The roots of this breed are in Tibet but it was developed in China, where dogs like these lived in the imperial palaces. After China became a republic in 1912, examples of the breed found their way to the West, though the first recorded importation to the UK was not until 1931. It was recognised as a breed separate from other Oriental breeds in 1934 and granted a separate register by the Kennel Club in 1940, with challenge certificates on offer from 1949.
People tend to get confused between the Lhasa Apso and the Shih Tzu, but the breeds differ in both conformation and temperament. The breed standard calls for the maximum height of the Shih Tzu to be just 1.2 centimetres (½ inches) more than that of the Lhasa Apso. The chrysanthemum look to the Shih Tzu’s head is most appealing, and this is caused by the hair growing upwards on the bridge of the nose. His long coat requires regular attention, but is not difficult to keep in good order with regular grooming.
Temperamentally, the Shih Tzu is a bouncy character and very outgoing. A complete extrovert and full of infectious enthusiasm, he makes a delightful companion who is happy to be part of any family.
Vulnerable Native Breed
How much exercise?
Up to 1 hour per day
Length of coat
How much grooming?
Town or Country
Type of home
Flat, Small or Large House
Minimum Garden Size
Over 10 Years
* If you are asthmatic or have an allergy, you should consult your medical advisor before considering obtaining a dog. More information can also be found on
the Kennel Club website
The Utility Breed Group
This group consists of miscellaneous breeds of dog mainly of a non-sporting origin, including the Bulldog, Dalmatian, Akita and Poodle.
The name ‘Utility’ essentially means fitness for a purpose and this group consists of an extremely mixed and varied bunch, most breeds having been selectively bred to perform a specific function not included in the sporting and working categories. Some of the breeds listed in the group are the oldest documented breeds of dog in the world.