The Two Main Types of Shih Tzu Dogs

There is only one type of Shih Tzu breed - the one that the Tibetan monks gave to the Chinese Emperors. This dog has a history of more than 3000 years. However, the first mention about the types of Shih Tzu dogs is some 1400 years ago when the history chronicled the Tibetan monks gifting these dogs to the Manchu Dynasty emperors. At that time, these dogs were left in charge of the palace eunuchs who competed against one another to get the best specimens for breeding them.

Back then the ‘Lion Dogs’ were considered as good luck charms and were very highly valued in China and later on in Asia. This dog first reached Europe when Lady Browning brought this wonderful species to England. As luck would have it, the temperament of the dogs fitted the quiet and somber society in England and the dog was a great hit there.

AKC Recognition

During the World War II, American soldiers found this wonderful dog and fell in love with it as well – thence brought it with them to US and in 1969, this dog was at last recognized by the American Kennel Club. Gradually this breed became the favorite pet throughout the world. Today you can find the Shih Tzu wherever you go – this lovely dog is lucky after all!

Based on its history there are two main types of Shih Tzu dogs, (i) the American Shih Tzu and (ii) the European Shih Tzu.

The American Shih Tzu

The following traits are specific of the American type of Shih Tzu:

1. Their legs are high and they front legs face forward.

2. The chest is small.

3. The head is more or less square-ish and is set on a very short neck.

4. The eyes are smaller and do not face the front completely.

5. The shoulders of the American type of Shih Tzu are frontal.

The European Shih Tzu

1. The legs are smaller and are held further apart; they look slightly bent.

2. The chest is broad and proud.

3. The head is round and the neck is long and slender.

4. The eyes are protruding and large.

5. The shoulders of this dog are laid behind.

These types of Shih Tzu are purebred. There are a good number of Shih Tzu dogs that are passed as purebreds but are not, and these are the Imperial Shih Tzu, the tiny Shih Tzu, and the Teacup Shih Tzu. Though breeders are selling these breeds as purebreds, beware that these are not really recognized by any national level kennel. These dogs are genetically defective and it is not a good idea to buy one or breed one.

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