Chocolate/Liver/Brown Shih Tzu – Facts and Pictures

Brown Shih Tzu running on the grass
Image credit: sobrownallthetime / Instagram

The brown or chocolate Shih Tzu is a color variant of the adorable Shih Tzu breed that has a unique liver skin pigmentation. What sets it apart from other Shih Tzus is the rich brown color of its nose, paw pads, lips, and eye rims.

Brown Shih Tzus have quickly become popular due to their long, beautiful coats and affectionate and cheerful nature. These lap dogs easily gain the favor of all family members due to their friendliness, even with other pets.

This guide will go through interesting facts about the brown Shih Tzu, including its appearance, rarity, genetics, temperament, lifespan, and more! Let us begin discovering the wonderful brown Shih Tzu!

What Is a Brown Shih Tzu?

Chocolate Shih Tzu front profile
Image credit: sobrownallthetime / Instagram

A brown or liver Shih Tzu, otherwise known as chocolate Shih Tzu, is a color variant of a purebred Shih Tzu that has liver skin pigmentation. This Shih Tzu variant is characterized by a brown nose, paw pads, lips, and eye rims, ranging from light to dark shades.

Oftentimes, liver Shih Tzus are mistakenly identified by their coat color. As a clarification, liver is not a coat color in itself but a skin pigmentation.

In this case, a liver Shih Tzu may sport a different coat color other than brown yet still be categorized as liver. However, many Shih Tzu lovers favor the combination of a liver Shih Tzu with a brown or chocolate coat color.

Some owners even gravitate more towards deep chocolate pigmentation, making this variant a very popular choice for Shih Tzu fanatics.

Are Brown Shih Tzus Purebred?

There is no doubt that liver or brown Shih Tzus are purebred. They carry all the distinct characteristics of purebred Shih Tzus when it comes to appearance and temperament.

Brown Shih Tzus may be produced by two purebred Shih Tzus where one or both parents have the liver gene.

The fastest way to identify the purity or authenticity of a brown Shih Tzu is to look at its nose, paw pads, lips, and eye rims. It is likely to be pure if these body parts are liver or brown in color.

They may come in different coat colors similar to their non-liver counterparts, like gold, red, black, and white. They may also contain different markings, such as tan, white, or black.

However, they will still be categorized as liver so long as they have liver skin pigmentation — no matter what color they wear.

Are Brown Shih Tzus Rare?

Choolate Shih Tzu in the garden
Image credit: sobrownallthetime / Instagram

Brown Shih Tzus are rare, but not as rare as the pure black Shih Tzu, pure white Shih Tzu, and white Shih Tzu with black markings.

All coat colors in dogs are derived from two pigments: black or eumelanin and red or phaeomelanin. When the red pigment is more dominant, this produces the brown or chocolate coat color in the Shih Tzu.

This is more difficult to achieve, which explains why the chocolate color is rarer than other color combinations. This means that the liver Shih Tzu is also more challenging to breed.

Brown Shih Tzu Appearance

Brown Shih Tzu newly groomed
Image credit: sobrownallthetime / Instagram

The brown Shih Tzu has the same appearance as any purebred standard Shih Tzu, except for its liver skin pigmentation. The brown Shih Tzu can grow anywhere between 9 and 16 pounds and stand 8 to 11 inches tall.

Some variants of this breed tend to be a little smaller than the breed standard and are called imperial or teacup Shih Tzus.

They have round, broad heads with large, round eyes. The shade in the eyes is lighter for liver-pigmented dogs. They are also considered brachycephalic, meaning they have short snouts and flat faces.

They have bodies that are usually longer than tall. They also sport deep, broad chests and high-set tails that curve over the back.

Regarding coat color, liver Shih Tzus can be identified by the brown color of their noses, paw pads, lips, and eye rims. They may exist in the perfect combination of having a brown or chocolate-colored coat, too.

However, as a reminder, Shih Tzus carrying other coat colors are still called liver, so long as they have the liver pigment on the parts where it should appear.

Here is an adorable video of a chocolate Shih Tzu mother nursing its brown puppies:

Bindi Had Puppies! Chocolate Shih Tzu Puppies Born, 1 Week Old Shih Tzu Babies, Cute Shih Tzu Puppy

Brown Shih Tzu Color Genetics

From a genetic standpoint, the brown color of the Shih Tzu occurs on the B locus, which is black. On the other hand, the brown color is a recessive gene, marked as ‘b.’

Hence, the only way to produce a chocolate Shih Tzu is if both parents carry the recessive gene, leading to a ‘bb’ type of combination.

Since the brown color is recessive to the dominant black color, there are three scenarios to produce a liver Shih Tzu: both parents must be brown, one parent is liver while the other is a carrier, or both parents are carriers.

A DNA test may be done to know if a non-liver Shih Tzu carries the recessive gene for the chocolate color. These Shih Tzus may not be as rare as the pure liver Shih Tzus, but they are equally essential to producing chocolate puppies.

Do Brown Shih Tzu Puppies Stay Brown as They Grow?

Brown Shih Tzu standing on rocks
Image credit: sobrownallthetime / Instagram

All Shih Tzu coats have the potential to change colors over time, and the brown Shih Tzu is no exception. Many factors may contribute to this change in color or shade, such as age, diet, environment, health, stress, and genetics.

For Shih Tzus, age and genetics are the most common reasons for this modification. Expect your dog’s coat to change as your chocolate Shih Tzu grows older, especially if they carry the allele responsible for dilution or fading.

Over time, the rich and dark brown coat of your Shih Tzu may eventually turn into a shade of milk chocolate, café au lait, red, gold, or even cream.

In some instances, if your puppy carries the “G” gene, fading of the Shih Tzu’s coat color may occur as early as one month old and will continue until it is a year old.

On the other hand, the chinchilla gene may cause graying to a Shih Tzu’s coat, converting it into a rich, silver color.

Does the AKC Recognize Brown Shih Tzus? 

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes the liver Shih Tzu as one of this breed’s 19 official coat colors. In fact, liver is even included as one of the 14 standard colors for the Shih Tzu.

During conformation shows, all Shih Tzu colors recognized by the AKC are permissible and considered equally. This means coat colors will not impact your eligibility or chances of winning a dog show.

The AKC also accepts the lighter shade on the eyes of live-pigmented dogs. However, be watchful of the shade, as too much lightness may be considered a fault and subject to disqualification.

Brown Shih Tzu Temperament and Personality

Chocolate Shih Tzu lying on the grass
Image credit: sobrownallthetime / Instagram

The brown Shih Tzu shares the same temperament and personality as any other purebred Shih Tzu of different colors and types.

The Shih Tzu was originally bred to be the perfect companion and house pet. Hence, expect your pet to be happy, playful, affectionate, friendly, and trusting.

They are tender and docile, even with children. However, ensure that children are taught how to treat them gently since they are small lap dogs and may be prone to injury if mishandled.

Due to their playful nature, brown Shih Tzu puppies may also be prone to play biting. This can easily be addressed through behavioral training.

Needless to say, their adorable temperament, coupled with their beautiful chocolate color, is enough for the brown Shih Tzu to charm their way into your hearts.

Brown Shih Tzu Lifespan and Health Issues

The brown Shih Tzu enjoys one of the longest lifespans of any breed, around 10 to 18 years. Providing them with a proper diet, a safe environment, exercise, and regular checkups ensure a longer life.

Despite being a healthy breed, they are still prone to certain health conditions. Below are some common health issues of brown Shih Tzus:

  • Cataracts: Cataracts in dogs happen when there is clouding in the lens of the dog’s eye, blocking the passage of light into the retina. If left untreated, this may lead to blindness. Sadly, the only way to treat a cataract is through surgery. 
  • Cushing’s Disease (CD): Cushing’s disease is also known as hyperadrenocorticism, a serious condition where the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. This is more common in dogs in their senior years. Symptoms of CD include increased appetite, excessive thirst, hair loss, enlarged abdomen, panting, and lethargy.
  • Portosystemic shunt (PSS): PSS happens when the blood that enters the liver to filter out toxins diverts through an abnormal connection or vein. This may eventually lead to stunted growth. Surgery is the most viable option for the treatment of this condition.

The best way to prevent your brown Shih Tzu from developing these conditions is to visit your veterinarian regularly.

Further, it would also be wise to invest in pet insurance. Though this might seem like an additional cost, this may save you from the higher cost of medical expenses in the long run.

How Much Does a Brown Shih Tzu Cost? Puppy Prices & Expenses

Brown Shih Tzu puppy sitting on hay
Image credit: barackinthecity / Instagram

Due to its rarity and difficulty in breeding, brown Shih Tzus can fetch prices as much as $3,500. This is significantly higher than the usual price of Shih Tzus from reputable breeders, which is between $500 and $1,000.

Take note that your expenses do not stop at getting the puppy itself. With its high price tag, keeping your brown Shih Tzu healthy and happy would be in your best interest.

Here’s a listing of all the initial expenses for your brown Shih Tzu puppy:

Type of ExpenseCost
Food and Treats$30 – $80
Bowls$10 – $30
Toys$20 – $30
Beds$30 – $200
Collars and Leashes$15 – $50
Crates and Carriers$30 – $200
Grooming Essentials$50 – $150
Initial Vet Visits$100 – $500
Initial Vaccine Shots$50 – $300
Deworming, Flea, and Tick Medications$40 – $300
Neutering or Spaying$50 – $500
Microchipping$40 – $60
Dog License$10 – $20
Other Essentials$20 – $50
Total Initial Cost$495 – $2,470

On top of these initial expenses, you also need to ensure you can take care of the annual upkeep costs of owning a brown Shih Tzu. This includes routine veterinary care, deworming, flea and tick medications, and pet insurance.

Places to Find Brown Shih Tzu Puppies for Sale and Adoption

Searching for a brown Shih Tzu puppy may be challenging, given its rarity. In this section, we will try to ease that burden for you as we list down some places where you have more chances of successfully locating one.

Without further ado, here are some reputable breeders where you can find chocolate Shih Tzu puppies for sale:

  • Sunnybelle Shih Tzus – Sunnybelle Shih Tzus is a family-owned business based in Tyler, Texas. They started breeding in 2012. They take pride in their AKC-registered chocolate Shih Tzu puppies, making them an expert in this variant. Their breeding stock is DNA tested, which guarantees the health of all puppies produced.
  • Divine Pups – Divine Pups is based in Houston, Texas. They specialize in breeding liver Shih Tzus, including liver chocolate, liver brindle, liver parti, liver red, liver white, and liver Shih Tzus. All their parent Shih Tzus are fully health tested, and all their puppies come with health guarantees.

Meanwhile, if you decide to go for adoption, it would be best to prepare and do your research to increase your chances of adoption approval in rescue organizations or animal shelters.

Below are recommended places to search for brown Shih Tzus for adoption:

  • Ohio Fuzzy Pawz Shih Tzu Rescue (OFP) – The mission of this Ohio-based rescue is to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome Shih Tzus into loving homes. They have stringent adoption guidelines and requirements to ensure puppies go to the right owners who will give them the best possible care and environment.
  • Shih Tzu Rescue, Inc. – This organization from South Florida, also known as Shih Tzu Rescue, Inc, relies on donations to cover the expenses of caring for their rescued dogs. Since 1995, they have found quality homes for Shih Tzus. They are a no-kill shelter, so they patiently wait for all their dogs to be adopted.
  • Bluegrass Shih-Tzu Rescue – Bluegrass Shih-Tzu Rescue is a non-profit organization that has been operating for 15 years. Although they do not have a physical location, they facilitate adoption and fostering services. Their fosters dedicate themselves to rehabilitating, providing medical care, and giving unconditional love to the rescues.

If you need additional options for adoption, you may head over to your favorite social networking sites as some breeders use these platforms to advertise.

Best Dog Names for Your Brown Shih Tzu Puppy

Liver Shih Tzu out for morning walk
Image credit: barackinthecity / Instagram

Naming your dog is one of the most exciting parts of being a fur parent. Hence, it should not be something that you should stress over.

Here are some fabulous name ideas for a male brown Shih Tzu:

  • Choco
  • Cadbury
  • Mars
  • Lindt
  • Peanut
  • Barkley
  • Snickers
  • Twix
  • Truffle
  • Tootsie
  • Ferrero
  • Rocky
  • Woody
  • Coffee
  • Brownie
  • Braun
  • Walnut
  • Buckeye
  • Milo
  • Fudge
  • Nestlé
  • Charlie
  • Marrone
  • Oreo
  • Chip

Meanwhile, here are some awesome name ideas for a female brown Shih Tzu:

  • Hershey
  • Reese
  • Kitkat
  • Dove
  • Godiva
  • Mocha
  • Milka
  • Hailey
  • Maple
  • Nutmeg
  • Auburn
  • Autumn
  • Chewy
  • Mocha
  • Latte
  • Caramel
  • Eclair
  • Chai
  • Kona
  • Henna
  • Ginger
  • Cocoa
  • Ruth
  • Butterfinger
  • Marabou

When coming up with a name for your dog, you need to make sure that it is unique yet plain and easy enough for it to remember. Your brown Shih Tzu should be able to respond to its name with glee and excitement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Liver Shih Tzu in the city
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What Is the Rarest Color of Shih Tzu?

The rarest Shih Tzu color is pure black, without any markings. The nose, paw pads, lips, and eye rims of this Shih Tzu variant must also be black.

Aside from pure black Shih Tzus, white Shih Tzus and white Shih Tzus with black markings are also considered to be rare coat colors.

Do Brown Shih Tzus Shed a Lot?

The brown Shih Tzu sheds minimally, just like other variants of the Shih Tzu. Aside from being a light shedder, its double coat feature allows it to catch any loose hair from falling as well.

Regular brushing should help keep your brown Shih Tzu’s coat healthy and manage its shedding further.

Are Liver Shih Tzus Hypoallergenic?

The liver Shih Tzu and the other Shih Tzu variants are generally hypoallergenic and produce very little dander.

Nonetheless, no dog can be considered 100% hypoallergenic in reality. Hence, some people with allergies may still have a chance of getting allergic reactions based on their level of sensitivity to a particular dog.

Final Thoughts

The brown Shih Tzu is an excellent choice if you need a beautiful lap dog that is friendly, affectionate, playful, and cheerful and will keep you company for a very long time.

However, if you desire this breed, be prepared for the high cost of acquiring one. The upkeep costs for this rare-colored Shih Tzu are also not low due to its long and silky coat.

 Your lifestyle, environment, and financial readiness determine whether a brown Shih Tzu fits you. If you feel that the brown Shih Tzu is the right dog for you, let us know by leaving a comment below!

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