What is it about the Shih Tzu dog that people love? They regularly make it into the top ten most popular dog breeds in the UK and the USA, and we know that this is echoed in other parts of the globe. So, what makes them so special?
Could it be the adorable puppy dog expression or the cute topknot that keeps their hair from falling over their eyes? Perhaps it’s their soft, silky hair? Or the fact that they’re a small dog, just the right size to snuggle up and snooze on your lap?
It could also be that they’re such happy, playful dogs. They’re alert, friendly, and outgoing and have an intelligent twinkle in their dark eyes. They love to learn, but as their character develops, you might notice a stubborn streak showing itself.
However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that your Shih Tzu is an affectionate, loyal companion who will follow you everywhere just to be with you. It’s no surprise that these little cuties are so popular with dog lovers everywhere!
If you want one of these wonderful dogs, you might be interested to know what colors you can get. From the title of this piece, you’ll have a clue as to which one we’re focusing on, but here’s a list of the colors recognized by the American Kennel Club:
• Black & white
• Blue & white
• Silver & white
• Brindle & white
• Liver & white
• Gold & white
• Red & white
• Black, white, & silver
• Black, gold, & silver
• Black, gold, & white
These can also have black, tan, or white markings and a black mask.
Anyone familiar with AKC breed standards will note that this is a longer list than usual! Other breeds are often strictly limited as to the colors allowed, especially when the dog is entered into shows. The Shih Tzu breed is privileged to be allowed a wide range of color combinations.
Brindle Shih Tzus are also available, but this is a pattern rather than a color.
The black and white Shih Tzu is the most popular of these colors, which is why we’ve chosen to feature them here.
So, let’s make a start.
The Shih Tzu Breed
First, a few words about the breed.
Shih Tzus were first bred in Tibet over a thousand years ago, where they were used as companion dogs for emperors for many centuries. Their name means little lion or lion dog, as they were said to resemble the dragons of classic Chinese mythology.
They were so highly prized in China that all attempts to take them out of the country were resisted until the early 20th century!
The average Shih Tzu weighs between 8 and 16 pounds and measures between 8 and 11 inches. They have a median lifespan of just over thirteen years, though they can live as long as 16 or 18 years, similar to other small dogs, such as the Chihuahua. Their popularity has led to a surge in unethical breeders who use poor breeding practices, resulting in dogs with a host of health issues.
The most common of these are ear and eye problems, most of which can be resolved using medication. Some persistent eye conditions can cause tear stains, especially for white dogs. These are streaks of brown, red, or pink on the fur just below the dog’s eyes.
Other than these, Shih Tzus are also prone to joint problems, such as patellar luxation and hip dysplasia, two very painful conditions affecting the joints. Surgery is sometimes recommended for severe cases, which is a big risk as it requires a general anesthetic. It can also be very expensive!
One health problem that affects Shih Tzus more than any other breed is a portosystemic shunt, a condition of the liver. Blood that is normally filtered by the liver passes it by, resulting in toxins flooding the body. This can cause many different symptoms (such as stunted growth and seizures) and usually requires surgery to fix the problem.
If you want your black and white Shih Tzu to live a long and happy life, the best thing you can do is choose a reputable breeder!
Black And White Shih Tzu Puppy
Imagine you have brought your cute Shih Tzu puppy home, and they’re settling in nicely.
Now, perhaps you’ve already thought of this, but did you puppy-proof your home? Any cupboards or closets in easy reach need to be securely locked unless you want your new arrival to go snooping about. Any place you keep harmful chemicals, such as bleach or disinfectant, or where food is stored (for humans or pups!) must be secure.
Some human foods are toxic to dogs, including certain dried fruits, chocolate, garlic, and onion. Be sure to keep these well out of reach. Other human foods such as prunes, blue cheese, jalapenos, bagels, and whipped cream might not be toxic to them, but can be hazardous in other ways.
Remove all loose objects, such as shoes and slippers, and tuck electric cables out of harm’s way.
Hopefully, you’ll have bought a crate? Now, this isn’t as spartan as it might sound! Good quality dog crates are comfortable and make the perfect ‘safe space’ for dogs to retreat to when they need a break. They are also handy for crate training when housebreaking your pup, which you should start as soon as possible.
A word of warning, though: don’t leave your puppy inside the crate for more than a couple of hours, and don’t use it to punish them! They will soon form a negative attachment to the crate and won’t want to use it at all.
Remember to stock up on chew toys, as these serve to distract the pup from chewing on you or your furniture. This will be especially helpful when they start teething. Avoid rawhide and bones as these are potentially hazardous because of pieces and splinters that can be swallowed, causing internal ruptures or intestinal blockages.
Establish a good routine, including an hour of exercise each day, a grooming session, and a fixed feeding time. Use high-quality puppy food that will provide the nutrition they need to thrive and grow, and never be tempted to feed them table scraps. You might think you are treating them, but this is the road to obesity, sickness, and bad habits!
Exercise should consist of a couple of brief walks and playtime, as these are energetic little dogs! Whether you clip your pup’s coat or not, it will need grooming. For long hair, this should be every day, and for clipped coats every two or three days. Although this might seem a little extreme, their long hair tends to tangle and become matted without daily brushing.
Check their toenails and trim if necessary, being careful not to cut down to the quick as this will hurt. If you’re not confident doing this, call a professional groomer to do the job for you. In fact, it’s a good idea to have them professionally groomed about once a month if possible, just to keep them in great condition.
Always remember to check inside your pup’s ears and wipe their eyes, and be alert for any signs that their eyelashes have been scraping the corneas. You can get eye drops to help with many eye problems, and your vet will advise you on other treatments should they be required.
Speaking of vets, one of your main priorities should be to contact a local one who you trust to look after your precious pooch. Book them in for their vaccinations, and be sure to visit a few times a year for a general health check.
Some websites suggest that it’s okay to leave your pup for up to nine hours a day because we all have busy lifestyles that keep us away from home. This is unfair in the extreme and is completely untrue: no puppy, whatever the breed, should be left for more than a couple of hours at a time. If your lifestyle dictates that you have to leave them for long stretches, then perhaps you should reconsider getting a dog and get, say, a stick insect instead?
Dogs are social creatures that crave human company. Of course, there will be times when you need to leave them, but this should be done gradually and only when they are prepared for it. Even then, you should not leave them for too long, and ideally, you should break up the time by getting a trusted person to call in.
Got all that? Then your black and white Shih Tzu puppy is in good hands!
Black And White Shih Tzu Full Grown
A full-grown black and white Shih Tzu won’t be any different from any other color in terms of height and weight.
The routine you established when they were a puppy should be in full swing by now, and your furry friend will be adult-sized, usually between 8 and 11 inches at the shoulders. This will depend on the size of the parent dogs as well as the quality of the food you fed them as a puppy.
The weight of a full-grown black and white Shih Tzu is harder to guess, as some can weigh as little as 8 pounds and others twice as much. Small dogs are susceptible to obesity, so you need to keep a close eye on that belly!
By now, they’ll be on adult dog food, which should still be premium quality. Advice on the packaging can be vague, so speak to your vet for guidance as to the quantity you should be feeding your dog. This should ideally be fed to them in three separate mealtimes throughout the day.
A black and white Shih Tzu will probably cost you somewhere between $2,000 and $4,000.
However, putting a price on any dog is a tricky thing as there are so many factors involved, including age, sex, color, and the breeder’s reputation.
For example, females generally cost more as they’re regarded as being more valuable because of breeding potential. Also, an additional $1,000 can be added to the price if the puppy is AKC registered. While this might give the impression that the pup will be of a high standard of health and pedigree, AKC registration does not guarantee this.
A pedigree is simply a list of names, and registration is just a number. Anyone can do this if they pay the fee. Registration does not guarantee that the puppy is of good quality!
Some private sellers will let you have a puppy for as little as $500, but you’d be taking a huge risk buying from them. An established reputable breeder might charge two, three, or four times as much, but the price will include vaccinations, deworming treatment, a health guarantee, and a health certificate. The breeder might also have started training your pup, making life much easier when you get them home.
The key to making sure you pay a fair price is to do plenty of research before buying. Because black and white Shih Tzus are rare as well as popular, you might have to wait a while if you really want this particular color. They can’t be produced to order!
Do Black And White Shih Tzu Change Color?
Yes, they do! Almost all Shih Tzus will change color at some point, and some will go through several color changes during their life. The coat color is predetermined genetically, and there is nothing you can do about it. Dark coats may become lighter, and light coats can darken.
By the time your puppy reaches her first birthday, she’ll probably be a completely different color from the tiny fluff-ball that you fell in love with. For this reason, you mustn’t choose your puppy based on its color at birth or even at a few weeks old. The AKC allows breeders to change the original color as many as three times when registering pups.
Once again, your best bet is to approach a good breeder who knows their stuff. They should be able to examine the pup’s hair roots around the tail, which will give an idea of its adult coat color.
Though some sources claim that black and white Shih Tzus don’t change color, but in reality, it is more likely that they will. However, it will only be the black that is affected, being displaced as the white fur spreads.
We know what you’re thinking: But I really want a black and white Shih Tzu!
It’s still possible, but there’s no way of telling how much of each color will be present or what the pattern will be. To be honest, that’s part of their appeal, as no two dogs will be the same.
For those who are interested, there are technical terms for some of these patterns:
• Irish mark piebald – more black than white.
• Parti-piebald – the black and white is split 50/50.
• Extreme piebald – a mostly white coat with a bit of black.
• Tuxedo – as the name implies, it looks like your pooch is wearing a tux!
To end this section, here’s a fascinating fact: black and white Shih Tzus are mostly black dogs with white coloring caused by the s locus gene.
Why Is My Shih Tzu’s Skin Turning Black?
This question isn’t specifically related to black and white Shih Tzu, but it is a cause for concern among Shih Tzu owners and worth looking into here to help ease any fears and worries you may have.
The first thing to note is that this isn’t something specific to Shih Tzus, or the dog’s gender for that matter, as it can affect all dog breeds and sexes.
Second, it isn’t usually anything to worry about.
You’ll probably notice patches of dark skin on the belly or groin area first, as this is where hair is the thinnest. Darkening skin (hyperpigmentation) is very often the result of inflammation, as the body produces melanin to protect itself. The main causes are bacterial infections, yeast infections, parasitic infections, and allergies.
All of these can trigger inflammation, resulting in the darkening of the skin. Once the skin darkens, it is unlikely to go away, but it will not cause your dog any distress or discomfort. The main thing is to make sure that any infections or allergies are diagnosed and treated.
In some cases, black skin can be caused by hormonal changes, which could be more serious. Two possible causes are hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease, both of which have other symptoms that will give you a clue that something is wrong. Your dog will definitely put on weight and be lethargic. They will have an unquenchable thirst and a large belly, so you’ll likely have figured that they need treatment already.
Finally, small patches of hard, black skin could be a sign of melanoma (skin cancer). It is rare, thankfully, but it is a possibility.
So, if your precious pooch suddenly has patches of black skin, get them checked over by the vet as soon as possible. It may be a simple case of changing their diet or getting some antihistamines!
What Is The Rarest Color Of Shih Tzu?
Photo from: @asherisawesome
Solid black Shih Tzus are considered the rarest color. If there is even a hint of another color (usually white) anywhere on the fur, it is regarded as a two-color dog.
This coloring extends to their noses, paw pads, and lips. A black dog with a brown or liver-colored nose is not accepted as a true black Shih Tzu.
Even when you think you have a pure, solid black dog, there’s a chance that this may fade to silver as they mature!
Are Black Shih Tzus Rare?
Well, we sort of already answered this one! But it’s worth repeating, just in case you are skimming through the article to find a particular question and missed the answer above.
Shih Tzus with mostly black coats are common, but to qualify as a pure black dog there must be no other patches of color or any other markings. As we already noted, their noses, lips, and paw pads must also be black.
Are White Shih Tzus Rare?
Photo from: @dinothedisableddog
White Shih Tzu dogs are almost as rare as pure black ones! In fact, all solid colors are pretty rare, as most dogs will have white or black markings on them somewhere.
White is associated with a recessive gene in Shih Tzus, meaning that other colors will often dominate. Because of this, most ‘whites’ won’t be white at all; they’ll be white and brindle or white and liver.
One of the reasons for its rarity is that most breeders don’t aim to produce white Shih Tzus. Instead, they’re trying to produce a white base with one or two other colors on top. So when a pure white turns up, it’s usually accidental.
Black And White Shih Tzu Teddy Bear Cut
Although some people prefer the long, silky coat that flows to the ground, Shih Tzus have unique hair that can be clipped, cropped, and trimmed into a range of styles. It’s not always possible to do this with other dog breeds, as the hair or fur helps regulate their body temperature.
The trick here is to not cut the hair too short, which is why the teddy bear cut is ideal. It does exactly what it says – your perfect pooch will look just like a cute teddy bear! The fur is trimmed to make the face look round but can be combined with a puppy cut on the rest of the body to make an adorable ball of fluff that will melt your heart.
As well as looking cute, it is much easier to groom, which is why it is such a popular cut.
Black And White Shih Tzu Long Hair
Whether you plan on showing your black and white Shih Tzu in the conformation ring or just love those flowing locks, you might plan to keep their coat long.
This is great, but you must commit to keeping it in excellent condition, which requires dedication. The hair on their face needs special attention, as it grows upwards and needs to be brushed or trimmed regularly, and the hair on top of the head needs to be kept under control. That cute topknot you often see in photos of Shih Tzus on social media isn’t just for show – it serves to keep the hair out of their eyes.
This is as much to let them see where they are going as it is to stop the hair from irritating their eyes.
A Few Final Words
The black and white Shih Tzu is popular at the moment, it seems. And this is understandable, as they are super-cute. You don’t need to understand the world of dog genes to know that it can be a tricky business getting the ‘right’ color.
But what we do need to remember is that all dogs, whatever their color, are precious lives. Whether they’re born in a breeder’s kennel or waiting in a rescue center, they all deserve a safe, loving home.
You might be looking for the perfect dog, and in your mind, that’s the black and white Shih Tzu. In that case, good luck on your quest! However, please bear in mind that there isn’t such a thing as a ‘perfect dog.’ They all require a lot of effort and dedication, and it is just as important that you are the right owner for them.
In this sense, the color really doesn’t matter. What matters more might be the name you choose for your dog – and a unique female black and white Shih Tzu might benefit from sassy girl dog names, so be sure to pick the right one!