Shih Tzu - Highly Prized Colors And Markings

Published: 30th October 2005
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By the 1930's, the Peking Kennel Club was faced with the existence of a variety of colors. The Peking Kennel Club wanted to do justice to the facts of history regarding the highly favoured Imperial color of "Tawny or honey-coloured or Golden - The Yellows." At that time, their Shih Tzu standard read: "All colors permissible, single and mixed. Tawny or honey-coloured highly favoured." The British Shih Tzu standard read: "All colors permissible," but adds the words, "a white blaze on the forehead and a white tip to the tail are highly prized." And now the French Shih Tzu standard of the mid-1950's comments "honey-colored and white are rare and much appreciated."

It has been said the color "white" in Shih Tzu is recessive and such Shih Tzu should not be bred. However, there is fact that a leading French breeder in Peking - not the Countess d'anjou - had a large number of all-white Shih Tzu. There is question of who actually appreciated the all-white Shih Tzu. Was it the Westerners more than the natives of the Peking? This question arises out of the fact that there seems little doubt that a "a pure white dog, being the color of mourning to the Chinese people, was not an asset, because the Chinese people truly hate to be reminded of death." The aversion did not apply to the white markings on the head or the tail. This could also account to the scarcity we now have of the all-white Shih Tzu. Down through time, the American Kennel Club judged them in the Miscellaneous Class, which ran "all colors are allowable but in general the darker shades predominate. The white blaze, collar, socks and tail-tip combine to create a highly prized ensemble" of a Shih Tzu.

Since the Chinese regarded the yellow-colored Shih Tzu as especially precious we can also understand that it was particularly difficult for westerners to get hold of them. In the Lion Dog Through the Looking Glass (a publication during the 1950's) it is told that the black and white, and grey and white were the first found on the market at street fairs in China, yet even in their cases exportation was at first forbidden. It seems to me we can conclude, the Shih Tzu owners and breeders of Peking, The Chinese People, were extremely possessive of the Shih Tzu in their favoured color, of Yellow, yet were also somewhat possessive of all of the other colors as well. The Shih Tzu was surely very highly treasured by the Chinese people in those days. They were selfish with them. Makes one think they knew something about them very secret and most likely it was something that brought them great emotional pleasure. All humans are drawn to anything that brings them great emotional pleasure.

When it did become possible to export specimens of the breed, the least favoured colors were the most easily obtainable. Some years later, in the Great Britain show ring the dominant colors were black and white, grey and white and shades of brindle and white with a few solid blacks. Even today, these are the same exact colors I started out with in my breeding of the Shih Tzu. I have a few of the Chinese Yellow, honey, or golden colors. Most plentiful to purchase for me has been the black and the white, the grey and white and the brindles. I still tend to believe our deep hershey chocolate color is a "new" color in the breed, as is the "blue." The American Kennel Club has just recently added the color "blue" to their list of colors on their AKC registration forms.

Color in the Shih Tzu is so fascinating and to me are the most beautiful shades of several basic colors of the black, gold and grey. We might even owe the highly prized white tips to the tail and on top the head to the very early French breeder who had the all-white Shih Tzu that left us few descendants. White still seems to be harder to find, and does not seem as popular as the blue and chocolate in the years of 2000. I have one white female, Bailey of whom I am hoping to produce other solid whites, but also the chocolates and blue's as I mate her to my different males. Visit us and sign up for our NEW weekly ezine for future breedings to see what we come up with.

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