Shih Tzus are extremely popular dogs, and it’s not hard to see why: They’re small and beautiful and have a fierceness that belies their diminutive stature.
One of the most striking things about these dogs is their gorgeous coats. They have a thick, flowing double coat that can be endlessly styled — and it comes in just about any color you can imagine.
Their coats can come in one, two, or even three different colors, and they’re found in a variety of patterns as well. While we don’t have the space to list every single color combination you’ll find on these adorable little pups, we’ve taken a closer look at the more distinctive options.
The Most Common Shih Tzu Colors:
Common Shih Tzu Color Combinations
1. Solid Black
Any solid color on a Shih Tzu is rare, but black is the most commonly-seen monochromatic option. However, you’ll typically see mostly black dogs, with small splotches of color elsewhere.
2. Solid White
It’s even rarer to find a completely white Shih Tzu than a black one, but they do exist. Most of the time, other colors will creep in, and white is a common shade on multi-colored dogs.
The nose will still be black, though, and it will stick out like a little lump of charcoal on a snowman.
3. Solid Blue
Blue Shih Tzus look gray or charcoal most of the time, but if seen in the right light, they’ll give off a brilliant blue shimmer.
The blue color is actually just a diluted black, and it occurs when the pup has something known as “the dilution gene.”
4. Solid Red
While technically considered red, these Shih Tzus actually look orange in most light. You’ll be forgiven if you mistake them for a small pumpkin.
Red is more common in Shih Tzu puppies than full-grown adults, as the dogs usually grow out of it as they mature.
These Shih Tzus look like white ones, but they do have a slight silvery sheen to them. Don’t worry, though — they can get just as dirty as their white counterparts.
Although gold is commonly found on multi-colored dogs, it’s rare to find a solid gold Shih Tzu.
The color usually starts vivid and shiny, but it often fades to a soft yellow as the dog grows up.
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Liver Shih Tzus are sometimes called “chocolate,” and while they’re largely brown, they’re usually not exclusively so. You’ll often find white patches on the chest and possibly elsewhere.
The “liver” doesn’t actually refer to the coat color, but the color of the dog’s skin at their points (such as the nose, lips, and paw pads).
A brindle dog will have a solid base coat that’s streaked through with another color. Those two colors could be just about anything, so it’s not uncommon to see all manner of brindle Shih Tzus.
9. Double Colored
Double-colored Shih Tzus have two primary hues, but one of those will usually be white.
Black is the most common counterpart to the white fur, but you’ll find any of the above colors (including brindle) mixed in as well.
Tri-colored Shih Tzus are fairly rare and easy to overlook, as the third shade is often faint.
White is almost always included as one of the colors in the combination, but black and gold are frequently seen as well.
What About Coat Patterns?
While Shih Tzus can come in a wide array of colors, those markings will be arranged in one of the following five patterns.
1. Collar or Shawl
This is when the dog has a solid base coat over much of their body, but with a different color (usually white) going around their neck.
This makes the dog look like they’re wearing a cute little shawl.
These dogs have a streak of white that runs right between their eyes. It may extend down the neck or even the back, but it will always split their eyes down the middle.
The flare pattern is similar to the blaze, except the patch of white widens as it reaches the top of the dog’s head. It can then take over parts of the neck and back.
Tuxedo dogs are one solid color, with a patch of white on the chest and sometimes the feet. It makes the dog look like it’s wearing — you guessed it — a tuxedo.
Don’t let the formal dress fool you, though, as these dogs rarely understand how to behave at black-tie events.
Saddle markings look like a patch of color, usually white, that sits on top of the dog’s back like a horse’s saddle.
A Brief History of Shih Tzus
The Shih Tzu originated somewhere in Asia, most likely Tibet, although it’s not known exactly where or when they first showed up. One theory holds that they resulted from crossing Lhasa Apsos with Pekingese.
Regardless of where they first came from, they became favorites of the Chinese royal family toward the end of the 17th century. Those royals refused to part with these dogs under any circumstances, which often frustrated their Western trade partners.
They wouldn’t make their way out of China until 1930, when the first pair landed in England. It’s a good thing, too, as they went extinct in the country after the Communist revolution.
After World War II, many American service members traveled home with Shih Tzus in tow, which helped popularize them in the United States. They certainly caught on like wildfire after the 1950s, as they’re now one of the most commonly-owned dogs in America.
Glamorous Little Companions
While Shih Tzus may not be suited for hard labor, their stunning coats make them the perfect accessory for stylish owners. Those coats can be found in a wide array of colors, so each dog looks unique and distinctive.
They do need quite a bit of grooming, but their beauty makes all that hard work worthwhile. The only question that remains is whether you’re comfortable having a dog that will upstage you at every opportunity.
Featured Image Credit: TerriAnneAllen, Pixabay