The Shih Poo is the energetic, fun-loving offspring of a Shih Tzu and a Poodle. This zesty little designer dog has captured the hearts of many Americans in recent years.
With their low shedding coats and playful nature, this pup is suitable for almost every home.
The fact the Shih Poo only needs a moderate amount of exercise and is extremely small makes them well suited to apartments and city living.
These dogs do need lots of grooming but their gorgeous coats make this a pleasurable task.
If you want to know more about this dog, keep reading! Our guide below includes sections on their appearance, care, training and much more!
Contents and Quick Navigation
- What is a Shih Poo? (Overview)
- Shih Poo Appearance
- Shih Poo Personality and Temperament
- Caring for a Shih Poo
- Buying a Shih Poo
- Quick Breed Summary Table
What is a Shih Poo? (Overview)
A Shih Poo is a cross between a Shih Tzu and a Poodle (usually a Toy variety). This designer dog breed was first seen around 20 years ago in the US.
It’s thought they were bred out of the desire to mix the Poodle’s hypoallergenic coat with the Shih Tzu’s loyal, spirited character.
The Shih Tzu is believed to have originated in China. It’s thought to be one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. Interestingly, the Poodle and the Shih Tzu are both popular subjects for painters (paintings date back to the 15th century.
In terms of temperament, both parent breeds are stable with well-known character traits – you would hope for the same in the Shih Poo.
Unfortunately, due to the unpredictability of cross-breeding, the temperament and appearance of this little dog are extremely variable.
Shih Poo Appearance
The unpredictability of these little dogs’ appearance is just something a new owner will have to accept. Your pup may have a short or long coat, a straight or curly coat.
When you are crossing a dog breed that is hypoallergenic with a breed that isn’t, there is always a chance the puppies won’t inherit the particular gene for low shedding. If you want a hypoallergenic puppy from a Shih Poo litter, your best bet is asking the breeder their advice on which puppies’ coats look most likely to be low shedding.
They come in a range of stunning coat colors. Puppies may be block colors like black or white, or they might be a mix of colors. No matter what color these dogs are, they’re always adorable.
Shih Poo Size and Weight
With their tiny proportions, the Shih Poo is the perfect lap dog – they are usually crossed with a Toy Poodle.
Sometimes you might find a Shih Poo that’s been crossed with a Miniature Poodle. These crosses will generally be larger than those crossed with Toy Poodles.
They only weigh around 8 to 18lb and stand between 8 to 13 inches tall. You could carry this little guy around all day and barely notice them.
Shih Poo Colors
This dog comes in a gorgeous range of coat colors. They are able to inherit all of the colors that the Poodle and the Shih Tzu display.
The most common coat colors are: black, white, brindle, gold, black and white, brown and white and particolored.
Shih Poo Coat
Although the Shih Poo is considered a low shedding dog, they are not always hypoallergenic. They have an equal chance of inheriting the Poodle’s short, hypoallergenic coat, or the Shih Tzu’s long flowing hair. They may also inherit a long flowing hypoallergenic coat.
It is impossible to predict what coat a Shih Poo will have. It’s likely there will be massive variation, even within a single litter.
Shih Poo Personality and Temperament
They are known for their lively, affectionate nature. These little dogs will have everyone smiling with their crazy antics. It’s impossible not to be drawn in by the infectious energy they exude. To understand a cross-breed’s temperament it’s best to look at their parents:
- The Shih Tzu is bringing a whole load of personality to the genetic table. These guys are confident and friendly with everyone. They are well known for getting along with all people and dogs alike. They aren’t all perfect though and have some less desirable characteristics; they are notoriously stubborn, especially when it comes to housebreaking.
- The Poodle is known for their eagerness to please. These dogs are highly intelligent and trainable. They are loyal and form strong bonds with their humans. Toy Poodles have a reputation for being somewhat highly strung. When looking for a puppy, it is important that you find a breeder that’s avoided breeding dogs with this characteristic.
One of the characteristics that almost every Shih Poo has is a playful nature. These dogs love to chase balls and play with toys. They will happily do this for hours, up and down your corridors!
Then afterward they’ll cuddle up on your lap, sofa or bed and nap away the evening.
The Poodle is known for its love of its own “voice”. This, paired with the Shih Tzu’s guarding nature, makes the little Shih Poo a pretty good watch dog. They aren’t exactly going to scare anyone off but they will certainly let you know if something is happening.
Unfortauntely they do suffer from the dreaded separation anxiety. They will bark and probably chew that one thing you really don’t want them chewing. Crate training can help but not always.
Stubbornness is not an attractive trait but it is one that the Shih Poo can also have. This little guy has been known to be pretty hard headed– especially when it comes to training. You may find that your pup has inherited the Shih Tzu stubbornness and the Poodles aloof, reserved nature around new people.
Having a cross-breed really is a lucky dip and you have to consider all possibilities before diving in.
Is a Shih Poo a good family dog?
The Shih Poo would be a suitable dog for a family with older children.
Older kids are able to learn how to correctly handle a small dog; this reduces the risk of your pooch getting injured.
Whereas small, inexperienced hands could easily injure your pup, so are best avoided.
Caring for a Shih Poo
The Shih Poo is an extremely adaptable breed. They are able to fit in with many different lifestyles. All they need is a home where someone is around most of the time.
They also need a decent amount of time dedicated to grooming and playing with them. They’re perfect for an older couple who can’t cope with long walks.
Your pooch needs about half an hour of walking each day and dedicated training sessions – they might not be ideal for first-time dog owners due to their stubborn streak. Grooming needs to be tackled every day to stop matted fur.
Be sure to get their nails trimmed regularly, brush their teeth daily, clean their ears every week and keep up with vaccines and flea/worm treatments.
How long does a Shih Poo live?
A Shih Poo will generally live for between 10-15 years, with 13 being the average life expectancy.
The Shih Poo doesn’t have particularly intense exercise requirements. They only need to be out walking for around half an hour day. They like gentle strolls and chasing a ball in the dog park. This is not the dog for you if you’re looking for a hiking or running partner.
They do love to play though. This is how they burn off most of their energy.
If they inherit the shortened muzzle of the Shih Tzu, you should be especially careful when exercising them for too long or in extreme heat.
Grooming and Shedding
Their grooming requirements will vary depending on what type of coat they have.
If they have the Poodle’s coat, you should brush them at least a couple times a week. You should take them to have their coat trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks. This will ensure their fur stays clean and healthy.
If they have the Shih Tzu’s coat, you’re going to have to brush it every day. They get tangles easily and will need to have dirt and debris removed from their coat on a regular basis.
One haircut that groomers will recommend for this breed is the ‘lamb’ clip if they have a Poodle coat. If your pup has more of a Shih Tzu coat, you could put up part of their ‘mane’ in a ponytail!
The stubborn streak that a Shih Poo can have makes them a little tricky to train. It can take up to a year to be fully housetrained. Hopefully, the Poodle’s natural desire to please you will shine through but this isn’t always the case.
You should be prepared for a challenge.
Positive reinforcement is the best way to train your pup. Giving them tasty treats and loads of praise when they do what you want them to. They have quite a short attention span, so you should keep training sessions short and positive.
When house training, you should try and learn what your dogs ‘tells’ are. What do they do just before they have to go to the toilet? Once you have worked this out, you should be able to catch them and take them outside just before they go. If you punish them for going to the toilet where they’re not supposed to, they will become anxious and probably try and hide where they are peeing.
Crate training might help with housetraining and separation anxiety. This gives the pup a safe space that belongs to them. Be sure to make this a comfortable and happy space with fun toys.
Feeding and Diet
We know that a dog’s diet is extremely impactful on their general health. Shih Poo’s need a diet that is around 25% protein. Protein and fats are the most important nutrients for your dog.
It’s recommended you get a small dog breed kibble for your Shih Poo – this is because they are prone to dental conditions. Feeding them kibble helps to prevent premature tooth loss, bad breath and gum disease.
The Shih Poo has a tendency to overeat. These little dogs have a ferocious appetite that should not be indulged. Make sure you monitor how much you are feeding them, including treats. Also, watch out for kids sneaking table scraps to their best friend.
Buying a Shih Poo
If you have fallen in love with this breed, thoughts of how to find one are probably on your mind.
Your best option, if your heart is set on a puppy, is to look for a reputable Shih Poo breeder.
Finding breeders for crossbreeds is often harder than for pedigree dogs but they are out there. A reputable breeder will not sell puppies any younger than 8 to 10 weeks. They should allow you to meet the mother and sometimes the father.
How Much Does A Shih Poo Cost?
A Shih Poo puppy will cost anywhere from $500 to $1,200 – the price will mainly depend on the quality and pedigree of the parents.
Quick Breed Summary Table
|Lifespan:||10 to 15 years|
|Coat:||Long or short, curly or straight, depends on which parent they take after|
|Color:||Black, white, brindle, gold, black and white, white and brown, particolored|
|Do They Shed:||Some are hypoallergenic some are not|
|Temperament:||Friendly, fun-loving, loyal and lively|
|Intelligence:||Intelligent but sometimes stubborn|
|Socialization:||Mostly very sociable|
|Destructive Behavior:||Prone to barking|
|People Skills:||Usually good with all people but may sometimes be aloof with strangers|
|Good with Children:||Great with older children but not suitable for young children|
|Activity Levels:||Moderate activity levels|
The Shih Poo is a lively little dog, perfect for all types of people. Whether you are a family with older kids or a retired individual, the Shih Poo will fit snugly into your life.
Just remember, training can be an issue with them so if you are looking for a more low maintenance lap dog try a Cavachon.
Shih Poos only need a moderate amount of exercise each day – this makes them suitable for people with mobility issues. Their small size also makes them great for apartments and city living. Of course they wouldn’t complain about a big yard either!
They need plenty of company to keep them entertained and out of trouble. They aren’t keen on young children but love to play with older kids who know how to behave (and handle) with little dogs.
Did you decide to get this bundle of joy? Let us know in the comments section below…