Chinese Imperial Dog History    The Shih tzu History     Canine Size. the small genes


A Brief History of the Chinese Imperial Dog

Written by Karen Christensenã of Zhen Yi Chinese Imperial Dog

The ancestors of our Chinese Imperial Dog originated in the Imperial Palace Of China. The Chinese Imperial Dog was called Imperial, Hah-Pah, and the solid colored imperials were called Chin Ssu Ha-Pah in the Chinese Imperial Palace. In early English books they are called Imperial or “Pekinese Type” when they didn’t know what to call them. The Imperial was always a separate dog from the Pekinese, Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso. They were being bred along side them in the very early days but they were not the same dog. The Shih Tzu came much later.2 The Shih Tzu Kou or Liondog, as the early Imperials were called, were bred in the likeness of the Buddhist perception of the lion because when Buddha came to earth from heaven he rode on a lion. Therefore, the Imperials were also believed to be holy or tribute dogs and were highly prized. When an Imperial became too large then it was put to death as it was highly undesirable. As you can see from this antique Chinese fan that the Imperial was a small dog indeed.1 In later years these larger Imperials were called a Shih Tzu. An old tapistry picturing an Imperial, Shih Tzu and a Pekinese was found recently dating to before the time of Christ. You can see the complete difference of the dogs in this tapestry. This puts to death a rumor that an Imperial is a Shih Tzu and that a Shih Tzu is a mix between a Llasa and a Pekinese. The Shih Tzu, Pekinese and Imperial have been completely separate breeds of dogs for more that 2000 years.

The early ancestors of the Imperial were given to the emperors of the Manchu dynasty of China as gifts of great honor and were only allowed to be owned by the emperors. In China the dogs became little temple dogs and were kept in the palace and carefully guarded and cared for by the court eunuchs. As the lion dogs were the property of the Royal family, they were not widely known outside the Imperial Palace and it is said that anyone unlawfully owning one was sentenced to death. However, it is thought that puppies, which did not meet the Dowager Empress’s high standards, were secretly sold by the eunuchs to the nobility outside the palace. The Dowager Empress Tzu-Hsi was greatly interested in dogs and during her reign she was personally concerned with their breeding and welfare. They were bred to be loyal companions, bed warmers and would lie across the feet of the Emperor and Empress, as you would take care of court business to keep their feet warm. She would keep a few Imperials and Shih Tzu around her at all times. At one time it was the fashion for the dogs to be carried in their kimono sleeves.

After the death of the Dowager Empress in 1911, the breeding of the dogs was no longer important. The young Emperor and Empress were not interested in the dogs and some were given as gifts to noblewomen and men in England and the Netherlands.3 This is how the Imperial was introduced to the west. In 1938 an individual standard was set for the Shih Tzu. At the time the dog fanciers did not know what to do with the Imperials so they lumped them together in with the Shih Tzu. In the United States, fanciers obtained the first Shih Tzu in the late 1930’s and they gained even more popularity in the 1960’s with many imports coming from England and Europe.

Our Chinese Imperial Dogs went to the Netherlands and were kept pure bred and small.4 In the 1960’s a small few breeders brought them to the United States. These breeders fought hard to get them recognized but in their ignorance the AKC would only classify our lovely Chinese Imperials as Shih Tzu.5 This is how many of the imperials became mixed with the Shih Tzu.

Now the dedicated breeders of the Chinese Imperial Dog are fighting just as hard to get them recognized again. These breeders myself included have been breeding the Shih Tzu out of our imperials so as to have again the purity of the Chinese Imperial. We have been quite successful so far.

The Chinese Imperial dog was first accepted as it's own breed separate from the Shih Tzu by the NCA as of March 2005 and by the CPR, UABR, and the NKC in 2006. The Chinese Imperial Dog is also internationally recognized by the IPDBA. A breed club has been formed to support this new breed and is dedicated to promoting and preserving this wonderful little dog.

#1 A Chinese Fan with the Chinese Imperial Dog found in Dog of China and Japan in Nature and Art

#2Dogs Of China And Japan In Nature And Art V. W. F. Collier

# 3This Is The Shih Tzu Allan Easton

#4 First Account from Jane Seng

# 5First Accounts from Ron Finney and Jane Seng

Copyright ã 2007 Karen Christensen All rights reserved.


History Of The Shih Tzu

A Brief History of the Shih Tzu by JORIS Dogs of various sizes, shapes, and colors have been bred in China for centuries. Records substantiate the existence of short, square, under the table dogs from at least 1000 B.C. By piecing together historical facts and documented records, it is possible to some extent to follow the development in China of the breeding of dogs likely to be the ancestors of the present-day Shih Tzu.
The ancestry of the Shih Tzu is rather obscure, but it is probable that the breed is primarily of Tibetan origin. The history of the Tibetan Lion Dogs is interwoven with the tenets of Buddhism, which originated in India. The lion was closely associated with Buddhism, but the lion was not indigenous to China, so the Chinese and the Tibetan lamas bred their toy dogs to resemble lions. The Shih Tzu (whose name means lion) is reputed to have been the oldest and smallest variety of the Tibetan holy dogs and bears some similarity to other Tibetan breeds. For much of the long and illustrious history of China, the breeding of the small Lion Dog was a favorite pastime of succeeding imperial rulers.
Prior to A.D. 624, documents show that small dogs were exported from Malta, Turkey, Greece, and Persia as gifts to the ruling Chinese emperors. It is likely that the first small Tibetan Lion Dogs from which the Shih Tzu is probably descended came to China during the Qing (Ch’ing) Dynasty (1644-62) as tributes from the Grand Lamas to the Chinese Imperial Court, and that the Chinese interbred these Tibetan dogs with the early western imports and with the Pug and the Pekingese.
The existence of the Shih Tzu as we know it today is owed to the Dowager Empress Cixi (T’zu Hsi), whose kennel of Pugs, Pekingese, and Shih Tzu was world renowned. Although she carefully supervised the kennel during her lifetime and attempted to keep the three imperial breeds separate, the actual breeding to produce the smaller variations of the ShihTzu was carried out by palace eunuchs who secretly crossed the breeds to reduce size and produce unusual and desirable markings. After her death in 1908, the kennels were dispersed and palace breeding became haphazard. Some breeding was still practiced by private individuals and specimens were exhibited, but the dogs were almost impossible to acquire. So far as is known, the breed became extinct in China after the Communist revolution.
Seven dogs and seven bitches comprise the gene pool of all existing Shih Tzu. These fourteen include the Pekingese dog used in an admitted cross in England in 1952--a cross which caused considerable trouble, as it was done by a newcomer to the breed and reported after the fact. The other foundation dogs included three Shih Tzu imported from China that became the foundation of the Taishan kennel of Lady Brownrigg in England and eight additional imports to England between 1933 and 1959. Three other Shih Tzu were imported into Norway from China in 1932 by Mrs. Henrick Kauffman, including a bitch that was the only Shih Tzu bred in the Imperial Palace to reach the Western world.
Returning military personnel brought some of the first Shih Tzu into the United States during the late 1940s and 1950s and began breeding programs. The unique beauty and outstanding temperament of this new breed quickly found favor with the fancy. From the first day of formal AKC recognition (Sept. 1, 1969), the Shih Tzu catapulted from a relatively unknown breed to one of the most glamorous and popular of all canine companions.

More History of Shih Tzu in Tibet and China goes back to the Han Dynasty. A good book to read history is written by Rev. Allan Easton. Ive hears of more history from an old friend that talks about little ones in decades before Dowager Empress Cixi (T’zu Hsi) days.

The Royal Family preferred the smaller Shih Tzus in the 8-10 pound range and they were so highly prized the dogs would be allowed to dine at the Emperors table.

During the Ming Dynasty the dogs were kept in vise-like gilded cages during in attempts to keep them small.
The Dowager Empress Cixi was known to carry a Shih Tzu in her sleeve. This could of not been done unless the Shih Tzu was very small.
The larger Shih Tzus were stationed throughout the palace as alert dogs. When one Shih Tzu heard anyone outside the palace walls they would bark and alert the guards of approaching enemies.

The larger Shih Tzus were given to the town peasants as gifts because standard size Shih Tzus was not wanted or preferred by the early royalty of Tibet.
The Tibetan peasants were poor and needed money so they would sell the Shih Tzus to visitors of China, but the Chinese people didn't want the Shih Tzu to exist outside of China so they feed them ground glass and they would die in the long voyages home.

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If a breeder didn't attempt to deviate from " The Standard " we would not have all the wonderful types of dogs we have today.
New breeds are being created right now. To me that is great.

In the year 2015 I plan to own a GrandFalese dog, What is that bred of dog you ask " well I don't know but its in some breeders minds eye "

The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do. Walter Bagehot (1826-1877) English economist, journalist
Canine Size
Why are small dogs small? Science thinks it knows

Call it the "yappy" code.
An international team of scientists has identified a piece of dog DNA that seems to be the difference in the tall and the short when it comes to canine stature.
The genetic snippet regulates a particular gene. And the two are found together in all breeds of small dogs, but not in medium and large breeds -- except for rottweilers. More on them later.
The gene itself is found in all dogs -- all mammals, in fact -- and is crucial to pumping out hormonal growth signals from birth through adolescence. It appears likely that the same kind of genetic restriction also plays a role in limiting size in humans.
"Nearly all of what we learn from studying body structure, behavior and disease susceptibility in dogs helps us understand some aspect of human health and biology," said Elaine Ostrander, senior author of the study published today in the journal Science. She is also chief of cancer genetics at the National Human Genome Research Institute.
"By learning how genes control body size in dogs, we are apt to learn something about how skeletal body size is genetically programmed in humans," she added. "We also will increase our data set of genes likely to play a role in diseases such as cancer, in which regulation of cell growth has been lost."
The gene in question is called insulinlike growth factor 1 (IGF-1). The genetic quirk, called a haplotype, is found in all small breeds, from Chihuahuas and to Yorkies and Pekinese.
"All dogs under 20 pounds have this, all of them. That's extraordinary," said Gordon Lark, a biologist at the University of Utah. Lark, with Utah colleague Kevin Chase, got the study rolling with a look at size variation among Portuguese water dogs, which can range in size from about 25 pounds to more than 75 pounds.
The researchers analyzed DNA samples and reviewed X-rays of more than 500 Portuguese to narrow the size regulator down to one stretch of code on dog chromosome 15.
Researchers from other universities and pet-industry labs in the United States and England joined in, bringing different tools. Ultimately, the analysis included more than 3,200 dogs from 143 breeds.
Dogs evolved from wolves roughly 15,000 years ago as humans domesticated them. Because the small-dog coding was found in small breeds that are only distantly related, and in different regions, the researchers figured the variant must be at least 12,000 years old.
"It's as ancient as all small dogs," Lark said. "Dogs are derived from wolves. Since this is found in all small dogs, it either got into dogs when they were first domesticated, or it was a small wolf that dogs descended from. The small-dog haplotype is not found in wolves today."
Of course, there's an exception to the rule.
Rottweilers, hardly lapdogs, also carry the sequence for smallness. The researchers said that obviously there are other genes involved in size when in comes to rottweilers, and probably other large breeds.
Lark and his colleagues figured that the genetic signal to make small dogs arose either because "a small wolf couldn't survive in nature, but it could survive in company with humans," or because early humans "wanted to domesticate a wolf, and they didn't want to adopt a big sucker" for reasons of safety, economy or crowded conditions in early walled settlements.
It may be simply that the "aww" factor tugged at prehistoric human hearts as much as it does today.
"Everybody treats their dogs like their babies, so it's not surprising they would select for tiny dogs," said Chase, the owner of two toy poodle/Maltese mix mutts. "Tiny dogs are not particularly functional. They don't hunt with you. They don't protect your house. They don't pull carts. They're just small and sweet."
And very often yappy, Chase concedes. "But 'yappy,' we didn't study."