The History of Shih Tzu’s Popularity Among Royals

It’s no secret that certain dog breeds have become quite popular among royals throughout history. One such breed is the Shih Tzu, a small and adorable dog that has captured the hearts of many. However, have you ever wondered how this breed became so popular among the royal families? What is it about the Shih Tzu that makes them such treasured companions to monarchs throughout history? In this article, we will take a closer look at the history and royal connection of the Shih Tzu, their role as treasured companions, and their place in modern royal families. Join us as we explore the fascinating world of these beloved pups.

The Origin of Shih Tzu

The Origin Of Shih Tzu
The history of the Shih Tzu breed is as intricate and fascinating as the breed itself. With Chinese origins dating back thousands of years, there are plenty of legends and myths surrounding the breed’s origins. One of the most well-known stories is that Confucius himself bred small lion-like dogs, which were said to be the ancestors of the Shih Tzu. However, this claim is widely contested, and it’s likely that the breed was created through careful breeding and selection by the Chinese imperial court. In this section, we will explore the fascinating history of the Shih Tzu, from its role in Chinese culture to its journey to becoming beloved by royalty. For more information on the royal history of the Shih Tzu, check out our page about Shih Tzu Royal History.

1.1 History of Shih Tzu

The history of Shih Tzu is a fascinating journey that tells us about this beloved dog breed’s origin and how it became so popular among the royals. Shih Tzu originated in China, and they’ve been around for centuries. Chinese royalty had a great love for these dogs, and it’s believed that they were kept as pets in the Imperial Palace.

Shih Tzu’s significance in Chinese culture is immense. In ancient China, they were bred to resemble tiny lions, which were regarded as sacred and kept in temples. The importance of this dog breed in Chinese culture is so great that it’s considered one of the 14 breeds indigenous to China, and it’s also a symbol of good fortune.

The breeding of the Shih Tzu by royals was an essential part of this breed’s history. Emperors and royals used to be the only ones who could own Shih Tzus, and they treated them like prized possessions. This exclusivity is one of the reasons that Shih Tzus became so highly coveted in China.

This breed’s grooming regimen is different from most dogs, and it’s another aspect of their history that is unique. Shih Tzus are known for their long, silky hair that requires a lot of care. In the past, the grooming of shih tzu used to be done by the palace eunuchs who had a specific role for grooming the dogs. They would take care of their coats and keep them looking immaculate. Even today, grooming shih tzu properly is considered an art form, and it requires a lot of specialization.

The history of Shih Tzu is fascinating, and it tells us how this breed became popular among the royals. Its significance in Chinese culture and its association with the Chinese Imperial Palace only add to the breed’s allure. The breeding and grooming practices of shih tzu have played a significant role in making this dog breed a sought-after one. To dive deeper into Shih Tzu’s history, check out our article on Shih Tzu in the Imperial Palace.

1.2 Royal Connection

Shih Tzu is a breed that has been associated with the royals for centuries. These small, fluffy dogs from China have always been a symbol of luxury and elegance. The royal connection can be traced back to the ancient Chinese emperors who were known to keep Shih Tzus as their cherished pets. The breed was considered so special that it was kept in the imperial palace and was only gifted to the royals as a symbol of honor.

Shih Tzus were held in such high esteem that they became a symbol of royalty in Chinese culture. It was believed that they brought good luck and fortune to their owners. The breed’s popularity quickly spread to other royal families in Asia, including in Tibet and Japan.

It was not until the 20th century that Shih Tzus were introduced to the western world. But once they were, they quickly became very popular among the royals there as well. Queen Elizabeth II of England and her royal family are known for their love of dogs, particularly Corgis and Shih Tzus. The Queen was gifted her first Shih Tzu named “Choo Choo” from her sister, Princess Margaret in 1969. Since then, the breed has become a regular fixture at Buckingham Palace.

It’s no wonder that the Shih Tzu is so well-loved by royalty. These dogs are not only beautiful and elegant, but they are also loyal and affectionate companions. Their charming personalities make them the perfect pet for anyone, royalty, or not. The significance of Shih Tzu in Chinese culture is remarkable and their long journey to become favored by royalty is quite intriguing. Today, the Shih Tzu is still treasured by many individuals and families around the world because of their origin and unique characteristics. If you want to learn more about the history and legacy of Shih Tzu, you can check out this informative article on famous emperors and Shih Tzu.

Shih Tzu as Treasured Companions

Shih Tzu As Treasured Companions
When you take a closer look into the history of the Shih Tzu, it becomes clear that this breed is not only fascinating because of its royal background, but also because of its unique qualities as a pet. Treasured companions is the perfect phrase to describe the position that Shih Tzus have had in the households of royals for centuries. This breed is known for its loyalty, playfulness, and intelligence that make it a great addition to any family, including the royal ones! Whether it’s their ability to bring joy or their adaptability to lavish lifestyle, Shih Tzu’s have carved a special place in the hearts of their owners throughout time. Let’s explore the royal breeding that contributed to making them perfect companions of royalties today.

2.1 Royal Love for Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu became a favorite among royal families throughout history due to their undoubted charm, grace, and affectionate demeanor. Their luxurious coats and small size made them perfect lap dogs that could easily travel with royalty, and it wasn’t just queens who fell in love with this breed – kings were also known to hold a special place in their hearts for the shih tzu.

Here are some examples of royals who adored their shih tzus:

  • Empress Dowager Cixi of China kept a kennel of shih tzus and considered them to be a symbol of wealth and status. She even had a special palace built for them, where they were tended to by servants and treated to only the finest food and grooming. This demonstrates the significance of shih tzu in Chinese culture.
  • Queen Victoria of England was also enamored with shih tzus, owning several throughout her reign. She even wrote about her beloved pets in her diary, stating that they were “quite charming”. Rumor has it that her passion for the breed inspired other members of European nobility to follow suit and adopt shih tzus themselves.
  • Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon was another royal who loved shih tzus. She owned two named Tippy and Cindy who were her constant companions. They were often seen accompanying her on royal duties and were even included in official photographs.

These are just a few examples of how shih tzus have captured the hearts of the royal family members throughout history. These treasured companions are still popular choices among modern-day royals, who continue to appreciate their elegance, loyalty, and affectionate nature. Want to know more about how shih tzus have evolved over the years in royal grooming practices? Check out our article on shih tzu royal grooming.

2.2 Shih Tzu in Art & Literature

Shih Tzu has been immortalized in numerous works of art and literature throughout history. They have been a popular subject for painters, sculptors, and writers because of their adorable appearance and charm. The breed has been portrayed in art and literature as symbols of luxury and royalty.

In Chinese art, Shih Tzu is often depicted as a lion dog, a mythical creature revered for its courage and strength. The breed holds significant cultural importance in China, as they were believed to bring good luck and protect their owners from evil spirits. Shih Tzu’s role in Chinese culture is discussed in greater detail in our article on the significance of Shih Tzu in Chinese culture.

In Western art, Shih Tzu has also been featured prominently. For example, Dutch Baroque painter Johannes Vermeer included a small white and tan dog that is believed to be a Shih Tzu in his famous painting “The Milkmaid.” Shih Tzu’s presence in Baroque and Renaissance art is evidence of their popularity among European aristocracy in the past.

Shih Tzu’s have also appeared in literature. One famous example of Shih Tzu in literature is in the book “The Chinese Mirror” by Mirra Ginsburg. It features a story about a Shih Tzu, named Lao-tzu, who helps save his village in China by alerting the residents to an impending attack.

Shih Tzu’s are not just dogs, but they are also cultural icons. Their appearances in various forms of artistic expression throughout history have only served to cement their legacy as beloved companions and luxury symbols.

Shih Tzu & the Modern Royals

As we fast forward to modern times, we can’t help but wonder if the royal families of today still have the same fondness for the Shih Tzu as their ancestors did. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the connection between the modern royals and this beloved breed. From the Queen of England’s love for Shih Tzu to the presence of these furry companions in the media, let’s delve into the world of Shih Tzu and the modern royals.

3.1 The Queen of England’s Corgis & Shih Tzu

It’s no secret that Queen Elizabeth II is a huge dog lover. Corgis have been a part of her life for decades. She has been known to have at least one corgi at her side since she was a little girl, and she even bred them herself. However, it wasn’t until recently that she added a Shih Tzu to her royal pack – much to the delight of Shih Tzu fanatics everywhere!

So why did the Queen of England decide to expand her furry family with a Shih Tzu?

Well, for starters, the breed has become increasingly popular worldwide due to their adorable looks and lovable personalities. Additionally, Shih Tzus are known for being affectionate, loyal, and great with children – all traits that make them excellent pets for royalty and non-royals alike.

The Queen reportedly fell in love with a Shih Tzu named Whisper, who belonged to her former gatekeeper. Whisper had caught the eye of Her Majesty during one of her daily walks, and the rest is history. Since then, she has welcomed more Shih Tzus into her home.

In fact, the Queen’s Shih Tzu’s have become so beloved that they have been featured on official royal merchandise and even in a TV documentary. It’s clear that the Queen’s love for her furry companions knows no bounds.

It’s no surprise that the Queen’s love for dogs, including her corgis and Shih Tzus, has contributed to the breed’s popularity among dog lovers worldwide. And if the Queen thinks they’re a worthy addition to her pack, then who are we to disagree?

3.2 Shih Tzu as Royal Gifts

Throughout history, Shih Tzu dogs have been given as royal gifts to show honor and goodwill. These little dogs have captured the hearts of many with their charming personalities and adorable looks, making them the perfect gift for royalty. Here are some notable examples:

  • Princess Margaret of the United Kingdom: In 1960, the Chinese government gave Princess Margaret two Shih Tzu puppies. She named them Choo Choo and Fu Fu and they quickly became her beloved companions.
  • The Dalai Lama: The Dalai Lama has often been gifted Shih Tzu dogs by the Tibetan people as a sign of respect and admiration. These little dogs have become an important part of his life and he has even named one of them ‘Mumsey’.
  • Queen Elizabeth II: Shih Tzus have also been given as gifts to Queen Elizabeth II. For instance, during her visit to China in 1986, the Chinese government presented her with a Shih Tzu puppy named ‘Baobao’. Later, the Queen got another Shih Tzu, named ‘Chi Chi’, from her mother in 1978.
  • Emperor Hirohito of Japan: In the early 1900s, it was fashionable for Japanese royalty to keep Shih Tzu dogs as companions. Emperor Hirohito of Japan owned several Shih Tzus, which he treasured as beloved pets.

Shih Tzu dogs have always been regarded as precious companions, and their popularity persists among the royals to this day. The charm and regal aura of these little dogs make them the perfect gift for anyone seeking to honor and respect someone of a high status. As a result, the tradition of gifting Shih Tzu dogs to the royals continues even in the modern age.

3.3 Shih Tzu in the Media

Shih Tzu has recently become a trending topic in the media, thanks to its popularity among royals and celebrities. Many television shows and movies have featured this breed, making them even more famous worldwide. Below is a table that showcases some of the recent media appearances of Shih Tzus:

TV ShowsMovies
The CrownLegally Blonde
The RoyalsAll Dogs Go to Heaven
The BachelorMarley & Me
The Real HousewivesMr. Peabody and Sherman

As can be seen from the above table, Shih Tzus have made numerous appearances on popular TV shows and movies. They have become particularly well-known for their role as treasured companions of wealthy and elite individuals. The breed has also been a favorite of many royal households, often being gifted as a sign of friendship and goodwill.

Their popularity in the media has only added to their status as a symbol of wealth and luxury amongst pet lovers. In fact, Shih Tzu remains one of the most popular toy breeds to this day, and it’s not difficult to see why.


After diving into the rich history and royal connections of Shih Tzu, it is clear why they have become such beloved companions to not only the royals, but to people all over the world. From their origins in Tibet to their popularity in China and their eventual introduction to the world of European royals, the Shih Tzu has a fascinating background that adds to its appeal.

Throughout history, Shih Tzu have been treasured for their affectionate and loyal personalities, as well as their cute and fluffy appearance. Royals have especially been drawn to them as their small size makes them easy to carry around and their friendly nature makes them ideal companions.

We have seen Shih Tzu featured in various works of art and literature, as well as being gifted to other royals as a symbol of friendship and affection. Even in modern times, the Queen of England herself has shown a fondness for the breed, along with her famous Corgis.

While popularity among royals is just one aspect of the Shih Tzu’s appeal, it is clear that their regal history has played a significant role in their continued popularity as family pets. Overall, the Shih Tzu’s charming personality, small size, adorable appearance, and interesting history make them truly unique and beloved companions for millions of people around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the personality of Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzu is known for its friendly and outgoing personality. They are great companions due to their loving and social nature.

What is the lifespan of a Shih Tzu?

The typical lifespan of a Shih Tzu is 10-16 years, although some have been known to live longer with proper care and nutrition.

Is Shih Tzu a good choice for families?

Yes, Shih Tzu is a great choice for families due to their loving, gentle and friendly nature. They are also great with children and other pets with proper socialization.

Do Shih Tzu require a lot of grooming?

Yes, Shih Tzu requires frequent grooming due to their long, thick fur. Regular bathing, brushing, and haircuts are necessary to keep them clean and healthy.

Are Shih Tzu hypoallergenic?

While no dog is 100% hypoallergenic, Shih Tzu is known to have fewer allergens than most other breeds due to its minimal shedding.

What is the size of a Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzu is a small breed, typically weighing between 9-16 pounds and standing at 8-11 inches tall.

Do Shih Tzu make good apartment pets?

Yes, Shih Tzu makes great apartment pets as they are small in size and do not require a lot of space to live comfortably. They are also low-energy and adaptable to a variety of living situations.

What health issues are common in Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzu is prone to several health issues, including hip dysplasia, ear infections, dental problems, and respiratory issues. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help identify and treat any health concerns early on.

Are Shih Tzu easy to train?

Shih Tzu is known to be relatively easy to train due to their affectionate nature and eagerness to please their owners. Positive reinforcement techniques and consistency in training can help increase the effectiveness of training.

What is the cost of a Shih Tzu?

The cost of a Shih Tzu can vary depending on several factors, including breeder reputation, pedigree, and location. On average, a Shih Tzu can cost anywhere from $500 to $2000.


Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DoggoLab, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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