If you’re in the market for a dog and are considering a Shih Poo, then you’ve come to the right place. Beloved for it’s adorable, teddy bear-like face, spunky personality and stellar intelligence, the shih poo is a winner through and through.
Of course, a shih poo dog isn’t the best dog for everyone, and it’s important to do plenty of research when considering bringing a new furry friend into your family.
Is the shih poo the right dog for you? Here are fifteen things you should know about the shih poo dog before you get one.
1. The Shih Poo Is Considered A Designer Dog Breed
Shih Poo dogs are considered crossbreeds who are a mix between the purebred poodle and the shih tzu.
First and perhaps most importantly, the shih poo is not a purebred dog nor is he considered a mutt. In fact, the shih poo falls into an interesting category of dog breed known as a crossbreed, designer breed, or mixed breed.
Crossbreeds or designer breeds are dogs who were intentionally “designed” and are the bred offspring of two purebred parents. The shih poo, for example, is a mix between the toy poodle and the shih tzu.
There can be different generations of crossbreeds, with most generations recognized as first and second generation.
A first generation shih poo would be the direct offspring of a purebred poodle and shih tzu while a second generation shih poo would be the offspring of two shih poo parents.
There is some controversy surrounding designer dog breeds like the shih poo, with some debate regarding the overall health and predictability of the mixes in question. That said, mixed breeds like the shih poo are becoming more and more popular and there is yet to be any definitive proof that cross breeding results in a less healthy dog.
2. The Shih Poo Mix Has An Interesting History
Because the Shih Poo is relatively new to the dog scene, his history is still being written. That said, he does come from two very interesting and ancient dog breed parents whose background will most certainly play a role in his overall personality traits, physical appearance, and preferences.
Let’s learn more.
The Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is an ancient dog bred for companionship.
Bred in China over 1,000 years ago, the Shih Tzu is the royal dog of ancient chinese emperors. It was a beloved companion for centuries before it was finally recognized in the United States in 1969.
Today, the Shih Tzu is a popular companion and show dog and is considered one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States.
The Toy Poodle
The toy poodle is famous for his intelligence and athleticism.
The Poodle has widely been recognized as a French dog, and this is most likely due to its deceiving moniker of “French Poodle”. However, the Poodle actually originated in Germany, where it was mostly utilized as a water dog.
In fact, the poodle’s flamboyant haircut was initially designed to protect its body from the harsh waters as it swam. As the poodle made its way to France, noble women were seduced by the fanciful look of the Poodle, thus the breed became somewhat of a fashion accessory.
Eventually, the poodle was bred down to different sizes and is now available as a standard poodle, toy poodle, and miniature poodle.
3. Shih Poo Dogs Are Beloved For Their Intelligence
Shih poos come from two very smart parents, so it’s no wonder they are so intelligent!
Considering both the shih tzu and the poodle are renowned for their intelligence, it’s no surprise that their Shih poo offspring would be just as brainy.
In fact, shih poos are so intelligent that owners often claim they require consistent training and special toys like puzzle toys to keep them busy and occupied.
While intelligent dogs like the shih poo can make for wonderful companions, we should note that they can also be more prone to suffering from anxiety. In order to keep your shih poo happy, we also recommend you invest in some quality puzzle toys and implement positive reinforcement training to ensure your pup is happy, healthy and thriving.
4. The Shih Poo is A Great Dog For Those Who Suffer From Allergies!
Shih poos are hypoallergenic and do not shed or produce as much dandar as much as other breeds or mixes.
If you are an allergy sufferer then you’re in luck when it comes to the Shih Poo. Both the shih poo’s parents are hypoallergenic, which simply means they release less allergny inducing dander in their fur than many other dog breeds.
While there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog, the shih poo sheds much less often than many other breeds and is much less likely to make you sneeze.
That said, the shih poo does come with a thick coat that requires plenty of grooming, but more on that further down.
5. The Shih Poo Is A Smaller Dog Who Will Do Best In Homes With Older Children
Shih poos can be small and could get hurt easily if not handled with care.
Shih poos can be rather small, though their size and weight can vary depending on the dog’s parent breeds. Shih poos make great family dogs. However, due to their smaller stature, shih poo dogs will do best in homes with respectful, gentle children or older children.
That said, the size of your shih poo isn’t the only thing you should be aware of. We should also note that shih poos can be a bit unpredictable as far as appearance, especially if they are first generation cross breeds.
For example, your shih poo may have very curly hair like the poodle or soft, wavy hair like the Shih tzu. Let’s take a closer look at the possible appearance of your shih poo dog.
Shih Poo Height: 8 to 18 inches
Shih Poo Weight: 8 to 18 Pounds
Shih Poo Coat Color: Black, white, brindle, brown, cream, liver, liver and white, light brown, dark brown, black and white, gold, and blue.
Shih Poo Coat Type: Hypoallergenic
Shih Poo Eye Color: Brown
6. The Shih Poo Is A Crossbreed and Is Therefor Not Eligible For Show
Shih poo dogs are crazy cute, but they are not eligible for show as they are not purebred dogs.
While shih poo dogs are adorable, intelligent, and completely irresistible, they have yet to be considered their own breed. In fact, it takes generations of perfecting a particular crossbreed for that crossbreed dog to be considered a purebred and thus be eligible for show in the United States.
For that reason, the only showing off you’ll be able to do with your shih poo, as of now, is at the dog park, which he’ll love so long as he has been properly socialized.
7. The Average Shih Poo Has A Lifespan Of Up To 16 Years
A healthy shih poo can live as long as 16 years and sometimes longer.
The purebred shih tzu lives a good long life of 10 to 16 years while the poodle can live as long as 18 years under the right conditions.
This means your shih poo can live anywhere from 10 to 18 years. That said, most shih poos on average live around 12 to 16 years, give or take.
You can help increase the lifespan of your shih poo by ensuring he eats a balanced, healthy diet and gets plenty of exercise each and every day. We also suggest keeping up on routine veterinary visiting and staying abreast of any potential health concerns facing shih poo dogs and their parent breeds in particular, which we’ll cover below.
8. The Shih Poo Is Prone To Some Serious Health Issues
Shih poos can be prone to the same genetic health issues as their parents.
All dogs can suffer from genetic health problems passed down from their parent breeds, and the shih poo is no exception. While there is some controversy regarding whether mixed breeds are actually healthier than purebreds, it is highly important to ensure you know the potential health risks your shih poo may face.
Staying on top of these health risks and concerns can help you be better prepared for any future care by giving you an idea of what an emergency procedure would cost you, or can even help you prevent a potential future illness by following a specific diet or undergoing preventative care with your veterinarian.
Some of the most common health issues a shih poo may face include but are not limited to:
- Progessive retinal atrophy
- Luxating Patella
- Hip Dysplasia
- Retinal detachment
- And Corneal dryness
9. Shih Poo Dogs Require Consistent Grooming
The shih poo’s unique coat can be prone to mats and tangles if not properly brushed and groomed.
Both the purebred shih tzu and the purebred poodle are known for their luxurious, thick coats that require quite a bit of upkeep.
On average, the Shih Poo will need to be brushed regularly to keep his coat from becoming matted and to keep it free of debris. To do this properly, most experts recommend investing in a quality dog brush including a dematting comb.
It is also a good idea to give your shih poo a bath at least once every three weeks with a quality dog shampoo and conditioner. The shih poo will also need its ears checked and cleaned regularly to keep him from developing an ear infection, and his nails should be trimmed regularly to avoid one of them cracking and splitting.
Last, it’s very important to keep your shih poo’s teeth healthy. We love doggy toothbrushes and toothpastes, which can help promote healthy gums and teeth and decrease plaque buildup leading to tooth decay. You can also purchase dog teeth wipes if brushing your shih poo’s teeth proves too difficult.
And speaking of difficulty, grooming a long-haired shih poo can be tedious and time consuming. If you prefer to keep your shih poo’s coat short in a puppy cut, this could help decrease the amount of grooming time that needs to be taken. That said, remember that grooming is an important part of keeping your shih poo healthy and happy, and it is also a great activity you can use to bond with your pup.
Shih poos are especially fond of their people and enjoy physical affection and attention, so you can and should use grooming to build a nurturing and trusting relationship.
10. Shih Poos Require Lots Of Training and Plenty Of Exercise
Shih poos are very intelligent and energetic. They need lots of exercise and training to stay happy and healthy.
As we mentioned above, the shih poo is very intelligent. He also comes from two parent breeds who are both energetic and athletic. However, because he is a crossbreed, your shih poo’s exercise and activity requirements may vary.
If he is more like his poodle parent, your shih poo will require daily active exercise including a good walk each day and plenty of play time. He will also require lots of consistent training and mental exercises that will help to keep his keen mind sharp.
If your shih poo is more like his shih tzu parent, he will still need a good, brisk walk each day and plenty of playtime, however he will also thrive with lots of snuggle and one-on-one time with his favorite family members.
Remember, a shih poo can take after one purebred parent breed more than the other, or he can fall somewhere in between both as far as personality goes. It is hard to say until you meet and get to know each individual dog.
11. Shih Poo Dogs Require a Healthy and Balanced Diet
All dogs require healthy, balanced diets that are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, but every dog is different. Try and invest in a high quality dog food specified for your unique shih poo’s age, weight and activity level.
Some specialty dog foods can get expensive, but there are plenty of good dog foods that come highly recommended that are affordable. Furthermore, there are also plenty of dog food brands available for you to choose from that include raw dog foods, canned dog food, dry dog foods and wet dog foods.
The type of food that is best for your individual shih poo will depend on your dog’s needs, so don’t be afraid to ask your vet plenty of questions to ensure your pup gets the best nutrition for his needs and overall health.
12. Make Sure To Properly Socialize Your Shih Poo Early On
Keeping your shih poo healthy is not only about maintaining a balanced diet, but also about ensuring that his mental wellbeing is taken care of.
All dogs should be properly socialized at an early age and the shih poo is no exception. Socialising your shih poo can help reduce anxiety and ensure your dog is happy and adaptable to a number of situations.
Try and keep in mind that the most formative time for a dog is during puppyhood between eight and 11 weeks. This is what is known as a dog’s “fear period”, where your dog learns what he should and should not be afraid of.
If you get your shih poo puppy after 11 weeks, don’t worry. There are other, staggered fear periods for dogs that go on for up to 14 months. During your dog’s puppyhood, try and bring him with you as often as possible and introduce him to a number of situations and circumstances.
Making these experiences as positive as possible can help acclimate your shih poo to the world around him. This includes introducing him to loud passing trucks and airplanes, taking him on car rides, introducing him to children and people with walkers, people in wheelchairs, and so on.
We also recommend handling your shih poo puppy often and gently playing with his paws, ears, face and tail to get him used to having these otherwise sensitive areas touched.
13. The Shih Poo Is A Companion Dog Who Can Suffer From Separation Anxiety
Poodles are highly active and intelligent while shih tzu dogs were bred primarily for companionship. Depending on the parent breed your shih poo takes after most, he could be susceptible to experiencing separation anxiety.
Intelligent dogs bred for companionship, like the shih poo, tend to become very attached to their people and could suffer greatly when left alone for long periods of time.
For this reason, we don’t suggest getting a shih poo if you have a very active or busy life that requires you to leave your dog home alone for long periods of time. Not only could doing this be bad for your shih poo’s overall mental and physical health, but it can also lead to behavioral problems like chewing, bathroom accidents, and other destructive tendencies.
14. Shih Poos Love Attention From Family But Can Be Shy With Strangers
By nature, shih poo dogs are active, loyal, and affectionate. They love to be the center of attention inside their family unit and will keep everyone in the home laughing and entertained.
However, shih poo dogs also have the tendency to be a bit shy when it comes to outsiders and strangers. They may take time to warm up, especially to children, and should be given space until they are ready to greet strangers on their own terms.
15. Though Not Considered Purebred Dogs, The Shih Poo Can Be Just As Expensive As Purebreds
It’s very common for purebred dogs to be costly, especially when they come from well known or highly regarded breeders. That said, while the shih poo is not a purebred, it is also not a mutt.
As a designer dog, the shih poo can be costly, especially if you get your shih poo from a well-known breeder. Trying to bypass breeders and purchase a shih poo puppy from unknown online sources or backyard breeders could result in a sick puppy and cost you more money in the long run.
Always do your research and look for qualified breeders who provide your shih poo puppy with a health certificate. In some cases, you may even be able to meet the shih poo’s mother to get a better idea of how big your shih poo will become.
On average, a shih poo puppy from a reputable breeder costs around $500 to $1000. If you prefer to find a more affordable shih poo, you can always rescue. Rescuing has many benefits that go beyond price, with one of them being that you will be able to offer a dog in need a good home.
Other benefits of adopting a shih poo dog from a shelter could include a free initial vet exam.
Our Five Favorite Products For Shih Poo Dogs
Have you decided to pull the trigger and get yourself a shih poo? Congratulations! We couldn’t be happier for you. Of course, along with learning everything you possibly can about the shih poo, we also recommend preparing to be a shih poo parent.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at five of our favorite products you’ll certainly need for puppy parenthood.
Earth Rated Dog Poop Bags
No pet parent is complete without a big box of doggy poop bags. Shih poos are active pups who need lots of outside playtime and walks, which means you’ll be loading up on those poop bags for all your outings.
Our favorite poop bags for shih poo parents are the Earth Rated poop bags above. There are 15 bags in each role, and each poop bag is eco friendly, sturdy, and 100% leak proof.
PetSafe Easy Walk Harness and Leash
The Easy Walk Harness above is ideal for dogs like the Shih Poo who have sensitive throats and tracheas. Smaller dogs especially can be more prone to tracheal collapse, and the PetSafe harness is ideal for walking your shih poo without putting any pressure on their throat.
This harness is also adorable and comes in a number of designs. You can order it in different sizes as well, though your shih poo will likely need a medium or small.
LovelyDog Embroidered Dog Collar
Along with chipping your shih poo, we suggest investing in a good collar with your dog’s name and your information. This will help potentially save you from any heartache if your dog gets out of your yard or off of his leash.
We like the above collars by LovelyDog because they can be personally embroidered with your dog’s name and information. The collars are also made with sturdy material and come in different sizes from extra small to extra large, as well as a few different color combinations.
And, because safety always comes first, there is the added benefit of a reflective surface on the collar to keep your shih poo safe and visible at night.
Interactive Puzzle Dog Toy
Intelligent dogs like the shih poo love toys that keep them active and provide them with a fun challenge. For that reason we have listed the above puzzle toy by the Outward Hound Store. This puzzle toy encourages your shih poo to solve puzzles in order to get to the yummy treats hidden inside.
The toy includes 12 compartments which will keep your intelligent and potentially anxious dog busy and therefore reduce destructive behaviors. The toy can also help reduce boredom, decrease depression and alleviate symptoms of separation anxiety.
BODISEINT Modern Round Plush Dog Bed
Last on our list of our favorite products for the shih poo is this ultra plush dog bed by BODISEINT. Shih poo dogs love to cuddle and will appreciate having a bed all their own to snuggle up in when you are busy or when you aren’t home.
The soft, cushiony center of this dog bed cuddles your shih poo and will help make him feel secure, which is one of the reasons we have added it. We also like that it is made with durable material, is water resistant and is specifically made for small to medium sized dogs like the shih poo.
So, what do you think? Is the shih poo going to be a good fit for you and your family, and would you invest in any of the above products for your shih poo puppy or rescue dog?
We would love to hear from you. Leave us your thoughts on the shih poo dog in the comment section below.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.