Common questions about the Cairn Terrier Shih Tzu mix include:
- How big does a Cairn Terrier Shih Tzu mix get?
- Do Terrier Shih Tzu mixes shed?
- Is the Cairn Terrier Shih Tzu mix a good family pet?
Let’s take a look at the what you can expect if you choose a Cairn Terrier Shih Tzu mix as your new family pet. But first, where do these tiny dogs come from?
Cairn Terrier Shih Tzu mix history
The Cairn Terrier gets its name from ancient stone mounds (called cairns) found in Scotland.
This feisty Terrier was bred to hunt rodents that lived in the rocks.
The makers of the movie “The Wizard of Oz” chose a female Cairn Terrier to play Dorothy’s dog Toto.
The Shih Tzu (which translates as “lion dog”) is a very old breed.
Created to be a companion animal and lapdog for Chinese nobility.
It was such an exclusive breed that few people knew of its existence until the 1930s.
Today’s Shih Tzu is one of the most popular toy dog breeds.
The Cairn Terrier x Shih Tzu mix doesn’t have nearly as long a history as the parent breeds.
Cairn Terrier Shih Tzu mix description
Will your Care Tzu puppy grow up to be a pocket-sized toy dog? Let’s look at the parent breeds first.
There is little difference in size between male and female Cairn Terriers.
The breed ranges from 13 to 14 pounds in weight and between 9.5 and 10 inches in height at the shoulder.
There is a little more variation in size among individual Shih Tzus.
Adults can weigh between 9 and 16 pounds when fully grown and stand between 9 and 10.5 inches tall at the shoulder.
A Cairn Terrier cross Shih Tzu is a small dog, with a size that can fall anywhere within the range for both parent breeds.
Generally, a Care Tzu will weigh between 9 and 15 pounds and stand around 9 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder.
Care-Tzu coat and grooming
The Shih Tzu is known for its long, flowing coat which can grow to floor length if left untrimmed.
Cairn Terriers have a practical, weather-resistant coat that’s much shorter than the Shih Tzu’s.
Both breeds have double coats, which means that regular grooming is required.
The Cairn Terrier usually only needs a once-weekly grooming with a comb and slicker brush.
A Shih Tzu in full coat will require daily grooming with a comb and pin brush.
Many Shih Tzu owners have their dog’s coat trimmed short for easier maintenance.
Expect your dog to have a double coat that will require regular grooming.
The texture can range from soft to wiry and the length can also vary, with many Care-Tzus in the medium length range.
What about coat colors? Cairn Terriers can come in any color (except white).
Many are solid with darker ears, nose, and tail.
All coat colors and markings are found in the Shih Tzu.
The Cairn Tzu can have a wide range of coat colors and markings.
Many have coats that contain tan, silver, grey, or black coloring.
Cairn Terrier Shih Tzu temperament and training
Both the Cairn Terrier and Shih Tzu have winning personalities, but with some important differences.
With its background as a tough and scrappy working dog, the Cairn’s personality is alert, curious, and energetic.
Like other Terriers, they like to dig.
Bred to be a loyal and affectionate lapdog, the Shih Tzu may be less independent than the Cairn, but it also has a lively and outgoing personality.
Expect your Cairn Terrier Shih Tzu mix to have some combination of the Cairn’s perkiness and the Shih Tzu’s friendliness.
Fans of the Care Tzu praise it as a friendly and outgoing dog that tends to be very good with children and strangers.
This mix is generally an eager-to-please and easily-trainable dog, thanks in large part to the Shih Tzu’s agreeable temperament.
If your dog inherits some of the more headstrong Terrier traits, such as barking, chasing small animals, and chewing, you might want to seek out professional training assistance.
Early socialization and obedience training from puppyhood are especially important for dogs with Terrier blood.
Always use only positive reinforcement training techniques and never harsh punishment.
As purebred dogs, both the Cairn Terrier and Shih Tzu can suffer from some inherited health problems.
What should potential Care Tzu owners know about? Let’s look at the Cairn Terrier first.
Like other small breeds, the Cairn Terrier can be prone to a joint problem called luxating patella.
They can also suffer from some heart and eye problems.
Other genetic conditions common to the Cairn include missing or deformed kidneys, some liver abnormalities.
And Krabbe disease (or globoid cell leukodystrophy), which is a rare but fatal disease of the nervous system.
Shih Tzu Health
As a brachycephalic (short muzzled) dog breed, the Shih Tzu can suffer from a respiratory condition called brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome and multiple eye problems (brachycephalic ocular syndrome).
Other inherited health conditions include a kidney disease called renal dysplasia, allergies, hip dysplasia, and thyroid problems.
Combining Parents’ health
A Cairn Terrier Shih Tzu mix can inherit the genetic health conditions of one or both parent breeds.
Remember that joint and kidney problems are common to both.
The mix is also at risk for some degree of brachycephaly because of the physical structure of the Shih Tzu’s head and face.
Long-muzzled Care Tzus are always a healthier choice than those with flat faces.
When we are considering the health of the Cairn Terrier Shih Tzu Mix we also need to think about the influence that being a mixed breed has on health.
What is a mixed breed dog?
A mixed breed dog is the offspring of parents that belong to two different pure breeds. Purebred dogs have a known ancestry, or pedigree.
Mixed breed dogs are different than traditional “mutts” because many mutts are born to parents of unknown ancestry.
Fans of mixed breeds like the temperament and appearance of mixes.
Many also say that mixed breed dogs are healthier than purebred dogs. Is this true?
Some genetic lines of various purebred dog breeds can be negatively impacted by inbreeding.
This causes health problems to be passed from one generation to the next.
Cross breeding two totally different genetic lines can result in healthier offspring.
This is called hybrid vigor in genetics.
While hybrid vigor is real, the health of any individual mixed breed dog depends on the health of each parent.
This is why it’s so important to choose a breeder who health-tests their breeding stock for inherited health conditions.
Cairn Terrier Shih Tzu mix puppies
How can you ensure that your Cairn Tzu will be as healthy as possible?
Here are some practical tips on how to pick a healthy puppy.
Do not purchase a Care Tzu puppy from an online advertisement or a retail pet store, as they may be selling puppy mill dogs from unhealthy breeding stock.
Always choose a reputable breeder who health tests their dogs for genetic health conditions and shares all test results with you.
Health tests can be physical exams performed by veterinary ophthalmology, cardiac, and orthopedic specialists.
They will submit the results to a canine health registry, such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.
There are also genetic tests available for some inherited health conditions.
Cairn Terrier breeding stock can be tested for globoid cell leukodystrophy.
The American Shih Tzu Club does not list any mandatory genetic tests but does provide some health testing advice.
Visiting the puppies
Choose a small-scale Care Tzu breeder who welcomes clients into their home.
Observe the living conditions, meet your puppy’s parents, and examine the health of all the puppies in the litter.
A healthy puppy should be curious and playful and not overly shy.
Is a Cairn Terrier Shih Tzu mix the right dog for you?
If you’re looking for a small dog with an energetic, friendly, and happy personality, the cute little Care Tzu could be the dog for you!
The Care Tzu is a good choice for families with children and people with smaller living spaces.
Be sure your puppy comes from a responsible breeder who health tests their breeding stock.
Start training and socializing your puppy from an early age, always using only positive reinforcement training techniques.
Already the proud parent of a Care Tzu? Tell us all about your dog in the comments!
References and further reading
- Beuchat, C. The Myth of Hybrid Vigor in Dogs…Is a Myth. The Institute of Canine Biology, 2014.
- American Kennel Club.
- Patellar Luxation. Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.
- Downing, R. Globoid-Cell Leukodystrophy in Dogs. VCA Hospitals, 2017.
- Shih Tzu: Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome. Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, 2011.
- Shih Tzu: Brachycephalic Ocular Syndrome. Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, 2011.
- Hoppe, A., Swenson, L., Jonsson, L., et al. Progressive Nephropathy Due to Renal Dysplasia in Shih Tzu Dogs in Sweden: A Clinical Pathological and Genetic Study. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 1990.