An interesting article on colour and temperament that Jim Peat wrote many years ago.
42 - DOG WORLD, August 25, 1989
FEATURING THE SHIH TZU
Type - temperament - colour
by JIM PEAT (Kareth)
To the casual observer the Shih Tzu might appear to be just another attractive long-haired little dog with an unusual face and a coat which comes in many and varied colour combinations. How they are missing the real Shih Tzu.
Many who become devotees of this breed after having kept larger dogs are captivated and entranced by the big dog who lives in this small frame. Full of fun, arrogance and self-importance these "little people" are quick to sense your every mood and react accordingly. They are almost human in their outlook and attitude to life and certainly see themselves more than mere dogs.
Although in general terms the breed appears to be the same no matter what colour the coat, on closer association it becomes very evident that changes of type and temperament do exist within the colours.
The Standard gives a wide range of grey and white, gold and white, solid gold, solid black and brindle and white being the most popular, and various shades of these colours being more or less popular.
Liver and white is still within the Standard. Although it is rarely seen these days, some of the early champions were liver and white.
If we sub-divide the breed into gold and white, grey and white, black and white, solids and the old-fashioned true brindle and white, certain types emerge which are more than just optical illusions.
The grey and whites and to a lesser degree the black and whites tend to produce a slightly lighter boned, taller dog with a steady, sensible sometimes less outgoing nature. The gold and whites seem to come somewhere in between the solids and parti-coloureds in type, often producing a very pretty, sometimes almost exquisite head. In the deeper shades these can be a very flashy animal.
In temperament the gold and whites can be very arrogant and superior with their peers, thinking themselves on, if not above, the level of their human owners.
The true old-fashioned brindle and white, rarely seen these days, did bring out a very different animal. They were steady, solid in bone and substance, with a really typical head type. Temperamentally they were a very steady, solid little dog, unflappable, ready and able to cope with everything they might meet.
I have left the solids to the last as this is the area where the breed has progressed most in the last 10 to 15 years. Many dismiss the solid golds as too Pekey and "not my cup of tea", "not a true Shih Tzu". They are missing out on so much, as this colour is so valuable in any kennel, having such a corrective influence for so many points.
Recent times have seen such improvements in this colour. Although I have avoided mentioning specific dogs or breeders in this article, one could not discuss this colour without mention of the Lhakang, Greenmoss and Santosha Kennels who have done so much for this I colour.
Mrs Widdrington's Lhakangs have deep red line which goes back over ten generations and it is a true lasting red, maintaining colour into old age. The most influential individuals of recent times were Lhakang Babu of Bodinic and his daughter Lhakang Cherubim, both unshown but having a wide influence worldwide through their champion offspring in several countries.
The Greenmoss kennel of Jeanne and Arnold Leadbitter has produced many, many glamorous dogs over the last 26 years but as a stud force in solid golds, none more so than their late Ch Greenmoss Glory Bee who must be acknowledged as putting the solids on the map.
Glory Bee quickly gained his title but was not campaigned as much as some of the other Greenmoss champions, yet even now after his death his influence is still being seen through his children and granchildren worldwide.
When Glory Bee came out his deep red colour caused a sensation and to see him on a sunny day on grass was a treat.
The Babu son, Ch Santosha Sunking, has had a great influence in recent times and his outgoing confident temperament really typifies how different the solids are. Like Cherubim, Sunking has this "bomb proof" confidence, very intelligent, responsive and inquisitive, full of life and easily trained if one has time and patience. It must be admitted that any Shih Tzu training is done very much on their terms. But that is another story and can only be understood by living with them.
This line from Babu could so easily lave been lost to the breed. He was only used by his owner until Susan Crossley and I took the littler sisters Santosha Sunset and Seraphim to Babu. The results were Ch Santosha Sunking and Ch Kareth Khoir Angel, both Crufts CC winners. I wonder what might have been, had Babu been more widely used as a younger dog.
To get back to type, the solids can have a corrective influence, being shorter legged and deeper in body, and their head type is invariably wider and the eye setting is usually just right.
The cosmetic fault often found in particoloureds, white showing on the edges of the eyes, sometimes in really bad cases all round the eye, can be corrected by introducing a solid into a breeding programme.
Now we come to the solid black which is the most recent colour to make the big time. Blacks have always been in the breed and this is not a new colour as is so often thought. Yet only three champions of this colour have been made up Ś Mrs Grindey made up Ch Ah Hsueh Li Chan of Cathay in 1968 and more recently Ch Sunny Boy of Tanibet and Ch Rosaril the Chimney Sweep. The latter two are sons of Ch Sunking.
These three outstanding males prove that it is possible to breed a typical Shih Tzu in this colour, but it is not an exercise for the faint hearted. Some of the early blacks tended to have a monkey-like expression more typical of a Griffon or Affenpinscher than a Shih Tzu. This is lot so nowadays with several typical specimens braving the show ring.
Mrs Eunice Stephenson has worked very hard to establish the blacks in her Rosaril line but her experiences would fill an article of their own as there seems to be no set pattern to colour inheritance in this breed. Black would appear to be a masking colour producing some very good shades of gold and gold and white even when two blacks are mated together.
Although this article, by virtue of space available has had to be of a more general nature, the same type can be stamped in all colours but strict adherence to any one colour does tend to create a "colour type", albeit very slight. So be adventurous, try some of the other colours, you could be pleasantly surprised.
One wonders when we will see the first solid black champion bitch, and is it more difficult to produce a good bitch in this colour Ś but that would take another article.
No matter the colour, we should be aiming for sound, healthy and typical dogs with that unique temperament which is just Shih Tzu.