Features to look out for from the Head Region
First of all whether a ShihTzu is show quality or pet quality, it does not matter especially if it delivers on it’s core function of serving as a companion dog. Having said this, in determining whether your ShihTzu is a breeding quality or pet quality, you must subject the puppy to the ShihTzu breed standard.
What is the difference between Show Quality and Pet Quality.
A show potential ShihTzu is a shihtzu that shows prospects of conforming to the FCI ShihTzu Breed by 3months old. Likewise, a pet quality will have several traits that do not conform to the ShihTzu Breed Standard.
A buyer looking for a breeding quality shihtzu best chance of getting one is to buy from a ShihTzu Club of Ghana member who is responsible enough to show his works to breed specialist and all breed judges to subject his or her breeding works to the breed standard. Responsible breeders breed to conform to the breed standard and are always interested in subjecting their works to a judge. If a breeder constantly breeds and does not want to show his dogs, it should raise a red flag to any buyer. I must also be quick to say that it is very possible for two champion parents to have a litter which has some of the puppies being pet quality and others turning out as show quality.
Selecting a show puppy from a litter can have many pitfalls and result in disappointment, but if all works out and that puppy becomes a winner it is a very satisfying feeling.
Based on years of breeding coupled with research and mentorship from other breeders I have put together this piece to aid anyone who wants to choose a breeding quality ShihTzu.
I prefer to leave my selection until at least 8 weeks, preferably 12-14, and even then there are many pitfalls. At birth you can see which puppy has the largest head (I find this easier to do looking from the back) and also the best markings. If a young puppy has trouble feeding this is often due to tight nostrils and if you want to breed after a show career never select this one as it is hereditary. It is fairly common for the nostrils to tighten during teething and this should correct itself at 4-5 months.
As puppies start to grow and move about you can see many more of the points that will hopefully make this your ‘star’. The puppy you noticed at birth with the largest broadest skull will still have this attribute. It usually follows that this will have the broadest foreface, giving it a good chance of having enough room for six teeth along the bottom and top jaw. At this stage I place a finger on the face across the top and bottom lip and up towards the nose. If the bottom jaw juts out into your finger you will usually find that this puppy will become too undershot. I must be quick to state that the breed standard allows for slight undershot but too wide changes the expression of the dog and leads to a deviation of the breed having a warm thrusting look when viewed. Likewise too wide overshot will make the dog appear as a Lhasa. As soon as the teeth are through, count them. If you have less than six teeth between the canines you will not get six adult teeth.
A show quality ShihTzu should never have tongue out when mouth is closed, a puppy which always have lips pulling out is a pet quality dog.
The nose should sit level with the lower eye rims, have a deep stop and open nostrils. If it is a very long nose, be assured that it will not get any shorter as an adult.The breed standard states that the distance from the stop to the tip of the nose must not exceed an inch. Tipped up noses give a better expression but sometimes straight ones can give a lovely expression, as in some lines the skull appears to grow up and around the nose. Very short noses are not advisable as the health and wellbeing should be considered at all times. I would not consider a down nosed puppy as I have never seen this correct itself by adulthood.
Ear set on a puppy is straightforward, they are either high (incorrect) or low set on the skull and should preferably have large leathers.
Eyes are very important to me as a small or light eye ruins the expression as much as a down nose. If the head and muzzle are broad it usually follows that eyes are wide spaced. Sometimes a smaller eye will grow with the puppy but light eyes remain so and go along with poor pigmentation which, again, ruins the Oriental expression. White of eye is more complex. If a dog, when looking at you, shows no white then that is good. When they turn their eyes they usually show some white at the edges. In solid dogs they rarely show any white but in dogs with copious amounts of white whisker and blaize it is harder to get no white showing. A dog showing a lot of white instead of dark eyes as stipulated in the breed standard is an indication of an undesirable trait and thus too many undesirable trait in a puppy will lead to classification as a pet quality dog.
It is true that there are no perfect dogs but a responsible breeder strive to bred to conform to the breed standard and will select the best In his litter into his breeding program or sell to other breeders committed to preserving the breed. A responsible breeder may put a dog into a pet home with a non- breeding contract (a copy attached below) especially when that undesirable trait compromises on the overall function of the ShihTzu as a companion dog
The ShhTzu Club of Ghana Non- Breeding Agreement
I (Name in full of buyer). Of (Address) HEREBY CERTIFY AND AGREE THAT ON ( DATE)
I PURCHASED OR OTHERWISE ACQUIRED A DOG FROM. (Name in full of person selling or otherwise disposing of dog)
(HEREIN AFTER REFERREDED TO AS THE SELLER ) ON THE DISTINCT UNDERSTANDING THAT
Signature of witness
Signature of Buyer
Name of Dog
Signature of Seller
Name of Seller
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