Many Shih Tzu owners question the official color of their dog. A reason being that breeders may refer to a dog as having a certain coat, when in fact that dog will be recognized by the AKC or other major dog club as technically, a different color.
Sometimes terms are made up (mostly to make it appear as if the pup is unique) but this does not help owners who want to know what color and markings their Tzu actually has.
For example, called "Exotic Beige, white swirl" may sound appealing, but if one looks at the registration papers, White & Tan with black mask, would be what was marked off officially.
Shih Tzu multiple colors
The Tzu may be a blend of many colors
AKC Recognized Colors of the Shih Tzu Breed
There are 8 solid colors:
1) Black - A black Shih Tzu will not have any other color hairs. 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.
2) White - As with the black, no other color will exist in this dog
3) Liver - A Shih Tzu is liver based on skin pigmentation. The coat may be any color at all. The dog has brown pigmentation on the nose, paws and eye rims.
4) Blue - Blue is a color given due to skin pigmentation. Only if the nose is blue, will this be the official color. Blue may also be on the eye rims and paw pads.
5) Brindle - This is a combination actually, of a base coat with streaking
6) Gold - A tan - yellow, found commonly among Labrador Retrievers
7) Red - A very deep and dark orange
8) Silver - Gray/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. A coat may lighten, darken, colors may come in or they may fade. Markings such as brindling may deepen or dull as the pup grows.
Chocolate Shih Tzu
There has been some confusion among breeders, buyers and other regarding the chocolate colored Shih Tzu. The most recognized and largest dog club, the American Kennel Club, does not list chocolate as a standard or alternate coat.
A dog may be referred to as this color for reason of having a brownish coat. However, if the nose is brown (and most Tzu with brown coats do indeed have the brown nose), the dog will official be listed as liver colored both on registration papers and when shown at dog clubs. If hypothetically, the nose were black, the dog would most likely be listed as a dark gold.
Understanding the Key of Pigmentation
When a dog is registered as liver or blue, this refers to the dog's pigmentation and not the color of the dog's coat.
•The different colors of the Shih Tzu
•What Liver and Blue really means
What Qualifies a Blue or Liver
A dog may be registered as blue or liver (which some call chocolate) because of the pigmentation of the dog's skin; not the coat color. Blue and liver dogs lack black pigmentation.
The pigmentation will be where the color is most obvious: the eye rims, nose, paw pads, etc.
A dog will be registered with the AKC as a "liver" or "blue" because of the pigmentation of the skin, however the coat can be solid white, a cream color, red, dark chocolate brown or any other color that exists within the breed.
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.