The Breed Standard Shih Tzu: The Perfect Representation of the Breed

breed standard shih tzu

The Shih Tzu’s appearance is just as attractive and vital as its personality. This is the reason why the Shih Tzu’s temperament is included in the official AKC standard. In this article, I will attempt to dive into the breed standard Shih Tzu.

handsome brown Shih Tzu male looking into the camera like he knows he's taking a picture
Breed standard Shih Tzu

Firstly, the Shih Tzu is a house pet and a loyal companion. It should always be outgoing, happy, friendly, affectionate, and trusting toward everyone.

However, nervousness, aggression, and shyness are all unwanted faults in their personality.

Shih Tzus should be arrogant, proud, alert, lively, aristocratic, and walk with its head held high and its tail curved over its back.

Breed Standard Shih Tzu Colors

This breed comes in a variety of colors and markings, ranging from golden to black. All colors are well received and no color is seen more welcomed than the other is.

When it comes to the color of the Shih Tzu, it is all about preference. However, some coat colors may change during the aging of the animal. The overall quality of the dog is a lot more important than the color.

breed standard shih tzu
The breed standard Shih Tzu varies from club to club

The Coat

The coat should be dense, luxurious, long, flowing, and double-coated. The hair should not be curly; however, a little wave to the coat is OK.


Shih Tzu sizes range from nine to 10 ½ inches at the shoulders. However, females are usually smaller than males. Shih Tzus should not be taller than eleven inches or shorter than eight inches. The ideal weight for this breed is nine to 16 pounds and should be in proportion to the animal.

This breed is a compact, sturdy dog. It should never appear to be leggy or squatty. However, it should be low to the ground. A Shih Tzu with the right balance should be slightly longer than it is tall.

The Breed Standard Shih Tzu Head

The Shih Tzu’s head is one of its most distinguishing features. Its head is round, broad, and domed.

There should be a lot of space between the eyes. If your Shih Tzu has a narrow head or close-set eye placement, it is considered a fault in the breed. The Shih Tzu is famous for its warmth and sweetness of expression, and this fault detracts from that.

The cutest Shih Tzu you will ever see

A happy Shih Tzu always portrays a wide-eyed, friendly, and trusting demeanor. However, large, expressive, round, and dark eyes are ideal.

It is essential to look under the hair to see the eyes, face, and authentic expression of the animal before you purchase a Shih Tzu puppy.

The muzzle of the breed contains a definite stop. It is square and unwrinkled and is set no lower than the bottom eyelids. Its muzzle is short and no longer than one inch from the tip of the nose to the stop.

The Shih Tzu has large, broad nostrils that are wide and open and not pinched shut.

Below the crown of the skull is large, heavily coated ears. The jaws of the Shih Tzu are broad and wide, and the lips should meet evenly.

When the mouth is closed, the teeth and tongue should not be visible. However, it is not uncommon for the breed to have a missing tooth or slightly misaligned teeth.

The Shih Tzu’s General Appearance

This dog is aristocratic and noble. It is a characteristic of the breed to possess a well-balanced appearance. Therefore, the animal should carry its head high and be in balance with its height and body length.

Therefore, its neck should be long enough to allow for these traits. The body should be sturdy, and the back or topline should be stable. The chest is deep with ribs well sprung.

The tail is set high, carried over the back, like a “teapot handle,” and heavily plumed. Legs are straight, strong, and well-muscled. Short hocks provide greater drive in the hindquarters. Feet should point straight ahead.

Shih Tzu Movement

Movement is significant to the Shih Tzu. Movement should appear smooth and effortless, as though the animal were flowing. The graceful, fluid gait of the breed standard Shih Tzu is emphasized by a beautiful, properly groomed, flowing coat.

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