An interesting fact about the Empress Dowager of the Chinese Imperial Palace is that there is only one known photo of her with Shih Tzu. The photo was taken around 1903 and shows Hai-Ling (Sea Otter) pictured at the Empress's feet. Also in the picture is her Chief Eunuch of the Royal Kennel and her Ladies-In-Waiting. The photograph is now at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives Smithsonian Institute.
The Exmpress Dowager had dozens of pet Shih Tzu. Some were particularly favored and two were priviledged characters. Among these was one of the Skye variety, most intelligent and clever at tricks. One of his tricks was that he would lie dead at Her Majesty's command and never move until she told him to, no matter how many others spoke to him. Another of her favorites was for his beauty. He was a fawn-colored Pekingese pug (not a Shih Tzu) with large, pale brown, liquid eyes. He was devoted to her, and she was very fond of him, but he was not easily taught, even as a puppy, so she called him Shadza (fool).
It is possible the Skye Terrier was the solid-black Shih Tzu in the only known photo of the Princess with her Shih Tzu. It had been noted that this particular dog followed the Princess wherever she went. . . . . and her Majesty thought it beautiful and called it Hai-ling (sea otter).
The Empress Dowager was in reign for nearly 50 years of China and during this time she had many more favorites. She was also fond of an unpleasant, smelly mongrel dog she called Chiang (Ginger), which showed great intuition in detecting and biting any person T'zu Hsi did not like. It was odd that she preferred this nasty one to the many beautiful, well-bred Pekingese in her kennels. Ginger is well known in history as biting some of the most prominent Chinese men and women of the time.
(I THINK I WOULD HAVE BE FOND OF GINGER MYSELF). Shih Tzu can become very devoted to their loved ones and very perceptive of their feelings and moods, which is another wonderful, endearing trait that keeps me so attracted to the breed.
When I think of the Imperial Palace and the Empress Dowager, I often only think of Shih Tzu, but in these early accounts of the Empress, she apparently had some kind of Terriers and Pekingese, which most likely she bred together even in those early days to come up with the Shih Tzu as we know it today.
I have two Shih Tzu in particular at my house, Danny and Jane-Jane. They are brother and sister and almost look identical to each other. I call them my “twins. " They are both under 6 lbs. at 8 months of age. I hope to use my Danny Boy as an imperial/teacup stud eventually.
Danny and Jane Jane have the favored golden color from the palace, the tiny size which was probably the size eventually most favored in the Palace, and they have a slight Pekingese look as well.
In all the Shih Tzu I have seen, I have never seen any that resemble these. I keep them in a favorite place at my house. The Shih Tzu is related to the Pekingese incidentally. The breeding between the Shih Tzu and the Pekingese took place especially to reduce size.
I have a special page on my website of Danny and Jane Jane. Please come visit us. However, I do not have Shih Tzu as faithful as the Empress's Ginger. None of mine bite!
Connie Limon publishes a FREE weekly newsletter. A professional newsletter with a focus upon health and wellness for you and your pets. Coupons for shih tzu puppies and other products are offered to subscribers. Updates of available puppies. Sign up at http://www.stainglassshihtzus.com