Shih Tzu Colors and Markings

Coat With Many Colors
well-groomed dog siting on a table at a dog show


Explore the various combinations of Shih Tzu colors and markings with longtime Shih Tzu breeder Wendy Paquette.


Let’s compare Shih Tzu Breed Standards from around the World:
  • AKC – “All are permissible and to be considered equally.
  • CKC – “All colors are acceptable providing they have black noses, lips and eye rims. The exceptions are the livers and blues which have pigmentation that compliments that particular color.” There is a DQ for “one or two blue eyes.
  • FCI – “All colors permissible, white blaze on forehead and white tip to tail highly desirable in parti colors.
  • UK – “All colours except merle permissible, white blaze on forehead and white tip to tail highly desirable in parti-colours.


Basically, the four Standards say the same thing: All colors are to be treated equally… but are they?

I have dabbled in solid colors over the past 50 years of breeding. However, I’ve always found it very frustrating that solid-colored Shih Tzu (or those with dark faces) are often overlooked. Why is that?

They are the same breed and should be judged accordingly on structure, like all the parti-colors. Too often they are at the back of the line as judges (and, sometimes, of course, breeders) are not fans of the solid colors. The solid-colored dogs, however, may be the breeder / owner’s preference. So, when judging breeding stock, they should be given equal consideration.

side-by-side image of 3 shih tzus

Regardless of color, please judge the dog as a whole entity; keeping in mind that “All colors are acceptable.”

Yes, the majority of Shih Tzu breeders will only show you the parti colors with big white faces, white blaze, etc., all coming in a variety of colors. However, what is underneath the color/coat must also be given the same recognition.

More and more we are seeing a large variety of new Shih Tzu colors and markings. One of the biggest problems with the different registering clubs is that all of these new colors are not being identified properly! Therefore, when looking at pedigrees, it may say the dog is black and white when in reality it is a tri. Otherwise, a dog that is black with tan should be identified as black and tan markings.

Genetically, I believe that the majority of colors listed on pedigrees are wrong, given that they are now coming up with names such as sable, red with tan points, sable with tan points, chocolates, etc. Is a sable with tan points the same description given to a variety in other breeds? Some examples are German Shepherds and Pomeranians. None of these new colors are listed for registration purposes.

I am attaching a few of the different Shih Tzu color combinations here. Even though livers and blues are mentioned, one will rarely find them in the show ring, but you will see them most likely in puppy mill ads etc. However, having said this, they are not to be ruled out in the conformation ring as they are acceptable colors.




So, to summarize: Regardless of colors, please judge the Shih Tzu dog as a whole entity; keeping in mind that “All colors are acceptable.

  • Wendy has been involved in purebred dogs since 1971. She began her career breeding Shih Tzu, and along the way has owned and bred Samoyeds, Afghans, Salukis, Whippets, Brussels Griffon, Maltese, Pekingese, Lakeland Terriers and Wire Fox Terriers. She specializes in Shih Tzu and Lakeland Terriers as her main breeds and has produced over 250 Canadian Champions, 80 American Champions, 16 different Best In Show winners and 10 National Specialty winners. Wendy is a co-owner of Wenrick Kennels Incorporated. The Wenrick Shih Tzu breeding program is world-renowned. Wendy is also a retired professional dog handler. A profession she enjoyed for 15 years. During this time she finished over 500 champions in 80 different breeds and won 150+ All Breed Best in Shows with 16 different breeds. She also owned and piloted a Pekingese “Bingo”, Am Can Ch Rodari’s Aces High to the number 2 All Breeds in Canada in 1994. She has been honored with lifetime memberships in the Canadian Kennel Club, the Sudbury & District Kennel Club and the Canadian Shih Tzu Club. She was also awarded an Honorary Membership in the Canadian Professional Handlers Association. Wendy is a Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) Licensed All Breed Judge, a founding member of the Canadian Dog Judges Association (CDJA) and a member of the American Dog Judges Association (ADSJA). In addition to Canada and the USA, she has judged in Australia, New Zealand, Bermuda, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, South Africa, Denmark, Italy, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Ireland.

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