20 Shih Tzu Colors and Markings Explained

Shih Tzus with different colors and markings

The wide variety of Shih Tzu colors significantly contributes to its popularity. Paired with the breed’s thick double coat, every Shih Tzu color looks stunning, especially when styled.

If you are a Shih Tzu enthusiast, you’d be glad to know that aside from solid Shih Tzu coats, the breed can also come in bi- and tri-colors. The majority of these are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). 

Giddy to learn more about all the possible colors of Shih Tzus? Read the rest of this blog! Here, we also tackle the breed’s markings and answer some interesting FAQs.

How Many Shih Tzu Colors Are There?

Three Shih Tzus on white background

The American Kennel Club, The Kennel Club, and the United Kennel Club are not very restrictive when it comes to the Shih Tzu coat color. According to their breed standards, any color is acceptable for the breed except for merle and albino.

Here are the common colors of the Shih Tzu according to the American Kennel Club:

  • Black
  • Black & White
  • Black White & Silver
  • Blue
  • Blue & White
  • Brindle
  • Brindle & White
  • Gold
  • Gold & White
  • Liver
  • Liver & White
  • Red
  • Red & White
  • Silver
  • Silver & White
  • Silver Gold & White
  • White
  • Black Gold & Silver
  • Black Gold & White

While lavender or isabella Shih Tzu is not explicitly listed on the AKC’s official coat colors list, this coat variant can still be registered under a different color.

20 Shih Tzu Colors

Whether or not you’re getting a Shih Tzu, you’ll definitely enjoy learning about their various coat colors. We’ve made a detailed list below and thrown in some pictures to help you visualize.

1. Solid Black Shih Tzu

Solid black Shih Tzu
Image credit: barkley.woof / Instagram

The pure black Shih Tzu is the rarest color variation of the breed. Most black Shih Tzus exhibit a shiny all-black coat, but they sometimes show hints of blue and brown tint. 

A true black Shih Tzu would have a black nose, paws, and dark-colored eyes. Although it’s a solid black dog, its color may turn into a more silver color as they mature. 

2. Black & White Shih Tzu

Black and white Shih Tzu

Many of the black Shih Tzus being sold in the market are actually black and white Shih Tzus. Their coat is predominantly black, but they have white markings found on their body, most commonly on their chest.

Check out this video of an adorable black and white Shih Tzu puppy:

Kelly. The Black and White Shih Tzu || TOO CUTE

3. Black White & Silver Shih Tzu

Black white and silver Shih Tzu

Black white and silver Shih Tzu dogs combine three colors on their coat. Similar to black and white, black is still the more dominant color, but white and silver markings are found on their faces and bodies.

4. Blue Shih Tzu

Blue Shih Tzu
Image credit: linathepup / Instagram

Blue Shih Tzus appear to have a dark gunmetal gray coat. They don’t always have a blue coat but may appear to sport a blueish-gray tint. 

Although, in most cases, blue Shih Tzus look like black dogs, their lips and nose will always be blue no matter the lighting.

Moreover, the nose, eye rims, and lips of the blue Shih Tzu dog have a lavender cast, while their eyes may be dark or pale in color.

5. Blue & White Shih Tzu

Blue and white Shih Tzu

The blue and white Shih Tzu is exactly as its name suggests. It combines a blueish-gray coat and white markings on its body. Moreover, its lips and nose are blue in color, while its eyes are typically dark-colored.

6. Brindle Shih Tzu

Brindle Shih Tzu
Image credit: yoko_thetzu / Instagram

The brindle Shih Tzu have streaks of dark color on their coat, similar to a tiger. This creates a multi-colored coat ranging from tan or gold to black or dark brown.

Shih Tzus born with a distinct brindle pattern tend to experience fading as they mature. On the same note, some adult brindle Shih Tzus have faint stripes that don’t appear brindle at all from a distance.

7. Brindle & White Shih Tzu

Brindle and white Shih Tzu
Image credit: lynn_loves_tzu / Instagram

The brindle and white Shih Tzu dog looks almost similar to the regular brindle coat with its striped pattern; however, it also has white or light tan markings all over its body. No brindling is found on these white markings.

8. Gold Shih Tzu

Gold Shih Tzu

Solid gold is another rare color for the Shih Tzu dog breed. The gold coloration is actually dominant to the liver color but is recessive to black. 

That said, most gold Shih Tzus are born with a vivid red coat, which becomes orange or yellowish as they mature. This unique color makes them look like lion dogs. 

9. Gold & White Shih Tzu

Gold and white Shih Tzu

The gold and white Shih Tzu dog has a predominantly yellowish or orangey coat with white markings all over its body. These white markings on gold and white Shih Tzu dogs can be seen on their chest, face, and legs. 

Compared to solid gold, gold and white Shih Tzu dogs are a bit more common.

10. Liver Shih Tzu

Liver Shih Tzu
Image credit: jojo.tzu / Instagram

The liver coat color is more sought after compared to the Shih Tzu’s coat colors listed above. A liver Shih Tzu has a chocolate-colored coat that looks uniquely polished even without grooming.

You can also identify liver Shih Tzus by their brown nose, lips, and foot pads. This coloration occurs when the eumelanin is diluted by the B locus.

11. Liver & White Shih Tzu

Liver and white Shih Tzu
Image credit: twotzubabies / Instagram

Liver and white Shih Tzus combine white and chocolate hues. Their nose, foot pads, and lips are brown in color, just like the solid liver. However, the liver and white Shih Tzu has a huge portion of its body covered in white.

12. Red Shih Tzu

Red Shih Tzu
Image credit: beansthechicagoshihtzu / Instagram

The actual coat color of the red Shih Tzu ranges from orange to a deep auburn, similar to an Irish Setter. 

For a dog to be considered a true red Shih Tzu, it should have a black nose; otherwise, it will be recognized as a liver Shih Tzu color.

Red Shih Tzus don’t have any white markings on their body, but they may have a black mask on their face.

13. Red & White Shih Tzu

Red and white Shih Tzu

Red and white Shih Tzus also showcase a deep orange or auburn hue, but it is combined with a white coat. The nose, paw pads, and lips of this color variety should be black. 

14. Silver Shih Tzu

Silver Shih Tzu
Image credit: vinnstagram421 / Instagram

The silver Shih Tzu can be difficult to distinguish from the white Shih Tzu because it appears pale. However, if you look closely, this variety has a silver sheen that the white Shih Tzu lacks. 

The silver Shih Tzu’s eye rims, lips, and paw pads, however, should appear black similar to a white Shih Tzu.

15. Silver & White Shih Tzu

Silver and white Shih Tzu
Image credit: naroming_ / Instagram

The silver and white Shih Tzu, as the name suggests, combines silver and white on its coat. Almost in all cases, the white coat covers the face, chest, and legs of the breed. 

This variety of double-colored Shih Tzus should have black eye rims, lips, and paw pads similar to the solid silver coat combo.

16. Silver Gold & White Shih Tzu

The silver gold and white Shih Tzu is an equally impressive variety of the silver coat. The white fur is intermingled with gold strands making the Shih Tzu’s coat color combinations more visually appealing.

Like the first two silver varieties, the silver gold and white variant also has black lips, eye rims, nose, and paw pads.

17. White Shih Tzu

White Shih Tzu

White Shih Tzus result from an intense dilution of the pheomelanin (red or yellow pigment) caused by the piebald gene. A pure white Shih Tzu differs from an albino because its solid color does not result from a lack of pigment.

True white Shih Tzus have black eye rims, dark eyes, black noses, and paw pads, unlike albinos, which have a pinkish tint on these body parts.

18. Black Gold & Silver Shih Tzu

Black gold and silver Shih Tzus are a rare tri-color variety. The dog’s black and yellowish coats are intermingled with a silver coat. 

In some cases, the silver coloration appears to be white, making it hard to differentiate from the black gold and white tri-color Shih Tzus.

19. Black Gold & White Shih Tzu

Black gold and white Shih Tzu

The black gold and white variant is a common tri-color combination for the Shih Tzu breed. 

However, some breeders still find it hard to recognize this variety from other color combinations because the white on its coat can also be simple white markings. 

20. Lavender or Isabella Shih Tzu

Lavender or isabella Shih Tzu
Image credit: secret_shihtzus / Instagram

The lavender Shih Tzu appears to be a solid lilac color because its brown pigment is diluted by the MLPH gene. The eyes of this variety may be amber or hazel in color.

Lavender is not recognized by the AKC as a standard color, but it is still an acceptable color even though it doesn’t have a registration code.

Shih Tzu Markings

The AKC vaguely mentions tan and black markings as acceptable for the Shih Tzu coat colors. 

However, there are other types of Shih Tzu coat patterns and markings that are widely accepted, and they are described in detail below.

Black Mask

Shih Tzu with black mask

The black mask on Shih Tzus is an autosomal dominant trait that occurs when they exhibit a melanistic muzzle. The black markings on their muzzle sometimes extend to their ears.


Shih Tzu with blaze marking

Shih Tzus, with a blaze marking, have a defined color streak between their eyes. It usually stops towards the top of their skull.


Saddle Shih Tzu

The saddle pattern on a Shih Tzu’s coat covers its lower back side. It is called such because it is reminiscent of a saddle on a horse.


Shih Tzu with flare marking

The flare marking on Shih Tzus also starts between their eyes, but unlike the blaze, it continues on their head and down their back.


Parti Shih Tzu
Image credit: lil.sachie / Instagram

Parti Shih Tzus typically have a white base coat and brindle or gold patterns on top of it. Some other colors may also appear depending on their genes.


Shih Tzu with tuxedo marking
Image credit: zoeythecitypup / Instagram

The tuxedo pattern in Shih Tzus mimics the appearance of a tuxedo — it’s a solid marking that covers the dog’s chin, chest, and, sometimes, feet.


Abstract Shih Tzu

A Shih Tzu with an abstract coat has splashes of white fur all over their body. In most cases, it appears on their chest, toes, and tail.

Eye Stripes

Shih Tzu with eye stripes

The stripes on the corners of a Shih Tzu’s eyes are always dark in color, so they look like they have eyebrows.


Ticking is common in maturing Shih Tzu dogs. This is characterized by dark spots on the white fur found on the dog’s belly.

Shawl or Collar

Solid-colored Shih Tzus often have different colored markings found on their neck. This is usually white but may also come in other colors.

Shih Tzu Breed Standards & Disqualifications

The American Kennel Club standard does not define any disqualification for Shih Tzus in terms of coat colors. In fact, aside from the colors discussed earlier, they practically accept all other hues.

However, the United Kennel Club disqualifies albinos, while The Kennel Club considers the merle an anomaly. Shih Tzus with these colors aren’t permitted to join conformation shows of the said organizations.

Do Shih Tzu Colors Affect Behavior and Health?

Two Shih Tzus on the grass

There is no scientific study connecting the Shih Tzu’s color to its behavior. Most claims on the web about superior and lesser hues are merely based on the personal experience of Shih Tzu owners — which is not always a valid basis.

Moreover, for the most part, the Shih Tzu’s standard colors do not affect its health, personality, and shedding. 

Although it is believed that black Shih Tzus are prone to overheating and blue Shih Tzu dogs are at risk of genetic defects, no research has been made to back up these claims, so their accuracy is still questionable.

Do Shih Tzu Puppies Change Colors as They Grow?

Yes. Shih Tzu coat colors change as they reach maturity. That’s why choosing a Shih Tzu puppy isn’t suggested based on color.

According to Pedigree, two distinct genes affect the coat color of the Shih Tzu dog breed. These are the G gene and the Chinchilla gene.

A Shih Tzu carrying the G gene or the fading gene will start showing signs of color fading from one month old up to a year old. For instance, Shih Tzu puppies that are born black may turn gray over time.

Meanwhile, Shih Tzus that carry the Chinchilla gene would have rich, silver coats.

Aside from these genes, some other factors may cause a Shih Tzu to exhibit a lighter coat as they age. These are sun exposure, stress, nutrition, health, and medications.

What Color Will My Shih Tzu Puppy Be?

Shih Tzu puppies on white background

You cannot identify the exact color of a Shih Tzu puppy based on the coat it was born with. Almost in all cases, their initial coat fades or goes into a dramatic color shift due to genetics.

To identify what color your Shih Tzu will be, ask the breeder for the result of their genetic test. 

If the dog has not undergone a genetic test yet, there are various laboratories you can contact that offer specific color tests. They’ll instruct you to collect cheek swabs from your dog for them to test.

Usually, for Shih Tzus, this costs $50 to $100, depending on the laboratory and the number of color tests you request.

Frequently Asked Questions

Two Shih Tzus on a park bench

What Is the Rarest Shih Tzu Color?

Black is the rarest color variety of the Shih Tzu breed. Although it has dominant genes, it rarely appears without white patches. Following black, a solid white Shih Tzu is also harder to come by.

What Is the Most Common Shih Tzu Color?

There are two most common Shih Tzu colors — black gold and white and gold and white.

These Shih Tzu dog colors come into our heads at the mention of the breed, and almost always, they have a black mask.

How Much Does a Tricolor Shih Tzu Cost?

The tricolor Shih Tzu dog costs around $1,000 to $2,500, similar to other varieties. They aren’t the most expensive because they’re pretty typical of the breed. 

Some tri-color Shih Tzus with this price tag are black gold & silver, black gold & white, and black white & silver.

What Is the Most Expensive Shih Tzu Color?

The most expensive Shih Tzu color is a pure gold Shih Tzu costing upwards of $2,500. Although it is not the rarest Shih Tzu, it results from a recessive gene; hence, it is tricky to breed.

We hope this guide has helped you understand the delightful variety of Shih Tzu colors and markings. If you have any further questions or wish to share your own experiences, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

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