Shih Tzu - The Hotly Contested Question Of Shih Tzu Size

Published: 04th December 2005
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Shih Tzu – The Hotly Contested Question Of Shih Tzu Size Part I

Throughout the entire period of Shih Tzu development in the United States no other topic about the Shih Tzu has been more hotly contested than Shih Tzu size. When the standard was established it was hoped all Shih Tzu fanciers would settle down and breed exactly to that standard. It has never been the case. Controversy over Shih Tzu size still rages. These differences of opinion cannot be dismissed as being "the smaller sizes are only rejects or Shih Tzu puppies born with excessive health problems." This is just not true at all to account for the smaller size Shih Tzu puppies that have always been in existence. The statements of breeders who have these small sizes obtained them through "faulty and irresponsible breeding, or instances of in-breeding and line-breeding of relatives is also "false." The truth to any breeding can be traced on the pedigrees to prove the smaller Shih Tzu was not the result of in-breeding and line-breeding with close relatives. These smaller size Shih Tzu have been in existence since the Chinese Imperial Palace days. There are several documented Shih Tzu history facts to prove that this is the most probable reason for the smaller Shih Tzu, so many people commonly "nickname" the Imperial Shih Tzu or the Teacup Shih Tzu. The size of a Shih Tzu does not dictate the health of that Shih Tzu. Health problems exist in all sizes of the Shih Tzu, and not the direct result of producing a smaller size Shih Tzu.

One fact that remains is that the breed is in the Toy Group. The Shih Tzu should therefore be "Toy" in size.

In the Shih Tzu breed's early days in the United States, there were several reasons for the controversy over size in addition to personal preferences. None of these reasons have been documented as being "a small size Shih Tzu has more health problems," or….a small size Shih Tzu is produced by excessive irresponsible in-breeding and line-breeding of close relatives.

During the years between 1967 and 1972 when the Shih Tzu was striving for recognition there was many arguments and much material of correspondence produced regarding their size, and exactly what size should the Shih Tzu be. There had been strong evidence of cross-breeding of Shih Tzu to Lhasa Apso to achieve a desired size once the standard was established. There was also a substantial amount of correspondence and documents revealing that cross-breeding to reduce the size of the British imports had been practiced. Many confused people bred small Lhasa Apso to undersized or small Shih Tzu to try to get what they wanted. This did not become a trend and was not considered the ideal way to create the correct size Shih Tzu according to the set standard now in place.

There are also times in history of the Shih Tzu when using other breeds was necessary. Establishing the Shih Tzu is of a very long history, of which many different people were involved, with many different ideas of what the Shih Tzu should look like. On the question of size, there are definite historical facts to account for the smaller sizes in which none are stated to be: "If a small size Shih Tzu is produced, it is ONLY the runt of that litter, and will be full of health problems, or a sickly Shih Tzu." Neither do the historical facts about size of the Shih Tzu document the smaller Shih Tzu were a result of irresponsible in-breeding and line-breeding of close relatives.

According to a well known Shih Tzu fancier of our Shih Tzu history, Colonel Burkhardt, the imperial Shih Tzu (meaning those Shih Tzu bred in the Chinese Imperial Palace by the Empress Dowager) were occasionally interbred with the Pekingese "to reduce the size." This particular Shih Tzu fancier, Colonel Burkhardt, wrote from first hand experience of Peking Palace life not long after the 1912 revolution. (please see Part II of Shih Tzu – The Hotly Contested Question Of Size).

Connie Limon is a Shih Tzu breeder. She publishes a FREE weekly newsletter. A professional newsletter with a focus upon health and wellness for you and your pets. Discounts are offered to subscribers. Sign up at:

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