Although pet ownership is one of the most beautiful experiences that we can enjoy, at one point we have to face the reality that our beloved pets might not be with us here anymore. If you’re considering adopting a Shih Poo or already have this precious little Dood in your family, you’re probably keen on learning more about the Shih Poo lifespan and their potential health problems.
So, how long do Shih Poos live? And are Shih Poos healthy dogs? We’ll answer all of your questions surrounding the Shih Poo lifespan in this very article so keep on reading.
Shih Poo Lifespan: How Long Do Shih Poos Live?
The Shih Poo is a hybrid cross between the Shih Tzu and Poodle. As the Shih Tzu is such a small-sized breed, they’re crossed with either the smallest Toy Poodles or slightly larger Miniature Poodles. As a result, we get the fluffiest, most adorable little Doods.
Although small in size, Shih Poos have big personalities. They’re loving and playful, and their confidence is hard to match. Of course, thanks to their Poodle heritage, they make excellent companions for people who struggle with allergies.
As an added bonus, their small size also gives them a great advantage. Like most other small-sized breeds, Shih Poos generally live longer than larger dogs. Another one of the many perks of Poodle mixes like the Shih Poo is that they’re generally healthier and tend to live longer lives compared to their purebred parents. That’s thanks to something called hybrid vigor.
Essentially, this means that crossbreeds inherit superior qualities from both of their purebred parents. As they’re less likely to inherit specific conditions that are common within their parental breeds, they may live longer and healthier lives.
So, what is the average Shih Poo lifespan? How Long do Shih Poos live? Generally speaking, Shih Poos have a life expectancy of around 14 to 17 years. This falls into the same range as their Miniature Poodle and Toy Poodle parents, whereas Shih Tzus have an average lifespan of 11 to 17 years. In fact, Toy Poodles may outlive their larger Miniature Poodle cousins by a few years.
Other Factors That Can Affect The Shih Poo Lifespan
When it comes to breeding healthy puppies, the answer lies in extensive health and genetic testing. For this reason, responsible breeders only use fully health and DNA tested parents that come from strong bloodlines.
If you’ve decided to adopt your puppy from a breeder, make sure you’ve done your research and only opt for an ethical breeding program that’s transparent with their health testing protocols.
Additionally, you might be interested to learn that some Shih Poos may outlive others by a few years thanks to their size. As we mentioned earlier, Shih Poos come in the Small Shih Poo and Standard Shih Poo size.
Like with most other breeds, smaller Shih Poos with a Toy Poodle parent may have a slightly longer life expectancy compared to the larger Standard Shih Poo with a Miniature Poodle parent.
Moreover, gender can also play a role here, as females tend to live longer than males. For small-sized dogs like the Shih Poo, the difference can be as much as a year and a half.
Shih Poo Lifespan: How Their Generation Can Play A Role
In addition to all of the above, there’s also the matter of generations that you might want to consider. Like with other hybrid breeds, there are many ways how we can create a litter of Shih Poos. This will give us much more control over how the puppies might turn out in terms of their size, coat type, shedding levels, and even life expectancy.
Today, most Shih Poos are first-generation with a Shih Tzu and Poodle parent. However, we can expect to see more generations of the Shih Poo to emerge in the near future, these include:
|1st Parent||2nd Parent||% Shih Tzu*||% Poodle*|
|F1 Shihpoo (first-generation)||Shih Tzu||Poodle||50%||50%|
|F1B Shihpoo (first-generation backcross)||F1 Shihpoo||Poodle||25%||75%|
|F1BB Shihpoo (first-generation backcross backcross)||F1B Shihpoo||Poodle||12.5%||87.5%|
|F2 Shihpoo (second-generation)||F1 Shihpoo||F1 Shihpoo||50%||50%|
|F2B Shihpoo (second-generation backcross)||F1 Shihpoo||F1B Shihpoo||37.5%||62.5%|
|F2B Shihpoo (alternate cross)||F2 Shihpoo||Poodle||25%||75%|
|F3 / Multigen Shihpoo||F1B Shihpoo or higher||F1B Shihpoo or higher||Varies||Varies|
As we discussed earlier, Shih Poos benefit from hybrid vigor that indicates that they may have better health compared to the purebred Shih Tzu and Poodle. On the other hand, it’s important to note that hybrid vigor is the strongest in first-generation Doodles, and starts to diminish with each consecutive generation.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that later generations automatically translate to poor health. Thanks to their more diversified genetic pool, they may still be healthier compared to their purebred parental breeds.
Life Stages Of A Shih Poo
The Shih Poo lifespan can be divided into different life stages, such as puppyhood, adolescence, adulthood, and senior. By knowing what to expect in each of those life stages, you’ll be able to do a much better job at keeping an eye on your dog’s health and development.
During puppyhood, you’ll be able to witness fast growth rates, whereas in senior years you might start noticing certain signs that your dog is getting older. Here’s a breakdown of each of the Shih Poo life stages and what to expect:
Puppyhood (0-6 months)
Puppyhood starts with birth and will last up to 6 months of age. However, as the Shih Poo is a small breed that generally grows much faster than some other larger Doodles, they tend to grow out of puppyhood faster.
During those very first months, it’s crucial you expose your puppy to a variety of new experiences, people, and other animals. Your puppy should also be well on its way of learning good manners and potty training. The habits that puppies learn in this life stage are going to stick, for sure.
On the other hand, you don’t want to expose your pup too much. At least not until they’re fully vaccinated. As puppies are extremely vulnerable to diseases, don’t take your pup to a dog park and don’t let them come in contact with other dogs unless they’ve received all of their puppy shots.
What’s more, you should also pay attention to your puppy’s growth. Small dogs like the Shih Poo reach half of their adult weight already between 3 and 5 months old. Before that, they’ll put on weight at a staggering speed, and later slow down a bit.
During this life stage, your pup should eat specially formulated puppy food. However, make sure you feed your puppy the right amount of food to prevent obesity or becoming underweight.
Adolescence (6-18 months)
Once your puppy matures sexually, you’ll know that they’ve entered their adolescence period. During this phase, you’ll also notice that your pup is acting up a bit. After all, they’re experiencing massive hormonal changes.
Once your puppy reaches its sexual maturity, it’s time to consult with your veterinarian about the appropriate next steps. Your vet will then be able to recommend when your pup should undergo a spay or neuter surgery.
By the adolescence stage, your puppy will likely have its adult coat and finished its teething. Smaller Shih Poos will finish growing in height and weight between 6 and 10 months old. Meanwhile, larger Standard Shih Poos will finish growing somewhere around 7 to 12 months of age.
Adulthood (1-10 years)
Once your puppy has finished growing, they’ll technically enter adulthood. This is also the time when many pups switch to an adult dog food formula. As puppies need more calories when they’re growing, switching to an adult formula helps maintain your dog’s healthy weight and prevent any health conditions that stem from obesity.
Obviously, for the first few months into adulthood, your Shih Poo will likely still behave like a puppy. But as they mature, they’ll also become more level-headed and balanced in their behavior.
As your puppy is enjoying its adulthood, you may start to notice them becoming slightly slower and calmer with each passing year, especially once they start nearing their senior years.
Senior (10+ years)
Around the 10-year mark, your puppy will enter its golden years. Around this time, you may notice signs of aging. For instance, many dogs become slower, less agile, and calmer as they age.
With that being said, you might also have to adjust your dog’s diet, depending on their activity levels. As your pup may not be as active anymore, you’ll want to make sure that they eat the right amount of food to prevent excess weight.
Naturally, to keep your pup as healthy and fulfilled as possible in those last years, you’ll want to pay more attention to their health as well. We recommend you take your pup to routine vet visits around every 6 months or so.
Shih Poo Signs Of Aging
As we mentioned previously, you’ll likely notice your dog slowing down once they near their golden years. You’ll probably notice your pup enjoying slightly shorter walks and calmer playtime. Additionally, they may gain some weight and lose muscle mass due to being less active.
Moreover, aging dogs can experience loss of sight and eye problems, issues with hearing, develop lumps and bumps under the skin, get stinky breath and dental problems, or changes in their bathroom habits.
In terms of behavioral signs of aging, your pup may have changes in their sleeping habits or general behavior. It’s crucial we note that as soon as you notice any behavioral changes in your dog, consult with your veterinarian. Sometimes changes in behavior, such as becoming aggressive, can indicate that your dog is in pain. There’s also the canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome, which can lead to forgetfulness, confusion, unusual fear, anxiety, and compulsive behaviors.
Common Health Problems Of A Shih Poo
As we previously discussed, Shih Poos, like other Doodles, are less likely to inherit certain health conditions that are common in their purebred parents. All thanks to hybrid vigor. However, they are still prone to some health issues that are common in their Shih Tzu and Poodle parents. These include:
- Joint problems like patellar luxation, and hip and elbow dysplasia
- Skin sensitivities and allergies
- Food allergies and intolerances
- Eye diseases like progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cataracts, and corneal dryness
- Dental problems
- Ear infections
- Von Willebrand’s disease
- Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
Thankfully, many of the hereditary illnesses can be prevented (to some extent) with health screening. As we mentioned earlier, picking a responsible breeder is crucial here, as they’ll test their parent dogs for various genetic conditions, including the eyes, heart, and joints.
In addition to that, you’ll also want to consider that a Shih Poo is a small dog that can easily get hurt. For instance, your pup may get seriously injured if you accidentally drop them, or if they get hurt during playtime with an excitable child. Always keep a close eye on your dog and supervise its interactions with young children.
Extending The Lifespan Of A Shih Poo
Both genetics and environment can drastically affect a Shih Poo’s lifespan and quality of life in general. The first step in that would be to choose an ethical breeder that has carefully chosen their parent dogs through rigorous health and genetic testing.
On top of that, you’ll want to provide your dog a healthy, happy and fulfilled life, the main factors including the following:
Whether your dog is still a puppy or in adulthood, you’ll want to make sure that they eat the right amount of high quality dog food. Look for nutritionally balanced formulas that are made with real ingredients, and avoid any unnecessary filler ingredients or chemicals. For small Doods like the Shih Poo, you might find a formula specially designed for small-sized breeds more suitable.
And as we said, it’s just as important that you don’t over or underfeed your pup. Obesity is one of the main causes of serious health conditions in dogs, including diabetes, joint problems, heart diseases, and even cancer. Of course, don’t forget that treats also add up in calories.
If you notice that your puppy isn’t putting on weight as fast as they should, or that your dog is struggling with some excess wiggliness, be sure to discuss this with your veterinarian to find the most suitable solution.
While we’re on the topic of a healthy lifestyle, we can’t forget the importance of daily exercise. Shih Poos are quite active dogs and they love their playtime. Not only is exercise crucial for keeping your dog at a healthy weight, it’s also extremely necessary for their overall health and wellbeing. If your pup doesn’t get to express all that pent up energy, they may get bored and start showing bad behaviors, even becoming destructive.
On the other hand, due to its small size, the Shih Poo isn’t a suitable pup to accompany you on long hikes and jogs. Instead, take your pup for daily 30-minute walks, and make sure they have plenty of opportunities to play.
Furthermore, you’ll also want to make sure that your pup has plenty of opportunities to put its high intelligence levels to good use. Stay consistent and firm with training, and purchase interactive toys and puzzle games for your Dood to spend time with.
Routine Vet Visits
Obviously, regularly taking your dog to the vet is one of the best ways you can keep track of your dog’s health and discover any underlying health issues.
During the first weeks at home, you’ll have to make sure that your puppy is up-to-date on all of its vaccinations, deworming, and preventative care. Once your puppy reaches its sexual maturity, you’ll also want to have them spayed or neutered.
In later years, make sure your dog is getting all of its age appropriate vaccinations. We recommend you take your pup to general vet checkups every year, twice a year once they’re older. Of course, if you notice any unusual signs, such as loss of appetite, changes in bathroom habits, behavioral problems, contact your vet immediately.
If you know a little bit about Doodles, you know that they’re sometimes considered rather high-maintenance. Even though the Shih Poo is praised for its low-shedding coat, it does come at a cost. Namely, the daily brushing and frequent haircuts.
Not only does regular brushing keep your dog’s coat looking beautiful, it also prevents the formation of painful mats, which can lead to skin irritations, infections, and pain. As the hair also grows inside the ears, you should also keep it nice and trimmed inside the ears to prevent ear infections. Once in a while, also give them a thorough bath.
Shih Poo Lifespan: Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Average Lifespan For A Shih Poo?
The average Shih Poo lifespan is around 13 to 17 years. Like other crossbreeds, Shih Poos greatly benefit from hybrid vigor, making them less susceptible to hereditary diseases that are common in their purebred Shih Tzu and Poodle parents.
Nonetheless, lifestyle and environment also contribute to a long and healthy life. So, be sure to feed your dog a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet, let them exercise and play, groom them regularly, and keep an eye on their overall health and wellbeing with the help of a veterinarian.
Is Shih Poo A Good Dog?
Shih Poo is a great pet for almost anyone. They’re perfect companions for singles, couples, and even families. Shih Poos are loving, affectionate, and playful dogs. Owners usually describe them as sweet-natured dogs who enjoy both cuddles and playtime. As an added bonus, the Shih Poo comes with a hypoallergenic, low-shedding coat, making them excellent pets for people with allergies.
On the other hand, as the Shih Poo is such a small dog, they might not be best suited for families with very young children who might accidentally hurt the pup during playtime.
How Big Is A Full-Grown Shih Poo?
Shih Poo is a pocket-sized pup, usually in the toy or mini-sized breed range. A full-grown Shih Poo can weigh anywhere between 5 and 17 pounds, and stand between 6 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder.
Naturally, the size of the parents used in the mix will influence the puppies’ size. Shih Poos with a Toy Poodle parent usually weigh between 5 to 13 pounds with an average height of 6 to 10 inches measured from the shoulder. In contrast, Shih Poos with a Miniature Poodle parent weigh between 8 and 17 pounds with a height of 10 to 15 inches.
Do Shih Poo Dogs Bark A Lot?
Generally, Shih Poos don’t bark a lot, which makes them perfect for apartment living. However, some Shih Poos may inherit their tendency to vocalize from the Poodle parent. They may be more alert and let you know anytime someone’s behind the door. They may also express their displeasure with you when you don’t pay attention to them as fast as they would like you to. But overall, Shih Poos are considered rather calm and they don’t usually make much noise.
Shih Poo Lifespan: Final Thoughts
If you’re planning to adopt a Shih Poo or have already done so, it’s crucial that you know what you’re getting into. Fortunately, Shih Poos tend to live very long and healthy lives thanks to their more diverse genetic pool and small size. Of course, lifestyle and environment will also play their part in the Shih Poo lifespan. So, if you take care of your pup’s needs and keep an eye on their health, your canine friend will likely enjoy a very long and healthy life by your side.
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