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Shihpoo 101

Designer dogs or crossbreed dogs increased in popularity in the 2000s. This is likely because crossbreed dogs tend to combine some of the best elements of different dog breeds.

The names for these designer breeds are quite interesting! This is because their names are a portmanteau of the two baseline breeds. For example, a Schnauzer crossed with Beagle results in Schneagle offspring, and a Chihuahua who is bred with a Yorkshire Terrier will have a litter of Chorkie pups. So, at the risk of sounding like an opening line to a joke: what do you get when you cross a Shih Tzu with a Poodle?

What is a Shihpoo?

A Shih Poo is the offspring of a Shih Tzu crossed with a toy-sized Poodle dog. In order for a new crossbreed to be recognized by a kennel club, the breeder must demonstrate at least three generations of Shih Tzu and Poodle crosses before the pups can be declared official Shihpoos.

Shihpoo dogs have the loyal personality of a Shih Tzu and the non-shedding type coat of a Poodle. Both breeds are highly popular and have been around for several centuries.

The Shih Tzu originated from China in the late 17th century while the Poodle’s 18th-century origins are still somewhat debated, either in France or Germany. Both breeds received AKC recognition around the 1970s, but Shihpoo cross-breeding began about twenty years ago.  

Shihpoos can vary physically due to the influence of other factors outside of genes alone. Most of them are the size of a typical “lapdog,” anywhere from eight to thirteen inches tall and can weigh anywhere from eight to eighteen pounds. Their hair coat can be long or short, curly or straight, and any combination of colors such as black, white, or gold.

The notion that a dog is “hypoallergenic” for its owner used to be based on its hair coat type and the frequency of its shedding. However, recent evidence cites the presence of a protein known as Canis familiaris allergen 1 (Can f 1). When present in high numbers, Can f 1 can increase the risk of allergies for the dog’s owner.

Poodles used to be considered a hypoallergenic breed; however, Poodles are one of the breeds known for having the highest levels of Can f 1protein. Therefore, Shihpoos may be able to affect human allergies.


Shihpoo dogs tend to be friendly and confident like their Shih Tzu relatives, and their Poodle genes make for a personality that is excitable and eager to please. Shihpoos get along very well with their humans and other pets, and they make great companions for older children. If you have younger children, it is best to wait a few years before purchasing a Shihpoo.

Shihpoos are very playful and enjoy spending time outside or chasing their toys, and they can also be great lapdogs who enjoy the occasional lounging around the house. However, Shihpoos can also be stubborn when it comes to housetraining so remember to be patient and consistent when teaching them new skills.  

In some cases, Shihpoos can also be a little anxious or high-strung like their Toy Poodle cousins. This can contribute to phobias and/or separation anxiety. Behavior modification coupled with medications and calming treats can make a big difference, and abundant anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD oil may help mitigate anxious behaviors.    

Health and care

The life expectancy of the average Shihpoo is anywhere between 10 to 12 years of age, and some can live well into their teens! Routine preventive care and semi-annual trips to your veterinarian can ensure that your Shihpoo is healthy. This is especially important when you think about some of the health problems that Shih Tzus and Toy Poodles can develop:

  • Allergies (ear and skin infections)
  • Periodontal disease (dental disease)
  • Orthopedic issues (luxating patellae, intervertebral disc disease)
  • Brachycephalic syndrome (stenotic nares, collapsing trachea)
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS or dry eye)

Yearly vaccinations are important for all Shihpoos, even if their outdoor time is very short, and flea/tick and heartworm prevention should be utilized year-round, regardless of geographical location. Because Shihpoos have an increased risk of dental disease, you should schedule a veterinary dental cleaning once a year and consider brushing your dog's teeth as often as possible. High-quality diets for small breed dogs are highly recommended, and it is important to maintain an ideal body condition score to avoid stressing his joints.

Shihpoos require a mild amount of daily exercise, usually no more than 30 minutes per day. This can be done with light walks outside, but high impact exercises like jogging or hiking should be avoided. Many Shihpoos will burn off their excess energy during playtime at home. If your Shihpoo is overweight, they may need a slight increase in his exercise.

Regular grooming is important for your Shihpoo, especially if his coat grows longer very quickly. A thorough brushing is recommended at least twice a week to help prevent mats from forming. If his coat is more Shih Tzu than Poodle, increase brushing frequency to once a day. If his coat is more Poodle than Shih Tzu, a hair trim will be necessary every six to eight weeks. Nails should be trimmed weekly.

Shihpoos are a crossbreed between Shih Tzus and Toy Poodles, and they are a tiny but mighty breed of dog. They have loving, playful personalities but may need a little extra help in the training department.

Knowledge of the genetic predispositions for their Shih Tzu and Toy Poodle relatives can help with the early detection of disease in your Shihpoo, and quicker interventions can lead to faster cures. Shihpoos need more grooming than the average dog but variations in hair coats will dictate what kind of grooming is necessary for your pup.

Meet The Author 

Dr. Erica Irish DVM


Erica has worked in the veterinary field since 2006, starting out as a veterinary technician before graduating from the UF College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. As a general practitioner in an animal hospital, she has many interests and is especially interested in dermatology, cardiology, internal and integrative medicine

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Catherine Barnette DVM


Catherine is a veterinarian and freelance writer based in Florida. After 14 years as a small animal general practitioner, Dr. Barnette now focuses on creating educational content for veterinary teams and their clients. She shares her home with her husband, daughter, one dog, two cats, and a rescued white dove.

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