This is the third in a series of four articles based on the breeder education seminar held during the 2010 ASTC National Specialty in St. Louis, Missouri. Each will cover one of the four stations—heads, fronts, rears, and overall balance and movement. The presenters at the rears station were Wendy Paquette and Greg Larson. Their remarks are summarized below.
The Shih Tzu hindquarters must be as full and thick as the forequarters. You do not want any waist or tuckup, or a pear-shaped front and a narrow rear. There should be substance all the way through to the buttocks, with thick thighs, good muscle tone, and well-bent stifles set well apart and in balance with the front legs in terms of angulation and bone as well as the distance between them. There should be sufficient angulation so that, when you run your hand down the hindquarters, you hit the hock joints rather than having your hand slide straight down to the ground. Some Shih Tzu have luxating (double-jointed) hocks and weak rear tendons that allow the hock joints to buckle forward when gentle pressure is applied to the back of the joint. This is incorrect.
When the dog is standing, the front of the foot should be under the pelvic (pin) bone at the point of the rump. The foot should be firm and toe neither in nor out. The correct rear also requires a flat croup and a proper high-set, teacup handle tail. Tails that are too flat, too loose, too tight, or too low-set detract from the overall balance and outline of the dog.
The rear of a correctly moving Shih Tzu, which is being neither raced nor strung up, exhibits strong reach and drive. The rear is in balance with the front. The movement should be powerful and smooth, almost like a hovercraft. While the rear feet should lift only slightly off the ground while the dog is moving, the rear pads should be clearly visible when the dog is moving away from you. You don’t want either tiny mincing steps or excessive rear kickup. The former is caused by inadequate rear angulation, and the latter (more common) derives from the overextension of the hocks. Movement needs to be efficient. Overdrive in the rear will cause the topline to slope down when the dog is in motion, rather than remain correctly level. This movement is very flashy, but it is also very inefficient. It is similar to what you see in Cocker Spaniels and other Sporting dogs, and it is NOT correct in a Shih Tzu.
You can generally determine a correct rear on an 8 to 10 week old Shih Tzu puppy. You want the one that you can drop easily into correct position, and one that uses itself properly except when running. As the dog develops, achieving the correct well-muscled rear requires exercise. You need to get the dog out of the pen and allow it to move naturally. A lot of what you see when your dog is moving reflects what is inside the dog’s head, as well as its physical structure, so don’t get lazy. Remember that Shih Tzu are canine athletes as well as pampered couch potatoes!
CREDIT: This article is reprinted with permission from the September 2011 issue of the AKC Gazette. To subscribe, go to www.akc.org/publications.