Shih Tzu Breed Standard: According to The AKC

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Have you ever heard someone talk about the Shih Tzu breed standard? What they’re talking about is a written document that portrays the ideal dog of a particular breed.

shih tzu breed type
Do not worry about the Shih Tzu breed standard if you’re not planning on entering your dog into competitions

The Shih Tzu breed standard is a description of the perfect dog with no flaws. This information is what dog-show judges go by when determining which dog best represents the standard.

Dog breeders use this information in their breeding programs also. It helps them to point each new puppy generation to perfection.

Is It Important To Know The Shih Tzu Breed Standard?

In my honest opinion, it is not all that important, and it all depends on you. However, some Shih Tzu owners like to know so that they can see how their precious little friend compares to the breed standard.

Then again, just because your dog does not have the right ear shape or nose length doesn’t take away from the fact that he or she is yours.

Shih Tzu General Appearance

One of the first topics that the Shih Tzu breed standard highlights are general appearance. Shih Tzus are considered toy dogs. This means that they are small in stature but also sturdy and rambunctious.

Although they’re small, they can hold their own. They’re not quivering cowards by any stretch of the imagination.

Shih Tzus should also come off as a tad arrogant, much like a royal family member. And they should feel heavy for their size when lifted.

Shih Tzu Size, Proportion, and Substance

When measured from the peak of their shoulder down to the ground, a Shih Tzu should measure nine to 10-1/2 inches tall.

If you have aspirations to show your dog, make sure that they are not over or under the Shih Tzu breed standard height.

shih tzu breed standard
The Shih Tzu breed standard is important if you plan to show your dog in competitions

Although your Shih Tzu would not be disqualified for being too short or too tall, you can rest assured that judges will consider that little infraction.

A fully grown Shih Tzu usually weighs nine to 16 pounds, and they should be a little longer than they are tall. These dogs are not bred to have long legs. However, they should be compact, short, and stocky.

Your dog should look sophisticated and noble. However, regardless of their size, they should always appear compact and solid.

Shih Tzus are bred small. But they should not look like they can be carried away with a light blow of wind. They should be able to stand tall with their heads up, luxurious coat whipping around as the wind blows around them. This will show just how gracious they are.

The Breed Standard Shih Tzu Head

When you look at your Shih Tzu’s head, that’s all you may see, the head of a Shih Tzu. However, there’s more involved in the judging of your dog’s head than you may know. For instance:

  1. Your Shih Tzu’s head should be broad and round with plenty of space between the eyes.
  2. The expression of a Shih Tzu should be sweet, warm, and friendly. Their character should portray that of friendship as well as affectionate warmth and trust.
  3. Their eyes should be round and large but not bulging. Do not purchase a Shih Tzu if its eyes look like they’re going to pop out of his or her head!
  4. The most sought after Shih Tzus are the ones whose eyes are very dark and gives off the feeling of warmth and friendliness.
  5. Dogs with liver or blue coats will have lighter eyes.
  6. Their ears are a little below the crown and large, with plenty of hair for the ears to blend into the coat.
  7. The Shih Tzu’s skull is domed with an apparent curve from the skull to the nose.
  8. The nose of the Shih Tzu should be wide open to allow easy breathing.  All Shih Tzus should have a black nose, lips, and eye rims. However, pink noses, lips, and eye rims are signs of a fault.
  9. The Shih Tzu should have an undershot bite, which means that the top teeth should fall behind the bottom teeth when the dog closes his or her mouth.

You may find a Shih Tzu with occasional missing or crooked teeth in some instances, which is not an ideal representation of the Shih Tzu breed standard.

Fortunately, most judges do not find it to be much of a problem. Nonetheless, the teeth and tongue should not be viewable when the mouth is shut.

Also, an overshot bite, which is when the upper teeth close well ahead of the lower teeth, is a definite fault.

The Neck, Topline, And Body Of The Shih Tzu

When looking at the Shih Tzu’s body. It is important to see that everything correlates in a balanced way. This is important to judges and a breeder that is looking for good looking puppy parents.

Not one part of the dog should stand out from the rest. The dog’s neck should have just enough length so that it can look around with ease while maintaining a smooth line from head to tail.

The top line of the dog should be equivalent to the ground instead of sloping.

akc shih tzu breed standard
This dog is a perfect example of the Shih Tzu breed standard

The belly should not be tucked up but should flow smoothly from the chest to the abdomen, and the body should be a little longer than tall.

The Shih Tzu breed standard should have broad, deep, chests, not barrel chests; breathing room should be in abundance.

The tail is positioned high on its back with a large fluffy cloud of hair curled luxuriously over the back. If you’re going to show your dog, make sure that the tail is not droopy or flat.

Droopy or flat tails do not look good in the show ring, and the judges could see this as the dog not having fun.

Tails held high and proud looks great in the ring, and it gives the impression that your dog is in good spirits and a great representative of the Shih Tzu breed standard.

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One Comment to “Shih Tzu Breed Standard: According to The AKC”

  1. I have a 13 week old Shih Tzu female puppy that has a pink rim around one eye. This eye has white hair around it and a grey pigment in the inside corner of the eye. This eye seems to look smaller than the other one and I don’t know if this is an optical illusion or is it real. The other eye has hair the darker brown color around it with the black rim and the eye looks larger. I don’t care if it is a fault I just want to know if it will harm her life span. I named her Pandy because she looks like a Panda Bear. I love her no matter what I just wanted to know why she has this and if it will shorten her life. She has grey pigments on her pink belly also. Her little black nose has a little pinkish pigment in lower corner of her nose next to her uppper lip also. That seems to be disappearing. Will she ever get a black rim around that eye.

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