Shih Tzus are playful and affectionate dogs that seem to bring joy wherever they go. These outgoing dogs know how to steal hearts with their adorable faces and sweet disposition. Several features are unique to the Shih Tzu, among which is the wide variation of coat colors.
Shih Tzus can be found in numerous colors and combinations, from white to blue to somewhere in between. One of the less common color varieties in Shih Tzus is the chocolate or brown coat. To learn more about these adorable Shih Tzus, keep reading below.
The Earliest Records of the Shih Tzu in History
The ancestry of the Shih Tzu dates far back, which makes concrete records challenging to piece together. However, the Shih Tzu is likely of Tibetan origin. There are Chinese records of small dogs akin to Shih Tzus dating back to around 1000 B.C., which may be where much of the breeding occurred to create the line of ancestry that would one day produce the Shih Tzu.
The Shih Tzu’s ancestors were likely brought to China from Turkey, Malta, Greece, and Persia as gifts to the ruling emperors of the time. From there, the dogs may have been bred with the Pug and the Pekingese.
The Shih Tzu was kept in China for some time, as many people refused to sell or give away the dog for any international trade. However, during the late 1940s and 1950s, United States military personnel brought Shih Tzus back to their own country, where new breeding efforts began.
How the Shih Tzu Gained Popularity
In China, the Shih Tzu was a royal lapdog. They were adored by the emperors and their families, and it is said that expensive gifts would be given to the most talented Shih Tzu breeders. Shih Tzus, that lived in the emperor’s palace, would bark if any uninvited guests approached, but they were kept as companions rather than guard dogs.
The Shih Tzu was more or less unknown to the rest of the world until the 20th century. Once the breed was introduced to other countries across the globe, breed clubs soon formed to continue enhancing the breed. Ever since that time, the Shih Tzu has reigned among the most popular dogs in the United States and in the United Kingdom. It has become so popular that celebrities such as Queen Elizabeth II and Miley Cyrus have owned a Shih Tzu at some point.
Formal Recognition of the Chocolate (Brown) Shih Tzu
Once the Shih Tzu began to spread across the world, it was only a matter of time before the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed. In 1969, they did just that, and the Shih Tzu was officially established in America.
The chocolate Shih Tzu’s name is slightly misleading. According to the American Kennel Club, there is no official recognition of the chocolate Shih Tzu because it is instead referred to as the liver Shih Tzu. This means that the pigmentation of the skin (such as lips, paws, nose, and eyes) is liver-colored. While brown Shih Tzus may be casually referred to as chocolate Shih Tzus, technically, no such Shih Tzu officially exists.
Top 3 Unique Facts About Chocolate (Brown) Shih Tzus
1. Shih Tzu Translates to “Little Lion”
In Mandarin, the phrase “Shih Tzu” can be translated to “Little Lion.” It may seem like a silly name for such a small dog, but there is an important meaning behind it. Most likely, the phrase “Little Lion” is inspired by the Tibetan Buddhist God of Learning, who was said to travel with a small, lion-like dog that could transform into a true lion.
Another nickname for the Shih Tzu is the “chrysanthemum-faced dog.” This is due to the Shih Tzu’s fur, which grows in all directions.
2. The Entire Breed Can Be Traced Back to a Small Genetic Pool
After the death of the Dowager Empress Tzu His in 1908, the woman in charge of breeding Shih Tzus, the breeding program collapsed. As a result, the Shih Tzu nearly dwindled to extinction. However, it was thankfully saved by 14 special dogs.
A total of seven male Shih Tzus and seven female Shih Tzus were bred to repopulate the breed of Shih Tzus that we all know and love today. Without those Shih Tzus, the species would have faded into extinction. If you have a Shih Tzu, you can thank the 14 Shih Tzus who brought your special pup to you!
3. Shih Tzus Are Capable of Athleticism
It may be easy to buy into the idea that Shih Tzus are little more than adorable, lounging lapdogs but don’t be fooled by their outward appearance. These dogs are more than capable of exhibiting feats of athleticism. In fact, Shih Tzus are known to perform well at agility contests. In 2014, a Shih Tzu won both the agility and the champion titles.
Does the Chocolate (Brown) Shih Tzu Make a Good Pet?
Shih Tzus make excellent family pets. They are affectionate dogs known to dote on their families. They are great with young children and other dogs, making them ideal for all sorts of family dynamics. Plus, they are highly adaptable. If your family dynamic ever changes, your Shih Tzu will likely be able to adjust to the new circumstances quickly.
Caring for the chocolate Shih Tzu is no different from caring for any other Shih Tzu. It will need plenty of attention, quality food, and exercise. However, since the Shih Tzu was primarily bred as a companion dog, its need for exercise is minimal. A few short, daily walks and some regular playtime will be more than enough to satisfy your Shih Tzu’s activity needs.
The Shih Tzu will require daily brushing to maintain its long, luxurious coat. It’s important to clean the corner of your Shih Tzu’s eyes with a cloth each day, as the breed can be prone to eye stains. To keep its attractive coat clean and heavy, it’s best to bathe the dog every 3 to 4 weeks.
Chocolate Shih Tzus are uncommon beauties prized both for their personality and looks. The history of the Shih Tzu is extensive and fascinating and provides an interesting backstory to such a beloved breed. If you are bringing a Shih Tzu into the family, you are in for a real treat!