Breed Standard, Can you say Poindexter?
Today's Shih Tzu, Rough and Tough!
The Shih Tzu is a sturdy, lively, alert toy dog with long
flowing double coat. Befitting his noble Chinese ancestry as
a highly valued, prized companion and palace pet, the Shih
Tzu is proud of bearing, has a distinctively arrogant
carriage with head well up and tail curved over the back.
Although there has always been considerable size variation,
the Shih Tzu must be compact, solid, carrying good weight
Even though a toy dog, the Shih Tzu must be subject to the
same requirements of soundness and structure prescribed for
all breeds, and any deviation from the ideal described in
the standard should be penalized to the extent of the
deviation. Structural faults common to all breeds are as
undesirable in the Shih Tzu as in any other breed,
regardless of whether or not such faults are specifically
mentioned in the standard.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Size Ideally, height at withers is 9 to 10½ inches;
but, not less than 8 inches nor more than 11 inches.
Ideally, weight of mature dogs, 9 to 16 pounds.
Proportion Length between withers and root of tail is
slightly longer than height at withers. The Shih Tzu must
never be so high stationed as to appear leggy, nor so low
stationed as to appear dumpy or squatty. Substance
Regardless of size, the Shih Tzu is always compact, solid
and carries good weight and substance.
Head Round, broad, wide between eyes, its size in
balance with the overall size of dog being neither too large
nor too small. Fault: Narrow head, close-set eyes.
Expression Warm, sweet, wide-eyed, friendly and
trusting. An overall well-balanced and pleasant expression
supersedes the importance of individual parts. Care should
be taken to look and examine well beyond the hair to
determine if what is seen is the actual head and expression
rather than an image created by grooming technique. Eyes
Large, round, not prominent, placed well apart, looking
straight ahead. Very dark. Lighter on liver pigmented dogs
and blue pigmented dogs. Fault: Small, close-set or
light eyes; excessive eye white. Ears Large, set
slightly below crown of skull; heavily coated. Skull
Domed. Stop There is a definite stop. Muzzle
Square, short, unwrinkled, with good cushioning, set no
lower than bottom eye rim; never downturned. Ideally, no
longer than 1 inch from tip of nose to stop, although length
may vary slightly in relation to overall size of dog. Front
of muzzle should be flat; lower lip and chin not protruding
and definitely never receding. Fault: Snipiness, lack
of definite stop. Nose Nostrils are broad, wide, and
open. Pigmentation Nose, lips, eye rims are black on
all colors, except liver on liver pigmented dogs and blue on
blue pigmented dogs. Fault: Pink on nose, lips, or eye rims.
Bite Undershot. Jaw is broad and wide. A missing
tooth or slightly misaligned teeth should not be too
severely penalized. Teeth and tongue should not show when
mouth is closed. Fault: Overshot bite.
Neck, Topline, Body
Of utmost importance is an overall well-balanced dog with no
exaggerated features. Neck Well set-on flowing
smoothly into shoulders; of sufficient length to permit
natural high head carriage and in balance with height and
length of dog. Topline Level. Body
Short-coupled and sturdy with no waist or tuck-up. The Shih
Tzu is slightly longer than tall. Fault: Legginess.
Chest Broad and deep with good spring-of-rib,
however, not barrel-chested. Depth of ribcage should extend
to just below elbow. Distance from elbow to withers is a
little greater than from elbow to ground. Croup Flat.
Tail Set on high, heavily plumed, carried in curve
well over back. Too loose, too tight, too flat, or too low
set a tail is undesirable and should be penalized to extent
Shoulders Well-angulated, well laid-back, well
laid-in, fitting smoothly into body. Legs Straight,
well-boned, muscular, set well-apart and under chest, with
elbows set close to body. Pasterns Strong,
perpendicular. Dewclaws May be removed. Feet
Firm, well-padded, point straight ahead.
Angulation of hindquarters should be in balance with
forequarters. Legs Well-boned, muscular, and straight
when viewed from rear with well-bent stifles, not close set
but in line with forequarters. Hocks Well let down,
perpendicular. Fault: Hyperextension of hocks.
Dewclaws May be removed. Feet Firm, well-padded,
point straight ahead.
Coat Luxurious, double-coated, dense, long, and
flowing. Slight wave permissible. Hair on top of head is
tied up. Fault: Sparse coat, single coat, curly coat.
Trimming Feet, bottom of coat, and anus may be done
for neatness and to facilitate movement. Fault:
Color and Markings
All are permissible and to be considered equally.
The Shih Tzu moves straight and must be shown at its own
natural speed, neither raced nor strung-up, to evaluate its
smooth, flowing, effortless movement with good front reach
and equally strong rear drive, level topline, naturally high
head carriage, and tail carried in gentle curve over back.
As the sole purpose of the Shih Tzu is that of a companion
and house pet, it is essential that its temperament be
outgoing, happy, affectionate, friendly and trusting towards
Approved May 9, 1989
Effective June 29, 1989
Information from American Kennel Club