Your Shih Tzu Pedigree

By Susan Kilgore

As an owner of a purebred AKC Shih Tzu, you might want to know more about his/her heritage. This is a wonderful breed and naturally you may be asking: “Who are the ancestors responsible for the specific characteristics found in my Shih Tzu?” One of the interesting ways to find out more about him comes in the form of a pedigree.

Registrations: The American Kennel Club (AKC) maintains a database where your dog’s heritage is collected via stud book registration numbers. Further, many dogs and bitches registered with the AKC also have a corresponding DNA registration, as well as microchip information and other identifying data. When you acquire a puppy or adult, you should receive information concerning your dog’s registration. The availability of this information is one of the many important reasons to register your purebred Shih Tzu with the AKC.

Pedigrees: If you purchase/adopt a Shih Tzu puppy from a member of the American Shih Tzu Club (ASTC), the ASTC member has agreed to supply you with a 3-generation pedigree for each puppy sold: Many breeders, as well as the AKC, offer additional generations of your dog’s pedigree beyond three. If you’ve been provided with an AKC registration application or AKC registration certificate for your dog, you will find information there on how to order his/her pedigree. You can view an example of an official AKC pedigree which includes generational and order information online at this location: As you will note from this example, AKC pedigrees list not only the registered names of your dog’s parentage and their corresponding identification registration numbers, but also the color of each individual dog underneath its registered name. In the Shih Tzu breed, the colors of blue, blue and white, liver, liver and white refer to the dog’s eye color and its nose, lips, and eye rim pigment as well as the color of its coat. You can find out more about Shih Tzu colors on the American Shih Tzu Club (ASTC) website:; While the AKC offers the only Official pedigrees for its registry of purebred dogs, breeders/owners may provide you with a pedigree they’ve composed that may include a variety of additional information, such as individual Shih Tzu achievements not listed on an AKC Official Pedigree (more under Title prefixes and suffixes below).

How To Read My Shih Tzu Pedigree: To read your Shih Tzu’s pedigree, you will need to follow a horizontal pattern, from left to right. A canine pedigree is unlike a human ancestral chart, where heredity is organized in a vertical family ‘tree’ format. *Your dog’s name should appear in the middle of the chart, at the far left margin. As you move to the right margin of the page, you will see line indentations above and below your dog’s name. Each indentation represents another generation behind your dog. Located at the first indentation, after your dog’s name, are his parents (sire/father on the line above; dam/mother on the line below). The next indentation after his parents would be his grandparents (grandsires/grandfathers) and grand dams/grandmothers. The next indentation would list great grandparents, and so on. The simple illustration of a 3-generation pedigree below will help you understand the general format of a dog’s ancestral chart or pedigree:

Stellar’s Best Example, CGC (grandsire/grandfather) XF54392502
Ch. Stellar’s Greatest, ROM (sire/father) XM23469601
Ch.Stellar’s Finest, ROM (grand dam/grandmother) SX594210503
Kringle’s Take Your Time (your dog) XT329170204
Ch. Kringle’s First Knight (grandsire/grandfather) XM872192502
GCH. Kringle’s For Keeps (dam/mother) XW2859374601
Kringle’s Pillow Talk, NA (grand dam/grandmother) ST32901405

Title prefixes and suffixes: The example above includes dogs with title prefixes and suffixes. Identifying and understanding the meaning of titles earned by individual AKC registered dogs can be found at Conformation and performance titles may not appear on your AKC pedigree if the dogs on the pedigree did not complete these titles before their first litters were registered. However, amid all of this discussion of titles, you should understand that the term “champion lines” means nothing if those champions are back three or more generations or if there are only one or two champions in the whole pedigree. Also remember that not all champions are created equal, and that a champion may or may not produce quality puppies.

Additionally, there are titles which are not offered by the AKC but are offered by parent breed clubs. Such titles include the highly prized ’Register of Merit’ (ROM) suffix offered to top producing Shih Tzu by the. American Shih Tzu Club (ASTC). The ASTC website contains an article on prefix and suffix titles that are most likely to appear in Shih Tzu pedigrees at Pedigrees provided by breeders/owners may provide such additional information , including honorary achievements which are not recognized as AKC title prefixes and suffixes. These include Best In Show (BIS), Best In Specialty Show (BISS), champions of record from foreign kennel club registries (Can. Ch., Int’l Ch.), the number of champions produced by each dog, the dogs’ call names, etc. If there is any question about the authenticity of pedigree information provided, feel free to ask your breeder/owner. You can also contact the AKC.

For more information: If you would like to see what some of your dog’s ancestors looked like, the ASTC offers Historical Record Books where purebred AKC registered Shih Tzu honors and achievements (such as conformation titleholders, performance titleholders, pedigrees, photos, all breed best in show and specialty show winners, and register of merit recipients) can be found. Historical Record Books may be purchased at

The American Shih Tzu Club invites you to explore its website for much more educational information about, and excellent examples of, the breed.