If you’re ready to add a new fur baby to your house, but can’t make up your mind between a Shih Tzu and a Poodle, we have good news for you!
There’s no need for a lengthy back and forth conversation in your mind about which dog would make the better choice.
Today it’s possible to have a blend of both of these adorable little dogs in one awesome animal: the Shih Poo!
In this article you’ll learn about the popular, spirited cross breed known as a Shih Poo.
We’ll tell you what you need to know about this lively small breed mix if you’re considering welcoming it into your home, including their temperament and grooming needs.
In addition we’ll explore some important issues such as longevity and health.
What is a Shih Poo?
The Shih Poo is a designer crossbreed mix of the dignified, intelligent Poodle and the lively, Fabio-maned Shih Tzu.
The Shih Tzu Poodle mix can be expected to have traits and characteristics of both breeds, but it’s impossible to predict in what combination!
It would be the best of both worlds if we could expect a Shih Tzu and poodle mix would result in a Shih Poo dog that exhibited the finest traits of each breed.
But not even the most successful breeder can guarantee what temperament and personality will emerge when she produces Shih Tzu poodle puppies. This is simply the reality of mixing two different breeds into a unique hybrid.
What will my Shih Poo look like?
Maybe you want your Shih Poo puppies to have the gorgeous mane of a Shih Tzu and have it be hypoallergenic like the fur of a poodle?
That might be ideal, but no one can reliably predict what a Shih poo full grown will be like.
You’ll definitely want to keep this reality in mind before you buy a Shih Tzu cross poodle mix!
In the last two decades Shih Poos have become a very popular hybrid, in part because of the poodle’s reputation for having hypoallergenic fur.
The Labradoodle was the first poodle cross breed and since its debut, the poodle has been crossed with nearly all other popular breeds.
Whether your Shih poo has the curly coat of a poodle or the luxurious locks of a Shih Tzu, he will always have a cute, alert expression atop his sturdy little body.
And, with its adorably round face, wide-set eyes and soft fur coat, a Shih Poo would look right at home in a child’s toy box as it would in the dog park!
Can a Shih Poo be registered with the AKC?
Despite their popularity, Shih Poos, like other hybrids, are not currently recognized by well-known kennel clubs, such as the American Kennel Club.
So any documentation or paperwork that comes with your pet will not currently be recognized by most people.
Before we talk more about the adorable and spirited Shih Poo, let’s take a look at his parentage in order to get a better idea of what to expect from this mighty mite of a pooch.
Origins of the Shih Poo – on the Shih Tzu side
The origin of the Shih Tzu is as mysterious as the assertion that the first Shih Tzu’s were bred to resemble the handsome lions (complete with flowing manes), shown in traditional Chinese artworks.
The breed, also known as “Lion Dog,” is believed to have originated in China. There Shi Tzu bones have been found that date back to ancient times. Recent analysis found that the Shih Tzu is one of the 14 oldest dog breeds.
The first Shih Tzu’s were brought to Europe in 1930 and they came to American shores later in the decade. The American Kennel Club recognized it as an official breed in 1969, placing it in the Toy Group. The group lists it as the 20th most popular animal.
Check out our guide to the Shih Tzu for more information
Origins of the Shih Poo – on the Poodle side
Like the Shih Tzu, the Poodle’s origins are up for debate. Some experts believe that the dog originated in Germany, while others consider France to be its country of origin.
Like the Shih Tzu, the Poodle was a favorite subject of artists, and can be seen in paintings dating back to at least the 15th century. The AKC recognized the poodle as an official breed in 1887, and recognize it as the 7th most popular dog breed.
The Poodle comes in three varieties: Standard, Miniature, and Toy. Shih Poos are breed from the latter two varieties. (Don’t miss our complete guide to the stunning standard poodle)
Poodle crosses are a popular constant among designer dogs, with the Shih-Poo a relative newcomer in this landscape.
The Shih Poo originated in America where it was debuted as a small breed with the prospect of being a hypoallergenic dog.
In reality the Shih Poo can inherit the poodle’s hypoallergenic fur or the Shih Tzu’s non-hypoallergenic coat.
As Forrest Gump might say, the Shih Poo cross is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get!
Shih Poo adults size
“How big will she get?” is one of a potential dog owner’s first questions. Since the Shih Tzu is a cross breed, and a relatively new one, we turn to its parents for the answer!
As we’ve discussed, crossbreeds inherit the traits and features of both parent breeds, and their characteristics could range anywhere between them.
Toy and Mini Poodles typically weigh between 4-15 pounds, and stand 10-15 inches tall. They enjoy a lifespan of approximately 10-18 years.
An average Shih Tzu weighs between 9-16 pounds and stands between 8-11 inches tall. On average a Shih Tzu lives for around 13 years.
Shih Poo temperament
Will your Shih Poo’s temperament take after his ready-to-please poodle parent, or more closely resemble that of his less affable Shih Tzu parent?
We wish we could tell you for certain!
Since a Shih Poo inherits its DNA from two gene pools, there is no way of telling in what combination these genes will be expressed. The temperament of your pup may lean considerably toward one or the other parent, or be a delightful and unpredictable mixture of the two.
And there’s always the unfortunate possibility that the pooch will inherit the most undesirable traits carried by each parent. Buying a mixed breed is like a roll of the dice: are you prepared to gamble?
Both the Poodle and the Shih Tzu are amiable, intelligent, and trainable. The Poodle is more likely to vocalize than the Shih Tzu, and the Shih Tzu has a reputation for possessing a stubborn streak.
But both tiny tykes make good family dogs when supplied with positive and supportive training. The Poodle may have a slight edge in this department, and it helps if the Shih Tzu pup is raised with children.
Shi Poo Behavior
Will your Shih Tzu x Toy Poodle hybrid exhibit the proud, intelligent nature of his Poodle progenitors? Poodles exhibit a moderate level of energy and enjoy keeping busy.
Or will she have a fair share of the Shih Tzu’s renegade genes? They can be a handful, especially when it comes to training.
With cross breeds it’s simply not possible to foretell the future behavior of your little bundle of fur.
Many Shih Poo owners report that their fur babies are energetic, playful, and not overly difficult to train.
This is a dog who will benefit from moderate exercise.
Early, consistent and positive reinforcement training methods will go a long way toward ensuring that your new BFF will be every bit the terrific companion that you hope for!
Keep in mind that punishment based training is not recommended as a modern training method and it has the potential to mask potential problems.
Training your Shih Tzu Poodle Mix
Your Shih Poo can take after either of his parents in the training department.
Poodles are renowned for their high canine IQ’s and thus are highly trainable dogs. If you want to teach her tricks and play together at the dog park, your poodle pup is willing to accommodate!
The Shih Poo is a smart dog, but for some a stubborn streak can be problematic in regards to training. Unlike the people-pleasing poodle, the Shih Tzu is not as keen to impress his people!
For this reason the Shih Tzu is not high on the list of dogs for new owners. That doesn’t mean he can’t learn with positive and supportive training methods, but potential pet parents should be aware of this dogged (pun intended!) reputation.
Learning tricks is a not huge priority for Shih Tzu’s and sometimes bathroom training takes longer than you’d like.
Family Life with a Shih Tzu Poodle Mix
A Shih Poo will do well with older children who have learned how to approach and handle a dog respectfully. Smaller children are apt to startle Shih Poos who do not respond well to rough housing.
Shih Poos generally fall in the middle of each parent’s tendency toward barking: not as yappy as a poodle, but a bit more vocal than a Shih Tzu.
Shih Poos require moderate exercise, with a little daily exertion best. As small companion animals, they are ideally suited to being an indoor dog, and most enjoy snuggling in their owner’s laps.
Shih Poo haircuts
Your little Shih Poo will do a small amount of shedding and requires a moderate amount of grooming. Depending on her fur, you may be able to gussy her up in some awfully cute hairstyles—more on this later!
A Shih Poo’s coat can be long and silky, short and curly, or even somewhere in between. Poodle coats come in solid colors including white, black, apricot, and gray.
Shih Tzu fur comes in a variety of colors and can result in a mix of shades and colors unlike the mono-shading seen in the Poodle.
Major differences in coat quality and color can and do occur within the same litter of Shih Poo puppies.
Did your pup inherit a poodle-like coat? If you have a curly-haired cutie, consider a puppy clip or lamb clip for your little one.
The former haircut involves having the fur around the face, neck, feet, and the base of the tail shaved away, with the remaining hair left at a longer length. This is a good cut for winter months.
A lamb clip involves shaving the fur on your pup’s back, stomach, hind quarters, and neck, to approximately 1/4 inch. The remaining fur is cut, but left longer. This is a good cut for the summer months.
If you have a true “Lion Dog” you can arrange the luxurious hair on top of her head into a fun ponytail!
Shih Poo Grooming
Neither poodles nor Shih Tzus have particularly ‘easy’ coats. Shih Poos will have different types of hair ranging from curly to straight, depending on how much they favor either parent. In general most will have courser wavy or curly fur more in line with the poodle’s coat.
Daily brushing and a monthly trim will go a long way toward keeping their fur mat-free. The result of a Shih Tzu cross Toy Poodle mix is a clean dog, and baths can be done at the owner’s discretion although regular bathing can assist in warding off any inherited skin issues.
During the trim session the nails should be examined and clipped as needed. Since both breeds have hair that grows within the ear, it is wise to regularly check your pup’s ears and clip the hair as needed.
Both the Poodle and Shih Tzu are prone to tear stains, so it should not be surprising to see your pup exhibit this trait. A warm face wash with a soft cloth once a day will get rid of dried eye mucus and cut down on staining.
Unfortunately both breeds are prone to dental disease so regular brushing is needed to maintain your mix’s healthy teeth and gums.
Is the Shih Poo hypoallergenic
No dog is 100% hypoallergenic. The term “hypoallergenic dog” is meant to infer that a dog breed or mix provokes fewer allergic reactions than other breeds.
But hypoallergenic-ness is a relative concept. It’s important to note that any particular pooch may or may not cause any one individual (especially those with heightened sensitivities) to respond with an allergic reaction.
Pet allergens such as fur and dander can aggravate breathing conditions, such as asthma and allergies, in sensitive individuals.
Some breeds shed less than other breeds thus leading to claims that they are more hypoallergenic due to the decreased risk of allergic reaction prompted by a response to fur, dander, and saliva.
Because of their minimal shedding, Poodles are touted as hypoallergenic and thus Shih Poos are frequently marketed as hypoallergenic.
In an ideal world the Poodle part of a Shih Poo will result in a low shedding dog, but there is still no guarantee that everyone will have the same immune system response to such an animal.
It’s worth noting that regular bathing of your pet and the use of HEPA air filters may minimize allergic reaction.
HEPA air filters are designed to trap airborne pet allergens can filter out the tiniest of particles, almost 100% of particles 0.3 microns in diameter and up.
But in the end it’s important to remember that hypoallergenic does not mean allergy-proof!
Shih Poo health
It makes sense that the offspring of a Poodle and a Shih Tzu would experience the same health issues as its parents.
Among other conditions, Shih Tzu dogs are prone to eye problems, brachycephalic syndrome, hip and kidney issues. Animals with short noses are at risk for brachycephalic syndrome, which involve respiratory issues.
Many of the issues found in the Shih Tzu are a result of its signature and sought-after characteristics: a short nose and large eyes.
What health issues do Poodles face? Cushing’s disease, bladder stones, and skin tumors are among the problems encountered by Poodles.
Cushing’s disease occurs when a dog’s body makes too much of the hormone cortisol or when corticosteroid medications are prescribed at a high dosage and/or for an extended period of time.
Your Shih Poo will inherit his parents’ health profiles, but how the issues are expressed is impossible to predict in your mixed breed pooch.
The good news is that the mix breed Shih Poo may receive the Poodle’s longer muzzle allowing them to sidestep many of the breathing problems that Shih-Tzus inherit.
On a side note, Shih Poo’s have a reputation for never meeting a meal they didn’t like! Because they have a tendency to overeat, it’s crucial to monitor your canine’s daily calorie count in order to ensure his overall health.
Shih Poo lifespan
Shi Poos can be expected to live approximately 10-15 years. Although he’s an energetic pup, the Shih-Poo doesn’t require a lot of vigorous exercise, but he shouldn’t be allowed to be a couch potato either!
Regular exercise will enhance your dog’s well-being and is crucial to a long and healthy lifespan. Short but brisk walks in the morning and evening is all that is necessary to keep this spunky little guy fit.
This is not a mix breed that will want or need to exert himself on long runs or exploring the great outdoors; playing with a ball in the back yard or in the dog park will suit him just fine!
Shih Poo breeders
Although you may find your hybrid through a Shih Poo rescue group, the majority of owners adopt theirs via a breeder. What is an approximate Shih Tzu Toy Poodle mix price? You can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to upwards of $1,000.
Prior to adopting your forever friend, be sure to ask the breeder about the health and temperament of the pup’s parents. Ask to see the bloodlines of both of the parents as well as their health clearances.
All reputable breeders will be accommodating with your requests for information, and readily tell you as much as possible about your Shih Tzu Toy Poodle hybrid’s background prior to your adoption.
Shih Poo puppies
Puppies are irresistibly adorable and many owners become pet parents via the, “love at first sight syndrome!”
Shih-Poo pups are as cute and cuddly as any tiny canine, but they can also be a handful, especially if they inherit the Shih Tzu’s affinity for blazing his own trail. If this is the case with your puppy, potty training in particular may become an arduous task.
When it comes to housetraining, a little vigilance goes a long way. Be sure to watch your pup for signs that she wants to take care of business.
Staying on top of her training needs will make the both of you much happier in the long run!
Is a Shih Poo right for me?
What does a Shih Tzu x Poodle equal? We wish we could tell you with a high degree of certainty what you can expect after you bring your hybrid Shih Poo bundle home!
While it’s a given that the small breed Shih Poo will exhibit traits from both of his parents, it’s impossible to know in what combination or degree that these qualities will be expressed.
If you enjoy grooming, want a fairly small dog, and are prepared to accept you won’t know exactly what your dog will look like until he or she is fully grown then this could be the mix for you.
Carefully consider the foregoing information, and especially the unpredictable nature of a cross breed, before making a final decision to add a loveable Shih Poo to your life!
Do you have a Shih Poo? Tell us about your little loved one in the comments section below!
References and further reading
American Kennel Club
Arlian, A.G., et al, Distribution and removal of cat, dog and mite allergens on smooth surfaces in homes with and without pets, Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 2001
Famula, T.R., Heritability and complex segregation analysis of hypoadrenocorticism in the standard poodle, Journal of Small Animal Practice, 2003
Green, R., et al, Avoidance of dog allergen f 1 with the dog in situ: Washing the dog and use of a HEPA air filter, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 1996
Hoppe, A., Progressive nephropathy due to renal dysplasia in shih tzu dogs in Sweden: A clinical pathological and genetic study, Journal of Small Animal Practice, 1990
Lindgren, S., et al, Breed-specific dog-dandruff allergens, The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 1988
Wright, A.L., Early dog exposure: potential pathways to allergic disease, Clinical and Experimental Allergy, 2008