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Also known as Shichon, Tzu Frise, Bichon Tzu, and Bichon and Shih Tzu mix, the Zuchon is an adorable teddy bear dog that’s an optimal choice for pet parents who want a steady companion.
Zuchons also have a lot to offer, besides their adorable appearance. Keep reading to see what sets them apart, and if they’re right for you.
Just what is the Zuchon?
You can probably tell from its name that the Zuchon is a cross between the Bichon Frise and Shih Tzu. This hybrid hails from the United States, where it originated sometime during the 1990s.
The AKC doesn’t recognize mixed breed dogs, so you won’t see any of the Tzu Frise’s many names registered with them. But this designer pup is recognized by several designer dog registries, like the American Canine Hybrid Club, Designer Dogs Kennel Club, Designer Breed Registry, and International Designer Canine Registry.
Before we get to see what else the Tzu Frise got from its parents than a few clever portmanteaus (or a combination), what else might the Bichon-Shih Tzu mix inherit?
First, we need to meet the two purebreds that started it all.
Introducing the Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise is believed to be from Italy but skyrocketed in popularity after being taken to France in the 14th century. It was here that it got its name, meaning curly lap dog.
European nobility doted on the Bichon, elevating the breed to a symbol of wealth and status. Even King Henry III and King Francis I owned Bichons! The Curly Lap Dog fell out of favor following the French Revolution, when it became common among street performers.
After WWI, the Bichon Frise came to the United States, and it was once again revered as a loyal, cuddly family pet.
This playful pooch may be small, with a height of 9 to 12 inches (23 to 30 cm) and a weight of 6.6 to 11 pounds (3 to 5 kg), but they’re resilient and sturdy.
Bichons are considered low shedders, thanks to their undercoat catching all the hair before it falls off everywhere in the house. This fluff ball’s coat color can be white, white and cream, white and buff, as well as white and apricot.
Meet the Imperial Shih Tzu
Believed to be one of the ancient dog breeds, the Shih Tzu has been around for a long time. In fact, dogs resembling the Shih Tzu are depicted in art and literature dating back to 618 A.D.
There are a couple of theories as to how this pooch came to be. Some suggest that the Shih Tzu comes from China. Others believe that the breed was developed by Tibetan monks to guard holy artifacts. The monks gave Shih Tzus to Chinese royalty, and the rest is history.
In either case, the Shih Tzu (or “little lion” in Mandarin) arrived in England in 1928 and later came to the U.S. Like the Bichon. This breed has also become a highly-regarded companion dog for all types of pet parents.
They’re one of the most loved toy dogs around weighing only 9 to 16 pounds (4 to 7 kg) and stand about 9 to 10.5 inches (23 to 27 cm) tall. Add their doll-eye and pretty lashes that this breed has, and you won’t be able to keep yourself from saying “aww!”
Shih Tzus are playful charmers that have a long coat where you’ll often find the hair on the top of their head cut short or tied into a topknot. You’ll find this pooch in a variety of colors such as black and white, brindle, black, silver, and more!
They’re double-coated pooches that are believed to be hypoallergenic, but they can still shed some of their coat, depending on the hair volume.
What does the Bichon and Shih Tzu mix look like?
They don’t call it the “teddy bear dog” for nothing. The Bichon Tzu has dark eyes, a button nose, and fluffy ears that drape on each side of their round face.
Their tails curl up over their backs, adding to their toy look and giving them the cutest propeller wag possible.
Your Zuchon may have an underbite, where the bottom row of teeth sticks out further than the top. Some owners find a quirky grin endearing, but it can spell trouble for your pup (more on that soon).
Yes, the Tzu Frise will fit in your lap forever
These dogs are small. By six months old, they stand 5 to 6 inches (13 to 15 cm) tall and weigh 6 to 7 pounds (about 3 kg).
When fully grown (around 12 months old), they’re usually 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) tall and weigh 8 to 15 pounds (4 to 7 kg).
Because of their diminutive stature, Zuchons can be perfectly happy in even the smallest apartments.
Do Zuchon dogs shed?
Good news for allergy sufferers: Tzu Frises barely shed. These hypoallergenic pups are a prime choice for owners with pet hair sensitivities.
Like its parents, the Tzu Frise is sure to have a cuddly coat – yet another reason for the “teddy bear” nickname.
Zuchon hair can be curly or silky, but it’s guaranteed that its coat is long and fluffy. They also come in a kaleidoscope of colors such as black, white, silver/grey, tan/cream, chocolate/brown, red, and apricot, to name a few.
Did you know that your Bichon-Shih Tzu puppy’s coat could change color by the time they reach adulthood? Their fur frequently lightens as they mature. How your puppy looks today may not be how she looks next year!
Temperament: Is the Zuchon a good dog?
If you’re wondering about the Bichon-Shih Tzu’s personality, rest assured that this crossbreed is a very good doggo and is excellent for new and experienced pet owners alike. Because of its versatility and affectionate manner, they’re good for families, singles, and seniors.
This Teddy Bear Zuchon has a playful spirit and zero hunting instinct. They won’t have trouble getting along with any pet you have, and of course, your kiddos. Since this pooch is small and fragile, make sure the little ones know how to handle your pup with care.
Need convincing? Watch this precious Zuchon puppy have a blast scampering about his new home!
What’s even better is that Tzu Frises aren’t yappy at all. Your teddy bear pup will usually only bark to alert you. If you love dogs, but you’re also someone who enjoys a peaceful home, then this fido might be a good fit.
Both the Shih Tzu and Bichon Frise are companion breeds, so it’s no surprise that the Zuchon wants nothing more than to spend time with her family.
The downside is that they don’t do well on their own. This is the quintessential velcro dog, and separation anxiety is a possibility. It goes without saying, but pets like these need owners who can be with them around the clock.
Are Bichon and Shih Tzu mix pups smart?
Zuchons are intuitive, with a knack for reading body language and tone. This trait, combined with their love of attention, means socialization is effortless.
Teaching this designer dog manners and tricks isn’t difficult, either, thanks to their intelligence and desire to please. Look at this adorable Teddy Bear Zuchon showing off its skills!
Be patient when it comes to housebreaking your Tzu Frise. They have tiny bladders that require more frequent trips outside while they’re learning. Plus, their Bichon parent is notoriously challenging to housetrain.
You may also want to consider crate training to help your dog feel more secure during those inevitable times when they have to stay home alone.
Taking care of your Zuchon
Even the cutest of teddy bear dogs need a little assistance from their humans. After all, you’re their glam squad, teammate, and personal chef, all in one.
Keep reading to find out just what kind of commitment your Bichon Tzu needs from you. These will also help you decide if you can do all these if you get this crossbreed.
Grooming your teddy bear dog
Get your grooming essentials ready because the Zuchon requires daily upkeep.
To prevent tangling and matting, brush their fur every 1-2 days. A trip to the groomer every couple of months can cut down on how much time you spend on their coat at home. Puppy and teddy bear cuts are popular hairstyles that’ll really up your pup’s cute factor.
Your Tzu Frise’s teeth also need daily attention to ward off plaque buildup, tooth decay/loss, and bad breath. This is especially important if your dog has an underbite.
Don’t forget to wipe around the eyes once a day to reduce the risk of eye problems and to prevent staining. Trimming the hair around your Zuchon’s eyes can help lower the risk of infection, too.
Believe it or not, there are a couple of grooming procedures that can happen less frequently for your Bichon Tzu. Plan on once-a-week ear cleanings and once-a-month baths. Clip their nails as needed.
Diet: What should Zuchons eat?
Plan to feed your Shih Tzu-Bichon 1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry food formulated for small, active dogs is best. Bonus points if it’s formulated for your furry pal’s age, too!
You’ll want to avoid wet food as it can contribute to dental issues, like tooth decay or loss, in this crossbreed.
Zuchons are prone to obesity, so follow a feeding schedule and don’t leave food out between mealtimes. Implementing a routine is easier than it may seem. Simply split your dog’s daily food intake into two meals, given at the same time each day.
Sticking to a feeding schedule not only cuts down on overeating, but it will also make it easier to detect when your Bichon Tzu isn’t eating normally.
If your dog suddenly loses their appetite and doesn’t get back on track within a day or so, make an appointment with the vet to make sure there is no underlying issue related to it.
Exercising your Shih Tzu and Bichon mix puppy
These canines are proud lap dogs. Still, they need time every day to unwind and get their zoomies out. 30 to 45 minutes a day, or 6 miles a week, is usually enough for the Zuchon.
They have flexible energy levels and will adapt to their owner’s routine. You don’t want to take this for granted, though. Bored dogs are destructive dogs.
Because they’re so little, they can technically get all the exercise they need playing inside. This doesn’t mean it can replace time spent outside. Your Tzu Frise will still appreciate a daily walk or trip to the park.
You should know that this hybrid is an escape artist. Whenever you’re taking your pet outside, consider using a harness on walks, too. They’re much harder to slip out of than a regular collar, and they can be more comfortable for your pup.
Not up for a walk seven days a week? These pups enjoy swimming, too. A plastic kiddie pool is a quick, easy option for your backyard that your Bichon-Shih Tzu cross will love.
It’s important to note that short-nosed Zuchons don’t always respond well to heat or excessive exercise, thanks to the brachycephalic syndrome.
Are Zuchons healthy dogs?
While this crossbreed is generally healthy, the brachycephalic syndrome is a common health issue in canines with short muzzles. The condition makes it difficult for them to breathe and sometimes requires surgery.
You might see your teddy bear reverse sneezing, a breathing spasm that happens when your dog’s airways become irritated. While these episodes can be alarming at first, they’ll usually pass on their own. Still, it’s wise to check in with your veterinarian to determine possible irritants.
In addition, your Bichon Tzu could inherit other conditions from her parents. These include:
- Dental issues, including plaque buildup and early tooth loss (particularly in Zuchons with an underbite)
- Skin allergies, or atopic dermatitis, usually around the feet and ears
- Cushing’s Disease
- Immune-mediated hemolytic anemia – an autoimmune disease that causes severe anemia
- Dry eye (which can go hand-in-hand with skin allergies)
- Patellar luxation, or a misaligned kneecap
Even with the risk of developing these health conditions, the Zuchon is a healthy dog, one who will be by your side for years to come. They have a lifespan of 12-15 years, and some have lived as long as 18 years.
Ready to buy a Zuchon puppy?
Teddy bear dogs aren’t the most expensive hybrid, but they aren’t cheap, either. On average, a Tzu Frise puppy can cost anywhere between $800 to $1300.
The bloodline of a puppy’s parents and the size of the litter can make a difference in how much a breeder can charge. For reference, Zuchon litters usually consist of four or five puppies.
If this price is a bit much for your liking, you can always adopt.
Shih Tzu and Bichon mix breeders
Finding a Zuchon breeder isn’t difficult, so take your time researching and visiting kennels that seem like solid choices.
When meeting your soon-to-be puppy, you’ll want to examine its muzzle thoroughly. Remember that short noses increase the likelihood of breathing disorders and dental problems.
You’re looking for a somewhat longer nose with open nostrils. Here’s a good rule of thumb: the length of the muzzle should be greater than ⅓ the length of the crown.
You’ll also want to get health records for your Tzu Frise’s parents to make sure your dog comes from good stock.
Eager to find a Tzu Frise of your own? You can start your search with these breeders:
- LillyBits (Ballard, WA)
- New Puppies 4 U (Goldsby, OK)
- Shichons of Stonebrooke (Abbeville, SC)
- Shichon Express (Stewart, MN)
- White Light Zuchon (Searsmont, ME)
Rescuing a Zuchon
Adopting a dog can be incredibly rewarding, but it may be hard to find a Bichon Tzu at your local animal shelter. Because this designer breed is relatively new, you might need to expand your search and be willing to travel for your Shih Tzu-Bichon mix.
Don’t forget to check Bichon Frise or Shih Tzu rescues, too. They’ll take in crossbreeds as well as purebreds and may have just what you’re looking for. Here are a few possibilities:
- Small Paws Rescue
- Bichon Frise Rescue of Northern New Jersey (East Hanover, NJ)
- New Beginnings Shih Tzu Rescue (Oak Creek, WI)
- Bluegrass Shih Tzu Rescue (Lexington, KY)
Breeds compared with the Zuchon
As adorable as the Tzu Frise is, you might still be on the fence. This breed has several pros, but there are cons, as well.
To make the decision a little easier, let’s compare the Zuchon to other Bichon crosses.
Zuchon vs. Cavachon
The Bichon Frise-Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix is similar to its Zuchon cousin in many ways.
Cavachons are relatively small, too, growing to 12 to 14 inches (30 to 36 cm) tall and weighing 10 to 20 pounds (5 to 9 kg).
They’re happy-go-lucky dogs and soak up love and affection. Cavachons don’t do well alone for long periods and are also prone to separation anxiety.
The Cavachons prey drive may be a dealbreaker for cat owners. These dogs like to chase, and your feline pets won’t enjoy being on the receiving end of that tag game.
Zuchon vs. Poochon
The Poochon (also known as Bichpoo or Bichon Poo) is a half companion breed and half working dog. A cross between the Bichon Frise and the Mini or Toy Poodle, this pooch is super smart with energy to burn.
An adult Poochon can stand up to 12 inches (30 cm) at the withers, with an average weight of 8 to 16 pounds (4 to 7 kg). They’re small enough to be comfortable in apartments, so long as they get enough exercise.
This breed can have an anxious, high-strung personality, but providing them with frequent mental and physical activity can help them relax and unwind.
Zuchon vs. Maltichon
The gentle but brave Maltese-Bichon mix is a tiny crossbreed suitable for apartment living. Growing to 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) and 8 to 12 pounds (4 to 5 kg) by adulthood, Maltichons don’t need much space.
If you’re hoping to run marathons with your new pet, this breed probably won’t be able to keep up. Maltichons are best suited for low-activity owners and require minimal exercise, only needing 15 to 20 minutes per day.
These hybrid canines also need to be with their humans as much as possible. Maltichons love people and can develop separation anxiety if they spend a long time without them.
Are you prepared for round-the-clock cuddles?
The Bichon-Shih Tzu mix has something for everyone. If their toy-like charm doesn’t draw you in, their devotion will do the trick.
Companion dogs to the core, these canines need owners who can give them love and attention throughout the day. After all, teddy bears are meant to be snuggled, right?
Find the Zuchon’s cuteness hard to resist? Tell us what you love most about them in the comments!