All The Shih Tzu Colors – With Beautiful Pictures

shih tzu colors

Shih Tzu dogs are well-known for their elegant long fur. They tend to be the star of dog shows. The Shih Tzu is considered to be the ideal toy breed against which other breeds are judged at dog shows because of their impressively long, sleek coats and friendly, perky personalities. There are also seven beautiful Shih Tzu colors.

When most people picture this breed, they think of the classic black and white Shih Tzu coat, but this breed has a wide variety of coat colors. If you’re thinking of adopting a Shih Tzu puppy and are curious about the coat colors your future Shih Tzu might have, then you’re in the right place!

Read on to learn about the different coat colors you’ll see on Shih Tzu puppies and adults and how to care for their luxurious-feeling fur!

Brief History of the Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu was bred by Chinese Emporers, though its earliest origins can be traced back to Tibet in the 7th century. It’s believed the Shih Tzu (which translates to lion dog) came about as a cross between old Sino-Tibetian breeds, the Pekingese and the Lhaso Apso.

Shih Tzu dogs were mainly owned by Chinese Emperors and royalty. These dogs led a life of luxury and pampering, and it’s said that Emperors would give special gifts to the breeders who produced the most friendly and beautiful Shih Tzu puppies.

The rest of the world became aware of the Shih Tzu breed in the 1930s when breed clubs were formed around the world. These clubs attempted to further refine the Shih Tzu breed, and these toy dogs entered the American Kennel Club stud book in 1969.

In modern times, Shih Tzu dogs continue to be one of the most desirable toy breeds. They’re often still owned by royals around the world, though people from all walks of life now have the honor of owning one of these cute pups.

Appearance of Shih Tzus

Shih Tzus are adorable little lap dogs, weighing about 9-16 lbs. This breed has long, straight hair with a dense, smooth texture and a flat face, marking them as a brachycephalic breed. Shih Tzus have long, floppy ears, a tiny nose, short legs, and a variety of coat colors.

While the black and white coat is the most common Shih Tzu color, this breed can have a variety of solid and multi-colored coats. There’s an assortment of colors and patterns associated with this breed, and when you look into a Shih Tzu mixed breed such as the Shorkie, you’ll find an even larger variety of coat colors!

Due to the nature of a Shih Tzu’s coat, they require a more thorough grooming regime than other dogs. This toy breed should be brought to a professional groomer to keep their coat healthy and maintained.

Grooming a Shih Tzu

Grooming a Shih Tzu is no easy task and is best left to a professional dog groomer. A Shih Tzu’s coat is typically long and straight and can become easily tangled and damaged if not taken care of properly.

Along with knots and split ends, Shih Tzus are also prone to getting hair caught in their eye rims, which can irritate and even damage their eyes. Many Shih Tzus have their top hair tied up in a knot to keep this from happening and because it looks adorable!

Since their hair grows so quickly and can easily become cumbersome, it’s recommended to take your Shih Tzu to the groomer every 4-6 weeks. While their long hair is more high-maintenance than other dog breeds, it’s also the most notable part of their appearance and doesn’t shed, making them a hypoallergenic breed!

Shih Tzu Colors and Patterns

Shih Tzus have the unique pleasure of being a breed with a range of coat colors and patterns. Shih Tzu colors range from solid white to gorgeous liver, and Shih Tzu coat patterns are just as varied. We’re going to go through every color and pattern associated with this breed, as recognized by the American Kennel Club.

The 7 Recognized Shih Tzu Colors

There are seven recognized Shih Tzu colors by the AKC, and each gives this toy breed a unique appearance. Some are rarer than others, but it’s possible to find a Shih Tzu with any of these colors. If you’re looking to add a Shih Tzu puppy to your family, then check out this list of coat colors to see which appeals to you most!

Black Shih Tzu

black shih tzu

Black Shih Tzus have a rare coat color that is highly sought after by breeders and participants in dog shows. A purebred Shih Tzu with pure black hair is uncommon, as most black Shih Tzus have some white in their coat. A pure black Shih Tzu will be hard to find unless you go through a specific breeder, but this isn’t specific to Shih Tzus.

Finding a solid black dog of many breeds is difficult. Black dogs are a rare beauty for pet owners, and you’re more likely to find a pup with white hair and black markings or a black mask rather than a true black Shih Tzu. Black and white Shih Tzus are the most common, but finding a solid black dog isn’t impossible.

You can find other black and white dogs here.

Blue Shih Tzu

blue shih tzu

Blue Shih Tzus aren’t as rare as black Shih Tzus, but it’s still an uncommon coat color. Blue dogs, in general, are fairly uncommon since it’s not a true hair color. When you see a blue or lavender Shih Tzu, their actual coat color is white and diluted black.

A blue Shih Tzu will mainly have white hair, but their skin points (eye rims, nose, lips, and paw pads) will give a bluish appearance. Much like black dogs, a blue Shih Tzu is one of the most sought-after Shih Tzu colors because of its unique appearance.

Brindle Shih Tzus

brindle shih tzu

A brindle Shih Tzu will have a base coat color, most commonly white, with tiger-like stripes. A brindle coat can consist of any of the other typical Shih Tzu coat colors. The stripes could be black, cream, gray, etc. The stripes can appear light and thin or heavy or dark.

The stipes in your dog’s coat can appear all over their body or just in certain areas. Brindle coats are one of the most unique of all Shih Tzu coat colors.

Gold Shih Tzu

gold shih tzu

Gold Shih Tzus are fairly rare, and this color is unique in the way it manifests. A gold coat will stand out vibrantly on a Shih Tzu puppy, but the color tends to fade with age.

It’s also unusual to see a solid gold Shih Tzu. You’re more likely to see a mainly gold Shih Tzu with other colors in the coat. Gold and white is the most common variation of this type of Shih Tzu coat color.

Liver Shih Tzu

liver shih tzu

Liver Shih Tzus are adorable with chocolate or brown coloring. Liver Shih Tzus have a rare color, but it’s not due to their fur. The skin pigmentation of liver-colored dogs causes their skin points to have a dark brown or chocolate appearance.

The dog’s coat can be many different colors. A liver Shih Tzu dog has liver coloring by the brownish or tan appearance of their nose, paw pads, and eye rims.

Red Shih Tzus

red shih tzu

The vibrant, red coat of red Shih Tzus is most noticeable during their puppy years. This color often presents as more of a dark orange to start, and most Shih Tzu owners know that many individual Shih Tzu’s coat colors will change as they grow older.

Shih Tzus change color as they age simply due to genetics. When two Shih Tzu dogs mate, they pass on certain genes to their puppies, and if the puppy receives a “G” gene, then their coat will fade as they get older. Some Shih Tzus retain their vibrant red coats well into adulthood, and it makes for stunning red dogs that all Shih Tzu owners would be impressed by!

Silver Shih Tzus

silver shih tzu

This is the final Shih Tzu coat color recognized by the AKC. They don’t recognize a pure white Shih Tzu, so if you have white-colored Shih Tzu dogs, then you’ll need to register them as silver with the AKC.

Finding a solid white Shih Tzu is pretty rare, just like with many of the other colors on this list. You’re more likely to find multi-colored dogs with white as their base coat. A gold and white dog and black and white Shih Tzu puppy would be classified as silver Shih Tzus by the AKC as long as their coat color is predominantly silver. If their coat is mostly black or gold with some white markings, then they won’t be registered as a silver Shih Tzu.

Shih Tzu Coat Patterns According to the AKC

Along with the recognized Shih Tzu colors, the AKC also recognizes three specific coat patterns. Shih Tzus with a solid color are fairly rare. They often have different colored coat patterns, and it’s very common to see tricolor Shih Tzus and double-colored Shih Tzus.

The three patterns the AKC will recognize in a Shih Tzu dog include:

  • Black Mask– As the name suggests, a Shih Tzu dog with a black mask will have black fur on their face but a different color on the rest of their body. This pattern is most common on silver and white Shih Tzus and brindle Shih Tzu puppies.
  • Tan Markings– A Shih Tzu dog with tan markings often resembles the markings on a Doberman Pinscher. These are primarily black dogs with tan puzzles and paw pads, as well as tan points above the eyes.
  • Black Markings– Black markings will be most noticeable on a white Shih Tzu puppy. A white Shih Tzu will sometimes have black markings around their eyes, ears, or on other areas of their body. The markings cover a small enough area that this pattern is considered separate from black and white Shih Tzus.

While these are the only patterns officially recognized, there are some other patterns Shih Tzu parents have noted in their dogs. Some other common patterns are:

  • Shawl/Collar– This pattern happens when a Shih Tzu dog has one predominant fur color but a secondary color that only appears around their neck, giving them the appearance of wearing a permanent collar or shawl. A black Shih Tzu with white fur around the neck or a white Shih Tzu with black fur around the neck are two common examples.
  • Blaze– Some pups have a streak of color that runs between their eyes and is different from their base fur color. A Shih Tzu dog might have a streak that runs all the way down their back or just a small smattering of different-colored fur between the eyes.
  • Tuxedo– The tuxedo pattern is one of the most gorgeous black-and-white appearances a dog can have! Most dog owners will recognize a tuxedo-patterned pup when they come across one. A white Shih Tzu with well-placed black hair will look like they’re forever dressed in a cute little tux!
  • Saddle– Occasionally, a Shih Tzu dog’s coat will have a patch of different colored fur right on its back as if they’re wearing a saddle. This is most common in White Shih Tzu dogs, and the patch on their back could be any of the other Shih Tzu colors.
shih tzu puppy

FAQs About Shih Tzu Colors

Are Black Shih Tzus Rare?

A solid black Shih Tzu is the rarest of all colors for Shih Tzus. However, a Shih Tzu dog with blue or silver as a solid color is also rare.

Which Colors Are Recognized By The AKC?

The American Kennel Club only recognizes black, blue, red, silver, brindle, liver, and brindle Shih Tzus. However, they accept white with all these colors, so white and black, white and blue, etc., for a total of 14 colors.

What Shade of Blue Are Blue Shih Tzus?

Most Shih Tzu dogs with blue coats will actually look more gray or lavender than sky or baby blue (imagine)! This coloration is due to a dilution gene, so what you’re seeing is actually a very light shade of black.

Should I Adopt A Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzus are sweet, loving pups with endearing personalities and gorgeous coats to match! There are tons of variations in colors, patterns, and markings, so your Shih Tzu will likely be very unique. This toy breed makes an excellent addition to any family.

Whether you’re looking for a liver Shih Tzu dog or a white Shih Tzu with black tips, you’ll find learning about the variety and mix-match of colors and patterns one of the most exciting parts of adopting your new best friend!

Interested in other colorings for pups? Check out our list of black and brown dogs!