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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