Shih Tzu Breed Magazine - Showsight


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


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