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Black Shih Tzu: Characteristics, Temperament, and Care - PawSafe

Black Shih Tzu: Characteristics, Temperament, and Care

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

black Shih Tzu

The Black Shih Tzu is a small, energetic dog that is appreciated for their distinctive black, long, and silky coat. Black Shih Tzus are known for their lively, friendly, and outgoing nature, which makes them great pets for people, especially adults.

Despite their luxurious coats, Black Shih Tzus are relatively easy to care for. Their moderate energy levels do not require a lot of outdoor activity to stay healthy and happy. Getting them a snuffle mat to stimulate their brain is a pleasant way to keep their mind active.

Overall, the Shih Tzu is a beautiful breed that many dog owners admire. However, before you start searching for black Shih Tzu puppies for sale near you, it’s essential to research the dog and make sure they will fit your lifestyle. For this and much more about Black Shih Tzu, stick around as we go deeper with the help of research and expert advice from  Mark Kent DVM.

Black Shih Tzus are not really considered rare, as they are a common color variety of the breed. However, black, being one of the acceptable colors of the breed, can be challenging to find. It is essential to do proper research and find a breeder who follows ethical breeding practices to ensure you get a healthy and happy puppy.

When it comes to grooming, Black Shih Tzus require regular brushing and bathing to keep their coat healthy and shiny. They are bigger than the Teacup Shih Tzu, but they are still a toy companion breed.

Overall, Black Shih Tzus make great companions due to their love of attention which is unmatched. With proper care and attention, they can live a long and healthy life.

History of the Black Shih Tzu

beautiful black Shih Tzu with purple ribbon

The origin of the Black Shih Tzu breed is shrouded in mystery, but they are believed to have originated in Tibet, where they were bred as companion dogs for royal families. The Black Shih Tzu is a variation of the Shih Tzu breed, which is known for its long, flowing coat and friendly disposition.

Breed Development

Research on the Shih Tzu, which means “ Lion dog”, is a result of selective breeding, which began in China during the Manchu Dynasty. The goal was to create a small, affectionate dog that was both loyal and playful to please the emperors in their palaces. In the 19th century, the Black Shih Tzu became a popular breed among Chinese royalty and was often given as a gift to foreign dignitaries.

In 1950, the Shih Tzu breed almost went extinct after the Chinese invasion of the Tibetan capital. Few Shih Tzu were brought to Europe and North America by travelers, where they later gained popularity. 

Today, the Black Shih Tzu is recognized as an official color variation of the Shih Tzu breed by most major kennel clubs in the breed standard. The breed is still known for its friendly and affectionate nature and its long, flowing coat.

Is A Black Shih Tzu Expensive?

A pedigreed, ethically bred black Shih Tzu puppy from a registered ethical breeder can be very expensive, regardless of color. Ethical breeders spend  a lot of money on their dog’s health, nutrition and other needs to breed the best possible puppies, and this will affect the price. But be careful of cheap puppies as this can often be a sign of a backyard breeder or a puppy mill. 

When buying a Black Shih Tzu, the price can vary depending on several factors. 

First, the price of a Black Shih Tzu can depend on the dog’s coat and lineage. If the dog has an all-black coat and comes from a long line of champion show dogs, the price may be higher than a dog with a show history.

Second,  the price of a Black Shih Tzu can vary depending on the breeder and their reputation. A reputable breeder breeds high-quality Shih Tzu and may charge more for a Black Shih Tzu than a breeder who does not have as much experience or a good reputation.

Third, the age of the Black Shih Tzu can also affect the price. Puppies are usually more expensive than adult dogs, but adult dogs may be more costly if they have been trained or have any special skills.

What does the black Shih Tzu look like?

The Black Shih Tzu is typically a Shih Tzu with a black coat. They are a small dog breed known for their distinctively long, silky coat. They have a short snout and round, dark eyes that give them an adorable and charming appearance. Black Shih Tzus are typically 9-10 inches tall and weigh 9-16 pounds, making them a perfect lap dog.

Like the Black Belgian Malinois, one of the most notable characteristics of a Black Shih Tzu is their coat. Their fur is thick and luxurious, with a soft and silky texture. Black Shih Tzus have a compact and sturdy build, short legs and a broad chest. They have a friendly and outgoing personality and are known for their loyalty and affection towards their owners.

Will A Black Shih Tzu Puppy Stay Black?

Many wonder if their black Shih Tzu puppy will stay black as it ages. The answer is complex, as it depends on several factors.

Firstly, it’s essential to understand that most Shih Tzu puppies born black will not remain black as they age. As they lose their puppy coats, their fur color will lighten, and they may develop a different color coat altogether. However, some black Shih Tzu puppies may retain their dark coat color as they mature.

However, you can get solid black puppies that stay black. They may have white markings, but if they have any golden or red hairs then they are not considered black, but a black and tan Shih Tzu.

The puppy’s genetics play a significant role in determining whether or not it will stay black. If the puppy’s parents both have a black coat, there is a higher chance that the puppy will retain its black coat color. However, if one or both parents have a lighter color coat, the puppy may not stay black and may turn various shades of silver or gray.

Another factor that can affect the coat color of a black Shih Tzu puppy is its diet and environment. A healthy diet and grooming can help maintain the puppy’s coat color. Additionally, exposure to sunlight and other environmental factors can cause the coat to fade or change color.

Personality Traits & Temperament

black Shih Tzu standing

Black Shih Tzus are known for their affectionate and playful personality. They are intelligent and curious dogs that enjoy exploring their surroundings.

Despite their small size, Black Shih Tzus have a big personality. They are well-adjusted and outgoing dogs that love to be the center of attention. They are also very social and enjoy spending time with family and friends.

On the downside of this lovely puppy, Black Shih Tzus are generally not the best with children and other pets as they get triggered first and can snap anytime. They are also not easy to train and are more prone to depression due to dependence. 

Caring for a Black Shih Tzu

cute black Shih Tzu looking up showing teeth

When it comes to caring for a Black Shih Tzu, there are a few things that you should keep in mind to ensure that your furry friend stays healthy and happy. This section will cover some of the essential aspects of caring for a Black Shih Tzu, including their dietary needs, exercise requirements, and grooming tips.

Dietary Needs

As with any dog, providing your Black Shih Tzu with a well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs is essential. You can choose commercial dog food or prepare homemade meals for your furry friend. However, it is crucial to ensure that the food you provide contains the necessary nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Paying to the portion sizes and feeding schedule is also essential. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, which can cause health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

Exercise Requirements

Black Shih Tzus are active dogs that require regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. You should give your furry friend at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. This can include walks, playtime, or other activities your dog enjoys.

It is also essential to provide your Black Shih Tzu with mental stimulation, such as puzzle toys, to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.

Grooming Tips

Black Shih Tzus have a long, silky coat that requires regular grooming to keep it healthy and tangle-free. You should aim to brush your dog’s coat at least once daily to prevent matting and tangling.

It is also essential to bathe your Black Shih Tzu regularly, but not too frequently, as this can dry out their skin. You should use a quality nail clipper to trim their nails regularly and clean ears to prevent infections.

Caring for a Black Shih Tzu requires a bit of effort, but having a happy and healthy furry friend is well worth it.

Health Concerns of a Black Shih Tzu

Like all dog breeds, Black Shih Tzus are prone to specific health issues. According to surveys, some of the most common health issues that Black Shih Tzus face include:

  • Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome: Black Shih Tzus are brachycephalic, which means they have a short snout. This can lead to breathing difficulties, especially during exercise or in hot weather.
  • Eye Problems: Black Shih Tzus are prone to eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, and corneal ulcers. Regular eye check-ups are recommended to prevent and detect these issues early. Veterinary sources also show they are prone to optic and retinal nerve issues that can cause blindness.
  • Dental Problems: Black Shih Tzus are also prone to dental problems such as gum disease and tooth decay due to their small snout.
  • Heat Sensitivity: Flat-faced breeds are vulnerable to this condition since controlling the temperatures around them is difficult.
  • Obesity: This is caused by your dog eating a lot and lack of exercise to burn the accumulated fats. 
  • Heart disease: Research shows that Shihs Tzus are one of the breeds prone to Myxomatous valvular degeneration (valvular endocardiosis), a very common type of heart disease as they get older. So make sure to take your dog for regular check ups to catch any heart issues early.
  • Allergies: Black Shih Tzu can develop allergies to new foods, grooming products and the environment. This could lead to skin rashes and discomfort.
  • Hip Dysplasia: This is a condition where the bones do not develop properly, leading to limping and pain.

Preventive Care

Here are some tips to keep a Black Shih Tzu healthy:

  • Regular Exercise: Regular exercise is important for all dogs’ physical and mental health. However, avoiding overexertion due to their brachycephalic airway syndrome is important. Over-exertion can also lead to limping and a sprained wrist.
  • Healthy Diet: A healthy diet prevents obesity and other health issues. Feeding them high-quality dog food and avoiding table scraps can help keep them healthy.
  • Regular Grooming: Regular grooming can help prevent skin and coat problems. Brushing their coat, cleaning their ears, and trimming their nails regularly can keep them healthy and comfortable.
  • Regular Check-Ups: Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help detect and prevent health issues early. Annual check-ups and vaccinations are recommended for Black Shih Tzus.

Training a Black Shih Tzu

When training a Black Shih Tzu, it is crucial to start with the basics. This includes teaching them commands such as sit, stay, come, and heel. These commands will not only help with obedience but also with their overall behavior.

One effective method for training a Black Shih Tzu is positive reinforcement. This involves rewarding good behavior with treats, praise, or affection. It is essential to be consistent with this method and to avoid punishing bad behavior, as this can lead to fear and aggression.

Another important aspect of basic training is socialization. Black Shih Tzus can be prone to separation anxiety and may not do well in new environments or with new people. Exposing them to different situations and people at a young age allows them to adapt and become more comfortable in various settings.

Behavioral Training

In addition to basic training, behavioral training is essential for a well-behaved Black Shih Tzu. This includes addressing negative behaviors such as barking, biting, or chewing.

One effective method for addressing barking is to teach the “quiet” command. This involves using a firm voice to say “quiet” when they bark and rewarding them when they stop. Over time, they will learn to associate the command with stopping barking.

For biting and chewing, it is vital to provide them with appropriate toys and to discourage any biting or chewing of furniture or other items. Redirecting their attention to appropriate toys and rewarding them for good behavior can help to eliminate these negative behaviors.

Shih Tzu Rescue Organizations to Adopt

For individuals and families contemplating adding a black Shih Tzu to their home, consider supporting a rescue organization dedicated to rehabilitating and rehoming these precious canines.

Shih Tzus and Furbabies (STFBR)

Located in the Eastern United States, STFBR extends its loving arms to small dogs with a strong focus on the Shih Tzu breed. Their noble mission involves rescuing dogs from precarious situations, offering necessary medical care, and ensuring they settle into warm, forever homes. Your journey to adopting a black Shih Tzu might begin here, where every adopted pup gets a second chance at a joyful life.

Nebraska No Kill Canine Rescue (NBSTR)

NBSTR has a clear and poignant mission: to give each dog a chance at a happy, healthy life with a loving family. Based in Nebraska, they prioritize animals from kill shelters, ensuring they are not forgotten. NBSTR offers not just a rescue service but a promise that each dog under their care will never again face abandonment.

Los Angeles Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso Rescue (LAHPSTR)

Serving the Los Angeles area, LAHPSTR is committed to the well-being of Shih Tzus and Lhasa Apsos. Their diligent work involves rescuing dogs from shelters, providing them with requisite medical attention, and placing them in nurturing forever homes. Your black Shih Tzu may be patiently waiting for you amid the paws of LAHPSTR.

Shih Tzu Rescue of Minnesota (STRMN)

STRMN is an all-volunteer group with a passion for Shih Tzus. This rescue organization stands out for its dedication to the breed and its efforts to provide rehabilitation through foster care and ultimately, permanent placement through adoption. STRMN is devoted to ensuring each Shih Tzu experiences the love, care, and comfort of a forever home.

Best Names For A Black Shih Tzu

Choosing the perfect name for a Black Shih Tzu can be fun and exciting. There are many factors to consider, such as the dog’s personality, appearance, and breed characteristics. Here are some of the best names for a black Shih Tzu that are unique and fitting.

Bold and Strong Names

If you want to emphasize your Black Shih Tzu’s bold and robust personality, consider these names:

  • Onyx;
  • Panther;
  • Jet;
  • Shadow;
  • Midnight; and
  • Coal.

Cute and Playful Names

For a more playful and cute name, consider these options:

  • Pepper;
  • Licorice;
  • Raven;
  • Domino;
  • Oreo; and
  • Hershey.

Elegant and Sophisticated Names

If you want a more elegant and sophisticated name for your Black Shih Tzu, consider these options:

  • Noir;
  • Eclipse;
  • Sable;
  • Ebony;
  • Velvet; and
  • Zorro.

Whatever name you choose for your Black Shih Tzu, make sure it is a name you and your dog will love for years.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the average cost of a Shih Tzu puppy?

The cost of a Shih Tzu puppy can vary depending on various factors, such as the breeder’s reputation, the puppy’s bloodline, and the location. A Shih Tzu puppy can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,500.

Are black Shih Tzus rare?

No, Black Shih Tzus are not rare. They are one of the many colors that Shih Tzus can come in. However, they may not be as common as other colors, such as brown or white.

Will my Shih Tzu puppy change color?

A Shih Tzu puppy’s color can change as they grow older. This is especially true for puppies with multiple colors. However, a Black Shih Tzu puppy is not guaranteed to remain black.

What are some popular Shih Tzu mixes?

Some popular Shih Tzu mixes include the Shih-Poo (Shih Tzu and Poodle), the Shih Tzu-Yorkie (Shorkie), and the Shih Tzu-Maltese (Mal-Shi).

Where can I find reputable Shih Tzu breeders?

When looking for reputable breeders, it is recommended to research and ask for recommendations from trusted sources such as local breed clubs or veterinarians. Ensuring that the breeder is responsible and follows ethical breeding practices is essential. Here are some reputable Shih Tzu breeders in the US.

What is the best haircut for a Shih Tzu?

The best haircut for a Shih Tzu can vary depending on personal preference and lifestyle. However, the most common haircut for Shih Tzus is the “puppy cut,” which involves trimming the hair short all over the body.

Will a black dog always have black puppies?

Not necessarily. The color of a dog’s puppies can vary depending on the other parent’s color and genetics.

Will my black puppy turn gray?

A black puppy can turn gray as they age. This is known as “silvering” and is common in many dog breeds.

Final Thoughts

Black Shih Tzu are known for their affectionate and playful personalities and hypoallergenic coats that shed very little.

When considering adopting a Black Shih Tzu, it is important to consider their exercise and grooming needs. Daily walks and regular grooming sessions will help keep them healthy and happy. With their charming personalities and low-maintenance coats, they are sure to bring joy and love into the lives of their owners.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.