Chocolate / Brown Shih Tzu – What You Should Know

Solid Brown Shih Tzu

Sometimes called a chocolate shih tzu, the brown fur is misleading in terms of the real color of the dog. This is because the actual color is liver which is a pigmentation of the skin and not a color. The skin points such as the lips, pads of the paws, nose, and rims of the eyes are liver which range from light to dark depending on the genes present. So, you may see a brown coat, but that is not how the color is officially recognized.

How to Identify a Brown Shih Tzu

There are ways to be certain that your shih tzu either has or does not have a liver coloring. The first place to look is the nose. If the nose appears to be brown, then it does have a liver color. Such as a shih tzu that is both brown and white, the brown or liver should be on the nose.

A black nose with fur that appears brown and white may be red and white instead. In other words, the seemingly brown color may instead be a dull red combined with white. The best way to tell is to put your shih tzu on the floor with the sun coming through the window. The red or “rust” coloring will really come through. Other combinations include brindle or gold and white. Or there might be other colors involved instead of liver.

Sometimes, a shih tzu puppy is born that appears solid brown. In many cases, that coat will lighten over time as the shih tzu matures. Or, if the coat is closer to black, it may darken over time. In any case, the genes determine both the amount and shade of the color as the shih tzu matures from a puppy to an adult.;

Brown Shih Tzu
Image Credit: lovinonleopold

Brown vs. Black Shih Tzus

Just as it is rare for a shih tzu to be all-brown in fur color, so too is it quite rare for a shih tzu to be all-black. In most cases, the black fur will have markings of white. This denotes the presence of a gene that generates white markings in all dogs, including shih tzus.

Telling the difference between black and brown shih tzus may be difficult depending on how dark the shade of brown or liver is present. However, a black shih tzu will have a black nose while those that are liver will have a liver-colored nose.

Another tell is when a black shih tzu puppy matures the fur may change over time. It is not uncommon for a nearly black shih tzu puppy to turn nearly silver as it becomes an adult. Also keep in mind that exposure to sunlight can change the shade of the color you see on your shih tzu, especially if it spends most of its time outdoors.


Keep in mind that while the fur color does not determine the personality of your shih tzu, how you treat them based on the color of their fur will have an effect. All shih tzus are beautiful animals, so treat them like they deserve, and they will love you back for it.  


Black and White Shih Tzu – What You Should Know

Solid White Shih Tzu

White Shih Tzu – What You Should Know