Shih Tzu Coat Color 101
Shih Tzu coat colors and patterns are often a hot topic. When it comes to a Shih Tzu puppy’s color and markings the outcomes are vast. Shih Tzu puppies can come in a variety of colors and patterns.
The American Kennel Club recognizes 19 different coat colors in Shih Tzus:
Coat colors that the AKC currently recognizes include:
- Gold & White
- Liver & White
- Red & White
- Silver & White
- Silver, Gold & White
- Black, Gold & Silver
- Black, Gold & White
Common Coat Colors & Patterns
Some Shih Tzu breeders breed for certain colors in order to produce a chocolate Shih Tzu puppy or even a pure black Shih Tzu puppy for example. When breeders refers to a puppy as chocolate they are describing the coat color. The pigmentation color on a chocolate Shih Tzu is liver. Other Shih Tzu breeders prefer to to produce puppies in a variety of coat colors and patterns.
Also, a Shih Tzu puppy may be solid and all one color. For example, a Shih Tzu puppy may be born all gold with no other color present. Or, a Shih Tzu puppy may have abstract coat coloring. For instance, a chocolate Shih Tzu with a white patch on the chest is known to have an abstract coat pattern.
We must not forget the beautiful parti Shih Tzu. A parti puppy’s fur color usually consists of two or three colors. Usually white is the base color on a parti Shih Tzu. Some of the common color combination outcomes include a chocolate and white Shih Tzu puppy, a black and white Shih Tzu, or a gold, black and white puppy.
Let’s start off by discussing the gold Shih Tzu. A gold puppy is usually a dark gold color at birth. An all gold Shih Tzu puppy may or may not have a black mask. It isn’t uncommon for black tipping to appear on a golden puppy’s coat. Often the tipping goes away gradually when the coat is cut.
Furthermore, a gold Shih Tzu can come in a solid, abstract or parti patten as mentioned above. A gold Shih Tzu puppy’s coat color often lightens with maturity. I have had the honor to raise several abstract gold Shih Tzu puppies in my breeding program. All of their coats got considerably lighter with age. An adult gold Shih Tzu can range in color from dark gold to a light fawn color. The intensity gene is often responsible for determining the shade of gold.
A red Shih Tzu puppy is typically born a gorgeous dark orange color. A Shih Tzu puppy that is red is sometimes confused with a gold puppy. Red Shih Tzus tends to be a darker deep orange in color. Shih Tzus with a red coat are also prone to coat color changes with age. A Shih Tzu with red coloring may have a black mask or another color present throughout the coat.
Solid black Shih Tzu puppies are rare. A Shih Tzu puppy may appear to be solid black at birth but often changes color over time. It isn’t uncommon for a Shih Tzu puppy to be all black at birth only to develop patches of another color as the coat matures. It is more likely to find a black Shih Tzu puppy with a white patch on the chest or a black and white parti Shih Tzu puppy. That being said, solid black Shih Tzus do exist. They just aren’t as common as a black Shih Tzu with another color mixed into the coat.
I have been fortunate enough to raise several black Shih Tzu puppies in my Shih Tzu Breeding Program. Often a black Shih Tzu will have a silver or sable undercoat visible in puppyhood. Or a black Shih Tzu puppy may develop patches of white or silver on the coat overtime. It is really difficult to predict a Shih Tzu puppy’s adult coat color. As the Shih Tzu puppy matures the adult coat slowly grows in and may go through many color changes.
Solid white Shih Tzu puppies are uncommon as well. An all white Shih Tzu puppy’s coat will often have at least a splash of another color somewhere on the coat. A solid white Shih Tzu is often genetically cream or the result of the extreme piebald gene. The piebald gene causes the coat to be comprised of a white base color with patches of a secondary color seen throughout the coat. To complicate things further, a pure white Shih Tzu puppy may truly be a silver Shih Tzu. Often the silver sheen on a Shih Tzu puppy’s coat isn’t apparent until adulthood.
Silver Shih Tzus often look white at birth. Sometimes a silver Shih Tzu puppy will have another color running through the coat such as black or white. A lot of individuals mistake the silver undercoat in a Shih Tzu for white. If you look closely in the sunlight you will see that a silver coat has more of a shimmer.
Brindle Shih Tzu puppies typically have a coat that is one color with another color flowing through the coat. The streaking can be subtle or very obvious. A brindle coat may not be noticeable in a Shih Tzu Tzu puppy until the adult coat grows in all the way. The streaking of the other coat color may become more obvious when the puppy gets a haircut. Many of the Shih Tzu puppies in my breeding program that were nearly pure black at birth ended up being black brindle Shih Tzus. The silver undercoat in the puppies just took time to grow in.
A liver Shih Tzu is a bit more tricky to explain. The American Kennel Club considers any Shih Tzu puppy with a liver nose to be liver regardless of the coat color. Liver Shih Tzu puppies may come in just about any color other than black. All black becomes brown in a liver Shih Tzu. For example, a chocolate Shih Tzu and a gold Shih Tzu are both liver if the nose, paw pads and eye rims are liver in color. If you want to learn more about the different pigmentation that Shih Tzu puppies may be born with click here.
Blue Shih Tzu pups are born with blue pigmentation. Blue refers to the pigment once again and not the official coat color. Shih Tzu puppies that are blue often have a charcoal pigment color. A blue Shih Tzu may be solid, abstract or a combination of two or three colors as well. If a liver Shih Tzu has the dilute gene responsible for blue pigmentation the pigment will take on an almost lavender color. This lavander color is often known as Isabella.
As you can see after reading today’s blog post, Shih Tzu coat colors and patterns are vast. Whether you’re looking for a chocolate-liver Shih Tzu puppy or a pure black Shih Tzu it is important to always remember to choose a breeder that puts health and proper socialization first! Shih Tzus can come in an assortment of beautiful colors. A Shih tzu puppy’s coat color may change overtime but your Shih Tzu’s unconditional love for you will always remain the same!