The shih tzu–poodle mix, often referred to as a “shih-poo,” shih poo” or “shihpoo,” is a hybrid breed created by crossing shih tzu with poodles. The two smaller poodle varieties—toy and miniature poodles—are used to cross with the shih tzu, which is also a small breed. Standard poodles are not crossbred with shih tzu because mixing very large breeds with small breeds is a risky practice that can result in complications with the mother or puppies.
Although shedding breeds, such as labrador retrievers and golden retrievers are often crossbred with Poodles in the hopes of capitalizing on the non-shedding and hypoallergenic nature of the Poodle coat, the shih tzu is naturally a low-shedding, hypoallergenic breed. Although crossing the shih tzu with the poodle is not necessary to get a low-shedding coat, some shih tzu–poodle mixes may shed less than others.
Because both shih tzu and poodles have low-shedding or non-shedding coats, mixes of these two breeds may be less likely to cause problems in people with dog allergies. If you are allergic to dogs, always spend time with any dog or puppy you are considering bringing home, including shih tzu–poodle mixes, to make sure the dog doesn’t cause allergy symptoms.
With any crossbreed or mixed breed, physical traits and personality are highly variable, and each puppy or dog is an individual. Shih tzu–poodle mixes are generally small, weighing between 7 and 20 pounds on average, but other physical characteristics may range wildly.
Most shih tzu–poodle mixes shed very little or not at all, but some have straight coats, some have curly coats and some have wavy coats. Because many different colors and patterns appear in each parent breed, shih tzu colors and markings are nearly endless, but shih tzu–poodle mixes may be black, white, brown, red, silver, gold, blue or apricot, with or without white markings or dark-colored patches.
Weight: Varies, but usually 7 to 20 pounds.
Height: Varies, but usually 8 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder.
Coat: May be straight, wavy or curly.
Color: Variable, but may be black, white, brown, red, silver, gold, blue or apricot, with or without white markings or dark-colored patches.
Life Expectancy: Variable; generally 10 to 17 years.
Origin: North America
In personality, shih tzu–poodle mixes are generally sweet, friendly, playful and affectionate. The main “job” of the shih tzu as well as toy and miniature Poodles is to be a loving companion, and the shih tzu–poodle mix usually inherits these qualities. Small enough to be portable, the shih tzu–poodle mix wants to be with you always, and is happiest when accompanying you on your travels and adventures.
|Characteristics of the Shih Tzu–Poodle Mix|
|Tendency to Bark||High|
|Amount of Shedding||Low|
History of the Shih Tzu–Poodle Mix
People have been crossing Poodles with every breed imaginable since the “doodle craze” swept North America in the 2000s. Although purebred dogs are carefully bred over generations according to the breed standard (the written description of the ideal physical and temperamental traits of the breed), hybrid dogs like the shih tzu–poodle mix have no official standard. This means that characteristics like height and weight, body structure, color, coat type, and temperament are less predictable than they are in purebred dogs. Different breeders may have different ideas of what constitutes the perfect shih tzu–poodle mix. Additionally, shih tzu–poodle mixes are not recognized by any of the reputable purebred dog registries such as the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club.
Shih Tzu–Poodle Mix Care
The low-shedding coats of both shih tzu and poodles require of upkeep, and the grooming requirements for shih tzu–poodle mixes are similar. Generally, the curlier a Shih Tzu–Poodle mix’s coat, the less it will shed. Brush daily or every other day to keep the coat untangled and to prevent mats from forming. Like poodles and shih tzu, shih tzu–poodle mixes require regular haircuts from a professional groomer. Grooming frequency varies depending on the shih tzu–poodle mix’s coat, but count on scheduling an appointment every four to 12 weeks. Also trim the nails every two weeks and check the ears once a week, cleaning them with a pet safe ear cleaner if they appear dirty. Excessive dirt or redness in the ears means a veterinary visit is in order.
Shih tzu–poodle mixes are smart, but how trainable they are depends whether they inherited more the eager-to-please personality of the Poodle or the more stubborn nature of the shih tzu. Regardless, positive-reinforcement methods like clicker training using tasty treat rewards gets great results from any dog. Despite being indoor dogs, shih tzu–poodle mixes still need some exercise. Aim for two walks a day or one walk and one play session in a safely enclosed space like your fenced yard. More energetic shih tzu–poodle mixes with trainable personalities might also like training for fun dog sports like agility, flyball, and obedience.
Common Health Problems
Although many people who breed and sell hybrid dogs say that mixing two different purebreds results in puppies that are healthier than either parent breed, science tells us that genes don’t work like that. Each breed has certain inherited health disorders in their family background, and those health issues can be passed on to the puppies in a litter. Breeding shih tzu to poodles means the puppies could potentially inherit any of the genetic diseases common to either breed.
Shih tzu are prone to hip dysplasia, patellar luxation (slipped kneecap), and various eye problems including cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, retinal detachment, and eyelid abnormalities. Poodles are affected by certain genetic health conditions, including hip dysplasia, eye diseases, idiopathic epilepsy, von Willebrand’s disease, immune-mediated disorders, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (a hip joint disorder), and luxating patellas (slipped kneecaps).
Responsible breeders start with healthy, well-bred adult purebred shih tzu and poodles and test them for the genetic diseases common to their breed before breeding them together. Responsible breeders should also test their adult shih tzu–poodle hybrids before breeding them to decrease the odds that the puppies will inherit genetic issues. Responsible breeders also offer a health guarantee on their puppies that protects the puppy buyer in case the puppy develop a genetic disease later in life.
Diet and Nutrition
It’s important to keep Shih tzu–poodles at a healthy, lean weight to stave of the development or worsening of joint disorders like hip dysplasia and luxating patella, as well as other weight-linked health problems like diabetes. Many shih tzu–poodles will overeat if you keep the bowl filled, so instead serve measured meals twice a day. Ask to your veterinarian for a recommendation for a healthy food for your shih tzu–poodle mix, as well as an ideal healthy weight for your adult shih tzu–poodle.
May be low-shedding
Affectionate and playful
Can be problem barkers
May be stubborn or hard to train
Not always non-shedding or hypoallergenic
Where to Adopt or Buy
If you’re thinking about purchasing a shih tzu–poodle mix puppy, first consider checking out your local animal shelters and rescue organizations to see if you can find a shih tzu–poodle mix looking for a new home. Although most shih tzu–poodle mixes in shelters and rescues are adults, it’s possible to find a shih tzu–poodle mix puppy in need of rescue. You can also do some research to look for a responsible shih tzu–poodle mix breeder who tests their breeding dogs for health issues common to both the shih tzu and poodle. A responsible shih tzu–poodle mix breeder should share both the good and bad about this hybrid breed, rather than give you a spiel about the “perfect breed.”
More Dog Breeds and Further Research
If you like the shih tzu–poodle mix, you might also like these breeds:
Otherwise, check out all of our other dog breed articles to help you find the perfect dog for you and your family.