Shih Poo: Facts, Breed Info, & Care Guide

Shih Poo: Facts, Breed Info, & Care Guide

Author WDF Staff


The Shih-Poo is a relatively young “designer” mixed dog breed that was developed in the United States of America. Like any other designer dog “breed”, many things are still to be fully discovered and learned. This is usually a small dog since Shih-Poos are a cross between a Shih Tzu and the Toy Poodle.



8 - 13 in



8 - 18 lb




 Life Expectancy

Life Expectancy:

13 - 16 years

How was the Shih-Poo created?

Humans have crossbred different dog breeds for thousands of years and many breeds have indeed started this way. Breeds like Doberman, Black Russian Terrier, Affenpinscher, Leonberger, and many more were created by crossbreeding many breeds but creating a new breed is not that simple.

Around 1995, people started actively crossing the Shih Tzus and Toy Poodles to create a dog breed that will have the best characteristics of both breeds. Many of these designer dog breeds are created to make the “breeder” money.

We are sure you will love your dog for its uniqueness and for being a great companion, but be careful about where you are buying your new Shih-Poo from.

shih tzuShih Tzu

What's their character like?

The Shih-Poo comes from two dog breeds that are mostly bred for companionship. The Shih Tzu is one of the oldest dog breeds and was used as a lap warmer for many Chinese royal and nobles in the past. These days the Shih Tzu is a popular companion around the world and is affectionate, loyal, lovable, devoted, and a great watchdog. A huge plus when buying a purebred dog is that you can be sure it will have about 95% of the characteristics of the breed, both physical and psychological.

Dog Breed Characteristics

Energy Level
Grooming Needs
Exercise Needs
Kid Friendly
Dog Friendly
General Health

The Toy Poodle is a very smart dog breed that was created with a single purpose of being a great companion. They are intelligent, loyal, and quick learners so they can perform a wide range of commands and orders. They can also be stubborn and not tolerate rough handling.

A Shih-Poos character should be a mix of the characteristics of their parent breeds. This “breed” has not yet been properly researched and it is impossible to know which character traits the new puppies will have.

toy poodleToy Poodle

What does a Shih-Poo look like?

Again, the Shih-Poo is a crossbreed and its looks are determined by many random gene factors that are not always controlled by the “breeder”. Some “breeders” may claim that their fur is hypoallergenic, but that is usually a lie. There is no way of knowing whether these dogs can cause any reactions from a person suffering from dog allergies. Genes present themselves at random and there is no way of knowing what physical traits these new puppies will manifest. Their coat can be curly like the ones Poodles have, or it can be straight like the ones Shih Tzus have. Most likely, it will be a combination of both.

Most Shih-Poos have a coat that is a combination of the two coat types. They can weigh anywhere between 8 and 18 lbs (3,5-8 kg) and have a height of 8 to 13 in (20-33 cm), depending on the size of their parents. Some “breeders” might tell you that their puppies are a crossbreed between a Shih Tzu and a Toy Poodle, when in fact they are a crossbreed between a Shih Tzu and a Medium Poodle and there is no way of knowing that because the puppies will have similar traits. You can only be sure after the puppies are grown up and you can see their actual size.

Coat colors

The coat color of a Shih-Poo is unknown as much as their actual looks. Their coat can come in any color that a standard Shih Tzu or a Poodle can have and most often those colors are black, brown, brown and white, black and white, particolored, tricolored, grey, golden, etc.

If you are looking for a “designer” dog breed that will have specific coat colors we would recommend that you wait until the puppies are born and in no case should you prepurchase a dog and be unsure of their characteristics.

Shih-Poo health

Many people think that crossing two different breeds will widen their gene pool and give the new puppies the best possible chance to be healthier. That belief is false because the chances of getting a healthy puppy are bigger, but the chances of getting an unhealthy puppy are also bigger. There is no way of knowing which genes will be dominant and which genes will be manifested when crossing two different breeds.

From the short study of the Shih-Poo, most of them have an average life expectancy of 13-16 years and can inherit diseases from both parent breeds. Keep a close eye on heatstroke if your Shih-Poo inherits a shorter muzzle from the Shih Tzu. They are also prone to dental problems, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, etc. Check the potential health issues for both of these breeds and keep in mind that your Shih-Poo can inherit diseases from both sides.

One of the best things you can do for your new Shih-Poo puppy is to buy it from a “breeder” that has health and gene tests done on both of the parents. Also, try to remember if someone tells you they had a vet check the puppy’s parents, it does not mean that they are clear of inherited diseases. Ask them to show you proper health and gene tests.

There are many things that are not completely clear when it comes to these new “designer” breeds and there is yet a lot we need to learn about them. Purebred dogs have been studied for centuries and quality breeding made them as healthy as possible. Doing experiments with these types of crossbreeds is not recommended, especially if you are doing it because the new puppies will have appealing physical characteristics.

To achieve consistency within a breed, in their character, size, and appearance, these so-called breeders need to select and selectively breed several generations of these dogs for their characteristics to become firmly set and consistent. We all love our dogs no matter what, but keep in mind that just because a breed is cute, does not mean it will be a healthy or a happy dog.

If you are worried about your dog's health, you can always do a health test at home. Take the Embark Dog DNA Test Kit that can tell you all you need to know about your dog's ancestry and health.

World Dog Finder team