People tend to gravitate to specific breeds for both personality and physical traits. Such is the case with both the parent breeds of the Shihpoo blend. The Shih Tzu and the Toy Poodle are beloved for their size and style. They fit beautifully on a lap and have soft fur that’s perfect for cuddling.
Dogs have been helping humans down through the millennia, and both the Toy Poodle and the Shih Tzu were developed for a purpose. Although many civilizations have long used dogs in their service to hunt, as guardians, and for their strength, the companionship they offered has always been a fantastic by-product of this working partnership. People who valued this friendship created these tiny companions for this reason.
If you think a Shih Tzu Toy Poodle blend, or Shih Poo, might be the perfect addition to your family, consider the traits of his two parent breeds. Understanding the characteristics of these two happy-go-lucky breeds will help you choose the best pup to be your sidekick.
The Shih Tzu was likely first created as a breed in Tibetan monasteries. The little dogs looked like lions, sacred creatures in Tibetan Buddhism. They served as companions, purely and simply. The monastery dogs were presented to Chinese royalty by the lamas, and this is where they were given the name “Shih Tzu,” or “little lion.” When Imperial rule ended in China, the dogs nearly disappeared. Fortunately, fanciers preserved a few dogs, and today, it is believed that all Shih Tzus can trace their lineage back to one or more of these original fourteen dogs.
These double-coated dogs are famous for their silky coat and are called “chrysanthemum dogs” for how their hair grows on their faces, radiating outward from the center like the petals of the chrysanthemum flower. Their luxurious coats require regular washing and daily detangling. Their eyes and mustaches need to be cleaned daily, too. Shih Tzus shed, but their outer coat tends to catch the undercoat hairs they shed.
The Poodle comes in three sizes: large standard, medium miniature, and tiny toy. Originally bred to be a water retriever of downed fowl, the Poodle is now used in mixes to reduce the amount of dander produced and hair blown during shedding season. The original Standard Poodle was a working water dog. Even his haircut was designed to keep his vital organs and joints warm while retrieving fowl in cold water.
The intelligence and trainability of the Poodle made it popular with the circus industry. To make the Poodle truly a pocket-size companion, he was later scaled down to the current Toy size we know and love today.
Shih Tzu Toy Poodle Mix
The Shih Poo is one name for the Shih Tzu and Toy Poodle blend. Shih Poo may be spelled Shi Poo, Shihpoo, or Shih-Poo, and the mix may also be called the Shoodle or Shi-Doodle. Although blending these two little folks is bound to create an adorable puff of a companion, these breeds come from very different backgrounds. Crossing two pups of similar physical attributes but different temperaments may produce a reasonably predictable look but not necessarily a predictable disposition.
Shih Tzus tend to be stubborn, while the Poodle’s intelligence makes him easily trainable but sometimes high-strung. With any blend of breeds, the possibility exists of the pup getting the less desirable traits from both parents, so be sure the breeder from whom you plan to buy your puppy has been careful in choosing the parent dogs for this blend. At his best, the Shih Poo is affectionate, clever, and unafraid to do his own thing.
Size & Appearance
The Toy Poodle maxes out at ten inches, and the Shih Tzu is only nine to ten and a half inches at the shoulder. Your Shih Poo will likely be under ten inches tall and weigh between eight and ten pounds. If your Shih Poo has a Miniature Poodle for a parent instead of a Toy Poodle, he may be a few inches taller and weigh up to eighteen pounds.
Your Shih Poo will likely be more athletic than his Shih Tzu parent because Poodles descend from hunting dogs who are strong swimmers. Even Toy Poodles are fairly athletic for their size and bring energy and athleticism to this blend. A responsible breeder should be able to show you the parent dogs and estimate mature size and type based on other litters.
Coat & Colors
In dogs, curly hair is dominant to straight hair, and short hair is dominant to long; your Shih Poo will likely have a coat that looks more like his Poodle parent but silkier. Particolor Shih Tzus aren’t accepted in the American Kennel Club (AKC) registry, so even if the Shih Tzu parent is parti-color, the pup won’t be. Parti-color haircoat is a recessive trait; both parents must have the gene.
Exercise & Living Conditions
With two fun-loving breeds as parents, your Shih Tzu Toy Poodle blend will enjoy two or more daily exercise opportunities. Your mix may not be able to keep up if you’re jogging, but the spunky Shih Poo should relish a brisk walk or two through the neighborhood. A twenty or thirty-minute walk twice a day should provide him with sufficient exercise.
Whether you live in a suburban home or an apartment in the center city, your Shih Poo fits nicely no matter the location. His clever Poodle side will relish being taught tricks or learning an obedience course, but his Shih Tzu side may be stubborn if he’s not in the mood.
His Poodle side is far more willing to perform tricks for treats, while his Shih Tzu side says he should be indulged just for being him. Both breeds are intelligent and bred to provide companionship to a human partner. You may need some patience training this blend because of his unique combination of cleverness and independence. Reward positive behavior and be sure he gets enough mental stimulation to help him be calm when he has to stay home alone.
Socialize your Shih Poo early with other dogs so he’ll be calm around other family members, pets, and pups. If you acquire him as a puppy, keep an eye on him with larger creatures because his tiny body size puts him at risk, and he may inadvertently be hurt by rough play. Teach him basic obedience commands while he’s still a pup, and get him used to daily grooming, although his coat will change as he becomes an adult.
From his Toy Poodle side, he brings a tendency towards tracheal collapse, bladder stones, Cushing’s disease, sebaceous adenitis, von Willebrand’s disease, and idiopathic epilepsy. He may have a tendency towards hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, and cardiac and eye disorders like Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA).
The Shih Tzu side of the family has fewer genetic disorders but shares the tendency towards hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Because there’s an increased incidence of hip dysplasia and patellar luxation in individuals from both breeds, pay special attention to your Shih Poo’s growth rates. If you notice any vision changes in your pup, check in with your vet due to this blend’s increased likelihood of eye disorders like Progressive Retinal Atrophy. This disease can cause blindness.
Feed a high-quality kibble that meets the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards to keep your Shih Pooh blend healthy with strong teeth and healthy gums. Choose a formula designed for your best friend’s specific life stage. Feed for moderate growth during his first year to reduce the health risks associated with hip dysplasia, a condition occurring in both of his parent breeds. Provide portions according to the weight chart on your food brand, and keep an eye on his body condition to adjust his intake as needed. A high-quality kibble including meat protein, fiber, healthy carbs, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals will meet your petite blend’s nutritional needs.
Even though your Shih Poo will shed less than other breeds, he will still shed and produce dander. The best vacuum to handle this is lightweight enough to be convenient and versatile enough to tackle multiple surfaces in your home and vehicles should your dog travel with you.
The Bissell Featherweight Cordless XRT is a lightweight, convertible stick vacuum with specialized pet tools. It converts to a handheld vacuum with a crevice tool and upholstery brush to handle pet hair thoroughly. This lightweight vacuum manages hard surfaces and area rugs efficiently. A carpeted home traps more hair and dander. This lightweight model may not have the power for a home with multiple carpeted rooms. For fully carpeted homes, consider the more powerful Bissell ICONPet Turbo Edge.
Breeders & Puppy Costs
Shih-Tzu Toy Poodle blends will be in high demand. This mix is not an actual breed and cannot be registered, but his personality, small size, and low-shedding coat make him a great addition to most households. Shih Poo pups may cost over $1,000. The price will depend on demand in the area.
Rescues & Shelters
You may be able to find a Shih Poo cross or similar pup available if you search for their parent breeds. Rescue organizations dedicated to each parent breed also offer mixes for adoption. These include Rescueme.org for Shih Tzus and their crosses and Rescueme.org for Poodles.
As Family Pets
In general, Shih Poos:
- Make great family dogs for families with older children.
- Are clever but a little stubborn.
- Need daily exercise but can live comfortably in an apartment.
- Get along with other dogs but are happy as an only pet.
- Shed little, but require daily brushing to avoid tangles.
If your lifestyle requires a companion who can live in a small place, consider the Shih Tzu Toy Poodle mix, commonly known as the Shih Poo. This happy blend loves to play, go for short walks, and cuddle on the sofa as you relax at home. He enjoys your company and attention but is independent enough to allow you to work from home without constant interruption.
The Shih Poo sheds minimally, but his silky curls offer you ample opportunity to spend quality time grooming him so he looks his best. Enjoy this bundle of joy which does equally well with senior citizens and older children and completes any family with a lot of love in a little package.