Country of Origin: China
The Shih Tzu we know and love today is itself an ancient crossbreed having been created within the walls of the Forbidden City in the 17th century from crossing the Lhasa Apso from the monasteries of Tibet with an early form of the Pekinese.
The resulting dogs, called Lhasa Lion Dogs, remained hidden away from the eyes of the West until the 20th century when the Peking Kennel Club was formed and the Lhasa Lion Dogs were shown for the first time alongside the Lhasa Apso.
It wasn’t until the 1930s that these dogs found their way to England and once again they were shown alongside the Lhasa Apso but it was clear they were quite different, and so the types that had the rounder skull and short muzzle became known as the Shih Tzu and a breed in their own right.
Country of Origin: Spain
This is a fairly old breed who by the 16th century had found popularity in the Spanish courts. They originated on the island of Tenerife, where they were known originally as the Barbichon which means Little Barbet. The Barbet was a local water spaniel and it is thought that the Bichon Frise was a cross between these working dogs and smaller Spanish lapdogs of the time.
The Bichon Frise (then called the Bichon Tenerife) remained popular in the Spanish courts right through to the 19th century and even captivated the hearts of the French nobility as well. For some reason however they fell out of favour and they went from being dogs of nobility to being largely circus performers. Thankfully their appealing looks and their trainability meant that they excelled, finding a performing niche for themselves until French and Belgian breeders took an interest in them and worked to re-establish the breed and renamed them Bichon à Poil Frisé which means the bichon with the curly coat.
The Zuchon can have any combination of the two breeds in their appearance, behaviour and temperament.