Basics of a shih tzu dog show

If you have never gone to a Shih Tzu or any breed dog show you might wonder exactly what the judge will be doing.

The judge will look into the mouth of the Shih Tzu or other dog breed to check for the correct number of teeth and the bite. I mean after all, do you ever see a winning Miss America with no front teeth? The same holds true for Shih Tzu and other dog breeds in the show ring. Missing teeth is a disqualification in many of the breeds.

He will also check a male to be sure he has two testicles. A missing testicle is a disqualification.

During this inspection the judge will feel various parts of the Shih Tzu or other breed of dog, searching out the angles of the shoulders and hips, the head and ribs. This is especially true with the heavily-coated breeds like the Shih Tzu. You can’t tell exactly what the structure of a heavily-coated Shih Tzu is without hands-on examinations. Some of the smaller breeds are examined on a raised table. If you see a handler lift the Shih Tzu or other dog breed from the table to the ground with one hand under the chin and the other hand using the tail, they do this to avoid messing up the Shih Tzu’s hairstyle. It is not uncomfortable for the dog at all.

The hands-on examination tells the judge a lot about the Shih Tzu or other dog breed, however, seeing the Shih Tzu move tells him even more. This is called “gaiting.” The judge will determine how the Shih Tzu move around the ring, whether it be all together or one at a time, up and down or around and around. There are a lot of variations in how the judge performs the gaiting. The judge wants to see the Shih Tzu move from the rear, from the front and from the side. The judge has an experienced eye and seeing different views of the Shih Tzu in motion reveals different things.

In the AKC and UKC rings, all Shih Tzu or dog breeds are shown at a trot. In England and some other countries dogs and the Shih Tzu are often walked around the ring. There are many different handler “styles” when gaiting a Shih Tzu show dog.

After examining and moving all the Shih Tzu, the judge might just point to the winners, or he might place the winning Shih Tzu at the front of the line and have them all go around the ring one more time before pointing to the winning Shih Tzu.

How does the judge make a decision? He considers how closely each Shih Tzu comes to its own breed standard. There are many, many aspects to the Shih Tzu breed standard in which the Shih Tzu must pass in order to win in the show ring.

When you first start going to shows try to consider them as an exploration of new activities. Think more about how you feel about the sport in general. Notate the sport’s good and bad aspects and not so much about your hopes to win once you get into the ring. The absolute best part about Shih Tzu dog shows is doing something with your Shih Tzu.