The Shih Poo is an adorable mix between a Poodle and a Shih Tzu with many stunning colors. These loyal pets are intelligent, affectionate, and occasionally stubborn.
Due to the many possible colors and coat patterns Shih Tzus and Poodles can have, it’s difficult to predict precisely what a Shih Poo will look like. Read on to learn more about the most common Shih Poo colors.
Before reading this guide, “Most Common Shih Poo Colors: Black, White, Brown, Golden,” check out: 11 Best Shih Poo Haircut Styles – With Pictures! (2023) and When Is a Shih Poo Full-Grown? (In Both Weight and Length) (2023).
What Colors Do Shih Poos Come In?
The Shih Poo is a designer dog breed that results from breeding a Poodle with a Shih Tzu. Breeders typically use purebred parents to create Shih Poo puppies, but you can find puppies with mixed parentage that share the characteristics of the Shih Poo.
The color of a dog’s coat depends on the presence of two pigments: eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin results in a black coat, but several genes can modify this pigment and cause brown or gray hair to appear.
The other pigment, pheomelanin, results in red hair. Depending on a dog’s unique DNA, this pigment can look red, tan, or gold. In some cases, pheomelanin can cause cream hair to appear.
Lastly, some dogs don’t produce these pigments or have patches without pigments. The absence of eumelanin or pheomelanin in a dog’s coat results in a white color.
Researchers have identified seven different genes that can impact these pigments and determine a dog’s coat color. However, these genes can be dominant or recessive, which means a parent can carry a specific color gene and transmit it to their offspring even though the parent has a different color.
These are the most common colors for Shih Poos:
- Mixed fur colors (Particolored)
Black Shih Poo Characteristics
Black hair is the result of the eumelanin pigment coloring the hair. If there are no genes to dilute the pigment, a dog will develop an entirely black coat, nose, and nails.
The gene that causes the eumelanin pigment to produce a black color is dominant, but a black coat can also be the result of recessive genes in some rare cases.
Since dominant black is a common color in dogs, if one of the Poodle or Shih Tzu parents has a black coat, there is a strong possibility that the Shih Poo offspring will inherit this characteristic.
Black is more common in Poodles compared to Shih Tzus, which means the Poodle parent is more likely to transmit this coat color.
Keep in mind that not all black dogs carry the dominant gene that causes a true black coat. Different genetic combinations can cause the black color to fade with time. A black Shih Poo puppy might develop a gray or silver coat after their first year.
In some cases, two recessive genes can cause a dog to produce a diluted version of the eumelanin pigment. With the right level of dilution, the dog’s coat will appear gray.
Gray exists in Poodles, even though it’s less common than black or brown. You can also find gray Shih Tzus or dogs with a coat in different shades of blue or silver caused by a similar genetic makeup.
You can obtain a gray Shih Poo if both parents transmit a recessive gene that causes the eumelanin pigment to look diluted.
Silver is also the result of diluted eumelanin pigment in a dog’s coat. Diluted eumelanin can also cause a gray coat, but some dogs develop blue undertones that cause their coat to look silver.
Silver is not a common color for Shih Poos, but it’s one of the coat colors that Poodles and Shih Tzus can transmit. While silver Poodles typically have a black coat at birth and develop their silver color with age, silver Shih Tzus often have a merle coat pattern they can transmit to their Shih Poo offspring.
White Shih Poo Characteristics
White is one of the official colors for the Shih Tzu breed, and it also exists in Poodles. A white Shih Poo can inherit this gorgeous color if they get the genes that cause its skin cells to not produce any pigments.
It can be challenging to tell white and cream dogs apart. The cream color is the result of highly diluted eumelanin pigments, while a white coat comes from an absence of pigments.
You can usually tell if a dog is truly white by looking at its nose. A white dog should have a pink or liver-colored nose, while a cream animal will have a black nose.
You can increase your chances of getting a white Shih Poo by breeding a white Shih Tzu with a white Poodle, but keep in mind that the parents can carry other dormant genes to their puppies.
Cream Shih Poos can be difficult to tell apart from white puppies. Cream is a common coat color in Poodles as well as Shih Tzus, but there is no guarantee a parent with a cream-colored coat will transmit this characteristic since different genes can affect the degree of dilution of the pigments.
For instance, the offspring of a cream-colored parent could end up with a red or apricot coat if the pigment is less diluted.
Brown Shih Poo Characteristics
A brown coat is the result of recessive genes that cause dilution of the pheomelanin pigment. Dogs need to have two recessive genes for a brown color to appear, otherwise, a dominant gene like the one that causes a black coat will take over.
Your brown Shih Poo can have hair that ranges from a deep chocolate brown to a light apricot color. Poodles can carry genes that cause different degrees of dilution for the pheomelanin pigment, resulting in a deep brown coat or a lighter café au lait color.
Brown is a common coat color in Shih Poos, and it can be difficult to predict since both parents have to transmit a recessive gene that they might not have expressed due to the presence of a dominant gene.
Some brown dogs with reddish undertones actually have a coat color known as liver. Some argue that liver is the rarest color for Shih Poos. The liver color exists in Poodles and Shih Tzus. Both parents need to carry at least one liver gene to obtain a Shih Poo with a liver color.
Red is another coat color that is similar to brown. It’s a rare color for Shih Poos. However, it’s possible to find red Shih Poos due to the unique combination of genes that Poodles and Shih Tzus possess.
Instead of developing a brown or apricot shade, some Poodles end up with a deep red coat. It’s the result of a rare gene combination, and this unique color often fades with age.
Red also exists in Shih Tzus, often with gold or white markings. These dogs develop a deep ginger shade that usually appears during adulthood. The red coat color is the result of undiluted pheomelanin pigment. Since many genetic and environmental factors can cause this pigment to look diluted, red remains a rare color.
Golden Shih Poo Characteristics
The degree of dilution of the pheomelanin pigment can vary a lot. Depending on your Shih Poo’s parentage, you can get puppies with light shades of brown that look yellow or golden.
A golden Shih Poo makes for an adorable pet that looks like a miniature teddy bear. It’s a popular color, and some breeders select Poodle and Shih Tzu parents with light brown coats in an effort to achieve a golden coat.
Merle Shih Poo Characteristics
Merle is a rare color pattern for Shih Poos, but it’s possible to find a merle Shih Poo if you breed parents with this characteristic.
The merle coat pattern happens when a dog’s genetics cause the eumelanin pigment to appear diluted in some spots. The result is a white or cream background with a dark marbled pattern.
The merle pattern is rare in Shih Tzus and slightly more common in Poodles. The merle gene is dominant, which means a dog only needs one copy of this gene to develop this unique coat pattern.
Note that there are other black-and-white patterns for Shih Poos. You can get a black and white Shih Poo with a piebald pattern, a ticked pattern, or a speckled pattern depending on the genes transmitted by the parents. Merle is one of the rarest patterns for Shih Poos.
Parti Shih Poo Characteristics
The parti coat pattern exists in Poodles and Shih Tzus. It’s a unique pattern with a white or cream base and a secondary color that forms spots. The spots typically cover more than 50% of the dog’s coat and don’t necessarily look symmetrical.
The spots can cover the ears and shoulders or form a mask pattern over the dog’s face. In Shih Tzus, it’s common to see parti dogs with a tuxedo pattern.
The parti pattern is the result of a recessive gene. A parti Shih Poo needs to have two copies of this gene to develop this unique coat pattern. It’s possible for a dog to carry and transmit the parti gene even though they don’t have this coat pattern.
Parti Shih Poos are easy to find since it’s a common coat pattern in Shih Tzus and some breeders produce parti Poodles.
What Is the Rarest Color of Shih Poo?
Red, blue, and silver are some of the rarest colors for Shih Poos. Since a dog’s coat color can fade or change with time, Shih Poos with these unique colors might not keep these rare colors their entire lives.
Do Shih Poos Change Color?
It’s common for dogs to change colors as they grow. Their environment, nutrition, and genetic factors can cause dramatic changes in their coat.
Color changes are the norm in Poodles. Poodle puppies typically develop a lighter coat at around two or three months. Unless you have a true black Poodle, you can expect your Poodle’s coat to turn a few shades lighter.
Shih Tzus can also go through some drastic color changes. These dogs typically develop color changes once they reach adulthood at around one year of age.
A wide range of changes can happen in Shih Tzus. Some dogs end up with a light coat color, while others develop darker colors. You can also see new markings or even new colors appear.
Because the two parent breeds can go through significant color changes, it can be difficult to predict what a Shih Poo puppy will look like once it reaches adulthood.
You should expect some color changes during the first year of your Shih Poo’s life, and keep in mind that the color of the puppy you adopt might not reflect what it will look like as an adult.
Does Shih Poo Color Affect Price?
The answer is yes. Some colors are rare and can cause breeders to ask more for a puppy.
Puppies with pure black or pure white coats aren’t common and can fetch higher prices. You should also expect to spend more on a Shih Poo puppy with a liver, red, blue, or silver coat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Like their parents, Shih Poo puppies will likely change colors or at least shades as they grow older.
Like the Poodle and Shih Tzu parents, Shih Poos suffer from several possible eye conditions including cataracts, retinal atrophy, infections, and glaucoma.
The life expectancy of a Shih Poo is 13 to 17 years.
Conclusion for “Most Common Shih Poo Colors: Black, White, Brown, Golden”
Shih Poos share characteristics of the Shih Tzu and Poodle breeds. Because these two breeds come in a wide range of colors, the appearance of their Shih Poo offspring can be impossible to perfectly predict.
You can find Shih Poos with black, brown, white, merle, brindle, or parti coats, but there are also rare colors like silver, golden, liver, red, or blue.
Remember that a puppy’s coat is likely to change during the first year of its life and that the appearance of the parents is not a foolproof way of predicting your puppy’s coat color due to recessive genes.
If you find this guide, “Most Common Shih Poo Colors: Black, White, Brown, Golden” helpful, check out:
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- Do Shih Poos Shed? (2023)
- The 7 Best Dog Brushes for a Shih Poo! (2023)
Learn more by watching “Shih Poo – Top 10 Facts About the Shih Poo Dog” down below:
Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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