THE SHIH TZU TOPKNOT
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.
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