"Designer dog" is a label given to dogs that involve the deliberate cross-breeding of two different breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Like the designations "Imperial" or "Tiny Teacup" Shih Tzu, such labels are a myth generally used by unethical breeders to create a demand - and charge high prices -for mixed-breed or undersized (and often unhealthy) dogs. Trendy mutts, whatever fancy names they may be given, are still just that - mutts.
The solid, sturdy, and compact Shih Tzu, with its unique pushed-in face, wide-eyed, trusting expression, and friendly temperament, was developed as a distinctive breed long ago in China's imperial palace. It is a breed that deviates considerably from the generic, wolf-like dog, with its longer nose, narrower head, and more closely-set eyes.
Evidence from accidental cross-breedings clearly demonstrates that many of the most highly prized and distinguishing characteristics of the Shih Tzu are genetically recessive. Once lost by poor breeding practices, the recessives that make a Shih Tzu a Shih Tzu can never be recaptured. This is one reason that poorly-bred pet shop. Shih Tzu often bear little resemblance to the gorgeous, elegant Shih Tzu seen in the show ring.
Imagine how much more swiftly these genetic traits are lost when someone deliberately crosses a Shih Tzu with another breed, be it Pekingese, Poodle, or Yorkshire Terrier. Puppies from the first generation cross may look appealing—or not—and you have no idea what they will grow up to be in terms of looks, health, or temperament. They may, in fact, just as easily inherit the worst genes of both their parents, rather than the best. The qualities of puppies from the second or later generations of these so-called "designer dogs" are, of course, even less predictable, given the recessive nature of many of the Shih Tzu's most distinguishing traits.
It has taken many, many generations of careful breeding to fix the qualities that make our breed so appealing. A responsible breeder always strives to breed healthy dogs that conform to the breed standard - a written description of the ideal dog of a particular breed by which it is bred and judged at dog shows. The official breed standard for the Shih Tzu approved by the American Kennel Club and the American Shih Tzu Club is based on the first written standard for Shih Tzu, that of the Peking Kennel Club, in 1938. Why would anyone want to steer away from the AKC-approved breed standard that describes the breed we all love so well? Could the “designer dog” simply be a fad they have created in order to obtain a higher price for a mixed-breed dog that otherwise would usually be given away? A responsible breeder does not deliberately plan litters based on their trendiness or marketability. In fact, anyone found to be deliberately breeding and selling "designer dogs" is not eligible for membership in the American Shih Tzu Club.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: This web site is a good place to begin or continue your research on our breed or find out how to locate a responsible breeder.