I often hear these questions from my buyers: “Is this Shih Tzu puppy a show-quality or a pet-quality?” or “How many red marks does the puppy have?”. I also keep on seeing ads that say “Show-quality Shih Tzu for sale”. Moreover, most buyers prefer pet-quality shih tzu because they are cheaper than the show-quality ones.
So, what really differentiates a pet-quality shih tzu puppy from a show-quality shih-tzu puppy?
Honestly, it is hard to tell right away that a puppy is a show-quality since there are plenty of changes that happen during their growth period. However, experienced breeders have already developed an eye for “show-potential” puppies. Show-potentials puppies are the ones that possess desirable traits while young. Some show-potential puppies grow into show-quality adults, but some also ends up as pet-quality. It all depends how the puppy will turn out to be as an adult. A show quality dog is composed of conformation, attitude and proper care. Show-quality dogs have many red-marks, but not all Shih Tzu with many red marks are show-quality.
The Shih Tzu breed standard serves as a guide on what a Shih Tzu should be like–it is the perfect Shih Tzu dog in words. It describes the structure, the proportion, the movement and the over-all look of the Shih Tzu. A deviation from the breed standard is considered a fault, which can either be a minor fault or a major fault depending on the degree. A minor fault can be acceptable, while a major fault can disqualify a dog inside the ring. There is no perfect Shih Tzu dog in the history of the breed, yet it the goal of a show breeder to strive to produce a close-to-perfect Shih Tzu, that is why a show-quality Shih Tzu may or can have a very few minor faults (acceptable faults).
Each breeder has his or her version of the perfect Shih Tzu picture in mind and their personal preferences also affect their judgment and evaluation of the dog. What is a show-quality to one may not be a show-quality to another–it depends on what a breeder value in a dog. Some breeders prefer the Shih Tzu with large head and will place those with smaller heads as pets. Other breeders give importance to the body structure while others favor shih tzu with warm facial expression. It really is, “the perfect Shih Tzu” in the eye of the breeder…
Aside from the conformation, attitude plays a vital role in evaluation. The attitude is composed of temperament, confidence and the ability to be trained. Dogs are like people, they have varied and unique personalities. The show-quality shih tzu has a good temperament, does not bite or is not aggressive towards humans and other dogs, full of confidence and eager to learn, and not hard to train. If a conforming show-potential Shih Tzu manifests a negative attitude then they become pet-quality dogs. You don’t want to show a Shih Tzu that does not perform well inside the ring.
Show-quality Shih Tzu are given extra care and require more grooming rituals. A show-potential puppy whose baby teeth have been overlooked and failed to fall off might affect the outgrowth of its new and permanent set of teeth, which might also affect the bite. Incorrect bite or poor dental health are faults that might affect the quality of the Shih Tzu. Accidents or illnesses may happen which may require the dog to be cut-down or shaved, break a bone, etc. which may prevent a show-quality Shih Tzu to be campaigned. The coat obviously will grow in time; however, broken bones might affect the performance of the dog in the ring.
Pet-quality Shih Tzu are usually those that have major faults or attitude issues which prevent them from being shown. They should never be bred as they might pass those undesirable traits to the future puppies. If a Shih Tzu puppy or a dog has more bad qualities than good qualities (again, depending on the breeder’s evaluation) then it will be considered as pet-quality.
WHICH IS BETTER THEN?
It depends on your intention or plans for your Shih Tzu or your future Shih Tzu, are you showing or breeding or just spoil like a baby? Whether for show or not, the important thing is to love your dog. They all deserved to be treated equally and loved the same. So don’t be disappointed if you have a pet-quality Shih Tzu as it doesn’t mean that your dog is ugly and must be loved less. They just can’t be shown and bred.
Labeling the shih tzu puppy as show-quality should not be based on the number of red marks the puppy has. Having a high number of red marks does not mean that it is already show-quality. Show dogs also produce puppies that are of pet-quality. So do not focus too much on the number of red marks the next time you are going to buy a shih tzu puppy. Red marks do not guarantee that your dog will be of show-quality.
Keep in mind, “A show dog can be a great pet dog, but a pet dog will never be a show dog.” So buyers beware!
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