Fo Tzu

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic
fast facts

About Fo Tzu

10-14 inches
8-15 lbs
12-16 years
Not applicable
Best Suited For
Families with older children, singles, active seniors, people who live in an apartment
Energetic, sweet, playful, curious, smart, affectionate, stubborn, lively
Comparable Breeds
Toy Fox Terrier, Shih Tzu
Fo Tzu Basics

If you simply can’t resist mischievous furry charmers, you’ll fall head over heels for the Fo Tzu. Their lovely personality is a unique mix of sweetness and affection on one side and curiosity and playfulness on the other. In other words, while your Fo Tzu will love to cuddle up to you on the sofa, it doesn’t mean that they’re a lazy little lap dog. These mixed breed dogs are full of energy and will love to go about and explore the world- preferably with their favorite human by their side.

This designer dog breed is a relatively new one and it is developed by crossing a Toy Fox Terrier to a Shih Tzu. As a crossbreed, the Fo Tzu can be a bit unpredictable. The appearance of their coat, face, or body shape may vary, and their personality might be more mellow like the Shih Tzu or they can inherit the spirited terrier genes. Either way, it’s highly likely your new puppy will inherit a little something from both of his parents.

With proper training and socialization, the Fo Tzu will be a versatile, adaptable dog that fits in easily in many households. On the other hand, there are certain predispositions and requirements that might make this designer dog the wrong choice for your family. To make sure the Fo Tzu is really the dog for you, keep on reading.

Fo Tzus are generally friendly, loving dogs with a lot of energy.


Designer dogs exploded in popularity in the last twenty years- even though they have been in existence from the 1980s. In fact, purebred mixes have been around much longer than that, but people called them mutts rather than hybrids or designer dogs. So what changed? Instead of being (often unwanted) results of an accidental mating between purebreds, the newly created designer dogs were a product of intentional breeding efforts. The goal was to combine two purebred dogs that would each contribute something to the mix and create a new, separate breed. The same happened with Fo Tzu.

The combination of Shih Tzu and Toy Fox Terrier hopes to eliminate some of the breed-specific issues while retaining the desirable traits of both parents. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough information about the origin and history of this particular breed. There are no breeders that claim to be the one that has created the breed, so the best guess anyone can have is that the Fo Tzu shares his story with most other hybrids. In other words, these designer dogs likely had their start in the United States, sometime in the last 10 to 20 years.


Fo Tzu is a cross between a Shih Tzu and a Toy Fox Terrier. This is a 50-50 mix between the two purebreds or a so-called first generation hybrid. Both of the parental breeds are small breed dogs, selectively bred for companionship, but that’s where their similarities stop. The Shih Tzu is a long-haired dog with a sweet, gentle nature, whereas the Toy Fox Terrier has a short coat and a big attitude. Naturally, when you cross the two, you don’t know what to expect from their offspring. Some first generation puppies will look and behave more like one parent than the other, and some will combine the traits of both. This unpredictability is a downside for some people, whereas others think of it as part of the designer dogs’ charm.

Multigenerational crossings of Fo Tzu dogs are rare, in part for the health concerns and in part for the fact that this is still a young breed with a very few breeders that develop it. Only after 7 generations of further breeding could the Fo Tzu be even considered to apply for recognition as an actual breed. Needless to say, the American Kennel Club doesn’t recognize designer dogs, Toy Fox Terrier and Shih Tzu mix included.


To thrive and lead a long and happy life, every dog needs to have a healthy diet. As omnivores, dogs can eat a variety of foods but require specific food groups in specific ratios to meet their dietary needs. Ideally, the main part of their diet would be a meat-based protein, followed by healthy fats and complex carbs. The Fo Tzu is the same.

However, while broken down like this canine nutrition sounds overly complex, it’s easy to achieve it- with a high-quality kibble. Dry food for dogs is formulated to contain all of the nutrients your pet needs in the right ratio for their own unique needs. For your Fo Tzu, choose premium quality dry food, made from high-grade natural ingredients. Additionally, their kibble should be appropriate for their size, age (puppy, adult, senior), and activity level. In most cases, small-breed formulas are a good fit, as they are made specifically for petite dogs with a lot of energy with fits the bill for the Fo Tzu.

In addition to choosing the right food for your pet, you will have to pay attention to the amount of food you’re serving to them. Fo Tzu dogs tend to have a healthy appetite and will eat as much as you offer to them- but you should stick to the manufacturer’s recommendations. As a rule of thumb, a cup to cup and a half of food will be enough for these designer dogs. Anything over that could lead to obesity and other health issues.

Fo Tzu can excel at dog sports, such as agility or flyball.


Each dog is different- and it’s especially true for designer dogs such as Fo Tzu. While some puppies might make stellar pupils, others could end up being willful and bored by training lessons. There are no guarantees! However, by looking at the parental breeds, there are some things that you can predict. First, the Fo Tzu will be a smart little pooch, eager to please his owners. Both of the parents tend to be difficult to housebreak, though, so you will have to put in extra effort in your potty training sessions. Sometimes, the terrier genes in your little mix can lead to a stubborn streak, but with a bit of patience, it won’t be a huge issue. In general, while this might not be the ideal breed for a first-time dog owner, with the right approach, most people will find the Fo Tzu highly trainable.

The golden rule is to use reward-based training methods. Positive reinforcement training works with all dogs, as treats and praise tend to motivate without discrimination. Just be firm and confident in your approach and find what prize motivates your pet the most and you can’t go wrong. Start with the basic commands and manners and move up from there. Fo Tzu can excel at dog sports, such as agility or flyball, so you can try and teach them to compete in the ring.


Fo Tzu dogs usually weigh anywhere from 8 to 15 pounds. The variations in size will be related to their sex (females are smaller) and the parent they favor (Toy Fox Terrier weighs less).


Every dog owner will tell you that their pet has a personality unique to them. While each pooch might have its own quirks and charms, some overall traits and behavior can be attributed to purebreds and purebred mixes. Of course, it will be more unpredictable with designer dogs such as Fo Tzu, but there are still some general rules that usually apply. For instance, as the offspring of two small companion dogs, this little guy is certain to be sweet and affectionate with his family. They are devoted pets and will grow close to their owners very fast. Fo Tzu tends to be a velcro dog that likes to follow his humans around. However, they are naturally suspicious of strangers and will be very distrustful unless socialized. They are alert and protective and they will make great watchdogs that will notify you if anyone’s coming or snooping around.

Even though usually very loving and gentle, Fo Tzu is not a docile, mellow dog (unless the Shih Tzu is the more prevalent in the mix). These are feisty little pooches that are curious and playful, and they will need to have constant mental and physical activity in their life to be happy.

Fo Tzus are generally friendly, loving dogs but they are not the best choice for people with young children. Not only that their small size makes them at risk for injuries from rough handling, but they are also often impatient and prone to nipping. Unless you specifically socialize them to feel at ease with kids and teach your children how to behave around them, it’s best not to pick a Fo Tzu as a family dog.

Common Health Problems

As the mix of two purebred dogs, Fo Tzu is at risk for two sets of breed-specific illnesses. While some mixed breed dogs might be lucky enough to be healthier than their parents, it doesn’t eliminate the fact that your pet could be prone to a few issues that affect his mom and dad. If the puppy inherits the build and the flat face of the Shih Tzu, canine disk disease and brachycephalic syndrome are a possibility. In any case, common health problems such as eye issues, allergies, and luxating patellas are also some potential issues.

Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy for a Fo Tzu is between 12 and 16 years.

Exercise Requirements

The Fo Tzu is a playful, lively little dog. They might be tiny and sweet, but they have a lot of energy to burn off. Luckily for you, due to their size, it doesn’t take too much exercise to help them do it! Unlike large active dogs who need daily hikes and hours of active playtime to tire out, petite pooches such as the Fo Tzu will do well with a few daily walks and a game of fetch in a securely fenced backyard. Don’t underestimate their need for activity; though- they need to be outside each day, both for fresh air and some canine cardio. If you neglect their exercise needs (both those of physical and mental nature) you will quickly have a bored, depressed dog on your hands that displays his issues through destructive behaviors.

These dogs need to have constant mental and physical activity in their life to be happy.

Recognized Clubs

American Kennel Club and other major canine organizations don’t recognize designer dogs as actual breeds. There are plenty of smaller clubs that do, however, and those of them that recognize the Fo Tzu are American Canine Hybrid Club, Designer Dogs Kennel Club, Dog Registry of America, and International Designer Canine Registry.


The coats of the Shih Tzu and the Toy Fox Terrier are completely different- that’s why all bets are off when it comes to Fo Tzu’s hair. These hybrids can sport either a longer, shaggier fur or have a close-cropped coat like their terrier dad. In most cases, though, the result of this cross is somewhere in the middle. Most Fo Tzus have a coat of medium length and shed moderately. They are not high maintenance when it comes to their grooming- a nice brushing every couple of days will keep their coat shiny and soft.


Fo Tzu puppies are a delight- they are tiny bundles of cuteness and energy. These dogs might be especially tiny when they are young, but it won’t stop them from trying to explore every inch of their environment and get into all sorts of troubles. Needless to say, you will have to be very careful around them, as they are very fragile as puppies. Don’t leave children to play with them without supervision and watch your step- Fo Tzu will follow you around and it’s easy to hurt them inadvertently.

Once they are a few weeks old, start with training and socialization. A timely start will ensure your pooch grows up to be a well-behaved, friendly dog that’s a pleasure to be around.

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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