Shih Tzus are still in the running in theUK’s favourite dog breed competition– and we aren’t surprised! Shih Tzus are lively, happy and affectionate dogs.

The Daily Star is backing Shih Tzus as the nation’s most treasured breed – don’t forget, there’s still time for you tocast your third and final votein the competition run by our sister site TeamDogs in association with Pooch & Mutt.

Ahead of the final on Saturday,TeamDogsare sharing five facts about the nation’s best-loved breeds.

From the legend of Shih Tzus, to their surprising muscular strength and their genetic connection to wolves, here are five things you didn’t know about Shih Tzus:

1. Shih Tzu means 'little lion'

Shih Tzu is actually pronounced "shee-zoo", and the Mandarin phrase translates to 'little lion'.

Shih Tzus originated in Tibet and were deemed to be of royalty. Whilst they were raised in royal temples for centuries, Shih Tzus are more than happy to make your home their castle.

2. Shih Tzus are surprisingly athletic

We tend to think of Shih Tzus as being a glamorous breed of dog. But beneath their long flowing coats is a surprisingly muscular body.

Shih Tzus can perform well in agility, and many of them have won agility competitions.

3. Shih Tzus are closely related to wolves

We all know that dogs descended from prehistoric wolves thousands of years ago. But did you know that some breeds are more closely related to their wolf ancestors than others?

The Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute are less surprising, but the small and sweet Shih Tzu is a shocker.

Research has proven that Shih Tzus have the closest genetic relationship with prehistoric wolves.

4. Shih Tzus are over 1,000 years old

Shih Tzus are one of the oldest dog breeds in existence. They are over 1,000 years old.

It's widely believed that Shih Tzus were first kept as temple dogs to guard the monasteries in Tibet.

They are extremely ancient dogs!

5. Shih Tzus almost went extinct

Whilst Shih Tzus are super popular over at TeamDogs, they weren't always popular in Asia.

The Chinese Communist Revolution of 1949 almost caused the extinction of the Shih Tzu, when Empress Tzu Hsi's breeding kennels were destroyed.

Thankfully, a small number of dogs made it out of China and into Britain, where the breed was saved.

It is now believed that all Shih Tzus can be traced back to 14 original dogs. So, your Shih Tzu and your neighbour's might be related!

If Shih Tzus are your favourite dog breed, cast your third and final vote in the UK's Favourite Dog Breed competition before the final on Saturday, August 14.

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