Mixed Breeds

Maltese Shih Tzu Mix: Facts, Traits, & More

The Maltese Shih Tzu mix, also known as the Mal-Shi, is a sweet and loving hybrid. Learn more about this toy-size companion dog.

Emma Braby Picture

Last Updated: November 16, 2022 | 9 min read

White maltese shitze mix dog at park

The Maltese and the Shih Tzu are very similar dogs in size, appearance, temperament, and needs. But when you add them together, what do you get? A delightful and dinky dog full to the brim with a sassy but sweet character. Plus, the Maltese Shih Tzu mix is a low-shedding, toy-sized pup. Making this pooch an ideal pick for many families seeking a small and (almost) fuzz-free four-legged bestie.

The Maltese Shih Tzu mix is a relatively new creation, especially compared to their centuries-old purebred parents. And because the Maltese and the Shih Tzu are similar and popular dogs, they are a more common hybrid than other mixes, meaning that it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a reputable breeder.

On closer inspection, there are a few differences between the Maltese and the Shih Tzu. Making the Maltese Shih Tzu mix a dream come true for those who struggle to pick between the two breeds. Let’s look at this designer pooch to see if they could fill that toy-shaped hole in your heart.

Maltese Shih Tzu Mix
    • weight iconWeight6-12 pounds
    • height iconHeight8-10 inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan10-18 years
    • color iconColorsBlack, white, silver, blue, brindle, gold, liver, red
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs

Parent Breeds

The Maltese and the Shih Tzu are similar in size, so it doesn’t matter which breed is the mother or father. These breeds both have a long history, so unlike the Maltese Shih Tzu mix, we know a lot about them.

Maltese

Luxurious White Dog Walking Outdoors
Long, silky white fur is a trademark of the luxurious Maltese.

‘Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta’ is a toy-sized pooch. They have a stunning white floor-length coat. Maltese have been around for millennia, and they haven’t changed much. They weigh less than seven pounds, making them one of the smallest dogs in the canine kingdom. And at nine inches at their tallest, the Maltese is a purse-sized pooch who enjoys lazing about being spoilt by their masters.

But don’t let their dinky size fool you. Maltese are fearless watchdogs and charmingly clever. They are spunky pooches and a dab hand at agility courses too. Despite being small, these dogs are sturdy enough to play with the big dogs and rambunctious children.

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is a Chinese Lion dog and is a small, lovable, and friendly breed.

The Shih Tzu is slightly more common than the Maltese in America. The Shih Tzu is also a toy dog, but they are larger. Shih Tzus weigh between 9 and 16 pounds and measure between 9 and 10 1/2 inches tall. They also have a floor-length coat, but Shih Tzus can choose from a wider array of colors.

Also known as the ‘Lion Dog,’ this breed was developed by dog breeders employed by Chinese Emperors. They were virtually kept a secret within the palace walls until outsiders discovered them in the 1930s. Shih Tzus are also the product of luxury, and the Shih Tzu likes to spend their days sitting in their master’s lap looking adorable. This breed has a soft spot for children and makes an excellent family companion.

Maltese Shih Tzu Mix

Although the Maltese Shih Tzu mix is more common than you’d think, they are not multi-generational like a Labradoodle or Cockapoo. Therefore the characteristics of this breed are not guaranteed and vary within the same litter. Some pups might be almost 100% like one parent, and others might be an equal mix. Therefore it’s important you like both dog breeds and have no expectations about which parent they take after more.

Maltese Shih Tzu Nicknames

There are several nicknames for this mixed breed.

  • Maltese Shih Tzu or Shih Tzu Maltese
  • Malt-Tzu
  • Mal-Shi
  • Malti Zu

Temperament

The Mal-Shi is a cuddly canine who becomes firmly attached to their humans. Both parents are companion dogs, so you can expect the Mal-Shi to be doubly so. If you are seeking a small hairy hot water bottle, this mixed pup is a top contender. This breed is really affectionate but does not like to be left alone for too long.

The Mal-Shi is a happy-go-lucky dog, and nothing gets them down (except for being left alone!) These mixes are bright and intelligent, making them highly trainable. They are always up for a game of ball or an outdoor adventure. And they are also very curious, which can lead them into trouble. Thankfully, these pups are not demanding doggos unless spoilt, so be sure to treat them like a dog and not a human.

Despite their small stature, the Mal-Shi is a courageous little pooch who protects their family from intruders and other unknown entities. Sure, it’s in a charming toy dog kind of way, but it’s the thought that counts, right? This makes the Mal-Shi a brilliant watchdog who alerts their master to visitors and the delivery guy.

The Mal-Shi is a confident yet sweet canine. The calmer Shih Tzu tones down the sometimes highly-strung Maltese, who is constantly on the lookout for attention. Instead, the Mal-Shi knows when to play but also knows when to chill out and rest. These dogs are very reflective of their humans and the family mood and are happy to do whatever you want.

Size & Appearance

The Mal-Shi is larger than the tiny Maltese but usually smaller than the Shih Tzu. But as a relatively new breed, there is no official breed standard. Based on their parent’s size, they typically weigh between 6 to 12 pounds and measure 8 to 10 inches tall. Making them a contender for the toy-sized group.

The Mal-Shi could inherit any combination of characteristics from their parents, meaning it’s difficult to pinpoint what they will look like. But usually, you can expect a beautiful blend of both parents. Typically they have dark, large round eyes complimented by a dark, button nose. The longer snout of the Maltese usually negates health problems the flat-faced Shih Tzu parent experiences.

Coat & Colors

The Mal-Shi’s coat is one of their most prized assets. Both parents have long, floor-sweeping coats, so you can expect your Mal-Shi to have the same. Of course, you don’t have to let it grow that long if it means too much grooming. Many owners opt for a shorter cut, such as the teddy bear cut. The hair is silky soft and considered a hypoallergenic coat as it sheds little and produces minimal dander.

When it comes to colors, it is more than likely that the Mal-Shi’s coat is colored like the Shih Tzu rather than brilliant white like their purebred Maltese parent’s coat. Coat colors could include black, white, silver, blue, brindle, gold, liver, red, or any combination. However, some pups could sport a pure white coat.

Exercise & Living

The Mal-Shi is a lively pooch, but their small stature means they do not require a lot of exercise compared to many other breeds. A leisurely walk through the neighborhood, around 20 to 30 minutes long, is plenty for the Mal-Shi. Throw in some playtime in the yard or at home throughout the day, and they are bound to be more than happy.

The Mal-Shi is a companion dog, meaning they cannot be left alone for too long without becoming distressed. As a result, separation anxiety is a possibility and something to consider before welcoming this pooch into your life. If you work long hours away or like to travel doggy-free, this is not the best canine choice.

This breed’s small size means they are suitable to live in small apartments and with city dwellers. Although a yard is not necessary for this pooch, they would certainly appreciate one. If these dogs are lucky enough to have access to a yard, consider their small size and how easy it could be for them to escape.

The Mal-Shi is an adaptable dog. They can live with young singletons, large families, the elderly, or anyone in between. Because this mix is sturdy and can hold their own in play, they are also an ideal companion for small children. When socialized well, they can also live with other animals too. They prefer to be in the company of others and would do well in a multi-dog household.

Training

The Mal-Shi is a clever canine who is bright and eager to learn new tricks and please their owners. Making this pooch an excellent option for first-time dog owners. Training is essential for all dogs, so just because they are easily trainable doesn’t mean you can skip training. Training must be consistent and enjoyable for both you and the pup. But with hard work, you could find an agility superstar on your hands.

Socialization is one of the most important aspects of training and should be started on day dot. Introduce your Mal-Shi to as many other dogs as possible, including breeds that tower over your little pooch. Mixing your pooch increases their confidence and promotes polite behavior with dogs, other animals, humans, and new situations.

The Mal-Shi is a confident watchdog who is sure to bark at visitors, intruders, and anyone else coming into theirs, or their family’s, space. Learning the ‘quiet’ command is bound to be very useful; otherwise, you risk annoying your neighbors and getting a lot of headaches. Teach them that barking once to alert you is fine, but no more after that.

Health

The Maltese Shih Tzu mix is a relatively healthy hybrid that inherits general good health from both parents. However, like all dogs, this mix is predisposed to certain health conditions you need to make yourself aware of. When purchasing a pup, ask for the health certificates of both parents so that you know your pup is as healthy as possible.

Patella luxation, which is a slipped kneecap, is one of the most common problems within the Maltese bloodline. Similar to many other small dog breeds. Additionally, cardiac exams are recommended for Maltese. Patent Ductus Arteriosus is a birth defect in the heart that cannot control blood flow effectively. Heart murmurs are common in older dogs, so regular examinations are essential.

There are no recommended tests for the Shih Tzu parent. However, responsible owners will test for eye health and obtain a certificate. Additionally, the Shih Tzu has a flat face and is a brachycephalic breed. Although this is less prominent in this mixed pup, you need to be wary of any breathing problems and take care when exercising, especially in the heat.

Nutrition

Like all dogs, the Mal-Shi needs a high-quality diet to meet their nutritional needs. How much your Mal-Shi needs depends on a host of factors such as age, weight, lifestyle, metabolism, and the calorie content of the food. Whatever diet you choose, it should come with instructions to determine how much your pup needs.

From kibbles to a raw diet, ensure that it contains meat protein, carbs, omega three and six fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Feeding your Mal-Shi a diet designed for puppies in the first year of their life is very important because growing puppies have additional needs to mature adults.

Grooming

The Mal-Shi has floor-length hair if allowed to grow out. For those that love this traditional look, their pup requires daily brushing to prevent matting and to remove dirt that is inevitably attracted to it. Plus, the hair around their eyes needs to be scooped up. Your traditional Maltese Shih Tzu mix also needs more regular bathing to prevent odor and a greasy-looking pup.

If you haven’t got the time for this grooming upkeep, opt for a shorter cut, such as the teddy bear cut. It only needs brushing once or twice a week and bathtime once every eight weeks or so. Either way, the Mal-Shi sheds less than most other dogs, which is a benefit to enjoy.

The Mal-Shi is a tiny dog with a very small mouth and cramped teeth, meaning dental health is crucial. Brush your pup’s teeth daily, or at least a few times a week, with doggy toothpaste. This prevents decay and further health problems down the line.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

The Mal-Shi is not an uncommon mix. This means that it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a reputable breeder, but you probably need to spend some time doing your research first. Begin your search online and look for independent reviews. If you struggle to find a suitable breeder on the web, speak to Maltese and Shih Tzu breeders who might be able to recommend a breeder.

The price of a Mal-Shi puppy varies between breeders and depends on many factors, such as location, demand, lineage, and age. A Mal-Shi pup’s average price is between $500 and $1,500. Some breeders charge even more than this.

There are also other costs to factor in, such as setting up your home with all the puppy gear. As well as yearly costs such as food, insurance, toys, and medical expenses. Sure the Mal-Shi is not the most expensive dog to welcome into your life, but looking after any puppy is not cheap.

Rescues & Shelters

As you can imagine, there are not many Mal-Shis hanging about rescue centers. Not only do they rarely go into shelters, but when they do, they get snapped up very quickly. Visit your local shelters and get yourself on a Mal-Shi waiting list if this is possible.

Alternatively, you can research dedicated breed rescue groups that also rehome breed mixes. By looking for Maltese and Shih Tzu rescue organizations online, you are more likely to find a Maltese Shih Tzu mix needing a forever home. However you rescue, the initial cost of rescuing a dog compared to buying a new puppy is usually cheaper.

As Family Pets

  • Mal-Shi are companion dogs who crave human attention
  • They are extra small toy-size dogs
  • Mal-Shis are vocal and make excellent watchdogs
  • This mix is bright and easily trained
  • Mal-Shi loves children and other dogs when raised well
  • This hybrid is long-living and generally healthy
  • Mal-Shi need lots of grooming if you keep their hair long
  • They only need 20 to 30 minutes of daily exercise

Final Thoughts

The Maltese Shih Tzu mix is a relatively common small mix breed with very similar parents. However, the Mal-Shi is more trainable than a Maltese and a little more outgoing and spunky than a Shih Tzu. They don’t ask for a lot except to be with you for most of the day. If you can provide company, the Mal-Shi provides love, cuddles, and endless entertainment. They make a great family choice for families or multi-dog households too.

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