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. Here we'll look at the white coat color, including solid white and the various color combinations that feature white as the predominant color.
As with the other solid colors, it's unusual for a Shih Tzu to be fully white. This is because the gene that causes white coloring (referred to as the 'piebald gene') is recessive to all other colors, meaning that both the dam and sire must carry this gene to produce a solid white puppy – and even then, it's not guaranteed.
To be considered solid white, a dog cannot have any other colors or markings, and the nose must be black. If the dog is white, but the nose is brown, it will be regarded as liver colored or, more rarely, blue (if the nose has more of a navy hue) for AKC registration purposes. Therefore, most predominantly white Shih Tzus are technically a combination of colors, with with black and gold/red tones being particularly common.
Shih Tzus owners will find that taking care of a white coat can be hard work! Even with great care, it is difficult to get the same gloss and shine as the darker shade will have, and of course a white coat will pick up dirt very easily. It can also be prone to yellowing. Fortunately, there are a range of white coat-specific shampoo and conditioning products that will help maintain the condition of the coat and, with careful attention, a predominantly white Shih Tzu can look very beautiful indeed.