Also known as a Bishon Frise Shih Tzu mix, they can be, on average, 9 to 12 inches tall and weigh from 9 to 15 pounds when fully grown. The relaxed yet outgoing nature of the parent breeds makes for entertaining and affectionate Zuchon puppies with some possible health issues.
It’s easy for you to see why they fall under the category of a “teddy bear dog” because they are cute, fluffy and extremely cuddly! Our complete guide to the Zuchon dog will help you decide if this adorable Shih Tzu Bichon mix is the right dog for you!
What’s In This Guide
Our readers’ most popular and frequently asked questions about the Zuchon.
Let us know in the comments if your questions aren’t answered here!
Zuchon: Breed At A Glance
- Popularity: The Zuchon is a popular designer dog not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC); Shih Tzu is ranked 20th and the Bichon Frise is ranked 46th on the AKC list of most popular breeds for 2019.
- Purpose: Companion dog
- Weight: 12 to 14 pounds
- Temperament: Lively, playful, stubborn, and well-mannered
Zuchon Breed Review: Contents
- History and original purpose of the Zuchon
- Fun facts about Zuchons
- Zuchon appearance
- Zuchon temperament
- Training and exercising your Zuchon
- Zuchon health and care
- Do Zuchons make good family pets?
- Rescuing a Zuchon
- Finding a Zuchon puppy
- Raising a Zuchon puppy
- Zuchon products and accessories
History And Original Purpose Of The Zuchon
We still don’t know much about the Zuchon dog because they are a first-generation mix and haven’t been around for too long.
Breeders came up with this designer dog in the USA during the 1990s. And they have become increasingly popular due to their adorable looks and docile temperament.
However, breeders, owners, and dog lovers alike often have divided opinions regarding designer dogs (also known as hybrid dogs).
There is a lot to consider regarding this relatively new breed of dog. But To have some idea of the Zuchon dog’s qualities and traits, we can look at the two parent breeds’ histories.
History Of The Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is from China. They are one of the oldest dog breeds in the world.
Their name translates in Mandarin as “little lion.” But there is nothing fierce about these little dogs!
The Shih Tzu’s origins are a mystery too. Some people think that Tibetan monks developed this breed and sent them as gifts to royalty in China as treasured and pampered companion dogs.
No one even knew the breed outside of China until the 1930s, when they were imported to England.
Eventually, they made their way to the US after World War II. And they were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1969.
History Of The Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise originated in the Mediterranean and is an ancestor of the Barbet (Water Spaniel), which is where the name Barbichon evolved from.
The Barbichon group of dogs developed into four subsets: Bolognese, Havanese, Maltese, and Tenerife. The Bichon Frise originated from the Bichon Tenerife. They were popular with sailors who would use them for bartering.
In the 1300s, Italian sailors discovered these dogs in Tenerife and took them back to mainland Europe. They were popular with the nobility and royalty of Italy, Spain, and France as companion dogs.
By the late 1800s, their popularity had started to diminish. And they become street dogs, performing tricks at fairs and in the circus.
However, after World War I, the Bichon regained its popularity. As a result, a breed standard was created in France in 1933 along with the name Bichon Frise, meaning “curly dog.”
Fun Facts About Zuchons
“Zuchon” is a portmanteau name combining the name of its parent breeds. Other names this designer breed is known by include, Shichon, Tzu Frise, Bichon Tzu, and Rag Doll.
Former reality television personality Farrah Abraham owns a Bichon Frise Shih Tzu mix.
You have probably seen pictures of this delightful Bichon Shih Tzu mix resembling a child’s toy or teddy bear and have your heart set on buying one of the cutest dogs on the planet!
To have some idea of the Zuchon’s qualities and traits, we need to look at the two parent breeds—the Shih Tzu and Bichon Frise.
Average Size Of The Zuchon
To estimate how big or how small Zuchon adults might be, we need to look at the sizes of the Shih Tzu and the Bichon Frise.
The Shih Tzu is a toy dog breed. So, they are quite small. They measure 9 to 10 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 9 to 16 pounds.
The Bichon Frise is in the non-sporting group and a little bigger. They stand between 9.5 to 11.5 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 12 to 18 pounds.
You can predict that your fully-grown Bichon Shih Tzu mix will be a little dog as both the parent breeds are small.
Zuchon Coat Color And Characteristics
As with all hybrids, the appearance and coat colors of individual Zuchon dogs can vary. Some look more like the Shih Tzu and others resemble the Bichon.
The Shih Tzu coat is long and flowing and can be an array of colors including white, black, red, and brindle. You will find that their coat is often white and paired with another color, or it can be a three-color mix.
The Bichon Frise has a curled double coat that sheds very little. It is white but may have shades of buff, cream, or apricot.
First, we should take a closer look at the traits and characteristics of the parent breeds because the temperament of a teddy bear Zuchon cannot be guaranteed.
Shih Tzu Temperament
The Shih Tzu is an affectionate, sweet-natured and playful dog who loves humans and will follow its owner from room to room.
They adore children and get along with other pets. Due to their small size and dislike for being pestered, they may not be suitable to have around toddlers.
The Shih Tzu makes an excellent watchdog, and although they are barkers, their yapping is not as bad as other toy breeds.
The Bichon is cheerful, energetic, loving and affectionate with a curious and mischievous streak. They are quiet dogs who bark very little.
They make ideal family pets as they love children and are good with other animals, although toddlers require supervision.
Bishon Shih Tzu Temperament
Due to the Zuchon’s parent breed’s love of human companionship, it’s best not to leave any of these breeds alone for extended periods. Isolation can lead to separation anxiety.
Training And Exercising Your Zuchon
Socializing And Training Your Zuchon
The Shih Tzu does have a stubborn streak, so training and socialization should start early. They thrive on positive reinforcement methods. You should use food and praise as rewards.
On the other hand, the highly-intelligent Bichon Frise is eager and willing to learn. So, you will find they are quite an easy dog to train. Many can learn to do tricks as well.
The Bichon Shih Tzu mix will have a combination of their parent’s traits. Remember, early training and socialization is important with any breed of dog.
Potty Training Your Zuchon
Both the Shih Tzu and Bichon are challenging to house train. This is not uncommon with very small dogs, because they have small bladders!
But it is important to be patient when potty training your new friend.
Because both breeds are difficult to housetrain and dislike being left alone for any length of time, you will likely find that your Zuchon has the same issues.
You can refer to our potty training article for help.
Exercising Your Zuchon
Both the Shih Tzu and Bichon Frise only require a moderate amount of exercise. If you take them for two walks a day for about fifteen or twenty minutes and have a little playtime with them, that should be ample for these small dogs.
However, the Bichon Frise loves to run fast, so they should be able to do this once a week. They excel at dog agility.
The outgoing Zuchon will have about the same balance of exercise requirements as its parent breeds.
If your Bichon Frise Shih Tzu mix has inherited the Shih Tzu parent’s brachycephalic conformation (discussed below), then you should be wary of overexciting your pup, exercising it in hot temperatures, and taking safety measures around water.
Zuchon Health And Care
Hybrid breeds may be genetically healthier than their purebred parents, but that doesn’t mean your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is immune to all conditions.
It is essential for you to consider the health issues of the parent breeds.
Shih Tzu Health Issues
The Shih Tzu is generally a healthy dog, but they are considered a brachycephalic breed. This means, because they have a flat face and a short nose, they are prone to breathing conditions and cannot tolerate heat.
Typical of small dogs, they are also susceptible to hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, as well as dental and eye issues.
Bichon Frise Health Issues
The Bichon Frise has few health issues but does have a predisposition for allergies, whether they are food, fleas, or airborne allergens.
Like the Shih Tzu, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and eye issues are also common in this breed too. They are also prone to gum disease.
Zuchon Health Issues
When looking for a puppy it is essential that you ask breeders about health tests that the parents have undergone.
Both breeds are prone to orthopedic and eye issues. So, Zuchons are more susceptible to these health issues. Therefore, you should ask specifically if hip and eye exams have been performed.
Also, check the length of the muzzle on Shih Tzu Bichon mix puppies, as those with short noses are likely to experience the breathing issues inherited from the Shih Tzu parent.
Zuchon Life Expectancy
The Shih Tzu has a life span of between 10 to 16 years.
The Bichon Frise has a life expectancy of between 12 to 15 years.
Your Zuchon should fall within this range. So, he is a long-term commitment!
Zuchon Grooming And Care
The Shih Tzu’s long coat requires brushing at least once a day, as it can matt easily. Because they don’t shed, their hair can grow very long. And they may need a regular trip to the groomer for trimming.
Therefore, you can be confident that your Zuchon, whether his coat is long or short, will require daily brushing. While no dog is truly hypoallergenic, this mix may be a low shedder.
However, it will need regular haircuts.
Good grooming includes trimming your dog’s nails and keeping the ears clean. And regular dental care is essential.
Do Zuchons Make Good Family Pets?
Bichon Shih Tzu mixes love humans, just like their parent breeds. And their personality makes them suitable for singles, seniors, and even families with children.
Although, you should be wary of toddlers around any small dog. And a Zuchon could inherit the Shih Tzu’s intolerance of being pestered.
Also, if you leave a Shih Tzu Bichon mix alone for extended periods, they will probably not be happy. This is not an ideal dog for those who are busy and out all the time.
Rescuing A Zuchon
Rescuing a dog can be a rewarding experience, and a good alternative if you are looking for a more mature dog. You may or may not have the benefit of knowing the dog’s health and behavioral history. However, you may also bypass having to raise and train a puppy from scratch.
See our list of rescues below.
Finding A Zuchon Puppy
It is vital that you visit Zuchon breeders that have a good reputation. You can request a tour of their breeding premises to ensure that it is a healthy environment.
Also, you can prepare a list of detailed questions you want to ask. A breeder who cares about their dogs should also ask you questions, to ensure their puppies are going to the right home.
You should also spend time with both parent breeds and the puppies, observing their health, activity levels, and behavior. And finally, enquire about health checks and vaccinations.
Advocates of designer dogs claim that they get the best qualities and characteristics from the two parent breeds, so should be considered healthier and more intelligent. Because of these claims, designer dogs often command higher prices than their purebred counterparts.
You should be wary of any breeders that promises you a full-grown Shih Tzu Bichon Mix adult of a certain size or color. Or anyone who predicts what its personality will be like.
Unlike purebreds, no one can guarantee an outcome for a designer dog. Often the offspring are more like one breed parent than the other, or there is the risk that a puppy could inherit the worst traits from both parents.
Zuchon puppies can cost you anywhere between $500 to $1400. You should avoid pet stores and online ads that may support puppy mills.
You can check out our puppy guide: A Step By Step Guide To The Puppy Of Your Dreams.
Raising A Zuchon Puppy
Remember, early socialization and correct training is just as necessary as good breeding.
Caring for vulnerable Zuchon puppies can be a daunting responsibility. But we have some great guides to help you with all aspects of puppy care and training:
Zuchon Products And Accessories
Pros And Cons of Getting A Zuchon
- Don’t like being left alone for long periods of time
- Possible brachycephalic issues
- Needs daily grooming
- Affectionate and well-mannered
- Intelligent and easy to train
- Family dogs that get along with children
- Requires only a moderate amount of exercise
Comparing The Zuchon With Other Breeds
The Zuchon And The Maltipoo
Another popular teddy bear dog is the Maltipoo.
The Maltipoo is a mix between a Maltese and the Poodle. This mix is also a small, loving, and intelligent dog who responds well to training.
If you are considering a Zuchon, here are some other dog breeds you might want to consider.
Zuchon Breed Rescues
You can search the parent breed rescues for a Zuchon.
- Bichon & Little Buddies Rescue
- Bichon Frise Rescue of Northern New Jersey
- Delaware Valley Bichon Rescue
- Ohio Fuzzy Pawz Shih Tzu Rescue
- Shih Tzus & Furbabies
- Tidewater Bichon Frise Rescue
Please comment below if you know of rescues to add to our lists.
Is a Zuchon the Right Type of Dog for Me?
Zuchon puppies are undeniably cute with a great personality!
They are perfect if you are looking for a lovable companion and lap dog who loves people and gets on with other pets and children.
If you have the time for a sweet-natured dog who loves cuddles, then the Bichon Frise Shih Tzu mix could be the right breed for you!
Are you thinking of buying a Zuchon? Or do you already have a Bichon Shih Tzu mix? Please share your stories with other readers in our comments below.
References And Resources
- American Kennel Club (AKC).
- Fasanella, F. J., et al. (2010). “Brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome in dogs: 90 cases (1991–2008).” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- Gelatt, K. N., et al. (2003)Cataracts in the Bichon Frise.” Veterinary Ophthalmology.
- Gough, A., et al. (2018). “Breed Predispositions to Disease In Dogs and Cats.” Wiley Blackwell.
- Hoppe, A., et al. (1990). “Progressive nephropathy due to renal dysplasia in shih tzu dogs in Sweden: A clinical pathological and genetic study.” Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- O’Neill, D. G., et al. (2013). “Longevity and Mortality of Owned Dogs In England.” The Veterinary Journal
- Packer, R. M. A., et al. (2015). “Impact of Facial Conformation On Canine Health: Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome.” PlosOne.