A Shihpoo is a hybrid or crossbreed dog type that is produced by crossing a Shih Tzu and a poodle, usually a miniature or toy poodle. Whilst the Shihpoo is not a dog type that everyone is particularly familiar with – although their faintly rude-sounding name certainly makes them memorable – they are quickly gaining traction in the UK as one of the more popular hybrid crossings, being ranked as the 58th most popular British dog type overall out of a total of 241 different breeds and common hybrid crossings.
If you love Shih Tzus and poodles equally and can’t choose between them, or if you are interested in owning a dog with the core traits of both breeds, a Shihpoo might be the right choice of dog for you. In this article we will explain in more detail what a Shihpoo is, what they look like, and their core traits. Read on to learn more.
A Shihpoo is a dog produced by crossing a toy or miniature poodle with a Shih Tzu, or a dog produced from second and subsequent generations of this first-generation crossing. This deliberate crossing is designed to produce a mixed breed dog with predictable or recognisable traits that can be traced back to one of the two parent breeds, and selective breeding programs are intended to enhance certain traits and reduce others.
As is the case with any cross breed, Shihpoos – particularly first generation Shihpoos – can be quite variable in terms of which traits they exhibit, and how much they tend to take after each of their two parent breeds.
A Shihpoo is a cross breed and not a pedigree dog, which means that there is no formal breed registry for them and they are not recognised by The Kennel Club. This in turn means that you can’t enter breed shows with a Shihpoo, and there are no formal records kept of Shihpoo breed lines and ancestry.
As is the case with any dog regardless of their pedigree status, the cost of buying a Shihpoo puppy can be quite variable. A broad average purchase price for a Shihpoo is around £592, although particularly nice examples of this dog type or those from long established and well regarded breed lines that are in great demand may cost a lot more.
Shihpoos can be quite variable in height, ranging from as small as 20cm tall at the withers to 38cm. This will depend to some extent on whether a toy or a miniature poodle is used in the crossing. In terms of their weight, they can run from just over 3kg to as high as 9kg or more, and so some dogs of this type are tiny whilst others are simply small!
As is generally the case with hybrid dog types that have a poodle ancestor, most selective breeding programmes are designed to enhance and reinforce the poodle coat trait, being a coat that is very low shedding and often, tightly curled. This means that many Shihpoos will have a coat that is almost the same as that of a pedigree poodle, while others will be less distinct – and some of course will be more like their Shih Tzu ancestor instead.
The shape of the Shihpoo face can be quite variable too, with some having a marked underbite like the Shih Tzu often does, with others having a straighter, more poodle-like muzzle. Dogs that take after the poodle side will tend to be fairly lean, leggy and compact, whilst others will have a more rounded Shih Tzu appearance to the body and face.
Because of the range of different colour variants that both Shih Tzus and poodles can be seen in, there are lots of different colour combinations for Shihpoos too, including apricot, red, white, particoloured and sable.
Shihpoos tend to have lively, alert and cheerful temperaments, thanks to the intelligence that they inherit from the poodle side and the comical nature of the Shih Tzu. This makes them versatile and adaptable, and a good choice of pet for people from all walks of life.
They are loyal and affectionate dogs who enjoy having company around for the main part of the day, but they are also generally good dogs to leave alone for a while without having to worry about separation anxiety or destructive behaviours, although like all dogs, they need to be trained and conditioned to spending time alone.
Shihpoos tend to be quite playful and mischievous, and like to have lots of toys and interactive play and exercise with their owners. They are pretty smart and will often learn by observation, which means that establishing rules for the house and the dog’s behaviour is vital, as is getting started with training the Shihpoo puppy from an early age.
They tend to be friendly and sociable with other dogs, and don’t tend to be snappy or dominant, although they do hold their own well in group situations and won’t tend to be put off or daunted by larger or very boisterous dogs.
They are very people-oriented and enjoy doing things with their owners, and are generally considered to be a sound choice for first-time dog owners, being smart enough to learn and adapt but not so frighteningly sharp as to know what you are going to do before you do!