A Malshipoo combines three breeds into one small, cute package. This mix includes the Maltese, Shih Tzu, and Poodle breeds. Generally a Miniature or Toy Poodle will be used, in order to keep the size of the resulting hybrid small.
The outcome of mixed breeds is unpredictable, since puppies can inherit traits from any parent. And, unlike most modern designer dogs, the Malshipoo mixes three rather than two purebred breeds. But, generally, this combination produces an intelligent and affectionate family pet.
What is a Malshipoo?
Trying to figure out a mixed breed from its name alone isn’t always easy! Particularly when three purebred breeds are involved, rather than the usual two. In this case, the Malshipoo is a combination of the Maltese, Shih Tzu and Poodle purebred dogs. To achieve this, breeders will combine two of these breeds, and then breed the final third purebred dog with the original mixed puppies.
Like all mixed breed dogs, Malshipoo puppies can be very different from one another. Some may look more like Poodles, with tightly curled coats and long legs, But, others may have the longer, straight fur of their Maltese and Shih Tzu parentage. Many will fall somewhere in between, with a slight curl to their fur. But, owners must be prepared for any outcome, in appearance, temperament, health, and more.
A Malshipoo adult may have traits from any of its three parent breeds. So, it may be intelligent and active like a Miniature Poodle. It may be affectionate and friendly, like the typical Maltese. Or, it could be bold and loyal, like many Shih Tzu dogs. Breeders hope to get the best traits from all breeds involved, but there’s really no way of knowing until your puppies arrive.
Since Miniature or Toy Poodles are most often used, this means all three parent breeds were originally bred as lapdogs. So, one trait you can almost guarantee in a Malshipoo is loyalty and a strong attachment to their immediate family. However, in some cases, this loyalty can lead to aggression towards non-family members. Socialize your puppy well to minimise this risk.
This strong attachment can also mean that some Malshipoo puppies may be prone to separation anxiety, which is also common in purebred Maltese dogs. It’s important to teach your puppy to be happy alone from a young age. But, bear in mind that this breed isn’t good for families that will be spending lots of time away from home. It needs lots of company to remain happy and healthy.
Since Malshipoo puppies can inherit any physical traits from three distinct breeds, their appearance can be variable and unpredictable. Generally, these dogs are small. Especially when Miniature or Toy Poodles are involved. Here’s a table to show you the full range of sizes that your Malshipoo could stretch to:
|Height (inches)||Weight (lbs)|
|Maltese||7 – 9||Under 7|
|Shih Tzu||9 – 10.5||9 – 16|
|Miniature Poodle||10 – 15||10 – 15|
|Toy Poodle||Under 10||4 – 6|
One thing is certain – a Malshipoo will fall in the Toy breed category. On average, their height is usually around 10 inches, and weight usually falls around 10 lbs. However, this will of course vary, particularly if a Toy Poodle is used.
Coat and Coloring
There is really no limit to coloring when it comes to the Malshipoo breed. Of course, a specific puppy’s fur color will depend on the genes it inherits. But, thanks to the Poodle and Shih Tzu parents in particular, there is a huge range of shades that these little dogs can come in.
Maltese and Shih Tzu dogs tend to have straight fur that will grow very long if left alone. However, Miniature and Toy Poodles have tight curls. All three parent dogs need a high level of grooming to maintain their coat and to prevent painful tangles. Malshipoo puppies can inherit any mix of this hair, or may favor one breed over the rest. Often, they will look like mini teddy bears. They will often be very low shedding, but they will need a lot of grooming no matter what fur type they have.
Malshipoo Training and Exercise
Malshipoo training should start from a young age when possible. Potty training in small breeds is often problematic, since they have such tiny bladders. But, thanks to the Poodle parent’s intelligence, and the Malshipoo’s strong bonds with family, training should be relatively easy. Positive reward training is a great way to build on this bond, and to achieve long lasting results.
In terms of energy, this is a small breed that won’t need as much exercise as a large breed, like a Labrador. All three parents were bred as lapdogs, so a Malshipoo will be happy to settle down with you on the couch. But, they will need some exercise every day. This could be in the form of games, training, or even a couple of short walks. Since they will have very active minds, mental stimulation and company is just as important as exercise. So, don’t assume you can just lay around all day with your dog. They’ll get bored and destructive if you do!
General Care and Grooming
There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. But, the Malshipoo comes close. Since it is low shedding, many owners will have fewer problems with the pesky dander that triggers allergy symptoms. However, these little dogs need a lot of grooming. So, you will have to get up close to their coat and work out any trapped hairs or dander. This can trigger allergies. So, it’s something to bear in mind for potential owners. The grooming process will also vary depending on the type of coat your puppy inherits.
As well as grooming, these little dogs will need to be on a balanced diet. Socialization and obedience training from a young age are both vital. Even though these dogs are small, they can still do a lot of damage if they are untrained or aggressive.
Malshipoo Health Concerns
Mixed breeds have a wider genetic pool than purebred dogs. So, there’s a chance that their risk of inheriting health problems will be lower. But, it’s still important that breeders health test all parent dogs before breeding. Only breeding from the healthiest dogs will lower the risks for future puppies.
The Malshipoo is still potentially vulnerable to hereditary issues found in all three parent breeds. And to those common in very small dog breeds. In terms of their physical structure, they will be very delicate. So, it they are handled too roughly, or fall from a high place, they can easily break bones or suffer injuries. It’s vital that Malshipoos are treated gently. They may not suit homes with very young children for this reason.
Hereditary problems that these little dogs are at risk of include:
- Dental problems, eg. overcrowded teeth
- Soft spots on the skull
- Patellar Luxation
- Heart issues, eg. heart murmurs
- Collapsed Trachea
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Hip dysplasia
- Cataracts and other eye issues
The Shih Tzu parent also suffers from brachycephaly (a flattened face). This can cause a number of health issues, including Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, Brachycephalic Ocular Disease, dental problems, and heatstroke.
Are Malshipoos Good Family Dogs?
Many owners of Malshipoos love the mix’s cuddly appearance and loyal personality. But, it’s important that this breed finds the right home. It forms strong attachments with its owners, but this means it can be prone to guarding and aggression. Socialization is vital for this small breed, as is obedience training. On top of this, it won’t suit homes where it is left alone for long periods, or homes with very young children that could accidentally hurt it.
Malshipoo dogs need some physical activity every day. But, more time consuming than this is their grooming needs. Unfortunately, you won’t know in advance what type of coat your Malshipoo puppy will inherit. So, you will need to wait until they are full grown before you know what the best grooming tools are. Many owners prefer to take their Malshipoo to a professional groomer. But, this can be an expensive option.
It’s also important to bear in mind the potential health problems that this mix can inherit. Extremely small breeds are vulnerable to a number of issues that relate to their size alone. And, Malshipoos with the same squashed face as the Shih Tzu will also suffer from brachycephaly-related issues that can impact their breathing, vision, and dental health. So, it may be better to choose a larger, healthier mix, with a longer muzzle. If your heart is set on a Malshipoo, choose a reputable breeder that health tests parent dogs before breeding, or consider rescue centers.
Finding a Malshipoo Puppy
Waiting lists for reputable Malshipoo breeders may be long, since this mix is growing in popularity. But, this doesn’t mean you should jump at the first breeder you find. Put in effort to choose the best breeder possible by asking plenty of questions, visiting in person, and seeing evidence of health testing.
Avoid puppy mills, pet stores, and backyard breeders, who will all sell puppies for a profit alone. They will not breed from the healthiest dogs, and will usually keep dogs and puppies in poor conditions. They may also sell puppies that are too young to leave their moms and siblings, which can result in behavioral issues as well as health problems.
How Much Does a Malshipoo Cost?
The price of a Malshipoo puppy will vary depending on your location, the current demand for those puppies, and even on the physical traits that the puppies have. For instance, certain coat types or colors can cost more than others. And, as certain mixed breeds become more popular, prices can increase with demand. Puppy mills will often sell cheaper puppies, but lifelong costs will be higher with the increased risk of health problems and behavioral issues.
Generally, this mix tends to cost anywhere from $400 to $1500. But, price isn’t always an indicator of quality. So, instead, make sure to ask your breeder lots of questions and see the mother dog and puppies in person. Good breeders will willingly show evidence of health testing, and will ask you plenty of questions in return, to ensure their puppies are going to a good home.
There are currently no rescue centers dedicated to the Malshipoo mix, since it is so new and only recently growing in popularity. However, you may stumble across a Malshipoo in a general rescue center. And, you may find one in centers dedicated to any of the three parent breeds.
Rescue center dogs will often be cheaper than puppies, and you will have a better idea of a Malshipoo’s appearance and temperament. So, you may have more luck finding certain traits, like a curly coat. Speak to rescue center staff about what you’re looking for. They will be able to help you find a Malshipoo that will suit your lifestyle.
Do You Have a Malshipoo at Home?
Have you ever seen a Malshipoo before? Or are you currently looking for one to welcome into the family? Of course, this little breed won’t suit everyone. But, with the right care and dedication, many owners find it to be a wonderful family dog. Before you you commit to a Malshipoo, you might also want to consider a Shih Poo vs Maltipoo separately.
Let us know about your experiences with the Malshipoo mix in the comments!
References and Resources
- Turcsan, B. (et al), ‘Owner Perceived Differences Between Mixed-Breed and Purebred Dogs’, Plos One (2017)
- Bellumori, T. (et al), ‘Prevalence of Inherited Disorders Among Mixed-Breed and Purebred Dogs: 27,254 Cases (1995 – 2010)’, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (2013)
- Vredegoor, D. (et al), ‘Can F 1 Levels in Hair and Homes of Different Dog Breeds: Lack of Evidence to Describe Any Dog Breed as Hypoallergenic’, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (2012)
- Butt, A. (et al), ‘Do Hypoallergenic Cats and Dogs Exist?’, Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (2012)
- Beuchat, C. ‘The Myth of Hybrid Vigor… is a Myth’, The Institute of Canine Biology (2014)
- Farrell, L. (et al), ‘The Challenges of Pedigree Dog Health: Approaches to Combating Inherited Disease’, Canine Medicine and Genetics (2015)
- Roedler. F. (et al), ‘How Does Severe Brachycephaly Affect Dogs’ Lives? Results of a Structured Preoperative Owner Questionnaire’, The Veterinary Journal (2013)
I just got an 8 week old Malshipoo named Pixie and she is the sweetest and cutest little thing .. she is on the toy poodle size as her dad is toy poodle and I’ve had her about a month now and her potty training and house breaking is going very well .. she is very smart and really playful .. she thinks she is like my German Shepard lol and it’s adorable …
Jacklyn O. says
I Have a 7-year-old Malshipoo, the best dog I’ve ever seen and the cutest. He–ever since he was born–has been a very calm snuggly kind of dog, never aggressive, and is extremely friendly along with healthy. Getting him was honestly the best decision I’ve ever made. I totally recommend a Malshipoo for anyone with kids ages 10+. I also recommend getting your dog service dog certified if you have bad panic attacks because this breed is great at comforting people and is easy to train.
Danielle Glenn says
I have an eight week old Malshipoo named squishy, She is white and the runt. I believe she is hard of hearing almost deaf. So far she is very sweet, calm and training easily. I am using touch to potty train her. She is the perfect puppy for me.
I have just got a Malshipoo. What a wonderful, playful and loving character. He loves chasing around the house with my Pug and Shih Tzu. I already love him so much.
I have a 6 month old female. She is the runt still and is the most loving , sweetest, cutest thing ever! She can yap but she is mostly quiet. I can take her to a restaurant and she sleeps on my lap. I have socialized her from day 1. She goes everywhere with me and is never left alone. She plays with a Dalmatian and my daughters kitten is her bestfriend. She is just like having a baby. You just get that feeling when you hold them.
Very good information. I have a 9 month old Malshipoo!! She is a good dog but, wow requires constant grooming to keep matting out. She doesn’t like to be brushed so this is a big problem!!
I have a 3 month old Malshipoo and he doesn’t like to be brushed either and he has a TON of energy. I love him to death
Paul P Robinette Jr says
This is best web site for Malshipoo info!