What Is a Shih Poo Mix? Key Facts and Traits

Published February 10, 2022
Shih-Poo dog relaxing on a sofa at home

The shih poo is a designer cross developed from the Poodle and Shih Tzu. They're the ideal size for an apartment, and they're also terrific company whether you're an individual or searching for a pup for your family. Although shih poos are small, they are not incredibly delicate. This breed is self-assured and outgoing, and gets along well with both children and other dogs.

Origin and History

The shih poo is a designer dog developed in North America. Their parent breeds, the Poodle and the Shih Tzu, are popular stock from which several designer mixes are produced. As such, they are considered to be hypoallergenic, making them an ideal choice for those who experience allergies.

Breed Characteristics

The shih poo is quickly becoming one of the most popular designer dogs in the United States, and for good reason. The more you get to know this mix, the more captivating they become.

Shih Poo Breed Card

Appearance

Since the shih poo is a relatively new cross, there isn't a size standard. Because one of the shih poo's parents is typically a Toy Poodle, you can expect them to be relatively small. Most weigh between 15 to 18 pounds, with their height ranging from 10 to 18 inches at the shoulder.

Although they typically result from a mix with a Toy Poodle, if a Miniature or Standard Poodle is used in producing the cross, you can expect their size to vary accordingly.

Temperament

Shih poos gain their personality traits from both their Shih Tzu and the Poodle parents, and these will vary. Some shih poos act and look more like their Shih Tzu parent, and some act more like Poodles. Regardless of which parent they take after, shih poos are known for their friendly temperament, intelligence, and attentiveness.

The shih poo is a small designer mix, so they are susceptible to injury from overly excited children. They have an affinity towards being mostly around adults or older kids who know how to play gently. That said, if the right steps are taken early on and children are taught how to properly interact with a small dog, they can make great companions.

Shih-Poo dog standing on field

When it comes to other pets (including cats), shih poos can get along well as long as introductions happen slowly and calmly. Socialization will help this go smoothly much earlier on in life. It's best if they're introduced to other pets as soon as possible.

Shih poos are able to spend time alone for short periods without too many issues. However, having another pet could be ideal for them later in life (specifically when their senior years come up). The shih poo was bred to be a companion, and they succeed admirably in this capacity. They're affectionate and devoted to their owners, and they're known for being Velcro dogs.

Training

Due to their Shih Tzu and Poodle parents, shih poos are extremely intelligent. Potty training does not have to be difficult if you are consistent in your efforts. When they want to go outside, many shih poos will learn to send you a signal.

These dogs also perform well in obedience and agility events, and the training process is enjoyable for both the dog and the owner. Shih poos desire nothing more than to please you and spend time with you, so make positive reinforcement a big part of the training. Scolding does not sit well with this designer breed, and they will stop responding to your attempts if they feel frightened or disappointed.

Exercise Requirements

While shih poos enjoy being active, they also like lounging on the couch for a few hours. Whether on an adventure or sleeping, as long as they are next to you, they are perfectly content. They are the true definition of a companion.

Cute Shih-Poo On A Walk

Health

Although generally healthy, they are prone to certain health conditions:

  • Heatstroke: Due to their short snouts, they aren't able to cool off as easily as other breeds and are prone to heatstroke.
  • Patellar luxation: This condition results from dislocation of the kneecap, which often slides back and forth, causing pain and discomfort.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy: Also known as PRA blindness, this is a degenerative disease of the optic nerve.

Lifespan

There is some uncertainty regarding the shih poo's lifespan because the mix is relatively new, but these dogs are expected to live 12 to 15 years.

Grooming

The fur of the shih poo can be straight or curly. Regardless of hair type, shih poos require daily brushing to avoid developing uncomfortable matting and tangles, as well as regular grooming visits.

Additional tips for grooming at home include:

  • Wash the dog's face at least every other day to prevent tear staining.
  • Bathe weekly or as-needed.
  • Check the dog's ears and clean at least once a week, and remove excessive fur growing near the ears.
  • Brush the dog's teeth three to four times a week, at minimum. Daily brushing is recommended.
  • Trim the nails as needed.

Fun Facts about the Breed

Little is known about this designer breed, but here are some interesting tidbits:

  • This designer breed is also known as the shoodle.
  • Their nickname is sometimes confused with poo-shi, which is a mix between the Shiba Inu and Poodle.
  • Because of their affectionate disposition, shih poos make exceptionally good therapy and support dogs.

Purchasing or Adopting a Shih Poo

If you're looking for a shih poo puppy, do your research on the breeder and request to meet their parents, if possible. Ask if either of the parents has had or currently have any underlying health issues. Meet all available puppies in the litter and determine which puppy is most suitable for your family. Expect to pay around $500 to $1,000, though dogs from popular breeders may cost as much as $2,000 or more.

The metal trough from which Shih-Poo dog puppies peep

Rescue Organizations

If you don't mind adopting a puppy or adult shih poo, rescue organizations are a perfect place to look. Although sometimes you may find a puppy, most are adult dogs. Begin your search using PetFinder or Save-a-Rescue. You can also search through breed-specific rescues:

  • Peke a Tzu Rescue: A non-profit organization located in Trufant, Michigan, that places dogs in foster homes until they find their forever home.
  • Shih Tzus and Furbabies: Located in St. Mary's, Georgia, this organization has Shih Tzus and mixes of all ages.
  • Lend a Helping Paw Shih Tzu Rescue: this non-profit, all-volunteer organization is based in Michigan.
  • Poodle Rescue of New England: A non-profit rescue organization adopting Poodles of all ages and sizes, as well as mixes, to the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and upstate New York.

Is this the Breed for You?

Shih poos are adorable companions, but they do require a lot of grooming to maintain their mixture of Poodle and Shih Tzu fur. Visit several breeders before deciding to bring one home, and have at least one of them show the proper method to brush through the coat properly, as this is crucial to preventing matting and tangles. Learn each puppy or dog's personality firsthand to determine which one is most suitable for your family.

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What Is a Shih Poo Mix? Key Facts and Traits