Skip to Content

Black Shih Tzu – The Ultimate Guide To This Shih Tzu Color

Black Shih Tzu – The Ultimate Guide To This Shih Tzu Color

Shih Tzus are one of the most popular dog breeds you can find. Almost everyone knows what a Shih Tzu dog looks like!

These little Chinese lion dogs were kept as royal dogs in the palaces of Chinese emperors. It is believed they were created by crossbreeding the Pekinese dog and the Lhasa Apso – and if you take a look at these two breeds, you’ll notice the similarities.

In China, Shih Tzus have had the status of royal dogs, and high-quality breeders were highly praised for their contributions.

These lapdogs, although ancient, didn’t come to the western world until the 1930s, and they weren’t recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) until 1969.

Despite this, they quickly become one of the most beloved toy dogs you can find – not just due to their sweet, affectionate temperament, but for their teddy bear-like, colorful appearance.

Yes, there are many Shih Tzu colors out there, but one dog truly stands out from the rest: The black Shih Tzu.

There are many things that make black Shih Tzus entirely different from other coat colors these pups come in, but don’t get your hopes up – you aren’t going to find these dogs that easily.

If these glorious small dogs make you happy, you’re in the right place. I’ll explain all you need to know about these cute little pooches.

Here is your 101 guide to black colored Shih Tzus:

What Is A Black Shih Tzu?

black adult shih tzu standing in sideview

Black Shih Tzu is a Shih Tzu that comes in solid black coat color.

The Shih Tzu is a small dog breed that is a beloved family dog. These pups usually grow to be 8 to 11 inches in height and rarely weigh more than 16 lbs. This makes them perfect for apartment living – which is precisely why they are so popular in big cities.

Their long, straight, hypoallergenic coat can come in various colors – and one of them is this gorgeous pitch-black color we’re talking about today.

What makes their coat stand out from the other dog’s coats is that it resembles human hair. It will grow until you cut or trim it, and it can end up being quite long.

These pups are known for being rather lazy yet elegant, with an underbite that somehow only manages to make them look even more royal.

They have big and dark eyes and snub noses, with a curled tail that goes over their back. They are longer than they are taller, yet even this doesn’t make them look funny or disproportionate.

Everything about them looks even more elegant when they come in black, which is the main reason why black Shih Tzus are so extremely popular.

Black Shih Tzus look exactly the same as Shih Tzus of any other color we’ve just described. Even people who don’t consider themselves dog lovers won’t be able to resist them!

Are Black Shih Tzu Rare?

portrait of a shih tzu posing agains a white background

Black Shih Tzus are rather rare dogs. In fact, some might argue that they are the rarest coat color in Shih Tzus.

This might surprise you, as you have certainly seen black Shih Tzus everywhere – perhaps even in your own neighborhood. However, there is a catch.

For a dog to be considered a black Shih Tzu, his coat has to be solid black, without a single strand of hair in another color.

Most Shih Tzus you see around have at least a small portion of their coat in grey or white or even brown color. This means that they are not truly black.

It is true, there are many Shih Tzu colors and patterns that include a black color. For example, you can have a black and white Shih Tzu, a parti black Shih Tzu, a Shih Tzu with a black mask or other types of black markings, tricolor Shih Tzus, and so on.

Black Shih Tzus have to come in black color only. For example, even the smallest white marking will mean the dog is considered a black and white Shih Tzu instead of a black one – even though the base color is black and the dog is predominantly black.

Shih Tzus that come in a solid color are rare on their own. For example, it isn’t often that you see a white Shih Tzu dog. However, solid black might be the rarest one for another reason.

The black pigment has to be dominant not just on the dog’s coat, but on his skin, as well. This means that your Shih Tzu’s eye rims, lips, paw pads, and other visible skin parts should also be black. Also, they should have dark brown, beady eyes, and a black nose.

Even tear stains are not allowed in black Shih Tzus!

If any of these parts is in any color other than black, then you’re not having a black Shih Tzu. Even a brindle black Shih Tzu is not a true black dog, at least not according to the breed standard.

Black Shih Tzu Genetics

beautiful black shih tzu with ribbon on hair posing in black background

The dog’s entire appearance, including the coat color, is caused by genetics. Genes determine all physical, and even some behavioral aspects in canines.

But what makes a black Shih Tzu’s coat black, and why is this color so rare?

To fully understand this, you must first know how the dog’s coat color is inherited.

Genes come in pairs, and one gene is inherited from each parent. This alone sounds simple enough, but there’s more to genetics than just this one single pair of genes.

Genes, Loci, And Alleles

Unlike humans that have 23 pairs of chromosomes in each cell, dogs have 39 pairs. To put it simply, each of these pairs determines a specific dog trait, such as the sex of the dog, his height, coat type, and so on.

Each chromosome contains thousands of genes, and each of these genes has a pair of alleles. One allele is inherited from each parent.

Alleles are located at a specific site on the chromosome, known as loci.

When two dogs mate and create a puppy, the male and the female dog randomly give one allele from each locus. This gives each allele, or rather each trait, a 50% chance of being expressed on the dog.

One of these alleles will be more dominant than the other one, meaning it will be the one that ends up being expressed as a physical trait. The other one will be recessive, or hidden.

Not all alleles have the same chance of being passed on or expressed. Some alleles are considered dominant on their own, and others are recessive.

When you have a dominant allele (we’ll call that a dominant gene), it’s enough of it to be inherited from one parent only and it will show up on the dog.

Recessive genes, on the other hand, need to come in pairs. Otherwise, they’ll stay hidden, but a dog can further pass them onto the offspring.

If you have a combination of two different dominant or two different recessive genes, things become a bit tricky, but this is too complicated to explain in detail here. All that’s important is that some colors are more dominant than others.


Next, you have pigments. Pigments determine the coat color, and genes determine the distribution of these pigments.

​Dogs are colorful animals. Just look at Shih Tzus! These little pups can come in dozens of colors. This probably makes you think that there are many types of pigments.

This isn’t the case. There are only two pigments, and both are made out of melanin:

• Eumelanin, which causes the black coat color.

• Pheomelanin, which is responsible for the red coat color.

However, red and black are only the basic coat colors. The amount of melanin determines the exact shade. The more melanin, the darker the color. This is why dogs with pheomelanin might come in cream, yellow, red, or even deep mahogany shades.

If the melanin isn’t equally distributed throughout the hairs, you might get a sable pattern – the pattern in which the tips of the hair are much darker than the roots.

White coat color, on the other hand, isn’t caused by any pigment but rather by the lack of it.

Things get more complicated with dilution genes. These dilution genes cause colors such as blue, lilac, or even liver-colored coats.

However, as dilutions aren’t important for black Shih Tzus, we won’t focus on them anymore.

So, What Makes Black Shih Tzus Black?

Black is the default color of eumelanin. The alleles for this coat color are located on the K locus – the same place where liver or dilution genes are located.

As such, if a dog has even one dominant black gene on the K locus, he will be black.

The problem is that there are many genes that are responsible for the coat pattern, such as piebald, tricolor, brindle, or spots.

For a dog to be pure black, he has to come in a specific combination of a dominant black gene, but without the dominant gene for any type of marking.

This is extremely rare, as almost all Shih Tzus have a gene for some pattern – usually, a grey or white marking.

Because of all of this, solid black Shih Tzu puppies are a rare find.

Black Shih Tzu Puppy

black shih tzu puppy

Photo from: @hunden_jack1

Finding a black Shih Tzu puppy can be a challenging task. It is not easy to get a litter of black puppies.

The black coat color is caused by a dominant gene. As such, in theory, it should be easier to find a black than a white Shih Tzu puppy, as white is usually caused by a combination of two recessive genes.

The problem is that the genes for a solid coat color are rarer than genes for various markings.

Not just that, but because black is the most dominant gene, there are a few more problems when it comes to inheriting coat colors.

Black will win over any other coat color. This means that there are high chances that each black Shih Tzu is carrying genes for some other coat color.

This means that even if you breed two black Shih Tzu dogs, you might still end up with puppies that come in different colors as they have inherited the non-black allele from both parents.

On the other hand, if you were to breed two blue Shih Tzus, for example, you’ll always end with blue Shih Tzu puppies as there are no other genes but the blue color gene the pup could inherit.

This challenging breeding and inheritance process is the main reason why black is such a rare color within the Shih Tzu breed.

Black Shih Tzu Color Change

cute black shih tzu

Photo from: @shih_tzu.jayla

Another problem with black Shih Tzu is the change of colors. Many Shih Tzu owners will feel betrayed as their Shih Tzu puppy ends up growing up into an entirely different color.

This is especially prominent with black Shih Tzu dogs, as even the slightest color change will be easy to notice.

Shih Tzus are dogs known for changing their colors. In fact, all Shih Tzu colors are likely to change over time, with the exception of the black and white color combination.

​There are two types of color changes in Shih Tzus:

• Fading

• Graying

Fading is caused by a specific G gene. This gene causes the dog’s coat color to fade over time. Fortunately, this fading will usually be noticeable in very young puppies, and it should stop before the dog’s first birthday.

Graying is caused by a specific Chinchilla gene. It won’t make the color fade, but rather it will turn it into a rich, silver shade.

While this might mean that you won’t end up with a dog of the exact color you’d like, there really isn’t a reason to be unhappy because of this.

There is an ongoing debate on whether environmental factors, such as stress, improper dog food, or sun exposure make the color change worse.

Even if you’d like to have a show dog, you should know that all Shih Tzu colors are recognized by the AKC and accepted at the conformation shows.

Black Shih Tzu For Sale

black shih tzu

Photo from: @shih_tzu.jayla

When looking for black Shih Tzu puppies for sale, you will likely see many listings on various online sites. However, most of them will be for black and white Shih Tzus.

Even if you try Googling for an image of a solid black Shih Tzu, you might have issues finding a picture of a true black dog.

This is why you have to be very careful when trying to find a solid black Shih Tzu. Many irresponsible breeders will label their dogs as black even though they have a tiny white marking.

Don’t give up and do proper research. Black Shih Tzus exist, and there are some breeders that have specialized in breeding puppies in this color.

Black Shih Tzu Price

If you’re looking for Shih Tzu puppies, a standard price for this breed is usually up to $1,500. Despite their adorableness, these are not overly pricy dogs. This is because they are fairly common and easy to breed.

However, many things can influence the price of a dog and make them cost more, even if they belong to the same dog breed. This includes:

• The type of breeder. Reputable breeders, puppy mills, and backyard breeders all have different breeding practices that also influence the dog price

• Documentation, such as health warranties, pedigrees, health certifications, registration papers, and so on.

• The age of the dog. The older the dog is, the less expensive the price.

• Bloodline. If a dog comes from a champion lineage, his price will be much higher.

• Breed popularity. Popular dogs will cost more than dogs that aren’t in demand.

• Area. Shih Tzus will cost less in rural areas, where working dogs, such as Retrievers or German Shepherds, are in demand.

• Individual features. If a dog comes in a rare color, he’ll be more expensive than a dog with standard coat patterns. The same goes for so-called teacup-sized dogs.

After reading this, you can probably already conclude that the black Shih Tzu will cost much more than if you were to buy this little lion dog in a standard color.

Many black Shih Tzus from reputable breeders will have a price tag that is as high as $5,000! This is a very high price for this dog breed.

One word of advice, though:

I am certain that everyone would want to get a dog at as affordable a price as possible. Paying several thousand dollars for a dog just because of its unique coat color, as adorable as it is, sounds a bit crazy.

However, I would still refrain from buying at puppy mills.

Puppy mills are only looking to profit from selling puppies. They will overbreed the mother dogs so they can have as many puppies as possible in as short an amount of time as they can.

They will also sell their puppies while they are too young – sometimes while they are still breastfeeding!

Because of this, dogs from puppy mills are often unhealthy, dirty, and with behavioral issues. Many are not even purebred!

While reputable breeders hold a much higher price tag, this is due to the health screenings they conduct. This way, they’re ensuring you are getting puppies free of health issues.

As such, it might be wiser to pay a higher initial price and not to worry about medical costs and vet bills further along the line.

Of course, this is entirely up to you. You are the only one who can decide whether a black Shih Tzu is worth the price.

Black Shih Tzu Mix

adorable black shih tzu

Photo from: @koda.thetzu

If you’d like a small, hypoallergenic black best friend, you might have more luck in finding some Shih Tzu mix.

Breeders have realized that by combining black (or, rather, black and white) Shih Tzus with some other purebred dog that comes in black color, the chances of producing solid black puppies are higher.

Here are some crossbreeds that might be easier to find in black than Shih Tzus:

Black Shih Tzu Poodle Mix

Poodles are colorful dogs that are commonly found in black. Because of this, these puppies can often come in black.

A Shih Tzu Poodle mix is an excellent choice for allergy sufferers, as these dogs are hypoallergenic and non-shedding.

Not to mention that they are entirely adorable!

Black Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix

Another crossbreed that can commonly come in black is the Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix.

Chihuahuas are a small dog breed that can be found in black color, so it will increase the chance of black offspring.

This is also one of the ways to get a teacup Shih Tzu, as the dog will likely be smaller than purebred lion dogs.

Black Shih Tzu Schnauzer Mix

Schnauzers are dogs that come in a few colors. One of the main ones is black, which is what makes it a great combination if you’d like to get a black puppy.

However, this isn’t as popular a combination as the other ones I’ve listed. Many experts argue that Schnauzer’s genes ruin the elegance Shih Tzus have.

Black Shih Tzu Pomeranian Mix

Pomeranians are dogs that come from the German Spitz family. Just like Shih Tzus, they are considered royal dogs, which is what makes this an astonishing combination.

One of the standard coat colors for Pomeranians is black, so they will nicely complement the black Shih Tzu genes.

The biggest problem with this crossbreed is that it isn’t hypoallergenic. If you’re struggling with dog allergies, they aren’t a good choice.

Black Shih Tzu Grooming

smiling shih tzu wearing dog shirt looking at the camera

Black Shih Tzus require the same amount of grooming as any other Shih Tzu. These dogs have a long coat that will grow constantly, so daily brushing isn’t enough – but it is necessary.

Next to daily brushing, you need to wipe your black Shih Tzu’s face and eye regularly. Every single stain or drool will make his coat look dirty, so you need to be thorough with this.

Despite this, you shouldn’t go overboard with bathing. Too frequent bathing can ruin your dog’s sensitive skin, causing irritations, allergies, or even open wounds. Bathing your dog once every month is enough.

The only exception is if your pooch has some skin disorder that needs to be treated with baths, or if he has gotten himself exceptionally dirty.

Don’t forget to clip his nails once a month, as they can grow too large and hurt your pooch.

Also, it’s important to know that Shih Tzus are dogs that require regular visits to a professional groomer. It is very difficult to maintain their ever-growing coats, and they are very prone to tangles and mats.

Only a professional groomer will be able to handle the challenging coat care these adorable yet demanding dogs require.

This can end up being quite costly, so make sure you are prepared for such expenses when you’re taking in these dogs.

Are Black Shih Tzus Good Family Pets?

young shih tzu playing with its owner lying down on the sofa

Other than their unique coat color, black Shih Tzus are no different from any other Shih Tzu. They are affectionate, people-loving dogs that will love making their owners happy.

In fact, these dogs are so adorable that many celebrities have decided to have them as their family companions! This includes Beyonce, Nicole Richi, Bill Gates, Miley Cyrus, even Queen Elizabeth II!

There are many features that can make the black Shih Tzu an amazing dog – next to his good looks, of course.

These are some of the best family dogs you can get. They don’t have a prey drive, making them very friendly, even towards other animals. They do well with children, although they might require some peace and quiet from time to time.

Due to their calm and quiet nature, they make amazing apartment dogs. They won’t care if you cannot take them for long walks. All they need is to go out to potty, and they’ll be back to resting on your couch! A 15-20 minute walk is more than enough for these adorable teddy bears.

Black Shih Tzus can adapt to most living conditions. If you need to move, plan on getting a baby or a new roommate, a Shih Tzu won’t mind. They only want to make you happy and to stay by your side.

Not just that, but they are very healthy dogs with a long lifespan. While most Shih Tzus will live to be 15 years old, it isn’t uncommon for them to live 20 years or even longer.

In fact, these dogs can live longer than Chihuahuas! The proof of this is that the oldest dog that ever lived was a Shih Tzu who reached 23 years of age!

Sure, a black Shih Tzu might fade over time, but this isn’t a reason not to love them. In fact, that precise fading effect can give them an even more unique look.

In the end, coat color doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t affect a dog in any way, other than giving him a specific type of appearance.

While there have been some studies trying to show that black coat color can make dogs more aggressive, so far there has been no proof – quite the opposite. There are no indications that a coat color can affect a dog’s behavior whatsoever.

The only thing that you might need to be careful about is that black Shih Tzus, especially long-haired ones, are more prone to overheating, so make sure to keep them away from the sun.

No matter what color Shih Tzu you choose, you will certainly find a new best friend in him.