The American Kennel Club recognises eight official Shih Tzu coat colors. These are black, white, blue, liver, gold, silver, red and brindle. Within these colors, there can be a wide range of combinations and markings, making each Shih Tzu coat beautifully unique. Perhaps the loveliest, and certainly the broadest combination of all, is the brindle coat coloring.
The brindle coat is typically one base color with streaks of another color running throughout the coat, creating beautiful multi-colored tones. Interestingly, brindle isn't technically a color since it represents multiple colors and actually refers to the pattern of the coat, but it is still officially recognised by the AKC. Most breeders and owners will, when using the term brindle, be referring to the color of the coat.
Coats that feature gold, brown, black and gray shades can all fall under the brindle definition, so it can at times be a little bit difficult for owners to determine whether or not their Shih Tzus are considered brindle colored.
As well as the patterning effect, the brindling on a coat can vary quite a bit. In some dogs, it will be heavy and in others it is light - this determines how much of the underlying coat color shows through. The brindling effect may also be tight (i.e. the stripes in the coat will be close together) or loose, and may appear over the head and back, or the entire body (although this is quite unusual).
Just like other color varieties, the amount of brindling on a Shih Tzu puppy can change as it gets older, with it either lightening or darkening, depending on the dog. We think you'll agree that this degree of variety makes the brindle coloring among the most interesting of all and, as these pictures show, can result in some very striking markings!