascinated many dog lovers for years. Combining the best of both worlds, the Shih Poo is a cross-breed between the regal Shih Tzu and the elegant Poodle. It is said that the Shih Poo’s origins can be traced back to ancient China, where the breed was highly valued by the Chinese royalty. However, the exact details of how and when this charming designer breed came into existence remain shrouded in myth and legend. To learn more about the fascinating origin of the Shih Poo, check out our article on the origin of the Shih Poo breed.

The Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a small dog breed that originated in China over a thousand years ago. They were developed by royal breeders during the Tang dynasty, and were highly esteemed by Chinese royalty for their charming disposition and luxurious coat. Shih Tzus were considered to be a symbol of royalty and were a prized possession in Chinese palaces.

Appearance: Shih Tzus are characterized by their long, silky hair and small size, typically weighing between 9 and 16 pounds. They have a distinctive flat face and large, expressive eyes that give them a gentle and affectionate expression.

Temperament: These lap dogs are known for their friendly and affectionate personalities, making them ideal as companion animals. They are intelligent, outgoing, and loyal, and they love spending time with their owners. Despite their small size, they are confident and independent, making them a great choice for novice dog owners.

Health: Shih Tzus are generally healthy dogs, but they can be prone to certain health problems. They may develop respiratory issues due to their flat faces, and may also experience eye problems, allergies, and skin issues. Regular grooming is essential to keep their long hair free of mats and tangles.

The Shih Tzu is a beloved breed that has captured the hearts of dog lovers all over the world. Its luxurious coat, charming personality, and interesting history have made it a favorite among Chinese royalty for centuries. Today, Shih Tzus remain as popular as ever, and are beloved by families all over the globe.

The Poodle

The Poodle is a breed of dog that originated in Germany, but it was not long before it gained popularity in France. This breed comes in three sizes: standard, miniature, and toy. Poodles are known for their curly, hypoallergenic coats and their cute appearance. While they are often associated with being pampered lap dogs, they were actually bred to be hunting dogs.

Origins of the Poodle

The Poodle’s origins can be traced back to the fifteenth century when they were bred in Germany to be water retrievers. However, it wasn’t until they were brought to France that they became popular as a fashionable companion dog.

The Poodle’s Characteristics

Poodles are a highly intelligent breed with a gentle and loving nature. They are also very trainable and active dogs, which makes them ideal for many families. In addition to their hypoallergenic coat, Poodles are known for their distinctive haircuts which have become a popular form of grooming.

Poodle and the Shih Poo

Like the Shih Tzu, the Poodle has also become a popular dog for cross-breeding. The Shih Poo, a cross between the Shih Tzu and the Poodle, has become a popular designer breed in recent years due to its hypoallergenic coat and adorable appearance.

If you are interested in learning more about the evolution of the Shih Tzu and Poodle breeds, please read our article about the evolution of Shih Tzu and Poodle breeds. If you want to learn more about the Chinese and European culture behind the Shih Poo origins, read this article on Chinese and European culture behind the Shih Poo origins.

The Cross-Breed

The Shih Poo is a cross-breed that originates from the Shih Tzu and the Poodle. The exact origins of this specific cross-breed are unclear, but it is speculated to have been first bred in the United States during the 1980s as part of the designer breed trend.

The Shih Tzu is an ancient Chinese breed that has been around for over a thousand years. They were originally bred to be lap dogs for Chinese royalty, with a fluffy and silky coat that resembles a lion’s mane. The Shih Tzu was highly valued by the Chinese royals because they were believed to bring good fortune and luck. These dogs were often depicted in paintings and sculptures in ancient China.

The Poodle, on the other hand, is a well-known breed that originated in Germany, where it was developed as a water retriever. They are highly intelligent and were popular among European aristocrats as well. Poodles are known for their hypoallergenic curly fur, which doesn’t shed and is less likely to cause allergies.

The cross-breeding of these two breeds resulted in the Shih Poo, which is a small dog that typically weighs between 7 and 20 pounds. They have a coat that can be curly, wavy, or straight, and can come in a variety of colors including black, white, brown, and gray.

Here is a table that shows the characteristics of the Shih Tzu and Poodle that contribute to the Shih Poo breed:

Shih TzuPoodle
Small sizeIntelligence
Fluffy coatNon-shedding fur
Affectionate and loyalHypoallergenic

While the Shih Poo is considered a relatively new breed, it has gained popularity in recent years due to its cute and cuddly appearance, as well as its friendly and sociable personality. Some people appreciate the fact that they have a mix of both breeds, as they can inherit the best characteristics of both.

If you want to learn more about designer breeds like the Shih Poo, you can read our article on the Shih Poo as a Designer Breed.

Shih Poos in Chinese Royalty

Shih Poos In Chinese Royalty
During ancient times, royals and nobles were fond of pets, especially the small and cute ones. Dogs, in particular, were highly valued for their loyalty and companionship. One of the breeds that stood out in the eyes of Chinese royalty was the Shih Poo – a cross-breed between the Shih Tzu and Poodle. These tiny dogs were adored by the royal families for their adorable looks, playful nature, intelligence, and ability to adapt to palace life. However, Shih Poos were not only confined to the palace walls, as they also served as gifts for anyone who might have done a favor to the emperor, further cementing their place in the aristocratic society. Let’s delve deeper into the historical significance of these charming dogs in the Chinese monarchy.

Forbidden City

During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Shih Poos were highly prized among Chinese royalty and nobility. They were especially popular in the Forbidden City, where members of the imperial family and their court resided. Shih Poos were considered a symbol of wealth and status, and it was not uncommon for royal families to own several of them.

Shih Poos were highly valued as companions because of their small size and affectionate nature. They were often kept as lap dogs and were known to cuddle with their owners for hours on end. In addition to being loving pets, Shih Poos were also highly valued for their beauty. They were often adorned with lavish accessories, including jeweled collars and embroidered jackets.

In the Forbidden City, Shih Poos were treated like royalty. They were given special care and attention, including daily grooming and massages. They were also fed a diet of the finest meats and vegetables, befitting their status as palace pets.

Shih Poos played an important role in the daily lives of the imperial family and their court. They were often given as gifts to visiting dignitaries and were even used to diffuse tense diplomatic situations. The small dogs were also used as messenger dogs, tasked with delivering important messages between members of the imperial court.

Shih Poos had a significant impact on the culture of China during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. They were beloved by the royal family and were considered a symbol of wealth and status. Their popularity in the Forbidden City helped to cement their place in Chinese history as a cherished and respected breed.

Palace Pets

The Shih Poo became popular as a palace pet in the Chinese royalty during the Ming Dynasty. They became favorites of the imperial family and were often seen being carried by the Empress and her ladies-in-waiting. Shih Poos were considered a luxury item and were often adorned with accessories like collars made of precious stones and embroidered clothing.

These royal pets were treated like members of the family and were given the best food, living arrangements, and medical care. They were bred specifically to be smaller in size so they could be easily carried and pampered. It is said that these beloved pets were even trained to use silk pads instead of normal puppy pads.

To give you an idea of just how important these pets were in the imperial court, we have compiled a table of some well-known Shih Poos which lived in the Forbidden City:

NameOwnerNotable Features
Bei BeiEmpress Dowager CixiAdorned in precious jewels and carried in a gold-plated basket
TianjoyEmperor GuangxuKnown for his vibrant coat of apricot and white fur
QingqingEmperor TongzhiHad a knack for hunting rodents in the palace garden

The Shih Poo’s reputation as a palace pet continued into the Qing Dynasty and they remained popular until the fall of the empire. Even after the end of the dynasty, the Shih Poo’s legacy lived on as they continued to be popular among the elite.

The Shih Poo’s history as a palace pet in Chinese royalty highlights their importance and value. They were not just cute companions, but also symbols of luxury and refinement.

Shih Poos as Gifts

In Chinese culture, gifts hold a special place of importance, and royal gifts were no exception. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, it became a custom to give Shih Poos as gifts to foreign dignitaries and wealthy businessmen. These dogs were highly valued for their unique features, including their intelligence, loyalty, and hypoallergenic fur.

The Practice of Giving Shih Poos as Gifts

Members of the Chinese court believed that giving a Shih Poo as a gift would not only showcase their wealth and generosity, but it would also be a diplomatic gesture of goodwill. These dogs were also seen as symbols of good fortune, which is why they were highly coveted by those who received them. Shih Poos were especially appreciated by foreign dignitaries, who were unfamiliar with this unique crossbreed.

The Value of Shih Poos as Gifts

The Shih Poo had a high monetary value, which further emphasized the extravagance of this gift. It was not uncommon for the dogs to be adorned with jewels or fancy collars, further increasing their value. The recipient of a Shih Poo as a gift was expected to take excellent care of the animal and keep it safe from harm.

To showcase the dog’s beauty, it was often groomed and given a specific hairstyle that differed from the traditional Shih Tzu look. The Poodle’s curly fur added a distinctive twist to the Shih Tzu’s traditional long, straight fur. The resulting mix was unique and highly valued by those who owned one.

Legacy of Shih Poos as Gifts

While the Ming and Qing dynasties have come and gone, the tradition of giving Shih Poos as gifts has continued into the modern-day. These dogs are still highly sought after and revered by those who own them. Even though their value as a gift has decreased, they still represent good fortune, and their intelligence, loyalty, and hypoallergenic fur make them perfect family pets.

Benefits of Shih Poos as GiftsValue of Shih Poos as GiftsLegacy of Shih Poos as Gifts
Symbol of goodwill and generosityHigh monetary value and often adorned with jewelsContinued use as a family pet and representation of good fortune
Highly valued due to unique appearance and traitsExpected recipient to take excellent care of the animal
Jewelry and fancy collars added further value

Shih Poos were highly valued as gifts in Chinese Royal culture due to their unique appearance, traits, and monetary value. The tradition of giving these dogs as diplomatic gestures of goodwill has continued into the modern-day, where their intelligence, loyalty, and hypoallergenic fur make them highly sought after as family pets.

Decline and Resurgence of the Shih Poo

The story of the Shih Poo is not without its ups and downs. While this adorable cross-breed once held a place of high esteem in the Chinese royal court, their popularity eventually waned during a time of revolution in China. However, the Shih Poo has experienced a modern resurgence, capturing the hearts of many pet owners around the world. Let’s explore the fascinating history of the decline and resurgence of the Shih Poo, and how this breed has weathered the test of time.

Decline During Revolution

During the Chinese Revolution, many aristocrats and wealthy families were forced to leave their homes and abandon their belongings. This included their beloved Shih Poos. These dogs were seen as a symbol of the elite class and were often associated with the old regime. As a result, they were either abandoned or killed.

The decline of the Shih Poo during this period was a major blow to the breed’s popularity in China. The once sought-after dogs were now associated with a despised ruling class and their owners were forced to flee the country with little to no possessions. With the rise of communism in China, owning a Shih Poo became even more taboo and was discouraged by the new government.

Despite the decline in China, the breed continued to thrive internationally. Shih Poos became a popular choice among celebrities and wealthy individuals in the Western world. However, the breed’s popularity in China did not recover until much later.

It was not until the late 20th century that Shih Poos began to regain their popularity in China. With the country opening up to the rest of the world and becoming more modernized, the once-taboo breed found a new audience. Today, Shih Poos are once again beloved pets in China and around the world.

The decline of the Shih Poo during the Chinese Revolution serves as a reminder of the impact political and social upheaval can have on even the smallest aspects of society. Despite the challenges they faced, the breed has persevered and continues to bring joy to families around the world.

Western Popularity

Following the decline in popularity of the Shih Poo in China during the revolution, the breed began to gain popularity in the West. This was due to the rise of the designer dog trend in the 20th century, which saw a surge in crossbreed demand. The Shih Poo was one of the many breeds that became popular in the West during this time.

Here are some reasons for the Western popularity of Shih Poos:

  • Their hypoallergenic coat: Shih Poos shed very little, making them an ideal candidate for people with allergies.
  • Their social nature: Shih Poos are highly sociable dogs, making them perfect for families and households with children.
  • Their unique appearance: The Shih Poo’s distinct and adorable appearance quickly made it a highly sought-after breed among dog lovers.
  • Their adaptability: Shih Poos adapt well to different environments, from city apartments to suburban homes.

Today, Shih Poos can be found all over the world in many households, and continue to grow in popularity. With their cute, friendly and adaptable nature, it’s easy to see why this crossbreed has become a beloved addition to many families.

Modern Development

The modern development of Shih Poos has taken a more intentional and focused approach to breeding. Breeders are now aiming to produce puppies with more consistent traits and fewer health issues. With the use of advanced genetic testing and breeding techniques, Shih Poos now have a higher chance of being healthier and happier throughout their lives.

Some breeders have also developed a keen interest in enhancing the intelligence and agility of Shih Poos. This has led to the training and participation of Shih Poos in various dog sports such as agility, obedience, and even dock diving.

Additionally, the recent rise of social media has brought Shih Poos into the spotlight, as many pet influencers now own and showcase their furry companions online. This exposure has contributed to the popularity of the breed as more people discover and fall in love with the Shih Poo’s charming personality and adorable looks.

It is worth noting that there has been some controversy surrounding the breeding of Shih Poos, as some are concerned about the welfare of the parent breeds. However, responsible breeders continue to prioritize the health and well-being of their dogs above everything else. With proper care and attention, Shih Poos can live long and happy lives as cherished members of their families.

The modern development of Shih Poos has been focused on enhancing their already lovable traits while also ensuring their health and well-being. As their popularity continues to grow, it is essential that breeders and future owners prioritize the welfare of these adorable dogs.


After exploring the historical importance of the Shih Poo in Chinese royalty, it is clear that this dog breed holds a significant place in the country’s history. The cross-breeding of Shih Tzus and Poodles resulted in an adorable and intelligent breed that quickly became a favorite among Chinese royals.

From being Palace Pets to serving as prestigious gifts, Shih Poos were highly valued by royalty and symbolized wealth and luxury. However, with the decline of the Chinese royalty and the rise of the Communist revolution, these cute dogs faced a decline in popularity in China.

Despite their decline in China, Shih Poos found a resurgence in the Western world due to their loving nature, intelligence, and hypoallergenic coat. Today, Shih Poos are cherished pets worldwide and continue to grow in popularity.

Looking back at the history of Shih Poos in Chinese royalty and their modern-day resurgence, it is clear that they hold a special place in the hearts of dog lovers around the world. This crossbreed continues to bring joy and comfort to their owners and will always remain an important part of canine history.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Shih Poo?

A Shih Poo is a small designer dog breed that is a cross between a Shih Tzu and a Poodle.

What is the origin of the Shih Poo?

The Shih Poo is a hybrid breed that originated in the United States during the 1970s.

What is a Shih Tzu?

A Shih Tzu is a small toy dog breed that originated in China more than 1,000 years ago.

What is a Poodle?

A Poodle is a medium-sized dog breed that originated in Germany more than 400 years ago.

Why did the Chinese royalty have Shih Poos as pets?

Shih Poos were highly valued in Chinese royalty due to their adorable appearance, intelligence, and friendly nature.

What was the role of Shih Poos in the Forbidden City?

Shih Poos were kept as pets in the Forbidden City and were also used as alarm dogs to alert the guards in case of any intruders.

Why did the popularity of Shih Poos decline during the revolution?

During the revolution in China, the Communist Party considered pet ownership a bourgeois luxury and discouraged it, leading to a decline in the popularity of Shih Poos.

When did Shih Poos become popular in Western countries?

Shih Poos became popular in Western countries during the 1990s.

What is the temperament of Shih Poos?

Shih Poos are friendly, affectionate, and intelligent dogs that make great family pets.

What is the lifespan of a Shih Poo?

The average lifespan of a Shih Poo is around 10 to 15 years.


Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DoggoLab, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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