December 2, 2019 PetGuide
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  • Height: 10 inches
  • Weight: 6-12 lb
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Group: Not Applicable
  • Best Suited For: Families with children, singles, seniors, apartments, houses with/without yards
  • Temperament: Happy, intelligent, playful, outgoing
  • Comparable Breeds: Maltese, Shih Tzu

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A popular designer dog breed, the Mal-Shi is an adorable little pooch that is ideal for a variety of lifestyles. This is a pup so beloved that it goes by three names. Also known as Malti Tzu, Mal-Tzu, Shih-tese and Shima, this hybrid is easy-to-train and a delight to have around your family. This breed was designed to be a low-shedder, making him a popular companion for those who suffer from allergies. But he’s much more than that; he’s great with the kids and is content to cuddle on your lap at the end of the day. This is a designer doggo who fits in with any family and lights up every room. Anyone would be lucky to bring this pooch home. 

Bold and outgoing, he’ll make friends with anyone he comes across, humans and animals. A wonderful family dog, the Mal-Shi can also make an amazing therapy dog, thanks to his naturally good nature. He will grow very attached to his family and want to spend every second around them. Ideal if you want a loyal and loving companion! But like most velcro dogs, there are downsides to this type of canine attachment. You’ll want to be sure that your Mal-Shi has constant companionship. 

The many wonderful qualities of this extraordinary animal make it one of the most popular designer dog breeds around. The Mal-Shi’s adorable looks, sweet nature, and adaptable personality are all very appealing to a wide variety of prospective owners. There’s a reason why this breed is growing in popularity all the time. But is the Mal-Shi truly the right dog for your family? Read on to find out.

A popular designer dog, the Mal-Shi is an adorable little dog that is ideal for a variety of lifestyles.

Developed in the 1990s, the Mal-Shi was designed to be a low-shedding, hypoallergenic companion dog. That’s right a dog created to be an ideal companion with minimal mess and no sneezes. Sources indicate that the breed originated in Australia, where the Mal-Shi has been one of the most popular mixed breed dogs in decades. However, this hybrid was not created to only be treasured in the land down under. Nope, these adorable and fluffy dogs have been gaining popularity in North America as well. The lovely character and appearance of the Maltese and Shih Tzu mix will leave no one indifferent. These dogs were practically designed to be loved and it’s only a matter of time before this hybrid becomes a worldwide sensation.

The Mal-Shi is the result of breeding purebred Maltese dogs with purebred Shih Tzus.

The Mal-Shi is the result of breeding purebred Maltese dogs with purebred Shih Tzus. The resulting mixed breed babies are so-called F1 or first generation hybrids. They inherit 50 percent of Maltese genes and 50 percent of Shih Tzu genes, but one of the parents may be more influential in the mix. It’s hard to predict exactly how things will balance out in a first generation hybrid. For example, a puppy might resemble one breed more more or display some breed-specific traits. This type of crossbreeding, where both parents are different purebreds, is the most “unpredictable” one. You can never know for certain what the litter of puppies will turn out like, both in appearance and behavior. Quite often there will even be different mixes within the same litter. For this reason, breeders try to make a breed more uniform through multigenerational breeding. These things take time, which is why crossbreeds aren’t always officially recognized and classified for many years.

There have been second generation Mal-Shis, which are developed by crossing two unrelated Mal-Shis. However, since this is still a breed-in-the-making, so to speak, these are quite rare to come across. However, in the future there will probably be more multigenerational hybrids. That will be a necessity if the breeders hope to create a breed standard for Mal-Shis and want to get recognition from major canine clubs. So stay tuned…

Dogs need a well-balanced and healthy diet to thrive. That’s a fact. Usually, premium dry food made from natural and high-grade ingredients meets all of the needs of your canine friend. That’s why the Mal-Shi does best on a diet of high-quality kibble. Choose a brand that offers a formula that suits your dog’s unique needs and make sure that the ingredients used in the kibble are up to standards. Usually, a small breed formula is the optimal choice, as it has the right nutritional value for a dog of Mal-Shi’s size and activity level. Additionally, their kibble should be appropriate for their age- seniors, puppies, and adults have different needs. It’s usually a wise idea to consult a vet about this decision. While it’s possible to guess what your dog will need based on kibble brand standards and ingredients, every pooch is different. Some won’t necessarily match basic kibble age and size standards. So, to be safe it’s always wise to consult your vet to find the best food match for your pup. That’s why you have a vet, after all. 

Serving size depends on the brand, but the average amount would be 1/4 to 1/2 cup of kibble a day, divided into two meals. Don’t overfeed your dog, as this breed is prone to obesity. They gain weight easily and can develop certain health problems if things get out of hand. So, be careful. Experiment with serving sizes and check your dog’s weight while you’re settling into a feeding routine. Eventually, you’ll find the perfect amount that will keep your fur baby happy and healthy. 

The Mal-Shi is intelligent and happy, making him a pleasure to train.

The Mal-Shi is an intelligent and happy pup, making him a pleasure to train. Basic obedience will soon be mastered, so be sure to sign up for advanced training once he’s ready to move to something more challenging. He will also make a wonderful therapy dog, thanks to his loving and social behavior. This combination makes the Mal-Shi an excellent choice for first-time dog owners. Training will be a pleasure, which any multigenerational dog owner can tell you is a rare treat!

Your dog may prove to be a bit stubborn, but positive and consistent training will correct this problem. As well, housetraining can be an issue, so introduce crate training early. As long as you start early and lean into positive reinforcement, your pup will be an obedient and well behaved companion in no time at all.

Due to its small size, it’s important for you to treat your Mal-Shi like a dog rather than like a baby. If not, he could turn out to be a bratty monster. Treat him like a real dog – make him walk and don’t carry him everywhere. You need to establish yourself as the master of the house and not some doting parent. It might be tough because Mal-Shi puppies are so adorable. You will want to cradle him and hold him close at all times. But trust us, this will pay off. There will be plenty of lapdog time throughout your Mal-Shi’s life, so don’t waste those early years when training must be established.

A Mal-Shi will stand about 10 inches and weigh anywhere between 6 to 12 pounds. Not exactly a monster, huh? This is more of a pocket pup.

Affectionate, alert, loving, and devoted to their owner, the Mal-Shi is a joy to be around.Affectionate, alert, loving, and devoted to their owner, the Mal-Shi is an absolute joy to be around. Because this is a mixed breed, it inherits the personality characteristics of both the Maltese and the Shih Tzu. That means that you can expect you dog to be gentle and affectionate as well as playful and fearless. The Shih Tzu in this designer breed will be watchful and let you know if something doesn’t seem right (Sure, they won’t exactly be much help if there is danger, but at least they’ll warn you!). A fast learner, you’ll have fun teaching this dog some new tricks. They are capable of learning so many and love showing off.

Amusing and endearing, the Mal-Shi may do better in a household with older children due to his size. Your dog may possess a bit of a stubborn streak, but with early training and consistency, your Mal-Shi will respond well to your commands. It’s all about rewarding the right behavior early. That reward will last for your pup’s lifetime.

He’s also an affectionate companion who loves being with his family. Because he loves his family so much, you don’t want to leave your Mal-Shi alone for long periods at a time, as it can lead to separation anxiety. So, it’s best to crate train early and bring a Mal-Shi into a home that will have a consistent companion.

The Mal-Shi can inherit health issues prevalent with its parent breeds. Some common issues include Patellar Luxation and White Shaker Syndrome, which affects young to middle-aged dogs. They can also suffer from respiratory problems, so you should keep your Mal-Shi in an air conditioned home during the summer.

The Mal-Shi has an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years.

The Mal-Shi has moderate exercise needs and will curb his habits to reflect yours. If you’re active, he will keep up with you. But if you’re more laid-back, he’ll be happy to hang out with you. These dogs like to go with the flow and live like their masters.

However, it goes without saying that your Mal-Shi will need some exercise regardless of your lifestyle. It won’t take too much though. Even just a daily walk or a spirited game of catch should do. A Mal-Shi can leave quite happily in an apartment, as long as he is exercised enough. Now, he does love the outdoors, so it helps if you have a yard for him to play in. Still, he’ll only need about 10 to 15 minutes of exercise per day. That’s not much at all compared to most dogs.

Affectionate, alert, loving, and devoted to their owner, the Mal-Shi is a joy to be around.

The Mal-Shi is not recognized by the American Kennel Club, as it is considered to be a hybrid breed. However, this breed is recognized by the American Canine Hybrid Club (ACHC), the Designer Dogs Kennel Club (DDKC), Dog Registry of America, Inc. (DRA), International Designer Canine Registry (IDCR) and Designer Breed Registry (DBR).

The Mal-Shi’s coat should be long, soft and silky, with a little wave to it. As for coat colors, Mal-Shis are usually white or white with tan markings on the body and ears, but they can also boast combination of other colors (black, brown, black and white, brown and white, and black and brown).

Because of long coat, you’ll need to brush your Mal-Ski daily to keep tangles and mats at bay. Some owners choose to keep their Mal-Shi’s coat short, for easier maintenance. You may find that your dog as a problem with tear stains. To combat this problem, you can keep the area around the eye cleaned, which helps with staining.

Mal-Shis are social, even when they are puppies. They’ll love to be the center of the attention and they will definitely melt your heart with their cuteness! But just because they’re insanely adorable doesn’t mean that you should let them get away with everything. Start training as early as possible, as it will ensure your pet grows up to be well-behaved. Socialization is also crucial. So, be sure to take them to the dog park and other new environments so they can meet new people and animals. Those early years are so important in the development of your pup, so don’t take them for granted!

Photo credit: Mandarine Koala/Wikimedia Commons; Cody Porche’/Flickr; Sierra/Flickr

Comparable Breeds

Go to Maltese


  • Height: 9-10 inches
  • Weight: 4-7 lb
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Group: AKC Toy
  • Best Suited For: Families with older children, singles, seniors, apartments, houses with/without yards
  • Temperament: Gentle, playful, energetic, bold
  • Comparable Breeds: Miniature Poodle, Shih Tzu
Go to Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu

  • Height: 10-11 inches
  • Weight: 9-16 lb
  • Lifespan: 12-16 years
  • Group: AKC Toy
  • Best Suited For: Families with children, singles, seniors, apartments, houses with/without yards
  • Temperament: Playful, lively, cuddly, affectionate
  • Comparable Breeds: Lhasa Apso, Pekingese