It takes a well-informed owner to choose the perfect pup to bring home. The process is trickier if you’re set on getting a crossbreed, since these dogs tend to be unpredictable.
Ever heard about the Shih Poo? This small, fluffy designer dog was bred to be a loving, loyal companion.
In this article, we’ll answer the most common questions asked about this little yet courageous hybrid.
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What is a Shih Poo?
Also called a Shoodle or Shipoo, the Shih Poo is the offspring of Shih Tzu and a Toy Poodle. A crossbreed’s history is always tricky to trace, but this mix has existed for around 20 years.
When the Cockapoo or Cocker Spaniel-Poodle mix began to rise in popularity in the mid-twentieth century, breeders explored the possibilities of using Poodles in crossbreeding. They wanted to produce more dogs with low-shedding coats and a fun-loving personality.
Hence, the birth of the Shih Tzu Poodle mix!
What does a Shipoo look like?
A full grown Shih Tzu Poodle Mix can get as big as 8 to 15 inches (20 to 38 cm) in height and weigh anywhere between 7 to 20 pounds (3 to 9 kg).
They may inherit either the curly hair of their Poodle parent or straight locks from their Shih Tzu side.
Whatever the texture, its coat gives this crossbreed its ‘teddy bear’ look.
Their coats come in a wide variety of colors, with the most common Shih Poo color being white, black, brown, cream, apricot, gold, and red.
Other Shoodles have fur in a combination of 2 or 3 colors (also known as brindle).
What kind of temperament do Shih Poos have?
It is always an exciting journey to raise a crossbreed simply because you won’t ever know what to expect with them.
Shih Poos are naturally great companion dogs – a trait that they inherit from both the Shih Tzu and the Poodle. Being surrounded by their humans all the time makes them happy.
In terms of temperament, Shipoos generally have a loving and outgoing disposition, which makes them the ideal pets for singles and families alike.
However, due to the unpredictability of crossbreeds, some Shipoo puppies may not exhibit these lovable traits.
What affects a Shih Poo’s behavior
The way they interact with humans and littermates will largely depend on two main factors: genetics and the environment they are raised in.
Different traits may come its parents, but studies on the breeding of working dogs have concluded that its mother’s behavior can affect a pup’s behavior as an adult. Pups who interacted more with their moms grow up to be more sociable and more physically engaged with humans.
This is one reason why it is so important to observe its parents before taking a Shih Poo home. You may want to pick a pup who gets more interactions with its mother.
This way, you’re less likely to pick a Shih Tzu-Poodle mix that’s timid or nervous around humans.
Are they easy to train?
Shih Poos are intelligent and eager to please their owners, but they sometimes have the tendency to be stubborn. Training Shih Poos can definitely be an interesting experience.
You do need to take some time to learn about what motivates them in order to become more effective at training them.
Make sure you are equipped with treats, toys, and lots of praise for your pup.
You should start training your Shipoo the same day you take it home.
As young as eight weeks, your puppy will already be able to absorb what you teach them, whether for obedience training or house training.
You can deal with this dog’s stubborn streak by establishing yourself as a gentle yet firm alpha. This way, he’ll respect your authority and be more willing to follow your commands.
Make sure you supervise playtime between your Shipoo and young kids, especially toddlers and preschool-age children. These canines are kid-friendly but toddlers can be clumsy and over-excited around pets. They might end up hurting the dog or vice versa.
Teaching them to live in harmony with other animals, like cats and other dogs, is possible, too. Poodle and Shih Tzu mixes are playful little creatures and, with enough socialization, they can get along well with other household pets.
Can Shih Poos be therapy dogs?
Shih Tzu Poodles can definitely be trained to become therapy dogs. They are sensitive and are always up to show love by sitting in their owner’s lap and just simply staying by their owner’s side to get some belly rubs.
Shih Poos are at their best when they are surrounded by their people. They were bred to be companions to humans, after all.
Not only that, these tiny crossbreeds can even provide companionship outside the house because they pretty easy to carry around.
What exercises does my Shih Poo need?
Shoodles don’t need vigorous exercise unlike other dogs that are much bigger and more muscular. But they sure know how to have fun when it comes to playtime.
Half an hour of walking is good enough for the Shih Poo’s daily exercise routine. Walks also provide the perfect opportunity for socialization with other dogs and animals like cats around your neighborhood.
Shih Tzu and Poodle hybrids are naturally energetic, but most of them will be content to stay indoors and play a few games of fetch with you.
What are the costs of owning a Shih Poo?
Aside from the cost of acquiring a Shih Tzu Poodle mix from a breeder, owning this dog won’t burn a hole through your wallet, especially since these tiny dogs eat so little.
The amount of food your dog needs will ultimately depend on its size and activity level, but a full-grown Shih Poo needs just ½ to 1 cup of high-quality dry dog food, divided into two meals a day.
The average price of a 30-pound bag dog food is $55, which can cover more or less 80 days of food for your dog.
Remember to go with dry kibble, as the hard texture will help clean the Shih Poo’s teeth and reduce cavities and plaque. That means fewer visits to the vet for dental work, which can be expensive.
That’s not to say that investing in regular vet visits won’t be worth it. Shih Poos, although they possess the so-called hybrid vigour of crossbreeds, are still be vulnerable to several genetic conditions.
Depending on where you live and the procedures you need, visits to the vet can cost anywhere from $50 to $400.
What many owners do not hold back on, though, is the Shih Poo’s grooming. Professional grooming can cost you around $40 to $55 per monthly trip, and those costs include a bath, nail trimming, and ear cleaning.
Groomers are expensive. Can I just groom my Shih Poo by myself?
Of course, you can groom your Shih Tzu Poodle mix yourself, too. You just have to be patient because he needs daily brushing to prevent its fur from tangling or matting.
This crossbreed’s coat will also need trimming around once a month to keep it a manageable length. Check out this video for a quick tutorial:
Their genital areas should also be kept clean all the time. Trimming the hair surrounding it helps avoid moisture buildup, which commonly results in bacterial infections.
Aside from its coat, your Shih Poo’s ears and nails also need some extra attention. Be sure to check your dog for ear mites regularly and keep his ears free from excess moisture by wiping them once a day. Watch out for foul smells as those are typically a sign of an ear infection.
The Shipoo’s nails need to be trimmed at least once every 2 weeks. Short nails ensure that your dog can comfortably walk or run around.
Are Shih Poo dogs really hypoallergenic?
Surprise, surprise! The answer is a resounding NO. Take note of this before falling for the hypoallergenic sales pitch.
There is no scientific proof that says being allergenic is based on a dog’s breed. Allergens in pets are actually usually caused by dander, the dead skin cells shed by dogs and other pets.
The reason why many people think Shih Poo dogs are hypoallergenic is that they don’t shed much and people think that allergens come from fur.
Aside from dander, allergens can also be a pet’s saliva or dust from your pet’s feces. Therefore, any pet, regardless if they shed or not, can trigger allergies
Is my Shih Poo sad? Why does it have have tear stains?
Although Shih Poos are prone to separation anxiety, their tears do not actually mean sadness.
The reddish-brown or pink stains around your Shih Tzu Poodle mix’s eyes are mainly caused by a chemical called porphyrin. This substance can be found in a dog’s tears, saliva, and urine.
The excess production of tears in dogs can be caused by factors such as allergies from food or from their environment.
In other cases, watery eyes are caused by the shape of the eye itself.
You can prevent the stains from setting in by washing your dog’s face everyday.
As for existing tear stains, you can use a homemade cleanser of 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide dissolved in 10 tablespoons of water. Use a cotton swab to apply the solution to the fur around your dog’s eyes once a day.
You can also take your Shih Tzu Poodle mix to a professional groomer and ask them to trim the hair around the dog’s eyes. Long hair can retain liquid a bit longer, making stains more likely to develop.
What health issues can my Shih Poo have?
Shih Tzu-Poodles have a longer-than-average lifespan of 14 to 17 years, but several health conditions can affect this life expectancy.
Here are some health issues that the Shih Poo can inherit from its parents:
Brachycephalic airway syndrome – This is a defect where your dog’s main airways – including the nostrils and trachea – are too narrow or are not functioning well, affecting your dog’s breathing.
Progressive retinal atrophy – Commonly inherited by many Poodle hybrids, this is an eye condition that could eventually lead to blindness. Dogs become more at risk once they reach middle age.
Their eye nerves degenerate over time. In the beginning, owners might notice that their dog is finding it hard to locate things or navigate in the dark. This condition can lead to progressive loss of sight.
A simple blood test can help you identify if your pup is a possible carrier of this condition.
von Willebrand’s disease – This is a genetic bleeding disorder that you need to watch out for, especially if you are planning to let your dog get a routine surgical procedure such as neutering.
Shipoos diagnosed with von Willebrand disease will have difficulties recovering from such procedures because of their blood’s inability to clot.
A Shih Poo puppy can be screened to check if they are a possible carrier of this disease as well.
Dental disease – Because of the size of their mouths, small dogs like the Shih Tzu Poodle mix commonly suffer from gum infections, overcrowding of teeth, and tartar accumulation.
Brushing and cleaning their teeth every day should be sufficient in maintaining their dental health.
Hip dysplasia – Hip dysplasia occurs when your dog’s hip joints do not develop normally. As a result, they won’t be able to support your dog’s weight as it gets older and it may cause discomfort and lameness from the hip down to their legs.
Sebaceous adenitis – This is a skin disorder that can be painful for dogs, as it causes irritation, infection, and inflammation of the sebaceous glands of their skin.
The best way to be sure about your Shih Poo’s health status is to have them health-screened as early as possible.
The breeder should at least be able to provide you with enough documentation to prove that your dog is healthy and that its parents were deemed healthy enough for breeding.
Legitimate certifications come from health registries like the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and Canine Eye Registry Foundation.
Acquiring and raising Shih Tzu-Poodle mixes are expensive, so you better make sure you’re getting your money’s worth by bringing home a healthy dog.
What vaccines does my Shih poo need?
Like with all dogs, vaccinations are a necessity for your Shih Poo. For your sake and your dog’s safety, too, your veterinarian needs to administer core vaccines.
These are immunization shots for serious and deadly diseases that can affect both the dog and its owner.
These shots include:
- Rabies vaccine
- Parvovirus vaccine
- Hepatitis vaccine
- Canine distemper (+ measles) vaccine
Puppies need to take 3 to 4 rounds of puppy shots, which include a combination of these four vaccines.
Adult dogs, on the other hand, need to receive booster shots every 3 to 7 years.
Your Shih Poo also needs non-core vaccines, which are shots for other diseases that might only be risky to a few number of dog breeds. These vaccines are completely optional. Some examples are vaccines for:
- Lyme disease
Take note that even if these non-core vaccines are not necessary, they can be helpful at keeping your Shih Poo healthy.
Where can I find Shih Poo breeders?
Social media is a great place to find legitimate breeders of the Shih Tzu Poodle mix. Just a quick search on Facebook could lead you to finding the nearest local breeders, complete with business details and customer reviews.
Aside from consulting the Internet, you might also want to consult dog experts in your area, like your local veterinarians. They might have partnerships with Shih Poo breeders that you can get in touch with.
To give you a headstart on finding the perfect Shih Poos for sale, here are some breeders you can contact:
- Princess Puppies (Louisiana)
- Happy Tail Puppies (North Carolina)
- Faith’s Little Angels (Texas)
- Timber Creek Puppies (Iowa)
One red flag you have to look out for when choosing a breeder is when they tell you that the puppies are 100% healthy or hypoallergenic. You also want to stay away from breeders who won’t let you visit the puppy before you decide to make a purchase.
The price of a Shih Tzu Poodle mix can range from around $640 to $1,000 each. The pricing may depend on your location and your breeder’s service fees.
What are the important questions I need to ask a breeder?
Ready to meet with a reputable Shih Poo breeder? Here is a list of the important questions you need to ask them before taking home your first Shih Poo puppy:
- How old is it?
- What are the health issues this puppy can have?
- Is he already house-trained?
- Has it ever bitten anyone?
- How is he around other animals?
Observe the puppy and note his energy level and overall temperament. A Shipoo puppy should not be excessively shy around strangers. It should also be playful around its littermates and show no signs of aggression.
Where can I adopt a Shih Poo?
Adopting a dog is often much more affordable, plus you’ll get the opportunity to give an abandoned Shih Tzu Poodle mix a loving home.
You can also check out this list of rescue centers all across the states to see if they have a Shipoo up for adoption:
- All Mutts Matter (Delaware)
- Georgia Poodle Rescue
- Last Hope Animal Rescue (New York)
- Poodle Rescue of New England
- Little White Dog Rescue (Nebraska)
A loyal, little companion, and more!
We hope we were able to help you in your journey to becoming a deserving owner of the adorable Shih Tzu Poodle mix. Get ready for a fluffy ball of energy (and expenses) coming your way!
Seriously, despite the costs, the loyal and playful Shih Poo is definitely worth every penny.
Got stories about the Shipoo? Tell us about it them in the comments below!