The Shih Tzus Variety Of Colors
The Shih Tzus Variety Of Colors

The Shih Tzus Variety Of Colors

Since the Shih Tzu breed first became known to the western world there has been a variety of colors. The first and second prize winners at the Shanghai Kennel Club Show of May 30, 1930 were all black in color. These two solid black Shih Tzu were probably among the first Shih Tzu to ever appear in a western show ring. Their photographs can be seen in the China Journal June and August 1930 issues.

Black and white Shih Tzu was also frequently seen of the early days in the western world. Black and white Shih Tzu can still be "very" striking and are still a favorite of many Shih Tzu fanciers.

There are different opinions as to exactly what color was the favored color at the Imperial Palace. It has been said often that the golden-yellow, sometimes described as honey was the favorite color and only kept in the palace. There are countless entries in our passages of Shih Tzu history that tell us the Empress Dowagers favorite Shih Tzu of all times was a solid black she called "Sea Otter." There are also accounts that three of the Empress Dowagers sleeve dogs were greyish-white.

The mention of solid white Shih Tzu in later standards reflect the fact that there was a leading French breed in Peking who had a large number of all-white Shih Tzu. There has always been questions as to whether or not it was probably more the westerners who appreciated the solid white, as the Chinese saw the color white as a color of mourning.

It would be safer to say and believe that since yellow was the imperial color, a fact readily known by the golden-yellow tiled roofs of the Peking Palace. Yellow dogs were also more lion-like in appearance. The word "Shih Tzu" means "Lion" in Chinese. The Chinese tried to breed the Shih Tzu to resemble the lion, at least it was their idea of what a Lion looked like.

The white blaze, collar, socks and tail-tip combine to create a highly prized ensemble.

It is most likely that westerners had a very difficult time acquiring the yellow-colored Shih Tzu since it was regarded as being so precious. Therefore, the first Shih Tzu to appear in the west were the black and white, grey and white, brindle and white and a few solid blacks. Very few of the precious yellow-colored Shih Tzu were first acquired by the westerners.

The same holds true for the very small sized Shih Tzu. The small size Shih Tzu, which were most likely the Imperial and Teacup Shih Tzu, as many of us commonly nickname them today, (the Shih Tzu under 9 pounds in weight) were not readily available for the westerners. The westerners had access mainly to the larger size Shih Tzu that the Imperial Palace had sent out as rejects of their breeding program. There were a few able to get hold of the very tiny Shih Tzu we now commonly nickname the Imperials and the Teacup size, but not many, as this was the favored and most treasured size of the Imperial Palace breedings. The smaller size in Shih Tzu was a major goal of the Imperial Palace breedings lead by Empress Dowager.

Todays AKC standard, however, states the weight of a Shih Tzu in order to qualify for the show ring must be between 9 and 16 pounds.

Connie Limon is a Shih Tzu breeder. She publishes a FREE weekly newsletter. A professional newsletter with a focus upon health and wellness for you and your pets. Discounts are offered to subscribers. Sign up at:

This article is FREE to publish with resource box.