The standard

The Shih Tzu is a sturdy, abundantly coated dog, characterized by the arrogant carriage and  by the chrysanthemum muzzle effect. When we see a Shih tzu, we are in front of a small size dog, not minute or slight , but a small strong and sturdy dog. His round and heavy head  must have a sweet  but also ‘’arrogant’’ expression, typical of the breed ! his dignified and gritty carriage lets us understand that we are in front of a dog with a great temperament.

The length of the body between withers and root of tail must be longer than height of withers. The body must be strong, large and deep chest with solid shoulders. So the standard says us the Shih tzu must be a rectangular dog, but he must give the impression of consistence and strength also when the dog is moving, and it’s very important the topline must be straight. About the forequarters:  well laid back shoulders, legs short, muscular with ample bone, as straight as possible, proportioned with the large and well let down chest.

If shoulders are correct, the movement of the front will be correct as well! Hindquarters must be short, muscular and good boned. Straight when viewed from the rear . Thighs well rounded and muscular, with the massive effect due to the plenty coat. In order to have standard hindquarters it’s necessary that the dog can do movement as a puppy, to develop properly the musculature , which will favor also the rear drive in movement giving to the dog the right carriage. Feet: rounded, solid and well pounded, they look more heavy due to the plenty coat.  The tail is heavily plumed carried gaily well over back Set on high. Height approximately level with that of skull.

The head must be large and round, wide between eyes. Hair falling over eyes, good beard, hair growing upwards on the muzzle giving a distinctly ‘chrysanthemum-like’ effect. Muzzles are wide, square, short, flat not wrinkled and hairy. Black nose,  dark liver nose accepted in liver or liver marked dogs.  It’s long 2,54 cm maximum, straight or slightly tip-tilted, with nose root at the level of the stop, or slightly below lower eye rim.

Down-pointed nose and  pinched nostrils are highly undesirable. Pigmentation of muzzle as unbroken as possible.  In addition to a large head, it’s good to have a marked stop with a good dome, putting a finger on it we should feel a little hole.  Standard accepts liver nose but with the high level today, it’s not appreciated.

About eyes, they must be large, dark, round, placed well apart but not prominent. Warm expression. In liver or liver-marked dogs a lighter color of the eyes is permissible.  No white of eye showing.  Shih tzu with visible white of the sclera loses his sweet typical expression, almost languid,  having almost a ‘ghost’ air ! So it’s preferable to have a smaller but dark eye.  Ears are large with long leathers , carried drooping. Set slightly below crown of skull, so heavily coated they appear to blend into hair of neck.  An high ear set it’s not appreciated because it shows less dome and so, it’s difficult to do the topknot.

Mouth must be wide, with slight undershot  or level bite, lips level.  Lips level is the right result of a right bite. if the lower lip protrudes we have an excessive prognathism , while in the opposite way, with the upper lip over the lower lip we can understand it’ s a scissor bite or even with lack of strength of underjaw.  The neck is well proportioned and gracefully arched. The length must be sufficient to carry the head proudly. Breeders has the tendency to prefer long necks, whom give more proudness and elegance.


The tail is heavily plumed carried gaily well over back, with high tail set, it reaches approximately the height of the skull to give a balanced outline. The high tail set highlights the angles or the rear, giving as willowy look, while if it’s set low, the dog looks ungainly and long. Also, it’s important the tail has a good length , in order to have a nice arch.

The movement is arrogant. Smooth-flowing, front legs reaching well forward, strong rear action. The right movement, of course, is given by a perfect construction but also by a right temperament. The shih tzu is a very gritty dog, he carries the head well up while moving.  His definite and firm steps with elegance, make of him a pleasant dog to see. With his fast gait, he moves covering a lot of ground.

The coat must be long, dense, with good undercoat. Slight wave permitted. It is strongly recommended to tie the hair on the head.  About the quality and quantity of coat, it’s necessary a good genetic base, but the right care and attentions with products of good quality will give an excellent result. Today shih tzu in shows have always beautiful topknots, with bows for them, whom are small craft works.

All colours permissible, white blaze on forehead and white tip to tail highly desirable in parti-colours. In parti-colours dogs, the symmetry of the marks is very important, because it gives the right expression while good marks on the body could only magnify a correct structure.

Size and weight:  4.5 to 8.1 kgs. Ideal weight  4.5 to 7.3 kgs. The height at withers is not more than 26.7 cm. Type and breed characteristics are important,  and they must not be sacrificed to size alone. I agree on the fact about the standard, the beauty and the right proportions of the dog are very important and they should not be sacrificed for our personal liking, but a good judge must know how to choose the most harmonic subject, regardless the size, that could exceed the limit due to the heavy structure of the shih tzu.