One theory is that the Shih Tzu descended from a cross between the Pekingese and Lhasa Apso. The dogs were favorites of the Chinese royals and so prized that, for years, the Chinese refused to sell, trade, or give any away. The first dogs of the breed were imported into Europe (England and Norway) in 1930 and were classified by the Kennel Club as "Apsos". The first European standard for the breed was written in England in 1935 by the Shih Tzu Club, and the dogs were categorised again as Shih Tzu. The breed spread throughout Europe and was brought to the United States after World War II, when returning members of the U. S. military brought back dogs from Europe and Asia, in the mid-1950s. The Shih Tzu was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1969 in the Toy Group. There are fourteen total iterations of the Shih Tzu in the breed's gene pool today. In 1934, the Shih Tzu Club of England was founded and the breed was officially recognised by the Kennel Club (UK) on 7 May 1940. When it became eligible for Challenge Certificates, none were awarded until 1949. The breed is now recognized by all of the major kennel clubs in the English-speaking world. It is also recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale for international competition in Companion and Toy Dog Group, Section 5, Tibetan breeds. In the United States, the Shih Tzu ranked the 15th most popular breed in 2013, falling slightly in popularity since 2012 when it was placed in 11th position.
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