The Maltese Shih Tzu is a cross between the Maltese and Shih Tzu breeds, and is what is known as a crossbreed, hybrid, designer dog, or mixed breed. It is also often referred to by enthusiasts as the Malshi, Malt-Tzu or Malti-zu. It is the offspring of two purebred parents.
Do you remember when you were a kid how much random grownups loved asking you what your favorite animal was? And do you remember the electric thrill that went through your body as you exclaimed excitedly that your favorite animal was a tiger! A narwhal! A unicorn!?
I’m all grown up now but this is still one of my favorite questions, although I’m unfortunately not asked it quite so often anymore. People who know me have a pretty good idea what my favorite animal is these days and even you, my dear reader who doesn’t know me at all, probably have a good idea too.
Yes, my favorite animal is a dog. And what is my most favorite dog, you ask? My favorite dog is a dog with puppy-dog eyes, soft fur, and squishy paws. (Yes, I’m aware that means all dogs).
But here in this quiet, safe space of the written word, I am going to confess to you something very few people who know me actually know. I do have a favorite type of dog. This type is smaller, hypoallergenic, and perpetually puppy-like.
But since I’m not breed-specific when it comes to the dogs I love, this puts me in somewhat of a pickle when trying to decide which type of dog would be right for me in a forever situation.
Alas, this is how I ended up with my Maltipoo, a crossbreed dog who is a mix of two of my favorite breeds – a Poodle and a Maltese.
Of course, there are other mixed breed dogs that are small, hypoallergenic, and ridiculously cute and puppy-like. My second choice in the crossbreed creation?
What on earth is a Malshi, you ask? Well, that’s exactly what we are here to find out. Join me as we learn everything about this adorable (albeit somewhat controversial) hybrid and discover if this tiny, soft, and family-oriented pup is the right pup for you.
What Is A Maltese Shih Tzu Mix?
Mixed dogs are growing quickly in popularity, and it’s easy to see why when you consider the benefits of putting two of your favorite dog breeds together to get one adorable, fluffy hybrid.
One such adorable hybrid is the Maltese Shih Tzu Mix, also known as the Malshi.
With a name that sounds like something straight out of a fairytale, the Malshi (the Maltese Shih Tzu Mix) is the real deal and is causing quite a stir in the canine kingdom.
The Malshi is not a purebred, although it is the offspring of two purebred parents. A cross between the Maltese and the Shih Tzu, the Malshi is what is known as a crossbreed, hybrid, designer dog, or mixed breed.
So, what does this mean? Well, it means that your Malshi is a little bit less predictable when it comes to certain aspects like health, temperament, and appearance, and it also means that there is a bit of controversy surrounding the super popular trend of his continued breeding and selling.
Let’s learn why.
What Is The Crossbreed Controversy Really About?
This Shih Tzu mother snuggling her crossbreed puppy doesn’t seem to care that the puppy is only half Shih Tzu, so why should you?
Crossbreeding has been going on for centuries now, so while we may call it a trend, the truth is that it is a practice that’s as old as time.
In fact, crossbreeding is how many of the purebred dogs we know and love today have come about, and it’s a practice which is responsible for some of the world’s greatest herding breeds, hunting breeds, and water breeds.
Still, it takes generations for a crossbreed to be considered a purebred. So, what makes crossbreeding a “trend” these days?
The term “designer dog” was coined recently, within the last two decades or so, and can be traced back to red carpets and tote-wielding celebrities who carried pocket sized puppies in their purses as living fashion accessories.
And like trends do, designer dogs caught on like wildfire. These days, we have doodle dogs, maltese mixes, pocket puppies, and the likes. Many of these mixes are being sold at purebred prices, which is causing somewhat of an uproar amongst experts, dog breeders, and enthusiasts.
Why? Because there is still so much we don’t know about first and second generation crossbreeds.
A litter of first generation crossbreed dogs, or puppies who are the direct offspring of two different purebred parent breeds, may all come out looking and behaving very differently from one another.
And while predictability is an issue, so is health. Some argue that crossbreed dogs are actually healthier than purebreds due to the wider genetic gene pool. However, others insist that both purebreds and crossbreeds are at equal risk of developing certain genetic health issues.
Furthermore, there is some debate over whether or not a crossbreed should be considered anything more than just a mutt.
However, supporters of crossbreeds are quick to point out that crossbreeds are the offspring of two particularly chosen purebred parents and thus different from mutts, who oftentimes have a number of different breeds in their bloodline.
Of course, this is still up for debate and the truth is, we are still learning about the pros and cons of crossbreed dogs.
So, should this matter to you? Well, yes and no. If you plan on adding a crossbreed to your home, then it’s important to do as much research on the crossbreed as possible to help better prepare yourself for the unique needs of this kind of dog.
In this case, you are clearly looking at the Maltese Shih Tzu Mix, so let’s start there.
But if a crossbreed dog is so unpredictable in so many ways, how on earth are you going to be able to research one?
Well, the best way to get a better idea of what to expect when expecting a crossbreed is to dig a little into their parentage.
Let’s begin learning about the Malshi by looking individually at his parent breeds, starting with the purebred Maltese.
Let’s Learn A Little Bit About The Maltese
The Maltese is a companion dog who originally hails from the island of Malta.
Height: 7 – 9 inches
Weight: 7 pounds and under
Coat Type: Hypoallergenic
Temperament: Friendly, outgoing, intelligent, and affectionate.
Lifespan: 12 – 15 Years
Common Health Issues: Retinal atrophy, dental issues, liver shunt,colitis, luxating patella, Legg Calve Perthes disease, patent ductus arteriosus, microvascular dysplasia, encephalitis, and collapsing trachea.
Let’s learn more about the Maltese!
There is a reason the Maltese is such a loving and loyal little companion. He was bred as a companion dog from the start and originally hails from the island of Malta, where he got his name.
The Maltese was so beloved in ancient times that the Greeks paid homage to him in artwork and even honored him with tombs.
This tiny white lap dog is the epitome of what it means to be a man’s best friend and in ancient Rome the breed was a favorite for noble women and the likes who would tote him around as a little furry fashion statement.
The Chinese also played a role in the preservation of the Maltese, keeping the breed alive and well after the fall of the Roman Empire.
Today, the lively, charming Maltese excels in dog shows and is a family favorite, doing well with families of all ages and getting along with gentle children and other household pets.
Let’s Learn A Bit About The Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is a beloved and ancient Chinese breed with royal roots.
Height: 9 – 11 inches
Weight: 9 – 16 Pounds
Coat Type: Hypoallergenic
Temperament: Lively, spirited, loving, playful, and adventurous.
Lifespan: 10 – 18 Years
Common Health Issues: Heatstroke, hip dysplasia, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, patellar luxation, retinal detachment, corneal dryness, eye inflammation, and respiratory issues due to their flattened faces.
Let’s learn more about the Shih Tzu!
The Shih Tzu is a beloved and ancient Chinese breed with royal roots who was once one of the Chinese empire’s most guarded secrets.
In fact, the Shih Tzu was so well guarded behind the royal palace walls that the rest of the world didn’t know of his existence until the 1930’s!
Like the Maltese, the Shih Tzu breed was bred and perfected as a companion dog and is beloved for his affectionate nature and beautiful appearance.
Today, Shih Tzus are considered some of the most popular small dog breeds in the world. They do well in show and in sport and enjoy family time in homes with older, more respectful children.
So, now that we know a bit about both the Maltese and the Shih Tzu, let’s talk a little bit more about their hybrid offspring, the Maltese Shih Tzu Mix, starting with what this kind of crossbreed might look like.
What Might A Maltese Shih Tzu Look Like?
The Malshi hybrid could look more like its Shih Tzu parent or it’s Maltese parent, or it could look like a perfect blend between the two.
Because the Malshi is a cross between the Maltese and the Shih Tzu, his appearance is going to be left up to genetics and chance.
You will have a better shot at predicting what your Maltese Shih Tzu mix puppy might look like if he is a second or third generation Malshi, meaning that both his parents and grandparents are also Malshi mixes.
However, if your Maltese Shih Tzu mix is the direct offspring of a Maltese parent and a Shih Tzu parent, then his appearance could be a bit more difficult to determine.
The good news is that, by looking at the appearances of both his parent breeds, we can come up with a general idea of the average size, height, weight, and coat type of the Maltese Shih Tzu mix.
Take a look.
Height – 7 – 11 Inches
Weight – 7 – 16 Pounds
Coat Color – Black, white, brindle, liver, liver & white, light brown, dark brown, gold, black & white.
Coat Type – Hypoallergenic
More On The General Appearance of the Matlese Shih Tzu Mix
Your Maltese Shih Tzu mix will also have floppy ears and round, dark eyes since both the Maltese and the Shih Tzu have these traits.
A Maltese Shih Tzu Mix is also going to be hypoallergenic, meaning that while he will still shed a bit, he will produce much less allergy inducing dander and is therefore a great dog option for those who suffer from allergies.
But what about the Maltese Shih Tzu mix’s temperament? Is that going to be predictable? Let’s find out!
What is The Temperament Of A Maltese Shih Tzu Mix?
Because the Malshi mix comes from two bred companion dogs, you can expect your Maltese Shih Tzu mix to be affectionate and doting.
When it comes to a loving temperament, the Maltese Shih Tzu mix is almost as good as it gets! This is a cross between bred companion dogs which means your Malshi mix is going to be doting, friendly, affectionate, and snuggly.
This is great for those of you that love cuddly lap dogs who will want to spend every waking second with you, but this isn’t so great for those of you hoping for a dog who has more of an independent streak and will do well when left home alone.
Friendly, affectionate, and outgoing, the Maltise Shih Tzu mix is going to require lots of love and attention from his owner and he will do best in homes where he can snuggle up on a warm lap or watch his family from nearby on a cozy couch or blanket.
The Mlatese Shi Tzu crossbreed is not going to like being left alone for long periods of time and can be prone to suffering from separation anxiety, stress, and destructive behaviors if he is not giving the right amount of time and attention.
And while the Maltese Shih Tzu mix is not likely to be aggressive, he should still be properly socialized at an early age and given plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to keep him healthy and happy.
Both the purebred Maltese and the purebred Shih Tzu make good family dogs and can get along well with children and other household pets when properly trained and socialized.
The Mlatese especially does well with kids of all ages and other pets, while the Shih Tzu can be prone to growling or aloof behaviors with younger, rougher children.
Shih Tzus can also become territorial over their favorite people and may not tolerate very young children pulling on their ears or tails.
Most experts recommend that parents with young children work with their kiddos to help them understand the appropriate ways to behave around dogs in order to ensure encounters are safe and fun for everyone.
You should also keep in mind that the Maltese Shih Tzu mix is a naturally small dog, and he can be prone to injury if dropped or handled too roughly.
With that being said, the Malshi would do best in homes with older, more respectful children who will handle him gently.
How Do I Groom A Maltese Shih Tzu Mix?
The Maltese Shih Tzu Mix will need consistent grooming and regular bathing.
Grooming any dog can be tedious work, but it’s a very important part of keeping your dog healthy and happy.
When done right, grooming is also a wonderful way to build a strong and lasting bond between you and your dog.
Like all dogs, the Maltese Shih Tzu mix is going to need a certain amount of grooming and upkeep to help keep his skin and coat healthy. Because he is a cross between two dogs with similar coats, the Maltese Shih Tzu mix will require about the same amount of grooming needs as his two parent breeds.
This means that he should be brushed at least two to three times a week if he has a puppy cut. If his coat is left to grow out long, he should be brushed daily with the proper grooming tools and dog brushes.
Both Shih Tzus and Maltese dogs can be prone to eye issues and tear stains, so special time and attention should be taken to care for your Maltese Shigh Tzu mix’s eyes. We also suggest investing in a high quality tear stain remover.
The Maltese Shih Tzu mix will need occasional bathing at least once a week to once every two weeks. Keep in mind that over bathing or under-bathing your Maltese Shih Tzu mix could result in stripping his skin of the natural oils it produces that help to keep his skin and coat healthy.
For this reason, and in addition to bathing your Maltese Shih Tzu on the proper schedule, your Maltese Shih Tzu mix should be bathed using a high quality dog shampoo and conditioner.
Your Malshi will also need his nails trimmed or ground down regularly to keep them from cracking and breaking and his ears should be routinely cleaned and checked for any waxy buildup or excess moisture to help avoid ear infections.
And since both Maltese dogs and Shih Tzus can be prone to serious dental issues, we suggest brushing your Malshi’s teeth at least a few times a week with a dog-safe toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste.
What Is The Life Expectancy of The Maltese Shih Tzu And What About Health Issues?
Both the Maltese and the Shih Tzu are healthy breeds overall, which is great news for the Malshi mix!
Both the Maltese and the Shih Tzu are healthy breeds overal, which is great news for the Malshi mix! The Maltese Shih Tzu mix also has a decent lifespan of anywhere from 10 – 18 years!
You can help keep your Maltese Shih Tzu mix happy and healthy by ensuring that he is properly groomed and exercised, as well as keeping him on a healthy diet that is specified for his age, weight, and activity level.
Along with diet, exercise, and keeping up with regular vet visits, knowing what some of the most common health risks to your Malshi are can help you determine what types of preventative care are best for him.
Unfortunately, the Malshi could be at risk of inheriting any of the health issues his parent breeds are genetically predisposed to.
The most common health concerns for the Maltese include:
- Retinal Atrophy
- Dental Issues
- Liver Shunt
- Luxating Patella
- Legg Calve Perthes Disease
- Patent Ductus Arteriosus
- Microvascular Dysplasia
- And Collapsing Trachea
The most common health concerns for the Shih Tzu include:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Patellar Luxation
- Retinal Detachment
- Corneal Dryness
- Eye Inflammation
- And Respiratory Issues
To stay abreast of your Mlatese Shih Tzu’s health issues, you may opt to have him undergo health screening to get a better idea of what he may be at risk for in the future.
What Are The Maltese Shih Tzu Mix Exercise and Training Needs?
All dogs need proper exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy, and the Maltese Shih Tzu mix is no exception!
It’s true that the Maltese Shih Tzu mix is a small dog, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to need plenty of adequate exercise.
A good, brisk walk once a day through the neighborhood and then some playtime inside or in the backyard will help keep your Malshi mix happy and healthy.
The Maltese Shih Tzu can also get good exercise through playing fetch, chasing his toys, or just running errands with you! Remember, he is a companion dog and will be happy going just about anywhere you go.
Along with physical exercise, the Maltese Shih Tzu mix will also need plenty of mental stimulation. Teaching him new tricks often and challenging him with puzzle toys and brain games is a great way to keep his brain working and keep him from becoming depressed or anxious.
Remember, the Maltese Shih Tzu mix comes from two intelligent, outgoing and eager to please parent breeds, so training should be a breeze when done correctly.
Use positive reinforcement methods and keep training sessions short, repetitive, and fun. Doing this will help hold your Malshi’s focus and keep him eager to learn more.
Be careful of using harsh or aversive training techniques like scolding or punishments, as the Maltese Shih Tzu mix is a sensitive dog and can be easily prone to hurt feelings and will quickly shut down if he feels he has upset you.
One of the biggest issues with the Malshi may be housebreaking. Smaller dogs in general tend to be tougher to potty train, and this is likely due to their small size and the inability for us as owners to consistently stay on top of reinforcing good behavior when we can’t always find their little potty accidents in the house.
Many owners with smaller dogs opt to purchase potty pads to help avoid accidents, but you can also just keep a close eye on your Maltese Shih Tzu mix and devote time and patience into training him for the first few weeks home with you.
With consistency, positive reinforcement, and lots of repetition, you should have your Maltese Shih Tzu mix trained in no time.
Do I Have the Ideal Home Type And Lifestyle For A Maltese Shih Tzu Mix?
The Malshi is an adaptable dog who does well in many different home types.
Are you looking for an adaptable dog who can live just as happily in a mansion as he can in an apartment? Then the Maltese Shih Tzu mix may just be the right dog for you!
This spritely little companion dog does well in all different types of home environments so long as his exercise needs are being met. Still, it is always a good idea to dog proof your home regardless.
With that being said, the best home type for a Malshi mix would be a home with a bit of space for your Maltese Shih Tzu to play, run about, and rest.
An ideal owner or family would not be too busy or would be able to bring their Malshi with them to work or on drives.
Remember, the Maltese Shih Tzu mix does not do well when left alone for long periods of time and is meant to be a companion dog, and he will be happiest in homes where he can be a part of the family.
If you are home often, have a flexible schedule, and have time to train, exercise, and play with your dog, then the Maltese Shih Tzu mix just may be the right dog for you!
Tips On Picking The Healthiest Maltese Shih Tzu Mix Puppy Or Rescue Dog
Going through the proper sources to get our Maltese Shih Tzu mix is the first step in ensuring your dog will have a healthy, happy life.
Starting your Maltese Shih Tzu puppy off right begins at the source, and the source is usually the place from which you find your pooch.
Regardless of if you plan on getting your Malshi from a breeder or through a rescue, always do plenty of research and stay away from backyard breeders, online sellers, and pet stores, and keep in mind that cutting costs upfront could wind up costing you more in the long run if you end up with a sick puppy.
While reputable breeders may cost the most upfront, they will also provide a bit of assurance that the puppy you are getting is healthy and ready to go home with you. Most responsible breeders have had their puppies health screened and cleared by veterinarians and will be able to provide you with health certificate proving as much.
If you have your heart set on rescuing a Maltese Shih Tzu mix, you’re in luck. Not only is this a great way to cut costs for those of you looking for a Malshi on a budget, but it is also a wonderful way to help a dog in need.
Not sure where to look for a Malshi to adopt? Do some research! There are many shelters and rescues that specialize in certain mixes and breeds throughout the United States and you may be able to find exactly what you are looking for if you are just a little patient.
Do you think the Maltese Shih Tzu Mix would be the right dog for you? Tell us your opinion in the comment section below.
Sara Seitz has spent most of her life in the pet industry and has a bachelors in animal behavior from Colorado State University. Sara started working with dogs and cats as a high schooler at a rural boarding kennel. There she learned a lot about the bad and the ugly of the pet service industry. But not even the toughest day at that job would dissuade Sara from following her dream of working with animals.
In college, Sara got a job at a dog daycare and boarding facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. Her new career provided even more opportunities for learning about dog behavior than her classes did. As general manager of the daycare, Sara helped the company launch a new in-home pet sitting branch and trained to become a certified dog trainer. Between shifts taking care of peoples pets in-home and supervising dogs during playtime at the daycare, Sara organized and taught obedience classes.
Sara has always been passionate about bettering the lives of our canine companions. She soon found that advocating for and educating owners in the power of positive reinforcement training was one of the best ways to help dogs and their owners live happier lives.