Shih-Tzu Colors & Patterns

Shih Tzu laying down outside

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The 7 Official Shih Tzu Colors

While Shih Tzus can come in almost every color, there are only 7 that are approved

1. Black

Black is considered one of the rarest Shih Tzus colors. (especially a pure-black Shih Tzu).

Most black Shih-Tzus will have some white fur on them as well.

2. Blue

What we describe as Blue in Shih Tzu dogs is actually grey.

The Blue color comes from what is known as a “dilution gene“.

3. Brindle

Brindle is a subtle tiger-stripe-like coat color. It consists of streaks of multiple colors that are darker than the dog’s base coat.

Here’s what it looks like:

4. 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.

Unfortunately, some Shih Tzus will loes their gold color as it fades away with age.

5. Liver

This color is best described as a chocolate-like color.

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.

Liver is also one of the rarer Shih Tzu colors.

6. Red

The red color is mostly visible in puppies as Shih Tzus’ coats tend to change color as they age.

7. Silver

This color is the closest to white

As White isn’t recognized by the AKC as an official Shih Tzu color, Silver is the closest color you’re going to get if having an AKC registered Shih Tzu is important to you (you wouldn’t be able to compete in an AKC dog show if your Shih Tzu was White)

AKC Shih Tzu Patterns

Other Shih Tzu Patterns

  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 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. Black & White
  3. Blue
  4. Blue & White
  5. Gold
  6. Gold & White
  7. Liver
  8. Liver & White
  9. Red
  10. Red & White
  11. Silver
  12. White
  13. Brindle
  14. Brindle & White

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

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

The rarest Shih Tzu colors are: pure black, liver, and silver.

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.

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.

What Shih Tzu colors are recognized by the AKC?

Black, blue, red, brindle, liver, silver, and gold.

These colors can also be mixed with white for a total of 14 color combinations for Shih Tzus.

What is the rarest Shih Tzu color?

The rarest Shih Tzu color is an all-black Shih Tzu.

What patterns do Shih Tzus come in

Tan markings, black markings, and black masked.

Are Blue Shih Tzus actually blue?

No, a Blue Shih Tzu is more of a grey color than it is sky-blue.

Are Black Shih Tzus rare?

Yes, an all-black Shih Tzu is incredibly rare. Most Black Shih Tzus will have some bit of white fur in their coat (which is less rare).