When a breed standard mentions something more than once, it’s probably important. In the Puli standard, for example, the word “medium” appears eight times! It shows up once under the section on General Appearance, once under Size, Proportion, Substance, three times in the section on the head, twice under Neck, Topline, Body, and once under forequarters. The Puli should be medium in every way with no one one part in the extreme.
The only part of the Shih Tzu standard important enough to mention twice is “High Head Carriage.” The first time it’s mentioned is under General Appearance: “The Shih Tzu is proud of bearing, has a distinctively arrogant carriage with head well up and tail curved over the back.” The next time is with a description of the neck: “Well set-on flowing smoothly into shoulders; of sufficient length to permit natural high head carriage and in balance with height and length of dog.” We see this stressed once again under gait: “The Shih Tzu moves straight and must be shown at its own natural speed, neither raced nor strung-up, to evaluate its smooth, flowing, effortless movement with good front reach and equally strong rear drive, level topline, naturally high head carriage, and tail carried in gentle curve over back.”
Given that the breed was bred to “hang out” in royal palaces, anything less than a regal bearing wouldn’t do, nor would the breed look the same were it to hang its head low. A naturally high head carriage speaks to balance and soundness. The Shih Tzu is a rectangular dog; proper head carriage, proper tail set, and a sufficient length of body results in an effortless gait and a carriage so distinctive in an ideal Shih Tzu. Were the neck too long or too short, the overall balance of the Shih Tzu would be destroyed. Like the Puli, a well-balanced Shih Tzu should have no exaggerated features.