The Shih Tzu has long been prized solely as a companion. The Shih Tzu’s temperament is of the utmost importance. It is the Shih Tzu’s unique head and expression that actually distinguishes the breed from two other related Oriental breeds, the Lhasa Apso and the Pekingese.
Shih Tzu are alert, arrogant, full of playful antics, and affectionate. Dog show judging is based on how closely each Shih Tzu entered approaches the ideal picture described in the breed standard.
Much of the Shih Tzu breed standard is devoted to the head. A correct head and expression should be round, warm and soft. The head of a correct Shih Tzu is large and round when viewed from the side. The ears look like they blend in with the head. The Shih Tzu’s topknot should be placed fairly low on the forehead in a double band to keep the hair from falling forward into the Shih Tzu’s eyes.
The eyes of a Shih Tzu should be round, large and dark. A small amount of eye white is acceptable. Excessive eye white in the corners of the eye or around the entire eye detract from the desired warm, sweet expression. Lack of good dark pigmentation on the nose, lips or eye rims also distracts from the desired warm, sweet expression. The eyes should be placed well apart.
The muzzle is short, square and unwrinkled. This is unlike the longer, narrower muzzle of the Lhasa Apso or the extremely short, wrinkled muzzle of the Pekingese. The jaw is undershot, which means the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw. The teeth should not show when the mouth is closed. The lower lip should not protrude when viewed from the side.
The Shih Tzu should move smoothly, flowingly and effortlessly. One common problem area in the Shih Tzu is poor fronts. Front and rear angulations should be in balance for smooth movement with a good front reach and a strong rear movement.
The Chinese said the Lion Dog should have dragon eyes, a lion head, a bear torso, a frog mouth, palm-leaf fan ears, a feather-duster tail and movement like a goldfish. Lion Dogs (Shih Tzu) appear not only in Chinese art, but also in the art of Tibet, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Indonesia.
The first imports of Shih Tzu to the United States came from England. These very early imports were noted to be “quite large. ” In 1955, Shih Tzu were admitted by the AKC to the Miscellaneous Class (the breed is now in the Toy Group). At this time the Shih Tzu breed began to gain greater popularity. In 1998, 38,468 Shih Tzu were registered with the American Kennel Club, ranking the Shih Tzu eleventh of all registered breeds.
Famous owners of the Shih Tzu have been: Zsa Zsa Gabor, Yul Brynner, Elizabeth, Queen Consort of George VI.
Connie Limon is a Shih Tzu breeder. She publishes a FREE weekly newsletter. A professional newsletter with a focus upon health and wellness for you and your pets. Discounts are offered to subscribers. Sign up at: http://www.stainglassshihtzus.com