Shih Tzu Breed Magazine - Showsight


Let’s Talk Breed Education!


I have been training and trialing Shih Tzu in Agility for 24 years. I started doing Agility with my Obedience Shih Tzu, which sounds like an oxymoron. I started Agility for something different to do to keep my Shih Tzu interested in doing Obedience. She got bored with Obedience, so I added Agility to keep her interested. Shih Tzu are very much a thinking breed and will come up with different things to do if they are bored or don’t understand their job—as the center photo of “Dori” demonstrates. You must keep your sense of humor, but don’t think you can’t train a Shih Tzu like any other dog. I have trained mine (I’m on my fourth Agility/Obedience/ Rally Shih Tzu) as I would any other dog. I know that this seems taboo, but training a dog is training a dog. They are ALL different, even within the same breed, and you have to figure out what makes them “tick.” My current Shih Tzu, Dori, is the sixth dog I have trained in Agility and the foun- dation has been the same for all. That said, I do make concessions based on the dog. For example, you cannot drill a Shih Tzu as you can other breeds. Do things once or twice and quit that exercise, especially if they have done it right. If they do it right, move on. Otherwise, you are flirting with disaster. They’ll think of many different ways they can do it wrong. I keep training very upbeat and happy, but I DO mark when they do something wrong. Usually with an “Uh-Oh!” I believe dogs need to know when they are right and when they are wrong. Good things are “yes” and/or “good.” I keep training sessions short and very specific. We may only work weave poles for five minutes and quit, or work contacts and quit, or maybe a jump sequence and quit. Give them lots of things to think through. They are great problem-solvers and you want to channel that. In my experience, Shih Tzu are not a very “driven” breed, but it is there, and you have to work on building the little bit of drive that is there; lots of restraint and revving up, and then let them “explode” forward, which you would never do with a dog that has tons of drive. Build that drive when they are young. Restrain them, throw a toy, and rev them up to go get it. I use “ready, ready, ready” as a puppy, and then I transfer that to Agility equipment—contacts, weaves, and even jumps. It helps to have a toy- motivated dog. If you don’t, you can always get one of those toys you can put treats in. I throw the toy and then try to beat them to it. And if I do, I make a big deal that I got it and it’s mine; like it’s the best thing I’ve ever gotten. Most dogs love this game. The other thing to remember is not to push your Shih Tzu too fast in training. Take the time to lay a good foundation. Make sure they are confident doing all the obstacles and don’t move on until they are. If they are not confident, they will do them slowly and, let’s face it, Agility is about speed. Also, never force your dog to do an obstacles they are afraid of. If they show fear, back up to some easier form of the obstacle. This usually happens with contact obstacles, so go back to a smaller version or go back to an easier version of the obstacle. Get them confident again and then move on. Don’t be afraid to back up in your training. I have done that a lot, especially with my Shih Tzu. Agility training and trialing is fun and forms a great bond between you and your Shih Tzu. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do Agility with a Shih Tzu. It may be a bit more challenging, but it’s worth it—and the dogs and you can have a blast. But, if you don’t have a sense of humor, get a different breed!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Beth Scorzelli is a member of the ASTC Board of Directors and an AKC licensed Canine Good Citizen and Trick Dog testing judge.




I n the more than 50 years since I acquired my first Shih Tzu, the breed has made great strides. It has become far more uniform and sound, both physically and tempera- mentally. However, it has also become part of an overall trend in the show ring for more hair, more grooming, more flash, and more speed. A number of recent articles have been lamenting the fact that many breeds in the show ring today have come to deviate considerably from the written Standards for their breed to the point that it is often difficult to win with a dog that fits the Breed Standard, because it is different than most of its competitors. One article cited the “elegant looking Shih Tzu with its long neck” as a prime example of this type of deviation. The Shih Tzu is meant to be a sturdy breed with a broad and deep chest, and good spring of rib. It is slightly longer from withers to tail than its height at the withers. As noted in the Standard, “Of utmost importance is an overall well-balanced dog with no exaggerated features.” The Shih Tzu should always be compact and solid, and carry good weight and substance regardless of size. While it should never be so low-stationed as to appear dumpy or squatty, it also must never be so high- stationed as to appear leggy. The neck is supposed to flow smoothly into the shoulders. It should be of sufficient length to permit a naturally high head carriage that is in balance with the height and length of the dog. Nowhere does the Shih Tzu Standard call for a long neck or long legs. The front legs are to be well-boned, muscular, and set well-apart and under the chest, with elbows close to the body. The tail should be set on high and carried in a curve, well-over the back. Too many tails today are too tight, too flat, or set too low. You should be able to insert your hand between the front legs, and into the teacup-handle curve created by a properly set tail. Coupled with longer necks, flat or low-set tails destroy the desired over- all outline of the dog.

The angulation of the hindquarters should be in balance with the forequarters. If it is not, one gets what is often seen in today’s ring—a dog that is strung up and raced around the ring, with its front feet barely touching the ground and a flashy rear “kick.” This is not the good front reach and equally strong rear drive called for in the Standard, but simply an effort to get the rear legs out of the way of the front legs. It also often results in a sloping topline rather than the desired level one. At a slower speed, and not strung up, a dog with this angulation would lack the desired smooth, flowing, and effortless movement. While the Shih Tzu should be sound, it is not a generic dog. Its most distinguishing feature is its broad, round head and the warm, sweet, wide-eyed expression that reflects its temperament. The desired head is the result of a complex collection of recessives that are being lost. Unfortunately, heads have gotten smaller as the dogs have gotten taller with finer bones and longer necks. Narrow heads and close-set, small, light, or almond-shaped eyes are serious faults, as are the lack of a defi- nite stop or an overshot bite. The muzzle should be square, short, and well-cushioned, and set no lower than the bottom eye rim. For health reasons, the nostrils should be broad, wide, and open. When judging our breed, the Standard says, “Care should be taken to look and examine well beyond the hair to determine if what is seen is the actual head and expression rather than an image created by grooming technique.” With a light touch, this can be done without destroying the grooming!

BIO Jo Ann White acquired her first Shih Tzu before the breed achieved full AKC recognition. The former President of both the American Shih Tzu Club and the Shih Tzu Club of Central Florida, she remains on the Board of both clubs as well as the Manatee Kennel Club. The author of The Official Book of the Shih Tzu and a longtime Shih Tzu Breed Columnist for the AKC Gazette, Jo Ann is no longer able to show due to health issues but remains active as head of the ASTC website ( ) and Chair of the ASTC Publications Committee. The breeder and/or owner of about 20 champions, she is pictured winning an Award of Merit from the Veteran Class at an ASTC National with her beloved BIS and BISS “Chico,” the sire of 16 champions.





T he Shih Tzu breed is a luxuriously coated Toy breed with a distinc- tive chrysanthemum face, rectangular body, and an amazing person- ality and temperament. Shih Tzu also have a “signature” proud head, with a tail held high over the back. They require extensive groom- ing, so the exhibitors, breeders, and handlers can easily fool the inexperienced judge. Shih Tzu are more than just a pretty face accentuated by an elaborate, and sometimes overdone, artificial topknot. Anyone contemplating judging our breed or gaining a better understanding of Shih Tzu should begin their education by obtaining a copy of The Illustrated Guide to the Shih Tzu Standard , available from the American Shih Tzu Club. As Chairperson of the committee that developed the guide, I feel it truly is a valuable tool that includes numerous color photos as well as a number of “before and afters” of the Shih Tzu in coat—and even shaved down naked. It also con- tains written clarifications of important points of the Standard and numerous sketches by Stephen Hubbell that outline the breed’s finer points. This booklet is an excellent way to train your eye to look beyond the hair so that you can visual- ize the actual structure and shape the dog should be as it struts around the ring. It also contains a description of the “Essence of Shih Tzu Breed Type.” A knowledge of the characteristics listed below, in order of importance, will help take the mystery away from understanding this amazing breed. ESSENCE OF SHIH TZU BREED TYPE Temperament: Outgoing, lively, alert, proud, arrogant, affectionate, friend- ly, and trusting. Head: Round and broad, with eyes that are large, round, and dark; the expres- sion is warm, friendly, and trusting, with the head in proportion to the body. Body: Overall balance and proportion is rectangular; well-bodied, good bone, topline level, high teacup tail. Gait: Smooth, flowing, effortless; head and tail held high. Coat: Long, luxurious, and double-coated. Please allow me to briefly expound on some key points when judging the Shih Tzu. TEMPERAMENT This is the most important aspect of Shih Tzu. They MUST be outgoing and friendly. Shih Tzu can have a number of personalities. They can be clowns and naughty, regal, and a bit arrogant. However, they should under no circumstances be aggressive or shy. While examining them, you can fully expect a wagging tail, sparkling eyes, and in general, an extremely happy dog that would love to be in your arms. They should love everyone!!!

“Shih Tzu are more than just a pretty face accentuated by an elaborate, and sometimes overdone, artificial topknot.”


HEAD The Shih Tzu head is what makes our breed unique. Think “round” from all sides. As a judge, I like to see the head at least the size of a grapefruit or larger. Today’s exhibitors are, unfor- tunately, what we refer to as “artists.” Once you learn how to examine the head, you can see beyond all the fuss and grandiose grooming. Using the method of cupping the head in your hands with fingers behind the ears, you can then use your thumbs to do all the examining of the rest of the head. This allows you to look into their eyes, feel the whole shape of the skull, width of muzzle, amount of stop, and fullness of fore skull, without destroying the grooming. BODY Shih Tzu should be surprisingly heavy for their size. The aver- age show dog weighs between 9 and 13 pounds, and measures approximately 9 to 10.5 inches at the shoulder when mature. Pup- pies may sometimes appear to be large, especially if they have the proper coat texture. We want substance, good bone, body, forechest, and shelf in the rear. Shih Tzu do not have a waist or tuck up. They are slightly longer than tall. GAIT Shih Tzu should be built as well as any other breed of dog. They should have a good structure so that they can move effort- lessly and smoothly, with head held proudly and the tail over the back. Ideally, the tail set is high and carried properly. (We describe it as a teapot handle.) The tail should not be flat on the back. You want to be able to see the reach and drive from the side, as well as two black pads when the dog is moving away from you. COAT Many judges are confused about coats because of all the techniques that the exhibitors are now using to camouflage bad coats—to look like good ones. The coat must be luxurious, dou- ble -coated and dense. All colors and markings should be consid- ered equally. This may be difficult, as some markings may help or hinder the appearance of balance with the overall dog. You may have to take more time on the solid colors, especially when exam- ining the heads. Different colors can have different textures and fullness of hair. Puppies that have an abundance of puppy coat will appear larger, and adults that have been shown frequently may appear to have single coats. We want a double coat that, on adults, will appear to be long, luxurious, and flowing. When judging, I will bring my class into the ring and, depend- ing on the size of the class, move them as a group or individually first. Going down the line, and viewing from the center of the ring, will give you a good indication of size, proportion, and bal- ance within the class. When judging this breed outdoors, they are sometimes at a great disadvantage depending on the show grounds and the length of the grass. This is when the examinations on the table are very important. It is difficult to judge balance when the grass is long—and is also difficult to judge movement as well. In conclusion, I feel Shih Tzu are an awesome breed and we want all judges to enjoy their experiences in our breed. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with the important nuances of our breed (by studying the Illustrated Guide) will give you the confidence to pick the correct dog whether it is being shown by a breeder, a handler or a rank novice. Do not be fooled, as the Shih Tzu is more than just a pretty face.

Sketches by Stephen Hubbell, ASTC Illustrated Guide

“Shih Tzu should be built as well as any other breed of dog. They should have a good structure so that they can move effortlessly and smoothly, with head held proudly and the tail over the back.”


T he shapes and styles of Shih Tzu topknots over the past few decades has morphed to a point of exaggeration that, in many cases, is detrimental to the purpose of the bow—which is to draw attention to the beautiful, large, round head and the warm expression of our breed. The sole purpose of the Shih Tzu is as a companion dog. A warm, friendly, and trusting temperament is the most important aspect and is an essential component of breed type. Breeders and exhibitors have worked hard to present our breed in a fashion that enhances the beauty and elegance of the breed, resulting in a win- ning look that has seen the Shih Tzu consistently garnering high awards in strong Group and Best in Show rings. There are varying degrees of presentation of Shih Tzu, not only in the US and Canada but in every country in the world. A quick observation is that in countries around the world where Shih Tzu are rewarded highly and hold their own against other breeds in the Group, the breed generally receives a considerable amount of proper coat conditioning and attention to the finishing touches. This results in our Shih Tzu having the “irresistible fac- tor” when presented in the ring, exuding correct breed type in a complete package. During the early 1970s, in North America and in many coun- tries around the world, the hair on the top of the head was gener- ally held up with a single elastic band. By the late ‘70s, the single band was enhanced with a simple bow, as exhibitors were proud of their beautiful charges and wanted to draw attention to a cor- rect head with its warm expression. Over time (and with the use of more elastic bands, fancier bows, back-combing, and teasing), many exhibitors’ efforts appeared as works of “art” that ranged from very acceptable to completely outlandish. Judges today need to learn to judge the Shih Tzu in spite of the exhibitors’ creations that can easily confuse the untrained. Focus first on feeling, with your fingers, the actual construction of the head, which should be large and round. Frame the head by cupping it in your hands with your thumbs up... use your thumbs to feel the whole head by getting under the topknot to feel the correct, round dome of the head and the broadness of the skull. (Thumbs “in and out” will not destroy the topknot and annoy the exhibitor.) Look directly into the face to see the wide-set, large, round, dark eyes. Feel the muzzle, which should be broad and square. Check the bite to be sure the slightly undershot bite [slightly undershot or level, per CKC Standard—Ed.] has a broad underjaw with incisors and canines in a straight line, which is so important to the expression and “Oriental” look of the Shih Tzu. Determine whether the head


...the breed generally receives a considerable amount of proper coat conditioning and attention to the finishing touches.

L. Sarah Lawrence

five decades dedicated to excellence

CH Chatterbox Blame It On The Sun Best Puppy

CH Chatterbox Wish Upon A Star

CH Chatterbox Breathless Anticipation Best Puppy

CH Chatterbox Crazy In Love BIS Puppy

CH Chatterbox Here Comes Trouble

CH Chatterbox Most Happy Fella



CH Chatterbox I Dream Of Jeanie

CH Chatterbox It’s All A Dream Best Puppy

CH Chatterbox Princess Leia

CH Chatterbox Ready For Action

CH Chatterbox She’s What It’s All About

CH Chatterbox Reasonable Doubt

CH Chatterbox The Thrill Of Being Me Best Puppy

CH Krissy’s Dream Lover The Number One Shih Tzu in 2009

CH Ming Dynasty’s Spice Girl BIS Puppy



GCHS Wenshus Shesa Dream The Number Two Shih Tzu in 2012

CH Wenshus Mona Lisa National Specialty Winner

GCH Chatterbox My Boyfriend’s Back

GCHB Chatterbox Light My Fire

GCHG Pekings Midnight Vision At Wenshu Top Winning Black Shih Tzu, Of All Time

GCH Wenshu Leaving Me Breathless Best Puppy

CH Chatterbox A Reason To Dream

GCHB CH Wenshu Thrill Of Da Game

GCHG CH Wenshu In The Midnight Hour National Specialty Winner



is in balance with the well-boned, sturdy body. This technique will allow you to completely and thoroughly examine the head in spite of the efforts of the groomer to enhance the look with a topknot that occasionally appears artificial and incorrect. Many of you may have heard of the “bow” controversy at Crufts several years ago. The breed judge placed a sign at the ring entrance, which read: “Bows and/or any other adornments will not be permitted in the ring. Plain elastic band holding the topknot up only please.” Apparently, she then received a barrage of nasty comments from “overseas exhibitors.” IMHO, Much Ado About Nothing!!!! I feel that the judge’s sign was very appropriate on many levels. The first is that it is a new amendment to the breed standard by the Kennel Club in the UK. Secondly, as a very longtime exhibitor, I appreciate know- ing the preferences of the judge before entering the ring. If she preferred “no bows,” that would have been fine for me and I would have taken advantage of the “heads-up.” In November 2016, The Kennel Club sent a letter to all Shih Tzu Clubs, advising of an amendment to the Shih Tzu Breed Standard that "…it is strongly recommended that the hair on head is tied-up without adornment.” Matthew Rus- sell, Chairman of the Shih Tzu Club in the UK, said his club had been lobbying for this recommendation on bows because they are part of a “trend in recent years” to regard the dog as a “designer or hand-bag dog,” which is “as much a status symbol as it is a pet and companion.” He said this is of “great concern” to the vast majority of breeders and exhibitors in the UK. For me, personally, I do not have a grave concern about this. How- ever, I feel it was not anything that “needed” to be included in the standard. The danger I see is that this has been amended in the FCI standard, and many countries around the world respect the standard of the country of origin. China is the country of “origin,” but the United Kingdom is “the country of development.” This may cause some confusion in countries that use the FCI standard, as the use of a bow in many FCI countries is widespread and entrenched in the grooming and presentation traditions of exhibitors—and many do not want to give up the right to use a bow. As I judge, we judge by the standard used by the country we are judging in. Exhibitors in countries that traditionally use a bow (such as most Asian countries and Russia, for example) may be asked by judges to remove the bows. Thank heavens it is only a recommendation that no adornment be used, and not mandatory that there be no adornment. Will they be forced to adhere to a requirement that was primarily intended for shows in the UK, or does the UK want all countries around the world to adhere to this policy? The high-level presentation, including bows, as seen in Yorkshire Terriers and Maltese in the UK, has never been a focus of UK Shih Tzu breeders. We can appreci- ate and respect this, though we fail to understand The Kennel Club discouraging bows in Shih Tzu while condoning them in Maltese and Yorkshire Terriers. It is most likely that the AKC or CKC breed standards will never be changed to reflect “no bows” because the tradition is entrenched in our countries and is used to draw attention and importance to our beautifully headed breed, and not as a mechanism to “hide faults” as is the impression of some. The strongest point we would like to stress with this article is that whether a dog is shown with an inappropriate topknot—with or without a bow—is of very little importance when judging, as it should not hinder the proper assessment of our affection- ate, sturdy, and beautiful breed: THE SHIH TZU!!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Since 1971, Richard Paquette and Wendy Paquette have been Shih Tzu owners and breeders under the kennel name “Wenrick.” They have presented seminars and judged Shih Tzu Specialties around the world, including the American Shih Tzu Club National on numerous occasions. Richard and Wendy are Canadian Kennel Club All-Breed Judges.

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF Wenrick Shih Tzu Panda Bates

Am GCH Wenrick's N'Palaquins They Call Me Mr Bates Multi Best In Show, Multi Best In Specialty Winner #1 Shih Tzu All Breed in 2019

Am GCH Wenrick's Don't Stop Believing ROM Multi Best In Show, Multi Best In Specialty, National Specialty Winner in 2015, Group 1st Winner at WKC in 2016


AmCanBraPanAm GCH Wenrick's SP Kiss This ROM Multi Best In Show, Multi Best In Specialty Winner #1 Toy and #4 All Breeds in Brazil in 2016

Wenrick Reg'd Since 1971 | Wendy Paquette | Richard Paquette | Jody Paquette Garcini SHIH TZU 288 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2021


TRUE TO THE RUSSIAN/US STANDARD " When Type is Everything "






Shih Tzu


L et’s compare Standards from around the world: AKC —“All are permissible and to be considered equally.”

CKC —“All colors are acceptable providing they have black noses, lips and eye rims. The exceptions are the livers and blues which have pigmentation that compliments that particular color.” There is a DQ for “one or two blue eyes.” FCI —“All colors permissible, white blaze on forehead and white tip to tail highly desir- able in parti colors.” UK —“All colours except merle permissible, white blaze on forehead and white tip to tail highly desirable in parti-colours.” Basically, the four Standards say the same thing: All colors are to be treated equally... but are they? I have dabbled in solid colors over the past 50 years of breeding. However, I’ve always found it very frustrating that solid-colored Shih Tzu (or those with dark faces) are often overlooked. Why is that? They are the same breed and should be judged accordingly on structure, like all the parti-colors. Too often they are at the back of the line as judges (and sometimes, of course, breeders) are not fans of the solid colors. The solid-colored dogs, however, may be the breeder/owner’s preference. So, when judging breeding stock, they should be given equal consideration.

Lotus Shih Tzu

est. 2009

Owner Handler & Breeder Annette Lewis, Breeder of Merit

Thank you to all the judges who have recognized and awarded my Shih Tzu.

Thank you to Dan Haley for your mentoring & friendship over the years!

Newest puppy out, Lotus Simply Top Gun, “Maverick”

CH. Lotus Shake Your Money Maker “Ella”

CH. Lotus Just Because I Can “Jolene”

CH. Lotus The Force Awakens “Leia”

GCH. Lotus Santa Baby, “Noelle”

CH. Lotus Fire Meets Fury, “Rae”

Owner Breeder Handler Paula Krueger, Breeder of Merit N-Finiti Shih Tzu

Thank you to all of the judges over the years who have found and honored my babies. Special thank you to Pat Fletcher of Karyon Shih Tzu for mentoring me and allowing me to have some very special girls!

CH. Karyon Jazzy Jazz Jasmin “Jazz”

CH. N-Finiti Dream Weaver “Dreamer”

CH. N-Finiti Playing to the Music, “Lyric”

CH. N-Finiti Journey of Dreams “Journey”

CH. Karyon Dreaming in Color, “KD”

CH. N-Finiti Playing for Keeps, “Keeper”




“Regardless of color, please judge the dog as a whole entity; keeping in mind that ‘All colors are acceptable.’”

sable, red with tan points, sable with tan points, chocolates, etc. Is a sable with tan points the same description given to a variety in other breeds? Some examples are German Shepherds and Pomera- nians. None of these new colors are listed for registration purposes. I am including photos of a few of the different color combi- nations here. Even though livers and blues are mentioned, one will rarely find them in the show ring—but you will see them, most likely in puppy mill ads, etc. However, having said this, they are not to be ruled out in the conformation ring as they are acceptable colors. So, to summarize: Regardless of color, please judge the dog as a whole entity; keeping in mind that “All colors are acceptable.”

Yes, the majority of breeders will only show you the parti colors with big white faces, white blaze, etc., all coming in a variety of colors. However, what is underneath the color/coat must also be given the same recognition. More and more, we are seeing a large variety of new colors and markings. One of the biggest problems with the different register- ing clubs is that all of these new colors are not being identified properly! Therefore, when looking at pedigrees, it may say the dog is black and white when, in reality, it is a tri. Otherwise, a dog that is black with tan should be identified as black and tan markings. Genetically, I believe that the majority of colors listed on pedigrees are wrong, given that they are now coming up with names such as

A Guide to Examining & Judging


J udging the Shih Tzu can be a challenging task for the newly approved Breed judge. Because the Shih Tzu is a heavily-coated breed, one must take extra care during the hands-on examination. Please judge the Shih Tzu by the AKC standard and not by the name of the Group it is placed in. Being a member of the AKC Toy Group in no way implies that “smaller” and “cuter” are preferred. Breeders and judges should remem- ber that most everywhere else in the world the Shih Tzu is not in the Toy Group. Th e Shih Tzu has not been bred down from some other combination of breeds. Th e Shih Tzu should be the third heaviest breed in the Toy Group, right behind the Pug and the Cavalier King Charles Span- iel. At the time of recognition, one reason given for plac- ing the Shih Tzu in the AKC Toy Group was to eliminate confusion between the Shih Tzu and the Lhasa Apso. A few years ago, when AKC Group realignment was being considered, the membership of the ASTC was polled and the desire of the overwhelming majority was to remain in the Toy Group. Some members just wanted to leave things the way they were. Some members feared the breed would get larger if placed in the Non-Sporting or the proposed Companion Group. In Canada, the Shih Tzu is in the Non- Sporting Group and Canadian Shih Tzu are no larger than American-bred Shih Tzu. In fact, the Canadian dogs com- pete very well at our national specialties. Many Americans breed to Canadian dogs. Some ASTC members did not want to be placed into the same Group with Poodles and Bichon, which tend to dominate Group winning there. An interesting note about the English Shih Tzu Standard: Th e original English standard stated, “ Th e Shih Tzu is neither a Terrier, nor a Toy.” It bears repeating; judge the Shih Tzu by the AKC standard and NOT by the name of the Group it is placed in. TYPE OVER SOUNDNESS Th e Shih Tzu should move as soundly as any other breed: Sound coming and going, with a level topline and good reach and drive. But do not put physical and struc- tural soundness ahead of type. Remember form over func- tion, and the function of a Shih Tzu is to be a beautiful, pleasing companion. Please fi nd the typiest dogs in the ring and then reward the soundest of the typiest. THE INFLUENCE OF SEX Th ere is little di ff erence in appearance and size of males and females. Both sexes have been big winners, including multiple National Specialty and Best In Show winners.

These four Illustrations show correct head shape, correct eye/nose placement, with both a dog in coat and cut down. From the ASTC Illustrated Guide to the Shih Tzu, and used with the knowledge and permission of the ASTC.

MANHANDLING SHIH TZU Th ere is no reason to ever be heavy-handed when judging the breed. Temperamentally, Shih Tzu can “take being man-handled,” but there is absolutely no reason to squeeze the legs all the way down to the toes. It is possible to ascertain what is underneath the hair without squeezing. GROOMING Th e Shih Tzu is just as much a “grooming breed” as the Yorkshire Terrier, the Maltese, the Poodle and the Terrier breeds to name a few... Grooming and presentation are important. Excesses are not acceptable. Grooming techniques have evolved over the years, often to the detri- ment of the breed. Anyone approved by AKC to judge any breed knows what the AKC rules are, and what is and is not allowed. You all know what your options are and how to deal with it. I fi nd it di ffi cult to penalize a dog for what a human has done to it. Regarding the Shih Tzu Standard, there is nothing speci fi c in the stan- dard as to “how” the topknot is supposed to be “prepared.” Th e standard simply says, “Hair on top of head is tied up.” In fact, the standard prior to 1989, simply said, “Hair...may be tied up.” Notice there is nothing speci fi c as to what the topknot should look like or how many bands may be used, etc. If you as a judge fi nd something excessive, you will have



Illustrating Two Styles of Topknots: Left, Today’s One-Piece Topknot; Right, A Split Topknot from the 1980’s.

about the dog in front of the tail?” Again, the standard states, “Care should be taken to look and examine well beyond the hair to determine if what is seen is the actual head and expression rather than an image created by grooming technique.” Regarding trim- ming, the standard says, “Trimming—Feet, bottom of coat and anus may be done for neatness and to facilitate movement. Fault: Excessive trimming.” Th e most important characteristics to keep in mind while judging these beautiful dogs are: Temperament, Balance, Heads, Body, Coat and Color, and Movement. TEMPERAMENT In judging Shih Tzu, temperament should never be an issue. Th is is a happy breed, which would rather kiss you than have you examine it. A bit of happy “naugh- tiness” should be expected. Please do not expect the Shih Tzu to be a robot. At the same time, any hint of shyness should be noted and considered when making your decisions. Aggressiveness, as in any other breed, is not to be tolerated. BALANCE & PROPORTIONS Th e Shih Tzu is a rectangular breed. Th e distance from the withers to the set of the tail is “slightly” longer than the distance from the withers to the ground. Th e limits for height are from 8" to 11"; ideally from 9 to 10-1/2". Th erefore, if a dog’s height measures 10-1/2" at the withers, the dis- tance from the withers to the set of the tail should be approximately 10-3/4". When you add forechest and buttocks to the trunk section, you have a distinctly rectangular dog. Judging height-to-length balance is

done best on the table, (where all dogs in the Toy Group must be examined). Judging Shih Tzu outdoors on grass will add at least an inch or more to apparent overall length and, of course, will distort the true balance and make the dog look much longer than it really is. Toy exhibitors frequently com- plain that the grass is never mowed short enough. On a fl at surface this is much less of a problem. Of course, judging the breed in the wind and rain creates a real disaster. When looking at a class of dogs, look at where their toplines are and not at the top of their heads. Typically, a dog with good shoulders will carry himself more upright and might appear to be taller. Begin your examination by getting a sense of the overall balance from the side, looking at and com- paring all the entries in a class. I always take a single dog or an entire class around the ring before tabling for examination. If you feel it necessary to re-examine any aspect of a Toy dog, re-table the dog. It is permissible to put no more than two at a time on the table to make comparison. As with some other Toy breeds, having the handler pick the dog up to eye level for examination to re-check details of the head is permissible. THE HEAD Th e head is the hallmark of the breed. Th ough no breed walks on its head, large, correctly-placed and spaced eyes and a strong underjaw are two key ingredients in establishing breed type. Th e head should be large in proportion to the body. Th e breed has lost head size, but what is more alarm- ing is that most dogs’ heads are nearly fl at between the ears. When you fi nd a Shih Tzu with a large head, reward it (providing

to deal with it as you see fi t. I would suggest though, that if you are going to penalize Shih Tzu for perceived grooming abuses, I ask that you be just as consistent with other highly-groomed breeds. Before the ‘90s, almost all topknots were tied up with a den- tal ligature and split, with the hair fl owing down both sides of the head. Th e Shih Tzu has a habit of shaking violently when fi rst coming o ff the table, which leaves the hair fl ying in all directions, but especially over the face. To minimize the e ff ects of shaking, exhibitors began to shorten the topknots. As time passed, other techniques were employed to keep the hair in place. Some feel the reason topknots have gotten “high- er” is to give the appearance of more neck. Th is may or may not be the reason. Some feel that this ability to manufacture an intri- cate topknot gives the expert groomer an advantage over the average breeder/exhibi- tor. To be sure, some feel these intricate top- knots are a way of intimidating the judge from really examining the head. Most Shih Tzu exhibitors believe they would not win if they did not use the “modern” topknot. I was recently told that on one occasion an exhibitor using the “old fashioned” topknot was told by a judge to go to the other exhibi- tors who could teach them how to “do up” the topknot the correct way. I prefer the split style topknot, but the style in which an entry is presented would have almost no e ff ect on my judging or placements. Th ere are simply too many other aspects of the breed that are more important and critical. Recently, I was critical of the tail of a Terrier I was judging and did not reward it a win. When I stated this to a breed expert, I was asked, “What



other key breed characteristics are present). Th ere should be good “doming” above the eyes and between the ears. Th e head should be round when viewed from the front or from the side. Th e muzzle should be broad and square from the front and perpendicular when viewed from the side. If the pro fi le of the muzzle is perpendicular, the mouth will not be too undershot. Th e nostrils should be wide open. Th e teeth, ideally, are straight, but the width of the jaw (per the standard) is more important than slightly misaligned teeth or a missing tooth. Th e “Persian Kitten” syndrome (a look in which the face is small with the muzzle pinched, with small nose leather and the entire muzzle turned up) is very incorrect. Th e Shih Tzu should never give that impression when viewed straight on. Please check the eye/nose placement not only from the front, but also from the side. Th e eyes are large and as dark as possible; set wide apart with the bridge of the nose no lower than the bottom of the eye sockets, with as little eye white as possible. Do not discard an otherwise good specimen of the breed because of a very small amount of white in the inside corner of the eye. An eye totally ringed in white is completely unacceptable. Today, a Shih Tzu with a big, broad head with plenty of doming is more the exception than the rule. Th e nose leather (not length) should be large and black with wide open nos- trils. If you must choose between “down faced” or a nose placed too high, choose the latter. Th e Shih Tzu should have a broad lower jaw with reverse scissors bite. Most mouths today are proper. Th ere are very few wry or severely undershot bites. Sometimes the teeth are a little out of alignment or there might be a tooth missing. Th e stan- dard allows for this. Th e standard does not call for full dentition and there is no reason to look any farther than across the front of the mouth. By looking at the canines and incisors, you will be able to tell whether the dog has the proper undershot bite and whether the mouth is wry and how broad the jaw is. What is most important is that the jaw is broad and the under-jaw is strong. A broad, strong under-jaw is a key to the essence of head type in the breed. Th e Hands-On Examination: Do not be intimidated by groom- ing. It is easy to examine the Shih Tzu thoroughly without disturb- ing the grooming at all. To examine the head, cup the head with your hands and fi ngers behind the jaws and ears. With your thumbs, check the ear set to see if the ears are set just below the crown of the head and to see if there is “doming between the ears.” Use either thumb to determine the depth of the stop and the length of the nose. Using either thumb, push inward on the topknot (between the bow and the stop) to see if there is su ffi cient skull forward. Often the skull falls away above the eyes, with practically no fore-skull. Run both thumbs down each side of the muzzle and mustache to determine the width. Using either hand, hold down on the beard below the lower lip and push the lips upward with the other hand to examine the bite. Remem- ber, the width of the jaw is more important than misaligned teeth or a missing tooth. Check the muzzle from the side. THE BODY After fi nishing your examination of the head, move your hands to the shoulders (it is a good idea to stay in contact with the dog as you move your hands to the shoulders). Run your hands down the forequarters, checking for normal shoulder layback. Th e forelegs should be straight, though you will seldom fi nd perfectly straight legs in the Shih Tzu. Th e remainder of the physical examination of the Shih Tzu is like that of most other breeds. Do not massage (stroke) the coat back and forth along the spine. Th ere should be good bone, good substance and good spring of rib. In fact, the stan- dard states, “Substance—Regardless of size, the Shih Tzu is always compact, solid and carries good weight and substance.” Th e stan- dard does not say, “For its size,” but says, “Regardless of size must

have those characteristics.” Th ough the Shih Tzu standard has no DQ for weight, it is good to know what a breeder expects. Weight goes from 9 to 16 pounds. Most breeders would agree that they would like their males to be about 12 to 14 pounds and bitches to be more like 11 to 13 pounds. Don’t confuse a huge coat for substance. Some “apparently big” dogs (because of the amount of coat they have) can in reality be very “shelly” and an apparently smaller dog in reality might have very good bone and wonder- ful rib spring. Th e only way to know for sure is with the physical examination. In other words, don’t confuse height or coat alone for big or little. COAT Th e standard calls for a long, luxurious “double coat.” When examining the coat texture, feel the coat between your fi ngers to determine the texture. Do not massage (stroke) the coat back and forth along the spine. Th e same would go for any other drop coat breed. Lay the tail back to see if it is set-on high. Th ere should be no rounding of the croup. Also, determine whether the tail lays fl at on the back or is more like a teapot handle. Th ere should be room for you to slide your hand between the tail and the dog’s back when the tail curls over the side. Th e tail is set on high; arch- ing well over the back and not carried tightly over the side of the dog or lying fl at on the back. Step back to determine the shape of the dog. Note the correct high-set tail and arch in both the drawing and the actual Shih Tzu photo. Top: Correct height-to-length balance; Bottom: Correct height-to-length balance: “Length between withers and root of tail is slightly longer than height at withers.”



COLOR & MARKINGS Parti-colored, solid any color, black and white or having a dark face is of no importance, as all colors and markings are equal. All colors and markings are acceptable and equal. It is more di ffi cult to judge dark-faced or solid-colored dogs because the breed’s facial characteristics do not “pop out at you.” Th is is why a careful, up close examination (on the table) is so important. Th ere are no o ffi - cial records kept for the all-time top-winning parti-colored, black masked gold or solid black Shih Tzu. Resist the temptation to have a color preference; to prefer black and white, solid black or black masked gold dogs. Do not be turned o ff by a mismarked beard (black on one side and white on the other). Th ere are breeders who prefer certain colors or markings but, as a judge, you must treat all colors and markings as acceptable and equal. A word about the colors blue and liver: Th ey are acceptable according to the standard. However, Shih Tzu with these colors frequently also have lighter eyes; though not always. Th is creates a problem in that it is more di ffi cult to get soft, warm expression from a lighter eye. Liver pig- ment is seldom seen in the ring and blue is a real rarity. MOVEMENT Th e last component of type, Shih Tzu movement should be the same as for any soundly moving dog. Th e head should be carried high. Th e standard refers to a “distinctly arrogant carriage.” Th ere is absolutely no mention in the standard about length of neck. Th e standard requires that the Shih Tzu have arrogant carriage. In order for a Shih Tzu to carry its head high (without being “strung up”),

Correct Shih Tzu Movement: Distinctly arrogant carriage, level topline, good reach and drive.

it must have good shoulder layback. Moving away from you, you should see two black pads. Th e Shih Tzu should cover ground, but is not to be raced. Th e standard states, “ Th e Shih Tzu moves straight and must be shown at its own natural speed, neither raced nor strung-up.” Enough tension on the lead to guide the Shih Tzu is appropriate. A dead loose lead is not necessary. However, please dis- courage exhibitors from stringing up their dogs. When I see abuse in this area, I usually ask the exhibitor to “move your dog again, this time slower and please let up on the lead.”


My wife Bobbi and I began exhibiting Shih Tzu under the Shen Wah prefix in the early 1970s. To date, we have owned, bred or finished almost 100 champions. We have had many Toy Group and Specialty-winning Shih Tzu as well as three all-breed BIS winners. Our biggest pleasure was breeder/ owner-handling our home-bred BIS, BISS Ch. Shen Wah’s Turn It Loose to an all-breed BIS. Our Shih Tzu, BIS BISS Ch. Hallmark Jolei Austin Powers, won the ASTC National Specialty twice. In 2010, he was the number two Toy Dog in the US. We have also bred and shown Specialty-winning Chihuahuas and have shown Pugs and Maltese. We are still breeding and showing Shih Tzu. I am approved to judge the Hound, Terrier, Toy and Non-Sporting Groups, six Sporting and four Working breeds, and Best in Show. We have been members of the American Shih Tzu Club since 1977. I served two terms as President of the American Shih Tzu Club. I have held several offices in the ASTC and was the first AKC Judges Education Chairman. I have been a member of the ASTC judge’s education committee for more than 20 years. I served on the breed standard revision committee of 1989 and also was one of three members of The Illustrated Guide to the Shih Tzu Standard committee.

I have given seminars concerning Shih Tzu and Chinese/Tibetan breeds in every corner of the US as well as Australia and Europe. I began judging in 1987. I have judged the American Shih Tzu Club National Specialty twice. The Canadian Shih Tzu Club National, the Dutch Shih Tzu Club National, and Shih Tzu Specialties in Japan and Sweden. I have judged Hound, Terrier, Toy and Non-Sporting Group shows in the US and abroad. I have judged Specialty Shows for breeds in most of the Toy, Non-Sporting, Terrier and Hound Groups in the US, including the Chihuahua Club of America National Specialty Show. I have also judged the Tibetan Terrier Club of America National Specialty, the Lhasa Apso Club of America National Specialty, and the Chinese Shar Pei Club of America National Specialty. I’ve also judged the American Foxhound National Specialty. I have judged at the Westminster KC and The AKC/ Eukanuba National Championship shows. I have judged in Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. I have authored numerous articles on Shih Tzu, published in “Top Notch Toys” (TNT), the ASTC Bulletin, “Dogs in Review” and the “Shih Tzu Reporter”. I served on the Board of Directors of the Dog Judges Association

of America for six years and served as their annual seminar chairman for several years. I was also the Toy and Non-Sporting Group education coordinator of the Los Angeles Area Dog Judges Educational Association. I was for many years Show Chairman of the Santa Ana Valley Kennel Club and was a board member and am a past president of the Toy Dog Fanciers of Southern California. I have been the featured speaker at the annual Canadian Kennel Club Judges Conference. We now reside in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Professionally, I hold an MA in Educational Administration and a BA in German. I studied at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, in 1965 and ‘66. For 35 years I was a high school teacher, having retired in 2002. I taught German, English, and Art and Music History. I served for more than 30 years as Chairman of the Foreign Language Department.


SHIH TZU Q&A with Dr. John V. ioia

1. Describe the breed in three words. Elegant, arrogant and friendly.

It’s difficult for me to critique other judges. There appears to be more “generic” judging today. As a Toy person I am concerned that people coming from large breeds don’t have respect for our little dogs. Each of the Toys, Shih Tzu includ- ed, has a special history, anatomy and movement that needs to be appreciated. Coming from coated breeds is a distinct advantage in judging the Shih Tzu. I hear many questions from newer judges relating to gait. About the Author

2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? This must include a dog that carries itself with regal ele- gance befitting its royal Chinese ancestry. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? A Shih Tzu must have a large skull, broad muzzle, lovely and large dark round eyes. Specimens must have good depth of chest, nice prosternum and proper layback of front assem- bly with matching rears. This assembly will provide proper reach and drive with level side gait and correct tail carriage to complete the picture. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are bet- ter now than they were when you first started judg- ing? Why or why not? The Shih Tzu is a “head breed” in the sense that it must have that beautiful, regal expression with large, warn, dark eyes and a trusting expression. I am not a fan of the overdone exaggerated topknots that seem so prevalent in past years. Fortunately, at this year’s National all the specimens were shown with moderate topknots and lovely grooming. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? Having seen the breed since 1971, I must say that the Shih Tzu breed has never been better. Long-term Shih Tzu enthusi- asts know the history of our breed and in the early days there was significant heterogeneity in size and structure. It’s true that in the past we had many more dogs in competition and there are many great dogs that come to mind. In the 70s it was common to need a dozen or more to make a major. Num- bers today are way down, but I came away from this National feeling that the breed’s future is resting in the hands of some very capable breeders. Dogs appear more uniform in many aspects and I was impressed with the front and rear assem- blies of many of the dogs that I judged.

We reside in New York’s Hudson Val- ley. I am an Ortho- pedic Surgeon doing General Orthopedics and Joint Replace- ment Surgery. I am involved in a number of activities outside of dogs. I have been involved in Martial Arts since 1968 and am currently a 5th Degree Black Belt in a Korean form of Karate called Tang Soo Do. In addition

to that I still enjoy playing guitar, primarily blues or rock and playing with our Grandson Zachary. My wife Barbara and I got started in AKC activities when we acquired our first Shih Tzu in 1971, shortly after the breed was recog- nized. We were fortunate to get our first show pup Sassy, which I owner-handled to her championship and also her CD. Ch Kee-Lee’s Om Tzo Tza-Tzi CD (Sassy) became our foundation. She began Bar-Jon Shih Tzu. We have had Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso and now Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. We are actively breeding and showing Cavaliers and I most enjoy doing Rally competition and Therapy Dog work with our Cavaliers. I became an AKC licensed judge in 1982, beginning with Shih Tzu. I now judge All Toys, All Non- Sporting and Most Terrier Breeds, Jr. Showmanship and Best in Show. I judged the 2016 ASTC National Specialty and Juniors at the ACKCSC National Specialty.

6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate.

“A SHIH TZU MUST HAVE a large skull, broaD muzzle, loVely anD large Dark rounD eyes.”

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