The Shih Tzu’s appearance is just as attractive and important as its personality. This is the reason why the Shih Tzu’s temperament is included in the official AKC standard. 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 serious faults in their personality. Shih Tzu’s should be arrogant, proud, alert, lively, aristocratic, and walk with its head held high and its tail curved over its back.
Shih Tzu Colors
Shih Tzu’s come 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 breed is a lot more important than the color.
Shih Tzu 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 Size
Shih Tzu sizes range from nine to 10 ½ inches at the shoulders. Females are usually smaller than the males. Shih Tzu’s 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.
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 recognized for warmth and sweetness of expression, and this fault detracts from that. A happy Shih Tzu always portrays a wide-eyed, friendly, and trusting demeanor. However, large, expressive, round, and dark eyes are ideal. It is important to look under the hair to see the eyes, face, and true expression of the animal before you purchase.
The muzzle of the breed contains a definite stop. The muzzle is square and unwrinkled and is set no lower than the bottom eyelids. The muzzle of the breed 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 are 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.
Shih Tzu General Appearance
This breed is aristocratic and noble. It is a characteristic of the breed to possess a well-balanced appearance. 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. Dewclaw removal is optional.
Shih Tzu Movement
Movement is very important to the Shih Tzu. Movement should appear smooth and effortless, as though the animal were flowing. The graceful, fluid gait of the Shih Tzu is emphasized by a beautiful properly groomed, flowing coat.