Colors of Shih-Tzus

Posted by: Kathy  /  Category: How to care for your Shih-Tzu puppy

What Qualifies a Shih Tzu to be Blue or Liver

A dog may be registered as blue or liver (chocolate) because of the pigmentation of the dog’s skinnot the coat color. Blue and liver Shih Tzu dogs lack black pigmentation.

The pigmentation will be where the color is most obvious: the eye rims, nose, paw pads, etc.

  • Blue dogs will have a charcoal color
  • Liver dogs will have brown that will vary from very pale to a deep dark chocolate.

A dog will be registered with the AKC as a “liver”  or “blue” because of the pigmentation of the skin, but the coat can be solid white, a cream color, red, dark chocolate brown, etc.

Blue is a very rare color.  Quite often this hue is misunderstood and for good reason.  A Shih Tzu of just about any color may have a shade of blue on the skin of their body.  This often leads one to assume that this is proof that the dog is indeed blue.  However, according to official guidelines, only if blue is present on the nose, will the dog actually be blue.


Photos courtesy of Shih Tzu by Sharon

AKC Recognized Colors of the Shih Tzu

There are 8 solid colors:

  • Black – A black Shih Tzu will not have any other color fur.  Even a touch of a different shade will move this dog over to a mixed color.  Because liver colored dogs lack all black pigmentation, you will not see a true black dog with a liver colored nose.
  • White – As with the black, no other color will exist in this dog
  • Liver – when the dog has brown pigmentation on the nose, paws and eye rims.
  • Blue – Only if the Shih Tzu’s nose is blue, will this be the official color of fur
  • Brindle – This is a combination actually, of a base coat of fur with streaking
  • Gold – A tan – yellow, found commonly among Labrador Retrievers
  • Red – A very deep and dark orange
  • Silver – White but with a deep shine

There are also recognized mixtures of 2 colors:

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

There are recognized mixtures of 3 colors:

  • Silver, Gold and White
  • Black, Silver and White
  • Black, Gold and White
  • Black, Silver and Gold

Until a future time when more colors may become officially recognized and an owner is able to register their Shih Tzu with the color that they believe their dog is, one must choose from the above list.  Do keep in mind that with all colors, there will be shading and deepness levels; thus any dog can be placed into one of these categories. It is very common for puppies to be one color, registered as that color and then have a color change as the puppy matures into adult dog. This is completely normal.


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