The Shih Tzu in Australia

The Shih Tzu came to Australia in 1954 with emigrants Tony and Soo Dobson “Wawnehill Kennels” who relocated to NSW from the United Kingdom. They bought with them three dogs namely Pei Ho of Taishan (Imp UK), a black and white who had won two English CC’s, Wen Chin of Lhakang (Imp UK), a chestnut and white dog puppy, and the black bitch Chloe of Elfann; all became Australian Champions.

The Dobsons did much to promote the breed in Australia, with stock going to most States. From the original imports Mrs Dot Avery founded her “Newglen Kennels”;  she also had an imported dog at stud by the name of Lee Lisan of Lhakang (Imp UK).

The 1960's

Stock from these kennels formed the nucleus of what was one of the best known early kennels in Australia – Mrs Gwen Gwen Teele’s “Geltree Kennels”. With most of the stock being closely bred on the original imports, Mrs Teele decided that she must import, so in 1958 the black and white bitch Hia Nan of Snaefell (Imp UK) arrived to be followed in 1959 by the black and white male Ty Yung of Antarctica (Imp UK) – both became Australian champions. With valuable bloodlines the Geltree Kennels were on their way, with stock going throughout Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, USA and Holland. In 1963 Mrs Teele obtained a small grey and white dog from the UK, he became Skoal of Eyeworth (Imp UK); this dog was a grandson of the Swedish imported dog Jungfaltets Jung Ming.

Without a doubt the most famous of the “Geltrees” was Mrs Joan Reeves outstanding black and white dog Aust Ch Geltree Ty Ching; not only was he a successful show dog but a prolific stud. He holds the honour of being the FIRST Shih Tzu to win Best In Show All Breeds in Australia. Another outstanding Geltree worth mention, Mrs J Gaspero’s black and white bitch Aust Ch Geltree Cheng Liu. This bitch was a consistent winner with numberous group and in show wins to her credit. Mrs Teele nolonger breeds but she did much for the breed in Australia.

On to the 1970's

With growing breed interest and a need to diversify the genepool within Australia a great influx of imports arrived. Those that produced stock and can be seen in many pedigrees are listed below;

  • Nz Ch Ying Kuo of Antarctica (Imp UK) black and white dog
  • Aust Ch Saffron of Greenmoss (Imp UK) mahogany and white bitch
  • Aust Ch Chin Wang of Greenmoss (Imp UK) gold and white dog
  • Li Kung Lin of Chasmu (Imp UK) dog, believed to be gold
  • Ton Fan of Chasmu (Imp UK) bitch, believed to be gold
  • Aust Ch Keytor Christopher Robin (Imp UK) black and white dog
  • Greenmoss Golden Glory (Imp UK) black mask gold dog
  • Aust Ch Ringabee of Greenmoss (Imp UK) brindle and white dog
  • Aust Ch Lhakang Chen Pi Yu (Imp UK) black mask gold dog
  • Crowvalley Stylus (Imp UK) gold sable and white dog
  • Telota Rama (Imp UK) black and white bitch

One of the first imports to set the pattern for big wins was Aust Ch Saffron of Greenmoss (Imp UK) being the first import to win Best In Show All Breeds. She was a good sized bitch with a magnificent head, producing a number of winners for Dr Phil Cunningham “Pilelo Kennel”, her owner.

The breed won well in the ’70s, especially at the ‘Royal’ shows. In March, 1973, the 7 month old bitch Tsuyung So Sweet Sum Wun was awarded Best Puppy Bitch In Show at Sydney Royal. This bitch was bred by Pam Bales and owned by John Sheppard. In September that year Mrs Bales won Opposite Sex Puppy In Show at Adelaide Royal with Tsuyung Fancy Mei. 1974 saw the dog Kajabbi Krackles, owned by Mrs L. Walsh, win Best Puppy In Show at Adelaide Royal. In 1975 at the same Royal the glamorous bitch Aust Ch Shemara Autumn Leaves, owned and bred by The Gardiners, accounted for Puppy In Show as well as Opposite Sex In Group. She went on to win major Best In Show awards and was Best In Show at the Victorian Shih Tzu Club’s Championship show in 1977 and 1978. The judge for one of these shows being Mr Tony Dobson (NSW), the original importer of the breed into Australia. 

Another bitch that won a string of BIS awards was King & Wood’s Aust Ch Louanne Chen Hsing. She was a small blackish grey bitch with a white chest. Mrs Clary Hutcheson’s Aust Ch Peking Pan Lu, a brindle and white bitch, was the first Shih Tzu to win a group award at Melbourne Royal when she took out Best Puppy In Group in 1976. Another first for the breed was Mrs Joan Reeves’ Aust Ch. Tsuyung Fanci That who was the first Shih Tzu to win Best In Show All Breeds in Victoria (1978)

In a field that was dominated by bitches for some time, we now have males that were making their presence felt. Aust Ch Garaig Ko Ko – bred by Shirley Leach and owned by Paul and Julie Nash won BIS All Breeds in late 1997. He was a black and white dog that won consistently in the NSW ring.

In February, 1978, Lhotse Sun Y’at Sen (Imp NZ), a black and white dog owned by John Sheppard, won Best In Show at 13.5 months of age. This made him the first imported male to win Best In Show All Breeds gain this award and one of the youngest then.

Into the 1980's

To be continued…