Black and White Shih Tzu – What You Should Know


There is little doubt that Shih Tzus with the combination of black and white fur are the most dramatic in terms of appearance. This is because black and white are considered opposites on the color wheel. So, for many it may be difficult to believe that such a combination exists on any dog. But on a shih tzu it seems even more striking.

There are good reasons why many shih tzus have this black and white fur combination. But there are some interesting facts that also concern shih tzus with this type of fur.

From the Start

While in the womb, the amount of white on the shih tzu are being determined by the genes. It will start in certain places and then spread depending on the genes. The most common areas the following.

  • Chest
  • Paws
  • Tail
  • Muzzle

As the puppy starts to mature, the white markings will spread across their body. This is why the patterns change between the puppy and adult stage. How much they will change will depend on the genes involved in the process.

In other words, a puppy with a little white marking on the chest may have it spread across their chest. The same is true for white markings on their paws which may spread up their legs as they mature. The most uncommon place for white markings to exist on a shih tzu is back or saddle area and the top of the head. A shih tzu with black fur only on their paws or chest would be extremely rare.


Piebald is the term used to describe the amount of white fur on a black shih tzu. There is a gene called piebald which is present in shih tzus with this combination of fur, but only in extreme cases. Still, piebald is unofficially used in all cases of black and white shih tzus.

  • Extreme Piebald: Almost all white with just hints of black. The shih tzu still has black fur, but this is where the piebald gene really comes into play. 
  • Parti-Piebald: This is when the black and white split is 50/50.
  • Irish Mark: More black than white, but with the white on the face, breastbone, shoulders, and chest. Sometimes found on the ends of the paws and tail.

The Fur is Really Black

In other words, all shih tzus with black and white fur have black fur with markings of white. It doesn’t matter if the amount of white fur covers a small or large percentage of their bodies. Although on some shih tzus it may appear that they have white fur, it is still black with white markings.

White Fur is Determined by the S Locus or Spotted Gene

With the exception of a few breeds outside of shih tzus, the white markings are determined by the spotted gene. This gene is responsible for the white markings on black fur and is present in all shih tzus that have this combination.

The gene itself can vary in terms of how much white it will produce in the fur. So, the shih tzu may have either white spots or larger patterns of white in their black fur.

How to Groom a Black and White Shih Tzu

The presence of white markings is a somewhat greater challenge in keeping up the appearance of the shih tzu. The most common one being the fact that color-enhancing shampoos will not tend to work. This is because of the opposite nature of the fur present on the shih tzu. What might enhance the black will dull the white and vice versa.

However, you can use one of the many excellent brands of pet shampoos to keep the fur clean and healthy. Just apply it as directed and when rinsed away the fur should be silky and shiny. You should shampoo the shih tzu regularly and after they have gotten quite dirty. Keep in mind that they should not be shampooed too often as this might dry out or otherwise negatively affect their fur.

Black and White Shih Tzu

Black and White Shih Tzus and Tear Stains

One of the most common issues with all shih tzus regardless of their coloring is tear stains. These are the stains generated by the tears they produce which discolors the fur underneath the eyes. Tear stains are most often caused by the eye sockets not being deep enough to fully capture the tears generated. So, instead of all the tears going down the tear ducts, some will wind up on the fur.

In shih tzus with black fur underneath the eyes, it may be possible that you will not notice the tear stains except upon close examination. However, this can be a bad thing as you want to clear away the stains from the fur, so having them stand out is generally better as you can treat them quicker.

You can check for tear stains on shih tzus that have black fur under the eyes by gently touching the fur that runs underneath the tear ducts. Be careful not to touch the eyes themselves. If the fur feels stiff, crinkly, or crispy, then the shih tzu probably has tear stains.

There are products you can use to get rid of the tear stains. You can apply them safely to the fur so that they are removed. Again, be careful when it comes to applying a brush, come, or cloth to the area of the eyes. You’ll want to avoid all contact with the eyes. And removing the tear stains themselves should not be a big issue.


A black and white shih tzu, especially one that is mostly white is a remarkable site. Their coloring and markings make them stand out from most other shih tzus. Also, it should be noted that the coloring of their fur has nothing to do with their health. But it is always a good idea to check with your vet no matter their fur coloring to ensure they stay in good health.

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