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Sep 1, 2003, 10:44 PM

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Re: [mackay_low] Q: What defines 'utility' breed?

It might be a good idea not to lose track of the original question, which was: “How come Shih Tzu’s are classified in the “utility” group.”

*** Your answer was: “ … the Shih Tzus used to be little guard dogs for temples in Tibet, hence, they are not really a toy dog. There are some shihtzus that are very fierce to strangers, but a toy dog should be friendly to everyone including strangers. I guess that is why they are now classified in Utility …”

By most accounts, the creation of the Shih Tzu breed is accredited to China (and not Tibet) … The Shih Tzu was not bred to guard Tibetan or Chinese temples … and Shih Tzus are not fierce to strangers. The fierceness you refer would be abhorrent to responsible & serious Shih Tzu breeders.

Perhaps you have been unfortunate to meet specimens from poor or bad breeding.

Thus, their reclassification from toy to utility cannot be for the reasons you suggest.

Useful site: www.bakalo.co.uk/shihtzunewsuk/articles/history.htm

Having sorted out the above, lets move on:

*** You wrote: “… the Shih Tzu is a result of the crossing of Lhasa apso (or tibetan breeds) …hence its logical that the shihtzus have guarding instinct and being a little fierce …”

Most accounts suggest that early Shih Tzu like dogs were brought over from Tibet to China and existed in China as early as the 1600s and the Shih Tzu as we know it today, was already fixed as a breed by the time of Dowager Empress Cixi ((T’zu Hsi) in the 1800s.

350 years of selective breeding would probably have been sufficient to create the distinctive breed & temperament of the Shih Tzu as a companion dog.

*** You also wrote: “ … I understand Rottweilers are supposed to be good natured, not nervous, aggressive or vicious.... then why are Rottweilers being fierce in all breed shows??? …”

Using the Rottweiler as analogy to explain the temperament of a Shih Tzu is giving me difficulties … it's like trying to use a durian to explain the rambutan.

But since you referred to the Rottweiler, we ought to proceed.

First and please … Rotties ARE NOT as you say "... fierce in all breed shows ..."

Some badly bred, poorly trained and/or badly socialised Rotties behave badly at dog shows … The fault lies with the owner & breeders and not the dogs! (the same happens with other breeds too).

But we cannot tar the entire breed because of some bad apples ... or hold the bad behaviour of poor or badly trained/socialised specimens as being synonymous for the entire breed.

The AKA describes the Rottweiler temperament as:

“… The Rottweiler is basically a calm, confident and courageous dog with a self-assured aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. A Rottweiler is self-confident and responds quietly and with a wait-and-see attitude to influences in his environment. He has an inherent desire to protect home and family, and is an intelligent dog …”

The words relevant to this discussion would probably be: “… basically ... a calm ... dog ... with self-assured aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships … especially suited as … guardian …”

The Shih Tzu and Rottie are totally different types of dogs, bred for totally different purposes. While neither breed is expected to exhibit unstable temperament, aggression or viciousness. We cannot expect the Rottie to behave like the Shih Tzu or vice versa.

Unfortunately, once again, perhaps your experience is limited to badly bred, poorly trained or socialised Rotties.

Rotties are confident and calm … but they are not going to be like your Golden or Labbie … Most breed books will caution that the Rotties have high dominance, a reasonably low tolerance to other dogs and may not be ideal or suitable for novice owners.

The Rottie is dominant by instinct ... that is their nature and breeding. But a well-bred Rottie under the hands of an experience owner (or a novice prepared to study the breed and learn) makes a wonderful and obedient pet, a great watchdog and an great member of the family.

*** Finally you write: “… Therefore, I believe there is no perfect dog. So, some Shih Tzus are more fierce than others. Dogs are dogs, how can they be friendly towards all??? … On the other hand, they are just not really toy dogs …”

For sure there are no perfect dogs. But we are not discussing the issue of “perfect” dogs.

The point is, we surely do not classify dogs or breeds by the exception rather than the rule. Just because some Shih Tzus may be badly bred and “fierce” … cannot be sufficient reason or justification to reclassify the Shih Tzu to utility.

There must be more to the issue of re-classification ...

(This post was edited by surchinmy on Sep 1, 2003, 11:01 PM)

This post has not been edited

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