Liver is a very interesting color that can be found with the Shih Tzu breed.
Here are some interesting and helpful facts about livers:
This is an accepted AKC color. The color is standard (not alternate) with liver being S 123 and liver and white being S 125
Liver refers to skin pigmentation. It most often appears as a brown sometimes with a pinkish tone.
No matter what color a Shih Tzu's coat is, if his skin points (nose, eye rims, lips and paw pads) are liver, he is a liver.
With many Shih Tzu, it is the nose that will be the most obvious area to notice that liver color
Though the coat of a liver Shih Tzu can be almost any color, most often it will be shades of browns and golds; this can range from very light cream all the way to a deep dark chocolate.
Some colors such as black will never be seen with a liver nose.
If a breeder is inexperienced, a pup may be registered incorrectly. For example, if a Shih Tzu has a gold and white coat but a brown nose, he should be registered as a liver; if one did not know to do this, he could be registered as a gold and white; though this would indeed be his coat coloring, the designation would be incorrect.
Liver is found with other breeds including Cocker Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels and Dalmatians, though sometimes it goes by a different name; such as 'beaver' with the Pomeranian breed.
In regard to color genes, liver occurs on the B locus.
A Shih Tzu that is outwardly liver will be a bb.
A Shih Tzu can carry, but not show liver. If a Shih Tzu only carries liver, he is a b (not bb) and if he does not carry liver he is a B (black), or more specifically, a Bb.
Liver is recessive to black. This means that in order for a Shih Tzu to be liver one of the following three scenarios must occur: 1)Both parents are liver 2) One parent is liver and the other is a carrier or 3) both parents are carriers. This means a livers can be produced by a sire and dam that do not appear to be liver at all.
If dogs carrying liver mate, the resulting litter may consist of both black and liver pigmented pups. For example, if both sire and dam are Bb or bB (black is dominant, the dogs will have black skin points (B) but carry liver (b), this may produce some pups with bb (liver) and some with Bb (black but carrying liver).
The liver allele affects the B gene (black) and turns all areas of the coat that would otherwise be black, to liver. Since this is an 'all or nothing' process, liver dogs genetically cannot have even 1 black hair.
If a Shih Tzu has liver type colors in the coat, this does not classify the dog as a liver. Colors such as beige, gold, all shades of tan and browns can appear in non-liver dogs.
Liver Shih Tzu
- There are liver colors in the coat and
the nose is liver.
Nugget, Photo courtesy of C. Veasey, Panama City Florida
Not a liver
- There are liver type colors in the coat, but
the nose is black.
Eva, at 1 year old
Photo courtesy of Andie & Bob Kosko
Though liver is often referred to as a dilute gene (and in a way it is since the black is diluted down to a liver), technically, it is a variation of the eumelanin (black pigmentation). Dilution is due to a completely separate loci and is responsible for creating blues (diluted black).
Though the Shih Tzu breed should have dark eyes per the AKC standard, lighter eyes with livers and blues is
deemed correct. This is referred to as self-coloring. Sometimes the liver can affect eye color, making dark brown eyes into a lighter brown, amber, hazel or green which are all beautiful.
There are no particular skin or coat conditions that are seen more in liver Shih Tzu than other colors. It is simply a skin color and is not connected to health or any elements regarding being predisposed to conditions.