Pam Crump    Shih Tzu


Colors of a Shih Tzu




Shih Tzu come in a wide variety of colors and can be multi-colored or solid. 

AKC recognizes all colors for the breed: 


Based on a sample of more than 3,000 Shih Tzu in our data base, we include the percentages of that sample:

          - for all Shih Tzu registered with AKC

          - for all Shih Tzu AKC Champions

          - for our own past puppies

Separate statistics are shown for (1) the solid color and (2) the color combined with white.

[Statistics updated 10/19/2012]





















6.4 %


2.5 %







17.7 %


8.5 %









(Moe Suga)








0.9 %


0.0 %













[w/ Black Mask]






4.2 %


0.3 %







37.9 %


69.0 %









[w/ Black Mask]






1.3 %


0.0 %






5.8 %


8.8 %









and White

 (Ping Pong)











0.0 %







2.7 %


2.2 %








(or "Grizzle")



[w/ Black Mask]





2.5 %


0.0 %






7.0 %


1.9 %







AKC also recognizes the markings of “Black Markings” or a “Black Mask”.


All colors other than black and white can come in a wide range of shades. 

Shades of other colors are often referred to as Cream, Blonde, Champaign, Brown, Apricot, Orange. 



Generally, white

combined with

any other color(s)

(other than black)

is described by the

term “parti-colored” or “tri-colored”.








Rare Colors and Markings


The Liver (and Chocolate) and Blue colors are relatively rare colors since they come from recessive color genes.  The “Dobie” marking also comes from a recessive gene, which is very rare.  To get a rare color or marking in a Shih Tzu, both parents must carry the recessive gene.  See Breeding for Rare Colors.


AKC standards specify that black is the color of the eyes, nose and lips of the Shih Tzu, except blue is the color for blue pigmented dogs, and liver (or brown) is the color for liver pigmented dogs.  We have noticed that this applies as well to the pads of the feet.  We have also noticed that blue pigmented dogs may have a blue tint to the skin.  In classifying the colors of “Liver” or “Blue”, the color of the points (eyes, nose, lips, paw pads) is the all-important factor rather than the coat color.  The coat can be a wide spectrum of colors in the “Liver” and in the “Blue” Shih Tzu.  For a Shih Tzu with black points, the coat color is what determines the classification.


All of the dogs on the left below are classified by AKC as "Liver".  All of the dogs on the right below are classified by AKC as "Blue".






and White


(rare color)









2.3 %


0.0 %







3.4 %


0.3 %







(son of our Billy & Misty at 10 weeks)

(rare color)





1.2 %


0.0 %







0.4 %


0.0 %





Breeders have come up with their own terms (not recognized by AKC) to distinguish the various coat colors that come with the Liver or Blue points.


White Liver






with Blue Points

(Moe Suga)



Cream Liver






Blue Cream

(Tiki TuTu)



Red Liver




Rose Blue

(Billy Blue)

















Tan Markings

("Dobie" markings)

(Dobie Gillis)

[Extremely rare and highly prized markings]







0.3 %


0.0 %


1.5 %





The tan “Dobie” markings will appear in a very specific pattern in very specific locations on the body – a spot over each eye, on the jowls, on the lower legs, and under the tail.  The marking under the tail is easily discerned at birth, whereas the other markings may not become noticeable until the puppy is about 2 weeks old.  AKC will register the color and markings of a Shih Tzu with the “Dobie” markings as “Black with Tan Markings”  Some “Dobie” marked Shih Tzu have been registered by breeders as “Black & Tan” rather than the “Black with Tan Markings”.  Some breeders have produced “Dobie” marked Shih Tzu in “Blue with Tan Markings” or “Liver with Tan Markings”.  The "Dobie" marking comes from a recessive gene known as the "agouti" gene.

 [Note: Tan markings were added to AKC approved markings for the breed in 2010 through our efforts to demonstrate to AKC the nature of those markings.]