Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Shihpoo
Average Cost to keep/care for a Shihpoo
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The Shihpoo is a relatively new cross breed developed using the Shih Tzu and either a Miniature or Toy Poodle. They are cute small dogs that can have the curlier coat of the Poodle or the longer and much straighter coat of the Shih Tzu depending on which of their parent breeds puppies have thrown to, bearing in mind that puppies in the same litter can be quite different in looks and can have a variety of colours and colour combinations.
Since the Shihpoo first arrived on the scene, these little dogs have found their way into the hearts and homes of many people thanks to their adorable looks and fun-loving, affectionate natures. They are a good choice for first time dog owners because Shihpoos are highly adaptable being a nice size which means they are just as happy living in an apartment in town as they are living in a big house in the country. They are also incredibly smart having inherited their intelligence from the Poodle which makes them easy to train and being so people-oriented, the Shihpoo thrives in a family environment and are especially good with the elderly.
The Shihpoo was first developed in the United States by breeders who were hoping to create a hypoallergenic dog for allergy sufferers. Breeders also wanted to develop a breed that boasted masses of character, intelligence making them easy to train. They also wanted to create a small dog that loved being around people and one that was highly adaptable being just as happy living in an apartment in town as they would be living in the country. Breeders decided to use either a Toy or Miniature Poodle which they crossed with the Shih Tzu and since they appeared on the scene, the Shihpoo has become a popular choice both as a companion and family pet thanks to their affectionate, loyal natures and adorable looks.
Over the last fifteen or so years, breeders have continued to produce multigenerational Shihpoos with an end goal being to standardise the breed so these cute small dogs would eventually gain recognition of international breed clubs. Today, the Shihpoo is fast becoming one of the more popular cross-breeds to arrive on the scene and although not yet recognised by the Kennel Club local breed clubs have been established throughout the world to ensure responsible breeding practices are maintained so that breeders continue to produce healthy, well-bred Shihpoos.
Height at the withers: Males 20.32 - 38.10 cm, Females 20.32 - 38.10 cm
Average weight: Males 3.17 - 9.07 kg, Females 3.17 - 9.07 kg
Being one of the newer crossbreeds to arrive on the scene, the Shihpoo may inherit either of their parent breeds physical traits with puppies in the same litter having quite different coats. Some puppies may throw more to the Poodle and have lovely curly coats whereas other puppies could have the coat of a Shih Tzu. However, in general they have quite cobby, well-muscled bodies although some dogs do have longer muzzles than others depending on which of the parent breeds they have thrown to.
Shihpoos can look a little bit like Cavoodles and when it comes to size, it really depends on whether a Toy or Miniature Poodle was used in the breeding programme. With this said, the Shihpoo tends to be a well-balanced dog with nice proportions. One of their endearing traits being their floppy ears and alert, keen albeit mischievous expressions.
Some Shihpoos have an undershot jaw whereas others do not with some Shihpoos having inherited the "chrysanthemum face" of their parent breed. Heads tend to be broad and nicely rounded with a good width between a dog's eyes. Other endearing traits include their whiskers which stand well off their faces and their cute beards. As previously mentioned, some Shihpoos have shorter muzzles whereas others have longer ones having inherited more a Poodle look. Their noses tend to match the colour of their coats and stops are well-defined.
Shihpoos tend to have lovely large, round dark eyes and they always have a keen if a little mischievous look in them. Their ears are on the large size and flop nicely to the side of a dog's face which adds to the Shihpoos endearing looks. They have nicely proportioned necks and shoulders are well laid back. Their front legs are on the short side, strong and well-muscled.
They tend to have compact, sturdy bodies with nice broad chests and level backs. Their hindquarters are well muscled and strong with a dog's back legs being short with muscular thighs. Feet are rounded in shape and firm being nicely padded and well covered in hair. They have plumed tails which the Shihpoo tends to carry nicely curled over their backs.
When it comes to their coat, the Shihpoo can either have a lovely, short, curly coat much like the Poodle or they can inherit a longer, straighter coat of the Shih Tzu with some dogs being a mixture of the two. It is worth noting that puppies from the same litter can have very different coats, but all Shihpoos have coats that are soft and luxurious to the touch. They come in a variety of colours and colour combinations which includes the following:
When a Shihpoo moves, they do so with a dainty, bouncy and gay gait with dogs throwing out their front legs. They always gave a very alert appearance being aware of everything that goes on in their environment and are therefore always quick off the mark when the need arises.
Prospective Shihpoo owners should be wary of any puppies or dogs that show any sort of exaggeration whether in their looks or conformation and that extra-small Shihpoos often come with many health issues so they are best avoided. A responsible breeder would always ensure that puppies they produce are of a good size and conformation and would avoid breeding extra small dogs for these reasons. Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums.
The Shihpoo is known to be an intelligent, fun-loving and affectionate small dog thanks to the fact they can inherit many of their parent breeds personality traits. The Poodle is known to be a highly intelligent breed and the Shih Tzu is a fun-loving character that's consistently been a popular companion and family pet for decades. With this said, both parent breeds have outgoing, affectionate natures which the Shihpoo tends to inherit. However, because they are such a new cross breed, it is very much luck of the draw as to how a puppy turns out bearing in mind that early socialisation also plays an important role.
Shihpoos can be a little boisterous when young which means their training has to start early, the way they are handled always has to be firm and very fair. It's all too easy to spoil a puppy because they are so cute, but this can lead to a dog growing up to be wilful and unruly with some dogs developing a condition known as "Small Dog Syndrome".
It's very important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation must include introducing them to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. It's also crucial for their training to start early too and it must be consistent throughout a dog's life. A Shihpoo is never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who is the alpha dog in a household, they may quickly take on the role of dominant dog which can make them harder to live with and handle.
Shihpoos are the perfect choice for first time dog owners because they are so amenable and people-oriented by nature. They love nothing more than to please and to entertain their families and are particularly good when they are around children and older people too although playtime can get a bit boisterous at times. As such, they are not the best choice for families with toddlers or very young children.
Shihpoos are social by nature and even though they have working and hunting dogs in their lineage, they do not have a very high prey drive. However, this is not to say that a Shihpoo would not give chase to a smaller animal when the mood takes them and this includes squirrels and the cat from next door more especially if the animal runs away. Like many small dogs, Shihpoos like to "give chase" when the opportunity arises.
Shihpoos are known to be "clowns" by nature and have a wonderful knack of cheering their owners up when they are feeling down which is just one of the reasons they are so popular with older people too. With this said, they are can be a little mischievous when the mood takes them, but this often just adds to their endearing natures more than anything else.
Shihpoos are highly adaptable dogs and providing they are given enough daily physical exercise combined with as much mental stimulation to prevent boredom from setting in, they are just as happy living in an apartment in town as they are living in a house in the country with large secure back gardens.
Shihpoos are known to form strong bonds with their families which means they are never happy when they find themselves on their own any length of time. As such, they are better suited to people who either work from home or in households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out so they never spend too much time on their own. Shihpoos suffer from separation anxiety which can lead to them developing unwanted behaviours around the home which includes being destructive and barking incessantly.
Shihpoos are known to like the sound of their own voices a little too much which is something that needs to be gently nipped in the bud when a dog is still young being careful not to frighten them. However, there is never any guarantee that a Shihpoo won't stop barking just for the sake of it more especially because they are so intelligent and quickly learn that by barking, they get the attention they crave so much.
Most Shihpoos like swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a Shihpoo off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing.
Shihpoos are not natural watchdogs because they are just so friendly by nature although this is not to say a dog would not be quick off the mark to let an owner know when there are strangers about although they would rarely do this aggressively, but rather as a way of greeting anyone who comes to the door.
The Shihpoo is a smart little dog having inherited their intelligence from both parent breeds and more especially from the Poodle. As such they are easy to train, but the downside is that they can also be a little wilful and stubborn at times and this can make training them a little more challenging. Bearing in mind they learn new things fast which means they can also pick up bad habits just as quickly.
As such, their training must begin early and it has to be consistent and always fair throughout a dog’s life so they understand what's expected of them. Once a puppy has received all their vaccinations, it's a good idea to enrol them into a kindergarten class which not only helps with their training, but also with their socialisation.
The key to successfully training a Shihpoo is to make their training as interesting as possible and to avoid too much repetition. It's also a good idea to keep training sessions short which helps dogs stay focused on what it’s being asked of them, bearing in mind that the more intelligent a dog is, the faster they get bored, bearing in mind that the Shihpoo is known to be an extremely smart dog.
They do not answer well to harsh correction or any sort of heavy handed training methods, but they do respond extremely well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these intelligent and quick-witted dogs, especially when there are high value rewards involved. However, it’s important not to give too many food rewards because Shihpoos are prone to putting on weight far too easily which could have a serious impact on their overall health and wellbeing.
It is all too easy to spoil a Shihpoo puppy because they are so cute, but this can lead to all sorts of behavioural issues which includes dogs developing "small dog syndrome" which makes them harder to handle and live with. All puppies need to be taught the ground rules right from the word go and are much happier when they know what their owners expect of them. With this said, Shihpoos are clever and a puppy will always test the limits and boundaries to see how much they can get away with or just for the fun of it. The first commands a Shihpoo puppy should be taught are as follows:
The Shihpoo is a great choice for families where the children are slightly older and who therefore know how to behave around smaller dogs because they do not tolerate being pulled and pushed around which is when they might get "snappy". As such any interaction between toddlers and a dog should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not get too boisterous. Younger children need to be taught how to handle small dogs and when to leave them alone which is especially true when they are eating and when they are sleeping.
When dogs have been well socialised from a young enough age, they generally get on well with other dogs they meet and if they have grown up with a family cat in a household, they usually get on well together too. However, a Shihpoo might decide to chase off any other cats they encounter in their environment because if there is one thing they really enjoy, it's giving chase to anything that moves. As such, care should be taken when they are around any smaller animals and pets they don't already know just to be on the safe side.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Shihpoo is between 12 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Shihpoos may be prone to inherit health disorders that affect their parent breeds and breeders should have stud dogs tested before using them in a breeding programme. This reduces the chance of puppies inheriting any of these disorders. The health conditions that seem to affect the parent breeds the most are as follows:
Shihpoo puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
Some Shihpoos gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older Shihpoos too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart.
Shihpoos are prone to suffering from allergies and it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up, bearing in mind that some Shihpoos are prone to skin issues. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Shihpoo breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
The Shihpoo is not Kennel Club registered as such there are no breed specific breeding restrictions in place. However, responsible breeders would ensure they only use health tested dogs in their breeding programmes to reduce the risk of puppies developing health issues associated with parent breeds.
There are no Assured breeder requirements in place because the Shihpoo is not recognised as a breed by the Kennel Club.
As with any other breed, Shihpoos need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Shihpoo puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a Shihpoo puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Shihpoo puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out.
As previously mentioned, Shihpoo puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be
Older Shihpoos need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Older dogs change mentally too which means their response time tends to be slower as such they develop the following:
Living with a Shihpoos in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include taking a look at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older dogs need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older Shihpoos is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Shihpoos don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
A Shihpoo can inherit more of a Poodle type coat or they can have the longer, straighter coat of the Shih Tzu as such it really does depend on their coat type as to how much grooming they need. However, one constant is the fact that their coats benefit from being professionally groomed several times a year to keep them tidy. Shihpoos also tend to suffer from tear staining under their eyes which needs to be gently cleaned on a regular basis.
They shed steadily throughout the year only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to stay on top of things and to remove dead and shed hair from a dog's coat. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections.
The Shihpoo is an energetic, intelligent small dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded characters. They need at least 30 to 40-minutes exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible providing it's in a safe environment. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Shihpoo would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and not necessarily because they are being naughty.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must with as much off the lead time as possible. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing must be extremely secure to keep these active, little dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they could escape and get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, Shihpoo puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Shihpoo puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Shihpoo puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 11 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Shihpoo must be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Shihpoo can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Shihpoo, you would need to pay anything from £500 to £850 for a well-bred puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Shihpoo in northern England would be £27.25 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £48.61 a month (quote as of February 2018). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £15 - £20 a month. On top of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Shihpoo and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £600 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Shihpoo would be between £50 to £70 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a healthy, well-bred Shihpoo puppy that’s been bred from health tested parents.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Shihpoos are very popular both in the UK and elsewhere in the world which means that well-bred puppies command a lot of money. As such, with Shihpoos there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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