Judging The Shih Tzu Coat

The American Shih Tzu Club would like to remind all judges for our breed of the importance of the proper coat in the assessment of our breed. The Shih Tzu’s long, flowing double coat is a hallmark of the breed and included in the first line of the AKC approved breed standard for the breed.

The importance of a proper coat is further emphasized in The Illustrated Guide to the Shih Tzu Standard and the parent club which identifies the following as the five qualities which define the Essence of Shih Tzu Breed Type:

Outgoing, trusting and friendly to all they meet.
Round, broad, with eyes large round and dark. Expression is warm friendly and trusting. Head is in proportion to the body.
Overall balance and proportion are rectangular, well bodied, good bone, level topline, high set teacup tail.
Smooth, balanced, flowing, effortless, with head and tail held high.
Long, luxurious, and double coated with a harsher outer coat.
The coat section in the AKC approved breed standard for the Shih Tzu is clear in describing the coat. In addition, excessive trimming is addressed as it is defined as a fault in the standard.

COAT: Luxurious, double coated, dense, long, and flowing. Slight wave permissible. Hair on the 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 – Excessive trimming. When evaluating a Shih Tzu coat, it should be clean and in good condition. Younger puppies’ coats will understandably not be as long as that of an adult, but the quality should still be evident.

While the AKC approved standard for the breed does not include any disqualifying faults, the standard directs that any deviation from the ideal described in the standard should be penalized to the extent of the deviation. It is not possible to correctly evaluate a Shih Tzu coat that has been excessively trimmed, cut down, or shown with short close-cropped coat. Intuitively, a dog exhibited in that condition should be severely penalized due to the inability to evaluate a salient characteristic of the breed.

In judging, the further a deviation is from the ideal, the greater that aspect should be penalized in the judge’s assessment of that dog; factored accordingly when weighing the total assimilation of the dog’s attributes to determine the awards or placements in that class; and if the fault/deviation is so severe, that the appropriate action is to withhold or excuse.

The ASTC encourages and appreciates judges who adhere to the approved standard in their judging of our breed. We ask that you keep this information in mind when judging the Shih Tzu. If you are presented with a Shih Tzu whose coat that has been cut down or trimmed so excessively that it is not possible to properly assess, we respectfully request that you withhold a ribbon or place the exhibit such that no championship points may be awarded.

Further information can be obtained at www.shihtzu.org.

This article has been approved by the AKC and the ASTC Board of Directors and sent by the AKC to all judges licensed to judge Shih Tzu.