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Liver Colored Shih Tzu: All You Need to Know

As a proud Shih Tzu owner, I’ve spent years learning everything there is to know about these adorable little dogs.

In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating world of liver-colored Shih Tzus, a unique variety of this popular breed. So, sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of liver-colored Shih Tzus!

In the article:
➡️ What makes a Shih Tzu liver colored
➡️ Do liver Shih Tzus meet breed standard
➡️ Differences between liver and regular Shih Tzus
➡️ Are liver Shih Tzus more expensive?
➡️ The genetics behind Shih Tzus
➡️ Liver nose on Shih Tzus
➡️ Coat care for liver Shih Tzus
➡️ Health concerns for liver Shih Tzus

shih tzu liver

What Makes a Shih Tzu Liver-Colored

A liver-colored Shih Tzu is a Shih Tzu with a specific coat color, ranging from light brown to dark chocolate.

The term “liver” refers to the color of the dog’s nose, lips, and eye rims, which are also a brown or chocolate hue instead of the standard black.

Do Liver Shih Tzus Meet Breed Standards

According to the AKC Shih Tzu breed standard, liver-colored Shih Tzus are indeed considered breed standard.

The standard states that “all colors are permissible,” which includes liver coloration. Additionally, the breed standard specifies that the Shih Tzu’s nose, lips, and eye rims should match the coat’s primary color.

This means that liver Shih Tzus, with their brown or chocolate-colored noses, lips, and eye rims, adhere to the breed standard.

Differences Between Liver and Regular Shih Tzus

Liver-colored Shih Tzus are just as lovable as their regular counterparts, but they do have some unique characteristics. Here are a few key differences between liver and regular Shih Tzus:

  1. Appearance: The most obvious difference is the coat and nose color. Liver Shih Tzus have brown or chocolate-colored noses, lips, and eye rims, whereas regular Shih Tzus have black noses, lips, and eye rims. The coat color of liver Shih Tzus can range from light brown to dark chocolate, while regular Shih Tzus come in various colors, including black, white, gold, and brindle.
  2. Rarity: Liver-colored Shih Tzus are relatively rare compared to other colors within the breed. This can make them more sought after by breed enthusiasts and potentially more expensive to purchase.
  3. Genetics: The liver coloration in Shih Tzus is caused by a recessive gene. This means that both parents must carry the liver gene for their offspring to display the liver coloration.

Are Liver Shih Tzus More Expensive?

The cost of a Shih Tzu can vary depending on various factors such as breeder reputation, location, lineage, and coat color.

Liver Shih Tzus, being relatively rare compared to other coat colors, can sometimes be more expensive to buy than regular Shih Tzus.

However, it’s important to note that rarity alone does not determine the value of a Shih Tzu. A reputable breeder will prioritize the health and temperament of their dogs over the coat color.

The Genetics Behind Liver Shih Tzus

The liver color in Shih Tzus is the result of a recessive gene known as the “brown gene” or “b gene.” This gene affects the production of eumelanin, a pigment responsible for black coloration in dogs.

When a Shih Tzu inherits two copies of the liver gene (one from each parent), it will have a reduced ability to produce black pigment, resulting in the brown coat and nose color.

There are two variations of the b gene:

  • B (dominant): Allows for normal black pigment production.
  • b (recessive): Reduces black pigment production, leading to liver coloration.

To better understand the inheritance of the liver color in Shih Tzus, let’s look at a few possible scenarios:

  1. BB x BB: Both parents have black pigment (BB), and all offspring will have black pigment (BB).
  2. BB x Bb: One parent has black pigment (BB) and the other carries the liver gene (Bb). All offspring will have black pigment (BB or Bb), but some will carry the liver gene.
  3. Bb x Bb: Both parents carry the liver gene (Bb). Offspring can have black pigment (BB or Bb) or be liver-colored (bb).
  4. bb x bb: Both parents are liver-colored (bb). All offspring will be liver-colored (bb).

As you can see, liver-colored Shih Tzus can only be produced if both parents carry the liver gene. However, even if both parents carry the gene, not all of their offspring will necessarily be liver-colored.

Liver Nose on Shih Tzus

The liver nose is a distinctive feature of liver-colored Shih Tzus. Instead of the standard black nose seen on most Shih Tzus, liver Shih Tzus have a brown or chocolate-colored nose.

This is due to the same genetic factors that affect the coat color. Liver noses are often considered a desirable trait, as they add a unique touch to the Shih Tzu’s appearance.

Coat Care and Grooming for Liver Shih Tzus

Grooming is essential for all Shih Tzus, regardless of their coat color.

However, liver-colored Shih Tzus may require some extra attention to keep their coats looking vibrant and healthy. Here are a few grooming tips for liver Shih Tzus:

  1. Brush Regularly: Shih Tzus have long, silky hair that can easily become tangled and matted if not brushed regularly. Brush your liver Shih Tzu’s coat at least two to three times a week to prevent matting and to distribute natural oils throughout the fur.
  2. Bathe Monthly: Bathing your liver Shih Tzu once a month with a gentle, high-quality dog shampoo can help keep their coat clean and shiny. Be sure to rinse thoroughly to avoid leaving any shampoo residue that could irritate your dog’s skin. Check out this article from AKC for more tips on bathing your dog.
  3. Trim Hair Around Eyes: Liver Shih Tzus can be prone to tear staining, especially if they have lighter coat colors. Keep the hair around their eyes trimmed to prevent irritation and to make cleaning tear stains easier.
  4. Protect Their Coat from Sunlight: Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause your liver Shih Tzu’s coat to fade. To prevent this, limit their time in direct sunlight, especially during peak hours.

Health Concerns in Liver Shih Tzus

Liver Shih Tzus, like all Shih Tzus, can be prone to certain health issues.

While the liver coloration itself does not cause any health problems, it’s essential to be aware of common health concerns in the breed. Some of these include:

  • Brachycephalic syndrome
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Patellar luxation
  • Eye issues (e.g., cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy)
  • Ear infections
  • Dental issues

It’s crucial to keep up with regular veterinary checkups and to be proactive in addressing any health concerns. PetMD offers a more comprehensive overview of potential health issues in Shih Tzus.

Final Thoughts

Liver-colored Shih Tzus are a unique and beautiful variation of the beloved Shih Tzu breed. They may be rarer than their regular counterparts, but they are just as charming and full of personality.

By understanding the genetics behind their distinctive appearance and providing proper care and grooming, you can ensure that your liver Shih Tzu stays happy and healthy throughout their life.

If you’re interested in learning more about Shih Tzus, the VCA Hospitals website provides a wealth of


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.