“REGARDLESS OF SIZE, the Shih tzu iS alwayS compact, Solid and carrieS good weight and SubStance.”
There may be a ‘bubble’ of hair over the forehead; it is your job to use your thumbs and fore fingers to learn wheth- er the head is rounded, or whether the bubble is obscuring the fact that he dog does not have enough stop. There may be a towering topknot, but you should put your fingers through it at the base to determine the shape and size of the head. We are losing the nice big head that should be a hallmark of the breed (narrow heads are a fault), so judges are urged to reward the proper heads when possible. The topknot should help to frame the face and enhance the expression. Higher is not better! In fact, the too-tall topknot can actually distort the expres- sion as well as the moving profile. While there should be enough length of neck to “permit natural head carriage...in bal- ance with the height and length of the dog”, the Shih Tzu standard also asks for an “overall well-balanced dog with no exaggerated features.” After examining the head, it is time to further examine the body. Hopefully you will find straight front legs, tight elbows, broad and deep chest, good spring of ribs, well angulated shoulders, level topline, flat croup and a tail that is set on high, heavily plumed, and car- ried in a curve over the back. It is very important to remember that the Shih Tzu should not have a ‘waist’—there should be little tuck up. There are exhibitors who don’t seem to understand how to set their Shih Tzu up on the examination table. And, there are good handlers who are able to create a level topline when the dog is on the exam table but—for both, the true test is to watch the dog mov- ing and then make final placement deci- sion based on structure, movement and carriage. Judges need to be patient and examine all dogs equally. Some current concernS Tails should be “set on high, heav- ily plumed, carried in a curve well over the back. Too loose, too tight, too flat, or too low set a tail... should be penal- ized to the extent of the deviation.”
There are many Shih Tzu with a slop- ing croup and a resulting low tail set; these affect the topline and the overall balance of the dog. There are also increasing numbers of Shih Tzu with ‘flat’ tails, where the tail is almost lying on the back of the dog. Even though the flat tail is more subtle than the low set tail, it is also improper. balance We are seeing Shih Tzu that are suc- cessful in the ring and might look ‘glam- orous’ moving around the ring, but they are too short in body. Eyes, as noted ear- lier, breeders need to pay attention to size, shape, color and placement of eyes to protect the proper expression. Size & JudgeS Shih Tzu are in the Toy Group, and have a range of weights (9 to 16 pounds) and heights (9" to 10 ½ " but not less than 8" nor more than 11"). Regard- less of size, the Shih Tzu is always com- pact, solid and carries good weight and substance. Exhibitors complain that many judges seem to think that smaller is preferred—not true! As long as the Shih Tzu is within the weight and height range, each must be judged equally against the written Standard of the breed and not by any ‘cute factor’ that might be seen in smaller dogs. Please visit the American Shih Tzu Club’s website: http://www.american- shihtzuclub.org to view the Illustrated Guide to the Shih Tzu and other articles about Shih Tzu. about the author My husband and I began showing Poodles in Obedience and then Con- formation many years ago and discov- ered Shih Tzu about the time they were recognized. Both breeds are wonderful family companions, which was impor- tant for our situation: our show dogs were kept in small numbers in a home situation. They had to enjoy life with our two sons and their friends. I judge the Toy and Non-Sporting Groups, Best in Show and Junior Showman- ship. I’ve been privileged to judge in
Japan and Australia, and to judge the American Shih Tzu Club National Specialty twice. I am currently AKC Delegate and Recording Secretary for the Ameri- can Shih Tzu Club (a past Presi- dent). I am also a member of Poodle Club of America, Golden Gate Shih Tzu Fanciers, Nor-Cal Toy Dog Fan- ciers and Poodle Club of Central California, and have served as an officer and/or committee member for all them. “clark”, 2013 national Specialty best of breed winner, before and after his retirement haircut— appreciate how well he represents the Shih tzu Standard. as you examine a Shih tzu, remember what you would like to discover under the hair. photo courtesy of wendy, richard and Jody paquette. illustration courtesy of the illustrated guide to the Shih tzu Standard.
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