They’re definitely the most adorable, cuddliest hybrids you will ever see. Whether it sports the straight and silky-smooth coat of the Shih Tzu or the frou-frou hairdo of the Poodle, the Shih-Poo is 100% cute, made even more admirable by its sturdy body and an alert expression. Extremely friendly, affectionate, and highly adaptable, this Shih Tzu Poodle Mix is currently one of the darlings of the designer dog breed crowd. And if you simply cannot make up your mind whether to get a Poodle or a Shih Tzu, then the Shih-Poo is going to be a great compromise.
History of the Shih-Poo
No one knows exactly who created or designed the very first Shih Tzu Poodle mix or when or even where. What we can say, however, is that it was in the early 2000s when celebrities and famous personalities were often photographed and filmed with designer dogs in their clutches or lying on their laps or on their feet. And like hotcakes, the trend quickly grew that almost everyone now wanted a Shih-Poo or a Maltipoo or even a Labradoodle. Some online forums also point to the late 1990s as the period when interest in hybrid dogs began.
Given that the popularity of designer dog breeds started picking up in the 90s, it is not unusual to speculate that these dogs have been around at least a decade earlier. Since pretty much of the 20th century is still focused on purebreds, there really wasn’t much interest in hybrids. But when Hollywood celebrities were seen owning these pets, everything changed.
So why was the Shih-Poo created? We can only guess that the creator wanted to address some of the issues found in the Shih Tzu. Our guess is the Poodle was chosen primarily for its intelligence, easy trainability, and low-shedding potential. The Shih Tzu could have been chosen because it was just an adorable dog that was so gentle and very friendly yet can be quite stubborn to train. It’s also quite prone to breathing problems as well as sensitivity to heat which should be addressed by mating with the sturdier Poodle. Of course, this is just our speculation. We’d be more than happy to hear from you and let us know what you think the reason is for the creation of the Shih-Poo.
Since the size of the Shih Tzu is smaller than a standard Poodle, it can only be mated with either a Toy Poodle or a Miniature Poodle. Unfortunately, this is where variances can occur. If one breeder mates a Toy Poodle with a Shih Tzu, then you’d get a smaller Shih-Poo compared to a Shih Tzu mated to a Miniature Poodle.
Who are the Parents?
Getting to know the Shih-Poo is all about getting to know its parents. This is especially true since there’s really not much that we know about this designer dog’s origins.
Highly valued for its intelligence, the Poodle is one of the breeds of dogs that are especially easy to train. And while they may have Einstein’s brain in their frou-frou hairdo-covered heads, their personality is more of a split between a nerd and a clown. Dog enthusiasts say that the Poodle uses its intelligence and wit to learn as many tricks as possible, giving it the ability to perform exceptionally complex tasks with relative ease. It is for this reason that they’re mostly associated with circus performances, not necessarily because of their clownish appearance, but more so because of their showmanship in the ring.
Another thing that people value about the Poodle is its low-shedding tendency. As a matter of fact, the breed has been used in many crossbreeding programs as early as the 19th century because of this particular trait. Individuals who are having issues with a certain breed’s high-shedding tendencies often find crossbreeding the dog with the Poodle to address such issues.
Perhaps what many do not know about the Poodle is that it is a very reliable, very efficient hunter. If one were to consider its origins, the Poodle is a venerable duck hunter. It was used extensively by German hunters in going after waterfowl like ducks. It’s a retriever type of gun dog that came with webbed feet to help them swim a lot better in the water plus a coat that has amazing water-repellent properties. Its intelligence also makes it an ideal hunting partner as hunters don’t have to spend too much time training it. It is very easy to command and its stamina can only be matched by the endurance of Nordic sled dogs. Well, that’s the Standard Poodle. As for the Miniature and the Toy Poodle, they’re more prized in the hunt for truffles.
While the Poodle is a venerable hunter, it is in the company of the human family where it feels right at home. It’s faithful and loyal and can be the ideal pet for homes who can truly appreciate the unique clownish antics of the Poodle.
The Shih Tzu is never happier than in the presence of man. As a matter of fact, it is so friendly that it can even befriend strangers coming into your home. But this only happens if it sees you being cordial with the stranger, too.
Bred by Tibetan monks, gracing their temples with the dog’s happiness, affection, and loyalty, these dogs were given to Chinese Emperors and made as important consorts of the court. Known as the Lion Dog in Chinese folklore, the Shih Tzu has long shed its Imperial status for a worldlier standing. Today, the Shih Tzu is the venerable lap dog, a companion dog that will never leave your side.
True to its very nature, the Shih Tzu is happiest whenever it sees its owner happy. It may still have this princely stance whenever it is on the show ring, but it never boasts of it or uses it to be arrogant. The Shih Tzu gives love to the world and it knows that the world loves it back. It’s one of the world’s sweetest breeds, one that will never demand attention, and is generally up for anything you can think of.
Ancient Chinese Emperors may call it the Lion Dog, but it’s a gentle and lovable Teddy Bear by nature. Its mild temperament can equal that of a Labrador Retriever, although it has a bit of the playfulness of the Chihuahua. It is never aggressive, though, despite the fact that it comes with a princely aura. It can be especially stubborn when being trained. As such, only the dog owner who has the patience and perseverance can teach the Shih Tu. But once you get it motivated, everything should be smooth sailing.
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We’re pretty sure you’re already raring to get your very own Shih-Poo. Be forewarned, though. There are plenty of unscrupulous breeders out there who will rob you of your money by saying that they’ve got a genuine Shih-Poo in their hands. They might even show you certificates of dog registration. Mind you, the Shih-Poo is never recognized by any major kennel organization. Aside from this, here are some other facts you have to learn by heart if you really are intent on getting a Shih-Poo.
- If the Poodle used in the crossbreeding is a Miniature, then the Shih-Poo can grow as tall as 15 inches. If a Toy Poodle is used the resulting Shih-Poo can be shorter, but definitely not shorter than 8 inches.
- If a Miniature Poodle is used, you can expect the Shih-Poo to have a maximum weight of about 20 lbs. If it’s a Toy Poodle that was mated with a Shih Tzu, the resulting puppies can weigh at least 7 pounds.
- Shih-Poos can live relatively long lives with most pet parents reporting at least 15 years, although there are also those who suggest that the lifespan can be as short as 10.
- The coat of the Shih-Poo can be as curly and short as a Poodle’s or as straight and silky as a Shih Tzu’s. It can be in one solid color as in a Poodle or in different colors as in a Shih Tzu.
- Shih-Poos are prone to developing reddish-brown stains under the eyes.
- Shih-Poos have moderate activity levels and, as such, are not ideal for lazy-heads.
Things You Should Know
Bringing home the Shih-Poo seems like a really great idea. However, before you make any hasty decisions, we implore you to read these following requirements first so you can better decide whether this dog is right for you or not.
If you think having the Poodle as one of the parents will make the Shih-Poo highly intelligent, too, then you’d be right. However, it doesn’t also mean that the Shih-Poo will be easily trainable. You see, both the Poodle and the Shih Tzu are intelligent dogs except that the latter can have a really stubborn streak that can make training especially difficult. Don’t blame the Shih Tzu since it was bred to be pampered like royalty. The point is that you’ve got to have lots of patience when training the Shih-Poo.
Can you simply disregard training altogether? Absolutely not. Training is a fundamental requirement for any dog, whether they are working dogs or lap dogs or whether they are purebreds or crossbreeds. The reason is simple. You want to exert some form of control over your dog’s behavior and actions and not the other way around. You’d want to be the Alpha in your house, not your dog. The only way you can do this is if you train your little mutt. Mind you, the Shih Tzu in the Shih-Poo can also have the “big dog” mentality. Positive reinforcement techniques can go a long way towards training your Shih-Poo.
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It’s a relatively small dog, depending on the parent Poodle whether it is a Miniature or a Toy. Regardless of the size of the Shih-Poo, know that it is a moderately active dog. This means that it will need just the right amounts of calories for its energy requirement. Suppose you have a 15-lb unneutered, moderately active male. This means it will only need about 470 to 480 calories every single day. You can then divide this into two to three meals a day; that’s around 235 calories per meal if twice a day or 160 calories per meal if three times a day. Of course, if your Shih-Poo is a bit on the heavy side, you may want to limit its calorie intake.
Just because the Shih-Poo is a crossbreed doesn’t mean you can already skimp on high-quality dog food. A Shih-Poo can benefit a lot from a moderately-low calorie but high-protein diet to help firm up its muscles. Fruits and vegetables should also be made part of its diet as these can provide antioxidants and other useful substances. Healthy fats like omega-3s will definitely help especially if the Shih-Poo has the coat of the Shih Tzu.
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It’s true that the Shih-Poo is a moderately active hound. But this doesn’t mean you can skip walking the dog on a daily basis. Shih-Poos will require no more than half an hour of casual walking, however, preferably early in the morning or early evening. It is not recommended to walk them when the sun is at its brightest since these dogs are very sensitive to heat. You’d be risking heat exhaustion if you do. It is okay not to exercise Shih-Poos as long as they get extended playtime. They love running after and fetching toy balls.
Whatever kind of activity you have for the Shih-Poo, make sure to never tire it so much as overexertion can be detrimental to their health. Make sure to include mental activities as well.
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Shih-Poohs are bred to be the perfect companion for any family, but most especially those with young kids. It’s not as small as a Toy Poodle and has a rather sturdy body so it should be able to withstand rough play with kids. However, it is still imperative that children be taught how to interact the Shih-Poo. It may be playful, but it is not really as docile as other breeds. It will snap if it gets hurt.
When it comes to other pets, the Shih-Poo does exceptionally well. However, early socialization is crucial especially if you have a multi-pet household. They may be amiable with other dogs and cats, but this is usually learned straight from puppyhood.
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Grooming the Shih-Poo can be tricky. If you get the wavy or curly coat of the Poodle, brushing and combing can be particularly difficult. However, this should be performed to keep the curls from getting tangled. The same is true for the straight hair of a Shih Tzu-dominant Shih-Poo. To prevent tangles and mats, it’s imperative that everyday combing or brushing is performed. But if you really want your Shih-Poo to look its best, monthly trips to your professional groomer is a must.
The hairs at the lower inner corner of the Shih-Poo’s eyes tend to be easily stained by tears, causing a reddish-brown discoloration. This should be cleaned every day. The ears also require inspection and cleaning every week while the teeth require brushing every day. If this is not possible, then three times weekly is fine. Lastly, the nails can be trimmed every 3 to 4 weeks.
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One of the reasons why people like to get a crossbreed is that they believe it has fewer health problems than a purebred. This is not necessarily true as the health problems of both parents can be easily transmitted to the puppy. Take for instance the Shih-Poo. It may live up to 15 to 18 years, but it’s also quite prone to patellar luxation, cataracts, entropion, and hip dysplasia.
Get a Shih-Poo if you…
- Love the idea of having a cute and adorable lap dog who will follow you anywhere
- Can commit to spending at least half an hour every single day to play or exercise with your dog
- Don’t mind barking dogs
- Can promise to socialize and train the Shih-Poo as soon as it arrives at your house
We implore you not to get a Shih-Poo if you…
- Hate very yappy dogs
- Don’t like combing the dog’s coat every day
- Are just going to leave the Shih-Poo all alone by itself the whole day in your home
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Shih-Poos love being the center of attention. They have this certain eagerness to please and entertain, a trait they obviously got from the Poodle. They are intelligent and very friendly, although they can be especially shy around strangers. It usually takes time before they warm up to the presence of an unknown person in their midst. Shih-Poos are exceptionally devoted to their human family. They are not guard dogs, but their vigilance can easily alert you to the presence of a stranger in your house. Unfortunately, this can make them very yappy; a trait that might not be ideal in apartment settings.
Shih-Poos are 100% adorable, affectionate, and very loyal small family companions. However, they may be a bit challenging to train and groom and can be exceptionally yappy. If you can manage these issues handily, then the Shih-Poo is definitely meant for you.
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