What were Shih Tzus Designed to Do?

I'm more than just a pretty face!

I'm more than just a pretty face!


I'm working on a presentation about two different breeds and one of them is Shih Tzu.

So I need to know what this breed was created for.

Please, can someone answer my question ...

Reader Comments

WoTeHsinST Says
Shih Tzu's purpose was and still is to be strictly a companion animal.

Karen says
The shihtzu breed was originally designed to guard the temple of monks. They were called the little Lion dogs & were very protective. Still are.

Samantha says
The mythology behind this little dog is that it was a lion that was transformed into the small dog of today. The lion followed Buddha. Dogwood (who just passed) had this zen like quality. They are among the lion dogs. Most do consider them companion animals and they do make great companions.

I have read however that you should not turn your shih tzu into a lap dog. Although they love to be with people, they have minds of their own and can amuse themselves. However, they do need access to you or will not be happy.

If you can, check out Reverend Easton books on shih tzus. They're very interesting and have much information. He knew these dogs in the 40s -.

Our Answer

Well, if you ask a Shih Tzu lover what the dog is bred for they’re likely to say: to be the cutest bundles of love that ever came prancing on four legs. I mean, have you seen that face?

Of course most dog breeds are “companions” in the general sense of the word. After all, dogs are man’s best friend, right? But the friendly Shih Tzu truly has one purpose and one desire in the world: to bond with its human.

Shih Tzus are the ambassadors of the dog world and hardly anyone can resist their canine charms. They love to meet and greet and make friends with humans, but the bond with their main companion will remain strong no matter how social they are with other people. In fact, Shih Tzus who’ve been separated from their long-time human companions often suffer bouts of depression. Older Shih Tzus may take a long time to form a close relationship with a new person after being rehomed.

The American Shih Tzu Club confirms that the breed is most likely of Tibetan origin, first bred as “holy dogs” to dwell in Buddhist temples. The Shih Tzu we know and love today exists thanks to the Chinese Dowager Empress Cixi who carefully supervised the breeding of Shih Tzu, Pekingese and Pug breeds.

After her death in 1908 the royal kennels were disbanded and it’s believed that the Shih Tzu breed became extinct in China. All Shih Tzus today can trace their heritage back to a gene pool of only 14 dogs. Thankfully breeding programs began in earnest and today the noble Lion Dog (the name Shih Tzu means “lion”) is ranked as one of the most popular small dogs in the U.S.

Although Shih Tzus are indoor dogs perfect for snuggling in your lap they enjoy and even need regular exercise for a well-rounded life. Like all brachecephalic dogs they can’t withstand extreme temperatures and can become seriously overheated when temperatures are high.

But don’t mistake them for delicate flowers! Shih Tzus are one of the new stars in dog agility competitions. Their desire to please and natural intelligence makes them surprisingly successful athletes.

No doubt the versatility of the breed is part of what makes them so popular. Yes, they are long-haired beauties and as long as they get a daily walk they’re happy to spend hours perched on your lap. But they’re also adventurers who enjoy romping on the beach, working as service dogs and winning trophies at agility and rally obedience competitions.

What was the Shih Tzu designed to do? Hmm, just about everything.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Your Shih Tzu Questions and Answers.