7 Reasons Why Your Shih Tzu’s Fur Turning Brown? The Shocking Truth You Need To Know.

Have you noticed your fluffy friend’s coat taking on a reddish-brown tinge lately? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. As a long time owner of Shih Tzu, I’ve had countless newer Shih Tzu parents ask me about this very issue.

In my years of practice, I’ve encountered every shade of Shih Tzu fur imaginable – from pristine white to unexpected brown. Some cases were simple, while others had me scratching my head. But here’s the good news: I’ve cracked the code on why Shih Tzu fur changes color, and I’m about to spill all the beans.

Stick around, because in this post, we’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of why your Shih Tzu’s fur is turning brown. You’ll learn about the common culprits, how to spot them, and what you can do to keep your pup’s coat looking its best. Let’s get to the bottom of this furry mystery together!

Understanding Shih Tzu Coat Colors

Before we jump into why your Shih Tzu’s fur might be turning brown, let’s talk about their coats in general. Shih Tzus are known for their luxurious, long fur that comes in a rainbow of colors.

Natural Shih Tzu Colors

Shih Tzus can sport a variety of hues:

  • Solid colors: Black, white, red, gold
  • Bi-colors: Black and white, gold and white
  • Tri-colors: Black, white, and gold

Here’s a fun fact: Shih Tzu puppies often change color as they grow up. It’s like they’re playing a furry game of dress-up!

Color Changes as They Age

It’s not unusual for a Shih Tzu’s coat to change color over time. This is especially true for:

  • Black Shih Tzus: They might develop silver or gray hairs
  • Gold Shih Tzus: Their coat might deepen or lighten in shade

But when we’re talking about a sudden shift to brown, that’s a different story. Let’s explore why this might be happening.

Common Reasons for Brown Fur in Shih Tzus

Alright, now let’s get down to business. Why is your Shih Tzu’s fur turning brown? There are several potential reasons:

1. Sun Exposure

Just like how we humans can get a tan, your Shih Tzu’s fur can “tan” too! Extended time in the sun can cause lighter fur to turn reddish-brown. This is most noticeable in:

  • White or light-colored Shih Tzus
  • Areas that get the most sun (back, top of head)

2. Dietary Issues

What goes in your pup’s bowl can show up in their coat. A diet lacking in certain nutrients can lead to coat discoloration. Keep an eye out for:

  • Protein deficiency
  • Lack of essential fatty acids
  • Mineral imbalances

3. Tear Staining

This is a biggie for Shih Tzus. Those big, beautiful eyes can lead to tear stains, which often appear reddish-brown. You might see this:

  • Around the eyes
  • On the fur beneath the eyes
  • Sometimes extending down the cheeks

4. Saliva Staining

Similar to tear staining, excessive licking can lead to brown stains on the fur. Common areas include:

  • Paws (if your pup is a paw-licker)
  • Around the mouth
  • Any spots they tend to lick often

5. Yeast Infections

Yeast loves warm, moist areas. In Shih Tzus, this can lead to brown staining in:

  • Between the toes
  • In skin folds
  • Around the ears

6. Environmental Factors

Sometimes, the culprit is right in your home or yard:

  • Mineral-rich water (especially well water)
  • Certain types of grass or soil
  • Air pollutants

As your Shih Tzu gets older, you might notice:

  • Graying around the muzzle
  • Overall lightening or darkening of the coat

How to Identify the Cause of Brown Fur

Now that we’ve covered the potential reasons, how do you figure out which one is affecting your Shih Tzu? Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Examine the affected areas:
    • Is it all over, or just in specific spots?
    • Are there any other changes (texture, smell) in these areas?
  2. Consider recent changes:
    • Have you switched their food recently?
    • Any new shampoos or grooming products?
    • Changes in their environment or routine?
  3. Look for other symptoms:
    • Is your pup scratching more than usual?
    • Any changes in behavior or energy levels?
    • Differences in eating or drinking habits?
  4. Check their history:
    • Has this happened before?
    • When did you first notice the change?
  5. Consult your vet:
    • If you’re unsure or concerned, always check with a professional

Remember, your Shih Tzu can’t tell you what’s wrong, so it’s up to you to play detective!

Prevention and Treatment Options

Alright, so you’ve figured out why your Shih Tzu’s fur is turning brown. What now? Let’s talk about how to prevent and treat this issue.

Sun Protection

If sun exposure is the culprit:

  • Limit outdoor time during peak sun hours
  • Use doggy sunscreen on exposed areas
  • Provide shady spots for outdoor lounging

Dietary Adjustments

For nutrition-related discoloration:

  • Switch to a high-quality, balanced dog food
  • Consider adding fish oil supplements for healthy skin and coat
  • Always consult your vet before making major diet changes

Tear Stain Management

To tackle those pesky tear stains:

  1. Clean the area daily with a damp cloth
  2. Keep the fur around the eyes trimmed short
  3. Use specialized tear stain removers (ask your vet for recommendations)

Saliva Stain Prevention

If excessive licking is the issue:

  • Address any underlying anxiety or boredom
  • Use bitter apple spray to discourage licking
  • Consider an Elizabethan collar for severe cases

Yeast Infection Treatment

For yeast-related staining:

  1. Keep problem areas dry
  2. Use antifungal shampoos or wipes
  3. Treat the underlying cause (often allergies or hormonal imbalances)

Environmental Modifications

To combat environmental factors:

  • Use a water filter if mineral-rich water is the issue
  • Wipe your pup’s paws and belly after outdoor play
  • Consider an air purifier for your home

For our senior Shih Tzu friends:

  • Regular vet check-ups to catch any health issues early
  • Adjust diet and exercise as needed
  • Extra TLC for their changing coats

Grooming Tips for Preventing Brown Fur

Proper grooming can go a long way in preventing and managing brown fur. Here are some tips:

  1. Regular brushing:
    • Aim for daily brushing to distribute natural oils
    • Use a soft-bristled brush to avoid skin irritation
  2. Bathing routine:
    • Bathe your Shih Tzu every 3-4 weeks
    • Use a gentle, dog-specific shampoo
    • Rinse thoroughly to avoid product buildup
  3. Drying techniques:
    • Pat dry instead of rubbing
    • Use a low-heat setting on your dryer
    • Make sure the coat is completely dry to prevent yeast growth
  4. Trimming:
    • Keep the fur around problem areas short
    • Regular professional grooming every 6-8 weeks
  5. Eye care:
    • Clean around the eyes daily
    • Use eye wipes designed for dogs

Remember, a well-groomed Shih Tzu is a happy (and less brown) Shih Tzu!

Related Post: How To Groom a Shih Tzu? The Secret to a Stunning Shih Tzu

When to Consult a Veterinarian

While many causes of brown fur are harmless, sometimes it’s best to get a professional opinion. Here’s when you should ring up your vet:

  • If the color change is sudden or dramatic
  • If your Shih Tzu is showing signs of discomfort or illness
  • When home remedies aren’t working after a few weeks
  • If you notice any skin irritation, redness, or unusual odor
  • When the browning is accompanied by hair loss or changes in texture

Your vet might recommend:

  • Skin tests to check for infections or allergies
  • Blood work to rule out systemic issues
  • Specialized treatments or medications

Don’t hesitate to seek help if you’re worried. Your vet is there to help keep your furry friend healthy and happy!

Living with a Color-Changing Shih Tzu

So, your Shih Tzu’s fur is turning brown. What now? Here’s how to embrace the change:

  1. Accept the uniqueness: Every Shih Tzu is special, brown fur and all!
  2. Document the journey: Take photos to track the changes. It can be fun to look back on!
  3. Adjust your grooming routine: Find products that work best for your pup’s new coat color.
  4. Educate others: Be ready to explain why your Shih Tzu’s coat is changing color.
  5. Focus on health, not just appearance: A healthy dog is beautiful, regardless of coat color.

Remember, your Shih Tzu doesn’t care what color their fur is – they just want your love and attention!


We’ve covered a lot of ground, from the reasons behind your Shih Tzu’s browning fur to how to manage and prevent it. But here’s the bottom line: your Shih Tzu is perfect, brown fur and all.

Sure, it’s great to understand why these changes happen and how to keep your pup’s coat healthy. But at the end of the day, what matters most is the love between you and your furry friend.

So, whether your Shih Tzu stays their original color or turns into a chocolatey dream, remember this: they’re still the same lovable, loyal companion you adore. Keep them healthy, show them love, and enjoy every moment with your unique, beautiful Shih Tzu!

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