Shihpoos, that delightful cross between the loyal and loving Shih Tzu and a sometimes Miniature, but usually Toy Poodle, are pretty darn cute dogs indeed. They make excellent companion pups for singles and families alike, being very adaptable in nature. Shihpoos are as happy curled up on a cushion being petted as they are dashing around the garden playing games. If you’d like to know more about the Shihpoo and how it might be to add one of these happy hounds to your household, then you’ve come to the right place.
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What Exactly is a Shihpoo?
The Shihpoo is one of the newer types of Doodle, so standards are still being established for these pretty pups. That’s why to get a better understanding of exactly what kind of dogs they are, we need to look to the breeds that went into their making.
Shih Tzus, pronounced SHEED-zoos and meaning “little lion” in Mandarin, are an ancient breed of dog originating in Tibet. Records on these pups go back more than a thousand years! Despite their friendly-sounding name, Shih Tzus are the perfect companion pets, are friendly, attentive, and totally gorgeous. However, people have recently started to become aware of what excellent little athletes these dogs can be – agile, strong, and obedient, too.
Poodles likewise can make surprising athletes alongside perfect little lapdogs. Their German ancestors were bred as working dogs, trained to fetch fowl from ponds, lakes, etc. When people started to see what clever, fun pups Poodles were, they were adopted as companion dogs. As often happens with dogs who end up in the home, they were bred to be smaller and smaller. These days there are three distinct types of Poodle: Standard, Miniature, and Toy.
3 Interesting Facts About Shih Tzu-Poodle Mixes
- Poodles were favored by French Royalty and Shih Tzus by the Chinese, making the Shihpoo a very regal dog indeed.
- With two companion pup parents, Shihpoos make excellent lapdogs and will likely love a fair bit of pampering.
- Both Shih Tzus and Poodles come in a wide array of colors and patterns, meaning every Shihpoo is truly unique.
Shihpoo Physical Appearance
Shihpoos are diminutive dogs with fluffy, often wavy or curly coats that tend to carry interesting markings. As hybrid pups, there are no definitive standards on what they should or will look like. Still, they usually have sturdy little bodies, slightly longer legs than regular Shih Tzu, and those trademark teddy-bear Doodle faces that you can’t help but fall in love with at first sight.
With ten different registered Poodle colors and nineteen different colors and marking combinations for the Shih Tzu, it’s anyone’s guess what a Shihpoo’s adult coat color and pattern might be. Frequently they have at least two distinct colors. Many may also have touches of another shade around their face, ears, and tail. The only thing to do is sit back and wait to be surprised at what you end up with.
You might be wondering about your Shihpoo’s size. Again, this cannot be guaranteed as there can be a fair bit of variation in and between the breeds in question. What you can be sure of, though, is that you will be getting a dog that sits between the small and toy breed classifications.
Depending on whether the parent pup of your dog was a Toy or Miniature Poodle, you will either end up with a Small or Standard Shihpoo, respectively. Small Shihpoos tend to grow to around 5 and 13 pounds and stand at 6 to 10 inches at the withers. Standard Shihpoos are slightly bigger at 8 to 17 pounds and 10 to 15 inches to the withers.
These pooches reach their mature height when they are between six months and a year, with the smaller dogs naturally getting there a bit sooner. For more information on the growth rates of these pups and exactly how you can calculate how big your Shihpoo might get, check out our article Shihpoo Size Chart + Interactive Weight Calculator.
Shihpoo Personality & Temperament
Shihpoos inherit some of the best traits of their ancestors. This makes them very affectionate, social dogs who are quick-witted and fun to be around. They have oodles of personality that they love to show off at any opportunity to please the people around them. They are also not averse to plenty of lap time and will happily sit and let you stroke them until your heart’s content.
Shihpoos also tend to be friendly towards people they don’t know, although they can be a little more wary of strange dogs who they might perceive as being a threat. To avoid your pup growing up with an anxious (and therefore mouthy) streak, you want to start working on their socialization from the day you get them. Often this would have been already begun by the breeder and simply needs to be extended into the outside world.
With regards to children, Shihpoos do okay. They are not naturally aggressive dogs. However, their small size makes them extremely fragile and vulnerable to injuries that could occur if they got dropped, squashed, or stepped on. For this reason, these pups are probably a little better suited to a home with older children who can be taught to handle them correctly.
Shihpoo Variations & Generations
As Shihpoos are such new Doodles, the puppies you find are likely to mostly be first-generation for now. This means that they will have pedigree parents as opposed to Shihpoo ones. However, with the demand for the “hypoallergenic” coat shaping breeders’ intentions, we will likely see different generations emerging soon enough.
Here are the various different breeding options, as well as what that means in terms of the dog’s genetics.
|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|
Genes can be complicated to understand, though. What we do know is that you can’t count on a dog favoring one breed over another simply because they have more of that breed’s genes. For further advice on what your puppy might look like or their potential size, it’s really best to speak to the breeder directly.
Like other mixed breed dogs, Shihpoos benefit from something known as hybrid vigor. Basically, their more diverse genes make them less prone to canine conditions that are carried down through certain breed lines. As they only inherit the potential for the disease from one parent, they are less likely to suffer from it. For this reason, Shihpoos generally enjoy good health and can live as long as 16 years.
However, there are certain illnesses common to every dog, as well as ones that are found most often in smaller breeds which you do need to be on the lookout for.
If your pup inherits the Shih Tzus shorter snout, then they could have breathing issues, and this also puts them at particular risk of heatstroke compared to their longer snouted counterparts. Littler dogs also tend to be more prone to dental health issues, so this is also something to be mindful of. Beyond that, these dogs have a massive potential for weight gain, especially if they aren’t getting out of the house that often. This could have dangerous consequences for their heart, among other things.
The best way to ensure your dog is just as healthy as possible is to purchase them from a responsible breeder. You’ll recognize one of these from them being more open when talking about the health and genetic testing of the parent dogs. They will likely also offer a health guarantee with each of their puppies with purchase. This basically states that, to the best of the breeder’s knowledge, the puppy is free from heritable diseases.
Shihpoo Exercise & Training
You likely know by now that Doodles tend to be brighter than your average pup. This is something they tend to inherit from the Poodle gene pool. Poodles are considered among the most intelligent dog breeds on the planet. However, intelligence doesn’t always translate well into easy trainability. Often the more cerebral dogs are the ones who are able to run rings around their owners – especially if they don’t have a lot of dog training experience.
The thing about Shihpoos is they can also pick up their Shih Tzu parent’s stubborn streak, which can be a mile wide. If this is the case with your dog, then it won’t be a simple case of teaching them new commands. You are first going to have to motivate them to listen to you. Positive reinforcement methods can work pretty well with Shihs – as long as you remain consistent in your training. For tips, take a look at Baxter and Bella’s Online Puppy School.
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While snacks may seem like the obvious reinforcement choice for these food-loving fur babies, it’s not always the best idea. Those teeny treats often contain far more calories than they think you do. If you’re determined to go the food route, some owners have had success with frozen fruits and veggies – a much healthier alternative to many pre-packaged snacks.
In terms of exercise, Shihpoos have fairly moderate needs – but as we mentioned before, they can easily adapt to what they get. You should definitely try and get them out the house for at least an hour a day, although this is better done as two shorter walks so as to not wear those little legs of theirs out. Games and fun about the house is also a great way for Shihpoos to get their physical stimulation – mental too, with the right toys.
Shihpoo Coat & Grooming
As the Shihpoo is derived from two breeds with significantly different coat types, there’s no guarantee of what you will end up with if you purchase a Shihpoo puppy. Both Poodles and Shih Tzus have hair coats – meaning that they can grow quite long. The Poodle’s hair is coarse, curly, and single-layered, meaning it barely sheds, whereas the Shih Tzus hair is fine and silky but double-layered, meaning they shed quite a bit more.
That being said, Shih Tzus aren’t known to be shedders in the same way that, say, Labrador Retrievers are. As they have a hair coat, the cycle is more prolonged, and so it takes more time for each strand to grow and die off. Their shedding is likely to be more seasonal, where they will lose their inner coat so they can regulate their temperature more effectively.
So your Shihpoo could end up with a Poodle curly, single coat, the Shih Tzu straight, double coat, or some crazy, wavy mix of the two. The Poodle coat is much more likely with generations that have more Poodle genes. Either way, these dogs require a fair bit of maintenance.
The problem with hair coats, especially when they are kept long, is that they tend to trap dead hair rather than letting it fall to the floor. While this may sound great – no annoying hair all about the place – the problem is when the remaining hair gets twisted and tangled around this deadhead leading to knots, tangles, and even matting.
To avoid this situation, you will need to brush your dog regularly – daily, even for the curly ones – as this kind of hair is the absolute worst for this. It’s either that, or keeping their coat super short, or taking them to the groomers very frequently. The latter can obviously get pricy pretty fast. For tips on taking care of your pet’s coat at home, check out our online course to grooming your Doodle at home.
Where Can You Get Shihpoo Puppies?
You might luck out and pick up one of these gorgeous hounds from the local rescue center – that would obviously be amazing. However, Doodles, as so-called designer dogs, are rarely to be seen in such places – especially the little ones. When people pick up these pups, they tend to fall so deeply in love that they keep them around.
The best thing to do is shop around for a decent breeder. Don’t fall into the trap of a scammer looking to make a quick buck. They often post the most gorgeous photos of puppies online in the hopes of encouraging a potential pup parent to part with a hefty deposit for a puppy that doesn’t even exist.
Make sure to also avoid puppy mills. These facilities focus on the mighty dollar, breeding as many puppies as they can from (often unhealthy) parents and raising them in poor conditions. Any dog you get from one of these places is not going to be of the best quality and is likely to suffer from a number of health issues down the road. Here are the red flags to run from.
We have compiled a breeder’s directory, which is a good place for you to start with trying to track down a puppy. Pay attention also to trusted reviews and recommendations. Shihpoos tend to be upwards of $500, with quality dogs being sold for $800 and higher. This places them on the cheaper end of the Doodle spectrum. If a breeder is promising puppies at a lower rate than this, that is a pretty obvious sign to stay away.
Shihpoo Frequently Asked Questions
Are Shihpoos good dogs?
In our opinion, every dog is a good dog – especially when it comes to Doodle Doods, of course! Instead, you want to be on the lookout for the best dog for you and your family situation. Shihpoos are perfect for more relaxed people who want to have a cuddle partner about the place without having to spend endless hours outside exercising them.
How big can a Shihpoo get?
Shihpoos can be classified as toy-to-small dogs, meaning that while there is some natural variation in their size, they are always on the small side. Your Small Shihpoo will top out at 13 pounds and stand at 10 inches to the withers. Your Standard Shihpoo can get a little bigger at 17 pounds and 15 inches to the withers.
Do Shihpoo dogs bark a lot?
Shihpoos aren’t particularly known to be mouthy dogs. When raised correctly and properly socialized, they shouldn’t spend that much time barking. If they do, this could be an underlying symptom of an issue such as boredom if they are left home alone for large parts of the day. Alternatively, they could have physical or anxiety problems, so it’s best to chat to your vet about this, especially if the behavior is new.
If you’re looking to get a cute Doodle that’s on the smaller side, then the Shihpoo might be for you. These dogs can fit in just about anywhere as long as they get plenty of love and attention. That being said, Shihpoos can be a little tricky for newbie owners with their slightly stubborn nature, and they don’t always do well in homes with small children who could accidentally hurt them. However, they make the perfect pet for laid-back individuals and chilled families, and you will no doubt adore your Shihpoo to the moon and back.