JUDGING THE SHIH TZU by Sally VilaS
S hih Tzu were recognized by the American Kennel Club 45 years ago, but there is a fairly short list of breeder/judges. That fact, I believe, places extra respon- sibility on judges who have come from other breeds/groups to judge Shih Tzu. When selecting judges for National or Regional specialties, exhibitors are looking for judges who have proven to understand the nuances of the breed and any concerns about current prob- lems that may be evident in the show ring. We want judges of Shih Tzu to be knowledgeable and comfortable when judging these toy dogs. It is important to use parent club material about the breed. I urge new and experienced judges of Shih Tzu to include in their preparation The Illustrated Guide to the Shih Tzu Standard published by the Ameri- can Shih Tzu Club. This attractive 64-page booklet contains the standard,
table examination The only way to determine wheth- er the dog fits the written standard is to use your hands to discover what is under the “long and flowing” coat. The first impression when approaching the dog is the head and expression. Expres- sion is described in the Standard as “Warm, sweet, wide-eyed, friendly and trusting... 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”. Round is the descriptive word to remember as you examine the head; it should be broad, and rounded from side to side as well as from stop to occiput. The head should be in balance with the overall size of the dog. The muzzle is square, short, well cushioned, set no lower than bottom eye rim and ide- ally no longer than one inch from tip of nose to stop. Front of muzzle flat; lower lip and chin not protruding and definitely never receding. The bite is overshot. Nostrils should be broad, wide and open, and the jaw is broad and wide. Ears are large and set slightly below crown of skull. Round is also the word to remember when examining the eyes, which should be “large, round, not prominent, placed
with clarifications. These are accom- panied by wonderful drawings by Ste- phen Hubbell to help understand what is under the glamorous looking coat on dogs in the show ring. To further that understanding, there are also colored photos of Shih Tzu in full show coat and then ‘cut down’. The accompany- ing honest evaluations of the good and less desirable features of these dogs is invaluable to anyone learning or judg- ing the breed. Before any assignment to judge Shih Tzu, it is worthwhile to take this booklet off of the shelf and review what the parent club is telling you about the breed. If it is not in your personal library, review it online at: www.americanshihtzuclub.org. I also recommend that Shih Tzu exhibitors and breeders review this information regularly. It contains more specifics than this article, which is a condensed review of breed characteristics. ProPortion The Shih Tzu should be a rectangu- lar dog, with “length between the with- ers and root of tail slightly longer than height at withers”. It is not a square dog, and must never be so high stationed to appear leggy, nor so low stationed as to appear dumpy or squatty. Color patterns may be deceptive—a solid-colored dog will look longer than a dog that has a wide white ‘shawl’ over the shoulders. The amount and quality of hair may also vary the perception of the proportion of the dog moving around the ring. Train your eye to these variances—and then use your hands to confirm the proportion of the dog dur- ing the table examination.
well apart... very dark...” The cor- rect eyes are vital to the warm, sweet, friendly expression that is a part of the essence of the breed.
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