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Black and White Shih Tzu: Facts, Origins & History (With Pictures)

Written by: Greg Iacono

Last Updated on July 8, 2024 by Dogster Team

black and white shih tzu dog standing in shallow river water

Black and White Shih Tzu: Facts, Origins & History (With Pictures)

Shih Tzus, bred to be companions of Chinese royalty, have been around for over 1,000 years, delighting us with their affection, sweetness, and gorgeous coat. While they come in various colors, the Black and White Shih Tzu is one of the most popular. It’s also a Shih Tzu color among over a dozen recognized by the AKC.

If you’re planning to adopt a Black & White Shih Tzu and are curious to find out more about this royal breed that’s incredibly popular, read on.

Breed Overview


9–10.5 inches


9–16 pounds


10–18 years


Black, black, blue, brindle, gold, liver, red, silver. All colors except silver also come in combination with white.

Suitable for:

Singles, families, and retirees looking for a low-shedding dog


Affectionate, playful, fun, and intelligent

Black and White Shih Tzu Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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The Earliest Records of Black and White Shih Tzus in History

The first records of the Shih Tzu, including the Black & White Shih Tzu, go back over 1,000 years to Tibet and China. That’s when breeders, looking to create a special dog for Chinese emperors, mated the Lhasa Apso with the Pekingese.

The Shih Tzu was born, but the breed remained unknown for several hundred years. The emperors didn’t want to share their adorable dogs with the rest of the world.

Black and white shih tzu puppy playing on the green grass
Image by: Druzhnieva Veronika, Shutterstock

How Black and White Shih Tzus Gained Popularity

Chinese emperors would have Shih Tzus bred to give as gifts to other royals, usually for birthdays, weddings, and other celebrations. At one time, there was even a successful Shih Tzu breeding program in the country.

Fast forward to the early part of the 19th century and two world-changing events that almost drove the Shih Tzu to extinction: the Communist Revolution in China and World War ɪɪ Both were very bad times for the Shih Tzu, but luckily, after WW ɪɪ ended, several soldiers who fought in the war brought Shih Tzus to the United States.

Once introduced, the Black & White Shih Tzu’s popularity, not surprisingly, skyrocketed. Today the Shih Tzu is typically one of the Top 25 dog breeds in the U.S. every year.

Formal Recognition of Black and White Shih Tzus

The American Kennel Club (AKC) didn’t take long to recognize the Shih Tzu as its own breed1, accepting it into their ranks in 1969. In Europe, the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) has recognized the Black & White Shih Tzu on a definitive basis since December 19572.

Numerous Shih Tzu organizations around the world also recognize these wonderful dogs.

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Top 7 Unique Facts About Black and White Shih Tzus

1. Shih Tzus Came From Tibet

Although they were popular in China for hundreds of years, the original breeding country of the Shih Tzu was Tibet.

Shih Tzu wearing Shih Tzu harness
Image By: KellyNelson, Shutterstock

2. The Breed Was Saved by 14 Shih Tzus

As mentioned earlier, the Shih Tzu was almost wiped out after the Communist Revolution in China and WW Ⅱ. Luckily, 14 dogs survived, and today every Shih Tzu on the planet can be traced back to those 14 dutiful dogs.

3. Shih Tzus Shed Very Little

When you see their glorious, long coats, the first thing you might think is that a Shih Tzu will shed like mad. The exact opposite is true, however. Since the Shih Tzu has hair (not fur), they shed very little once they become adults.

4. The Average Shih Tzu Is Athletic

While they look like stuffed animals and are one of the smallest breeds, Shih Tzus are surprisingly athletic, agile, and muscular. Shih Tzus excel in athletic and agility competitions, and several have been crowned champions.

Black and White Shih Tzu
Image By: NcikName, Shutterstock

5. Completely Black Shih Tzus Are the Rarest Color

The rarest color of Shih Tzu is black with no markings. White with black markings? That color combo is almost unheard of in the Shih Tzu world.

6. Black & White Shih Tzus Are Sometimes Referred to as Piebald

A gene known as the piebald gene makes a Shih Tzu black and white. The term is usually used if a Shih Tzu is 50% black and 50% white, although many use the term to describe any Black & White Shih Tzu.

7. Black & White Shih Tzus Are Always Black Dogs with White Markings

Whether your Black & White Shih Tzu is 95% white or 95% black, they are always black dogs with white markings, not vice versa.

black and white shih tzu outdoor
Image By: JumpStory

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Does the Black and White Shih Tzu Make a Good Pet?

It can confidently be said that Shih Tzus make excellent pets! This breed is known for its intelligence, affection, and willingness to befriend almost anyone, including other pets. Shih Tzus love children, too, as long as the kids are taught how to handle and play with them correctly. A Shih Tzu loves nothing more than spending time with its adopted family.

Another big reason Shih Tzus make great pets is that they’re almost hypoallergenic and shed very little once they become full-grown adults. However, even though they shed very little, the average Shih Tzu needs daily brushing to ensure its coat stays mat-free.

One small drawback is that, like many smaller dog breeds, the Black & White Shih Tzu can be a barking fanatic. However, training a Shih Tzu to bark less is doable, and they make great apartment dogs as they don’t need much space or daily exercise.

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Final Thoughts

As we’ve seen today, the Black & White Shih Tzu is a remarkable breed with historical and royal roots. They’re affectionate, easy to train, and low-shedding, and they make wonderful pets and companions.

If you’re adopting a Black & White Shih Tzu soon or already have, we wish you the best of luck with your new pup and a life filled with fun, affection, and lots of lap time!

Featured Image by: Sue Thatcher, Shutterstock

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