THE SHIH TZU Topknot
T he shapes and styles of Shih Tzu topknots over the past few decades has morphed to a point of exaggeration that, in many cases, is detrimental to the purpose of the bow—which is to draw attention to the beautiful, large, round head and the warm expression of our breed. The sole purpose of the Shih Tzu is as a companion dog. A warm, friendly, and trusting temperament is the most important aspect and is an essential component of breed type. Breeders and exhibitors have worked hard to present our breed in a fashion that enhances the beauty and elegance of the breed, resulting in a win- ning look that has seen the Shih Tzu consistently garnering high awards in strong Group and Best in Show rings. There are varying degrees of presentation of Shih Tzu, not only in the US and Canada but in every country in the world. A quick observation is that in countries around the world where Shih Tzu are rewarded highly and hold their own against other breeds in the Group, the breed generally receives a considerable amount of proper coat conditioning and attention to the finishing touches. This results in our Shih Tzu having the “irresistible fac- tor” when presented in the ring, exuding correct breed type in a complete package. During the early 1970s, in North America and in many coun- tries around the world, the hair on the top of the head was gener- ally held up with a single elastic band. By the late ‘70s, the single band was enhanced with a simple bow, as exhibitors were proud of their beautiful charges and wanted to draw attention to a cor- rect head with its warm expression. Over time (and with the use of more elastic bands, fancier bows, back-combing, and teasing), many exhibitors’ efforts appeared as works of “art” that ranged from very acceptable to completely outlandish. Judges today need to learn to judge the Shih Tzu in spite of the exhibitors’ creations that can easily confuse the untrained. Focus first on feeling, with your fingers, the actual construction of the head, which should be large and round. Frame the head by cupping it in your hands with your thumbs up... use your thumbs to feel the whole head by getting under the topknot to feel the correct, round dome of the head and the broadness of the skull. (Thumbs “in and out” will not destroy the topknot and annoy the exhibitor.) Look directly into the face to see the wide-set, large, round, dark eyes. Feel the muzzle, which should be broad and square. Check the bite to be sure the slightly undershot bite [slightly undershot or level, per CKC Standard—Ed.] has a broad underjaw with incisors and canines in a straight line, which is so important to the expression and “Oriental” look of the Shih Tzu. Determine whether the head
BY WENDY PAQUETTE PHOTOS COURTESY OF SHARON MURRAY OF TZUPREME SHIH TZU IN AUSTRALIA
...the breed generally receives a considerable amount of proper coat conditioning and attention to the finishing touches.
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