Shih-Poo (Shih Tzu & Poodle Mix)

Height: 8-18 inches
Weight: 9-16 pounds
Lifespan: 10-16 years
Colors: Black, white, brown, brindle
Suitable for: Those looking for a loyal dog that is easy to train and seeks love
Temperament: Loyal & Loving, Clever, Easy to train, Friendly, Courageous, Playful

The Shih-Poo is a hybrid dog breed that mixes the loyal and affectionate Shih Tzu with the intelligent and low-shedding Poodle. The hybrid is relatively new and not recognized by kennel clubs, but it adopts the best qualities of both parent breeds, resulting in a loving and affectionate dog that will lap up any love and attention you give it.

It is a family-friendly dog, can adapt to most living conditions except outdoor conditions, and will usually be friendly with strangers. The Shih-Poo is considered low maintenance, and, because of its Poodle parent, it is often described as being hypoallergenic. He is also a playful little dog and, although he would make an ideal pet for almost any family or owner, he is considered best suited to seniors who have the time to dote on him. He will happily engage in some play but is equally happy curling up on your knee for a snooze.

The Shih-Poo may adopt the curly hair of the Poodle or the straight hair of the Shih-Tzu or a combination of both. Possible colors include black, white, brown, and brindle, or any combination of these colors.

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Shih-Poo Puppies – Before You Buy…

shih poo puppy

Energy
Trainability
Health
Lifespan
Sociability

What’s the Price of Shih-Poo Puppies?

You should expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $1,000 for a good Shih-Poo puppy, but if the puppy comes from a line of show-dogs, or has a strong pedigree in his lineage, you can pay $2,000 or more.

If you are looking for a family pet, pedigree doesn’t matter, but you should ask the breeder about your puppy’s parents. If possible, arrange to meet them and spend some time with them. This will give you some idea of their characteristic traits and, while there is no guarantee that these traits will pass on to your puppy, you should look for friendly, alert, and happy parents.

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3 Little-Known Facts About Shih-Poo

1. Shih-Poos Are Considered Hypoallergenic

Shih-Poos, like their Poodle parent breed, are often described as being hypoallergenic which prospective owners take to mean that they will not affect those with allergies to dogs. However, those with dog allergies are allergic to the dander that the dog produces, and not to a specific coat or hair.

All dogs produce dander, which is effectively just dead skin cells. Even Poodles, which have gained popularity in part because of their “hypoallergenic” coats, are not truly hypoallergenic because they still produce and shed dander. However, while there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog breed, the Poodle is one breed that is known to cause fewer allergic reactions in sufferers, lending some credence to the claim.

If you are allergic to dogs or have a condition like asthma, try spending some time with these breeds to see how you react and whether they trigger allergic reactions.

2. They Have Royal Ancestry

The Shih-Tzu dates back 1,000 years, and it is believed that early ancestors of the breed date back as far as 1,000 BC. Although they are best known as a Chinese breed, they actually originate from Tibet and it is believed that the nation sent dogs to Chinese royalty as gifts, and they were then bred with Pekinese or Pugs.

Although the breed has long been popular in China, it was at its most popular in the 19th century. It is believed that the Dalai Lama presented Empress Tzu Hsi with a very high-quality pair of breeding Shih-Tzus. The Empress was so taken with the breed that she considered the dogs to be sacred. This popularity stems from the fact that the little lion dogs have a face that looks like a lion and Buddha was said to have ridden to Earth on the back of a lion.

3. The Shih-Poo Is One of the Dozens of Poodle Hybrid Breeds

The Poodle, in its various forms, remains a very popular breed. There is some debate surrounding its origins but the breed was either first bred as a water dog in Germany or from the French Barbet. On balance, even though the dog was once named the royal breed in France, it seems most likely that they are a German water dog by origin.

The name Poodle comes from the German word “pudel”, which means puddle, and represents their prowess in the water where they would flush out game and collect wounded and dead birds. Even their fancy hairstyle stems from their early working lives. The Poodle’s hair was considered too long for fear it would drag them down when swimming, so handlers sheared specific sections and left longer areas where it would protect them from the cold and damp of the water.

Their coat is often described as being hypoallergenic and this, coupled with the breed’s incredible intelligence, has made them a very popular breed for creating hybrid and designer dogs. Today, there are dozens of hybrid Poodle breeds available, including the Shih-Poo.

Parents of Shih Poo
The parents of the Shih Poo. Left: Shih Tzu, Right: Poodle

Temperament & Intelligence of the Shih-Poo

Because the Shih-Poo is a relatively new breed of dog, not much is known about their personality. However, they have been bred from two very well-known breeds that we can take information from.

Shih-Tzus and Poodles both tend to be friendly and outgoing, and they should not be shy or nervous. While there is no guarantee that your dog will adopt the same characteristics as its parents, you should avoid taking a puppy if its parents won’t let you approach them or nips at you.

This breed is known to get on well with people of all ages, especially those that show them love and adoration. They are very happy to be stroked and loved. This can be further encouraged through positive and continuous socialization at a young age. However, they do not always get on well with dogs outside the family unit but can make companions for existing dogs when bought as a puppy.

Small dogs are known for being a bit yappy. They vocalize their feelings, to make up for the fact that they are small. While this is common in a lot of small breeds, it is actually less common in the Shih-Poo, which adopts the quieter nature of the Poodle. Your dog will bark to let you know if they want to feed, but it is unlikely to be ongoing or consistent, so it shouldn’t become a problem for you or your neighbors.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The Shih-Poo is prized for its friendliness and loyalty to its human owners. He will happily curl up on your lap for hours if allowed, and he will get on with all family members. He will also enjoy playing, so he is a good dog for older children. As ever, it is not recommended that families with very small children have this dog. Babies and toddlers tend to grab at things when concentrating on them, and this can lead to injury or cause the dog to nip.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

The Shih-Poo is considered an amiable dog that will get along with anybody and anything. However, if you want your dog to live with cats or other dogs, it is better to introduce them slowly and at a young age. Shih-Poos do not cope well with being left alone for extended periods of time, so having another dog as a companion can help to alleviate loneliness, prevent boredom, and stop any negative habits that might form.

shih poo
Credit: Lim Tiaw Leong, Shutterstock

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Things to Know When Owning a Shih-Poo:

The Shih-Poo has a royal lineage, is prized for his hypoallergenic coat, and is a friendly and happy little companion dog with the heart of a lion. He can make a great family pet for those with older children that know how to play calmly with a dog. He can also be integrated into an existing family consisting of other dogs and even cats. While he can make a great addition to any family and makes a superb companion dog for seniors and singles that have a lot of time and love to give, he isn’t ideal for everybody and all situations.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The Shih-Poo is a small dog with medium energy and needs a diet to reflect these traits. He will benefit from being fed high-quality dry kibble, and you should expect to feed approximately one cup of food a day. This is best served as two small meals and you should avoid free-feeding because this breed, like so many other dog breeds, has a tendency to overeat which can lead to weight issues like joint pain.

Exercise 🐕

The Shih-Poo is an energetic little breed, but they have surprisingly low exercise requirements. This is thanks, in part, to their diminutive size. A short, brisk walk in the morning and another in the evening is ideal, and you can supplement this throughout the day by playing with a ball or small toy. The size of the breed means that playtime doesn’t have to be reserved for outdoors, and it should be safe to play with a toy indoors. Your Shih-Poo will not appreciate long walks and won’t like hiking unless being carried. He will, however, perform well in agility classes and these can be a great way to exercise his mind as well as his body.

shih poo
credit: Lim Tiaw Leong, Shutterstock

Training 🎾

Shih-Poos are considered intelligent dogs and they are always learning. This means that you need to offer training at a young age to ensure that they are learning desirable traits and behaviors. Left to their own devices, they will train themselves and this can lead to behavioral problems and bad habits that you don’t like.

Although they are intelligent, the Shih-Poo can be headstrong and stubborn, and they do not always take well to training. House training can take as long as a year because this breed will not do anything that he doesn’t want to. The short attention span means that your dog will benefit from short and relatively simple training sessions. You will need a lot of patience to get the desired results, so be prepared to put in some time and effort.

Socialization should be considered an important part of training any dog, especially this breed. Good socialization teaches the dog how to behave around strangers and when meeting new people. It also introduces them to other dogs and helps prevent them from being nervous and unhappy. A nervous dog is always on edge and can become nippy.

A good way to ensure socialization is with puppy classes. Your Shih-Poo might not want to learn new tricks or other behaviors but is likely to want to meet new people and make new friends, so they will usually relish puppy classes. You can also take walks at your local dog park, which will offer further socialization.

Grooming ✂️

The Shih-Poo may have the coat of the Poodle or of the Shih-Tzu. Brushing their coat is vital, and you should do this twice a week. You may also need to trim the coat every year, especially around the eyes and face to help ensure that your dog can see properly.

Small dogs are especially prone to dental problems, so brush two or three times a week, more often if your dog will let you.

In general, you should avoid bathing dogs because it can strip them of natural, protective oils, but it is recommended that Shih-Poo owners bathe their dogs every month or two. This can help prevent skin problems that are otherwise prevalent in this breed.

Health and Conditions 🏥

The Shih-Poo is a small breed, and small breeds are prone to dental problems. Obviously, your dog can’t brush its own teeth, so this responsibility falls to you. Brush at least twice a week, ideally three times and potentially every day if your dog will let you.

The breed also has the potential to suffer from skin and coat complaints. Regular and thorough grooming will help to prevent these problems and can provide them some relief if they are suffering any kind of insensitivity or rash.

They can also become teary-eyed, and this can prevent them from seeing properly and may lead to them scratching and rubbing at the eyes, causing further problems. Wipe the tears away when you see there is a buildup and this will prevent your dog from having to do it and potentially irritate the area further.

Unfortunately, this breed is prone to a range of illnesses, including hypothyroidism, intervertebral disk disease, lung disorders, and Von Willebrand’s Disease. As such, you should be prepared to take them for regular veterinarian checkups and make sure you have good pet insurance because the costs can quickly mount.

Despite these potential problems, the Shih-Poo has a life expectancy of between 12 and 15 years with some dogs living much longer than this.

Minor Conditions
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Teary eyes
Serious Conditions
  • Lung disorders
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease
  • Intervertebral disk disease

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Male vs Female

In general, Shih-Poos are a similar size regardless of gender. Males are considered more affectionate and attentive but they are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior without good handling and reasonable training. Fortunately, they also tend to be more food orientated than a female, which can help make training easier. Bitches are usually more independent and stubborn and may not be as affectionate as a little boy Shih-Poo. If you don’t get your bitch spayed, she will be prone to mood changes roughly every six months.

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Final Thoughts

The Shih-Poo is a designer dog breed created by cross-breeding the Shih-Tzu with one of the different breeds of Poodle. It is a small breed, has medium energy requirements, and is generally considered a friendly, easy-going, and happy little dog that makes a great family pet or an ideal companion dog for owners that have plenty of time to offer. Although intelligent, they can be difficult to train because they are stubborn and will only usually take part in an activity if they believe it benefits them. They can take many months to house train.

Although there are a number of known health problems with the breed and its parent breeds, the Shih-Poo has a long-life expectancy and you can expect your dog to live 12-15 years or longer. Unfortunately, this life expectancy coupled with the fact that the breed is popular with seniors, means that there are quite a lot of the breed found in rescues and shelters.


Featured Image: LBeckett, Shutterstock