Our first dog was a Great Dane called Spartan and it was him who gave us the showing bug. Unfortunately we didn’t have the resources to breed Great Danes. When we first saw a Shih Tzu, we liked the look and the independent character. We especially liked the forward facing eyes which we felt gave them a human trait. We started at open shows but were lucky to breed a champion in our first litter – Ch. Santosha Rambling Rose, known at home as Brandy. She wasn’t the pick of the litter but transformed ‘from an ugly duckling into a swan’ at the age of around 18 months. Prior to her show career taking off, she was a seasoned rabbit hunter. Not only was she our first champion; she was our first Crufts best of breed, judged by Audrey Dadds.
Following the birth of Adam & Lucy we spent less time showing for a while. Our next three champions were Bewitched (Witch) and her daughter Bewitching (Susie) and Sundown (Sarah). Sundown’s litter sister, Sunset (Sunny), then produced Sunking (Robin) – probably our favourite ever Santosha and first male champion. His is the image in pride of place on this site. Sunking and Sundown then gave us Royal Flush (Finch). Royal Flush was bred with Ch. Yakee Chang Yeh, owned by Albert Easdon.
This breeding gave us probably our most famous – and certainly most successful – dog, Ch. Firefox of Santosha, known at home as Bert. He won 34 CC’s (29 with Best of Breed), a record that stood for 9 years. The highlight of his career was Reserve Best in Show at the East of England show. Another notable achievement was winning the dog CC at Crufts in the same year that another Santosha – Tiger Lily – won the bitch CC and Best of Breed. Firefox later went on to win a Crufts best of breed himself.
Tiger Lily (Amy), bred from a Royal Flush daughter, was perhaps one of the most photogenic dogs we have bred. Our next champion, out of Tiger Lily’s litter sister, was Chocolate Orange (Chuck). He took the dog CC at Crufts under Jean Leadbitter. After Chuck, our next champion was Red October (Sean), who was out of a Firefox daughter. He was the top sire for three consecutive years and the sire of one of our newer champions, Santorini (Paris). Santorini also has the distinction of being a Top Sire for 3 years running. Another of our champions, Stromboli (Boli), whose mother was a Red October daughter, was the 1999 and 2000 dog CC winner at Crufts and top Shih Tzu in 2000. More recent Champions include Last Dancer (Dancer) and Hidden Key Unlocked (Jack) who is the product of the delightful US Champion Hidden Key Doubtless (Chic) and a Santosha bred bitch, Blackberry (Miss A). Our two newest Champions are Santosha Carte Noir (Betty) and Yakee Diamond Geezer at Santosha (Fred). Betty is the first solid black bitch to gain her title in the UK and only the 3rd solid black overall. Fred gained his 3rd CC before his 2nd birthday.
One aspect of our line that we are particularly proud of almost 40 years on is how our current show stock and previous Champions can, even through carefully chosen outcrosses, be traced directly back to our first litter of Shih Tzu, which drew heavily on the Lhakang line of Mrs. Widdrington and the Greenmoss line of Mr. & Mrs. Leadbitter. Features for which Santosha Shih Tzu are well known include a typical head with very dark eyes, medium size but heavy boned and bodied and sound movement. We don’t place abundance of coat over the dogs’ freedom to run around and, particularly on a rainy day, some people visiting us may not recognise them as a show dog. Both of us have been selected to judge at Crufts – Susan in 1998 and David in 2004. We feel that this is the highest accolade that can be given and are honoured that we have both been given the opportunity.

As to the future, we intend to continue breeding Shih Tzu which we feel to be of a good type, true to the characteristics of our line and as near as possible to the breed standard. We will also continue to work for the good of the breed at large through the various organisations which we are active in.

Site Design, Content and images © Adam Crossley
Tiger Lily Image © Jean-Luc Lambert