Black is a dominant colour in canines. However, you will be surprised to know that pure Black Shih Tzu dogs are uncommon in the Shih Tzu breed. Genetics play a large part in preventing Shih Tzus from having a solid black coat.
Black Shih Tzus Are Hard to Find
Are Black Shih Tzus rare? Yes, pure Black Shih Tzus are not only uncommon but also the rarest in the breed. You will likely come across other coat colour variations more often than black, such as:
Another commonly asked question is: “What is the rarest kind of Shih Tzu?” Apart from pure black, any solid colours are considered rare in the Shih Tzu dog breed, including pure white, pure gold, and pure silver.
The Prerequisites to Categorise a Shih Tzu as Black
Solid black is one of the traditional coat colours in the breed. For a Shih Tzu dog to be registered as one, his fur should have no other streak of colour but black. This pigmentation must be present on the rest of his body as well, including:
- Eye rims
- Paw pads
The Solid Black Shih Tzu bears the same physical characteristics as other Shih Tzu dogs except for his rare coat colour. He has a small yet sturdy stature.
His head is broad and round and his eyes are dark and globular. He owns a nicely arched neck, large drooping ears, and short but well-muscled legs.
The Role of Genetics in Creating Black Shih Tzus
Canines possess 2 kinds of pigments: eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin is responsible for producing different shades of black, blue, chocolate, and lilac. On the other hand, pheomelanin is in charge of creating cream and red colours.
The pigmentation of colours between eumelanin and pheomelanin can be influenced by K Locus. This is a dominant black gene that could provide solid black fur to dogs.
The K Locus consists of 3 alleles: KB, KBr, and ky. KB refers to the dominant black colour, KBr means brindle, and ky denotes recessive non-black colour. For a Shih Tzu to have a black coat, he needs to inherit a KBky or KBKB alleles.
Avoid Confusing the Solid Black Shih Tzu for Other Colour Variations
It is not unusual for some Black Shih Tzus to have other pigments on their fur. However, the manifestation of these colours indicates that they are not truly black canines.
Even the smallest hint of a different shade nullifies their chances of being registered as Solid Black Shih Tzus. For instance, if a black-coloured Shih Tzu has streaks of white on his fur, he will be categorised as a black-and-white dog.
Black Shih Tzus Can Undergo Coat Colour Changes
We frequently hear dog lovers asking: “Do Black Shih Tzu puppies change colour as they mature?” Some but not all Black Shih Tzu puppies will change coat colours whilst on the road to adulthood.
The K Locus in their DNA may interact with the agouti gene or the melanocyte-stimulating hormone, MC1R. As a result, their fur may begin to show other pigments like red or gold as they grow older.
In relation to this discussion, let us answer the question: “Why do Black Shih Tzus turn grey?” 2 possible causes can turn a Shih Tzus’ black fur into grey: fading and greying.
Fading occurs in dogs possessing the “G” gene. It strips off melanin from the coat, causing progressive greying.
In comparison, greying results from a different gene called the chinchilla gene. It dilutes the black pigment of the Shih Tzu’s coat into a rich silver colour.
It takes around 1 year for a Shih Tzu puppy to fully exhibit his final colour. However, subtle changes in shades and hues may still occur in his coat colour throughout his lifetime.
Some major dog organisations like the Kennel Club in the UK acknowledge that young puppies may experience coat colour changes as they grow older. Hence, they allow dog owners to make changes to a dog’s colour listing.
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Other Factors Can Cause Colour Change in Black Shih Tzus
Coat colour genetics is only one of the many elements that trigger colour changes. One of them is environmental factors, specifically extensive sunlight exposure.
The sun’s UV rays are damaging to a Black Shih Tzu’s fur. They destroy the melanin in his hair, causing it to develop a brown or red tint. Avoid this problem from happening by limiting a solid black dog’s exposure to sunlight.
Only take him out for walks during the coolest times of the day, which are early mornings and late evenings. Apply a dog-safe sunscreen on his entire body before going outdoors, especially during the daytime.
Diet and nutrition play a role in maintaining solid black colouration in dogs. Studies show that black-furred canines require higher levels of 2 amino acids called tyrosine and phenylalanine.
Deficiencies in either of the 2 hinder eumelanin production, leading to coat discolouration.
Insufficiency in copper, iodine, iron, and nicotinic acids produces the same result. Work with the vet to create a diet that helps retain the Solid Black Shih Tzu’s coat colour.
Solid Black Shih Tzus Do Not Come Cheap
How much is a Black Shih Tzu? Black Shih Tzu breeders are scarce because of the dog’s extreme rarity. Thus, we cannot provide an accurate appraisal of the Black Shih Tzu’s price.
However, no doubt that interested buyers will be charged a large sum for this pooch. You might need to spend over a thousand to bring home a healthy and well-bred pure Black Shih Tzu puppy.
Keep in mind that a trustworthy breeder cannot provide a 100% guarantee that your pet will not change colour over time. So do not base your final decision on entirely coat colour.
Take into account the more important qualities you are looking for in a canine companion, such as his personality and temperament.