Shih-Tzu Colors & Patterns

Shih-Tzus come in a whole bunch of colors & patterns... but only some of them are officially recognized. Learn about their colors, history, and more!

What Colors Do Shih Tzus Come In?

  1. Black: This is the rarest color among Shih Tzu dogs.

  2. Black & White

  3. Blue: What we describe as Blue in Shih Tzu dogs is actually grey. To see the blue color you will have to look at the dog under a special light. The blue color comes to be only in dogs with the diluted gene.

  4. Blue & White

  5. Gold: Gold colored Shih Tzus are relatively rare. The color first manifests itself in vivid and gleaming forms before developing into a more subtle shade. Mature dogs however miss the golden color as it fades away with age.

  6. Gold & White

  7. Liver: This does not refer to the color of the dog’s fur but the skin. Some experts call it chocolate although the most common description is brown. Liver Shih Tzus do not possess the color exclusively but with a few patches of different colors.

  8. Liver & White

  9. Red: The red color is mostly visible in puppies as Shih Tzus grow out of the color as they progress.

  10. Red & White

  11. Silver: This is the white Shih Tzu you know but with a few silvery strands of fur.

  12. White: It is quite uncommon to come across a white Shih Tzu, although the color is not as rare as black.

  13. Brindle

  14. Brindle & White

Shih Tzu laying down
A Shih-Tzu

Are There Health Complications In Shih Tzu Dogs Associated With Color?

No concrete reports are connecting the color of Shih Tzu dogs to health issues.

The amount of research conducted is however not sufficient to rule out the possibility of color affecting a dog’s general wellbeing and behavior.

Most of the conducted research has put more emphasis on health than any other area.

To predict the relationship between color and health in Shih Tzu dogs, we will look at some studies conducted on other dog breeds.

  1. In Australian Shepherds, the double merle genotypes (MM) are responsible for deafness and blindness.
  2. In Labrador Retrievers, the chocolate color is believed to cause early death. This is after the breed died considerably early compared to the black and yellow breeds.
  3. Coat color and deafness are directly related, this is in the Dalmatians breed.

What Shih Tzu Colors Are Officially Recognized By The AKC?

The American Kennel Club released a detailed list of colors they associate with Shih Tzu dogs.

  1. Black
  2. White
  3. Liver
  4. Blue
  5. Brindle
  6. Gold
  7. Red
  8. Silver

Want to know more about Pugs? Check out the AKC’s page dedicated to Pugs!

What Color Patterns Do Shih Tzu Dogs Come In?

  1. Shawl or collar: This is the phenomenon realized when a dog has a dominant fur color but with a different color around the neck. The neck fur ends up looking like a collar or shawl.
  2. Blaze: A dog with a blaze pattern can be recognized by a streak of fur that runs between the eyes. The streak is usually of a different color from the dog’s dominant fur color. It may run from between the eyes to the neck or even up to the back.
  3. Flare: This trait is almost similar to blaze except for the fact that it widens as it rises and may even cover most of the neck.
  4. Tuxedo: This like the name suggests makes the dog appear to be wearing a tuxedo suit. It can be described as a dominant color shade with a bit of white around the chest.
  5. Saddle: This is a color different from the dog’s dominant color that rests on its back like a horse saddle.

What are “uncommon/exotic” colors for Shih Tzus?

The solid black Shih Tzu is the rarest color in this dog’s list of exotic colors.

A point to note is that for a Shih Tzu to be considered black it must have no other colors; a dog with even a slight shade of white is not black but two-color. The black color should be visible even in the nose, lips, and paws.

White Shih Tzus are rare too.

They are as rare as their black counterparts as most Shih Tzus come in multiple colors.

Coming across a solid white or black Shih Tzu is pretty rare but not unprecedented.

Genetics Of Shih Tzu Colors

The most common relationships between Shih Tzu color and genetics manifest themselves in the fading and graying of the dog’s fur.


Shih Tzus born with the G gene are known to have their fur fade immediately after birth or later on.

The fading stops at around 12-15 months.


A Shih Tzu that possesses the Chinchilla gene (CH series) changes color as it grows.

The change is however not fading but an adoption of a silver-like color by the fur.

It might look like premature aging but it is no cause for concern.

Bottom line

The Shih Tzu is a darling to many dog owners around the world.

Their small and cute eyes have over the years earned them admiration around the world.

They come in different colors with some colors being common and others quite rare.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do Shih-Tzus come from?

The Shih Tzu dogs are believed to have originated from Asia— some reports claim they were first spotted in Tibet.

The report further links them to a crossbreed of the Lhasa Apsos and Pekingese.

Loved by the Royals

Around the 17th century, some Chinese royal family members became fond of these cute dogs and started domesticating them.

It is believed these men did not part with their pets even in business negotiations, this angered their partners greatly.

The communist revolution almost brought the breed to an extinct if not for a few that had traveled to England in the 1930s.

Shih-Tzus in America

These adorable pets were unheard of in the USA until after the second World War, returning soldiers brought dozens of them back to America.

Their popularity exploded in the 1950s making them among the most sought-after dog breeds in the USA.

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