Diana Faria
by Diana Faria
fast facts

About Shih-Mo

15-25 lb
10-12 years
Best Suited For
Families with children, Houses or apartments, Seniors or retirees, Singles, Couples
Affectionate, loyal, playful
Comparable Breeds
American Eskimo Dog, Shih Tzu
Not applicable
12-18 inches
Shih-Mo Basics

The Shih-Mo is an affectionate, playful dog who will play with your kids for hours on end but also happily assumes the role of lap dog. They may be small, but they are energetic little fellows who benefit from daily exercise in the form of walks around the neighborhood, trips to the dog park or some playful roughhousing indoors or out.

Their small size makes them excellent pets for apartments and homes alike. They get along with everyone they meet so long as they are given a few minutes to warm up to the newcomer. Their sweet nature and their tendency to be lap dogs also make them great pets for seniors or retirees who have limited mobility and cannot take care of a large dog. They can also give older pet parents motivation to go outside and take Fido out for a walk – it’s a win-win situation!

The Shih-Mo is a mix of American Eskimo and Shih-Tzu breeds.


Designer breeds have been popular for the two decades as breeders specifically choose two breeds and combine them to develop a new breed with both of their characteristics. While we’re not entirely sure how the Shih-Mo came to be, we do know how the American Eskimo and Shih-Tzu breeds came to exist.

American Eskimos were first found in German immigrant communities in the US in the 19th century. They were the descendants of the white German Spitz and had come onto American soil with immigrants. Back then, they were known as the American Spitz and were quite popular in the late 19th century. They were known to be multi-purpose working dogs on farms by guarding people and property. In 1917, this breed’s name was changed to the American Eskimo despite having no origin or connection to Eskimo Culture. Due to their intelligence and trainability, these dogs later were used as popular trick dogs in traveling circuses before becoming a popular family companion.

The Shih-Tzu is an old breed of dog (one of the oldest, in fact) which eventually made its way to the laps of royalty in China. The Chinese prized this dog so much that the Shih-Tzu was exclusive to the east until the 20th century when one was given as a gift to Queen Elizabeth. The Shih-Tzu came to America in the ’60s and has since made a lasting impression in our hearts (and laps).


The Shih-Mo is a cross-bred dog consisting of two breeds: an American Eskimo and Shih Tzu.

Food / Diet

Purchase dry, high-quality kibble to feed your Shih-Mo and help keep their teeth healthy and strong. Depending on their dietary needs, your local veterinarian should be able to point you in the right direction in terms of brand. However, should your Shih-Mo have detail issues, this dog breed also does well with a wet-food diet should dry kibble be impossible.

Shih-Mos are affectionate, sweet dogs who are attached to their owners.


This breed of dog is intelligent and eager to please, so training them should not be overly difficult so long so long as pet parents are patient, keep an even tone of voice and do not get easily irritated should your Shih-Mo not immediately pick up on commands. Remember to always reward good behavior with treats and pieces of kibble and you should be on the right track.


The Shih-Mo is a medium-sized dog who can weigh between 15-25 lbs, depending on how much they take from either parent breed.

Temperament / Behavior

Shih-Mo’s are rather affectionate, sweet dogs who are attached to their owners by the hip. They are loyal dogs who can be occasionally territorial of their favorite humans and may let out a high-pitched bark to ward off anyone wanting to take them way from their owners. Having said that, they are excellent family pets who will play with children (both young and old) all day long if given the chance to yet are still relaxed animals who will happily sit on the couch with their adult owners after a long day’s work

This designer breed can be a little wary of strangers or loud noises outside such as construction work or (like most dogs) fireworks and thunder. Thankfully, barking at strangers is simply their way of being protective over their family and after a few minutes of getting to know the newcomer, they will no doubt consider them a part of the family and will happily accept their belly rub and head scratches.

American Eskimos do not do well when left alone and have a tendency to bark and annoy neighbours when no one is at home to keep them company. Depending on how much they take from their parents, Shih-Mo’s may also have this characteristic and may develop separation anxiety when away from their humans.

Common Health Problems

Shih-Mo’s can inherit any health issue from either of their parent breeds. The American Eskimo is particularly susceptible to become overweight easily, so be wary of how much food versus how much exercise your dog is getting. They also have a few genetic problems such as luxating patellas, hip dysplasia, juvenile cataracts, PRA (Progessive Retinal Atrophy) and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease.

Shih-Tzu’s on the other hand are prone to conditions such as JRD (juvenile renal dysplasia), bladder sones/infections, allergies, eye problems (such as keratitis, proptosis and distichiasis), ear infections, teeth/gum problems, snuffles, reverse sneezing and umbilical hernias.

Life Expectancy

The Shih-Mo generally lives 10-12 years.

Exercise Requirements

While American Eskimos are happily active dogs, Shih-Tzu’s are known mostly to be lap dogs. The Shih-Mo’s activity level will hopefully be a mix of both breeds and not be lazy nor overly energetic. Bust out the collar, leash, frisbee and rope toy and head to your local dog park for some much-needed exercise! Should you be unable to take a trip to the dog park (or if your community does not have one), daily walks around the block combined with some indoor playtime should be plenty to tucker this little guy right out for the day.

Shih-Mos are excellent family pets who will play with children, young and old alike.

Recognized Clubs

The Shih-Mo is recognized by the American Canine Hybrid Club (ACHC), the Designer Dogs Kennel Club, (DDKC), Dog Registry of America (DRA) and the International Designer Canine Registry (DCR).


Depending on how much the Shih-Mo takes from either parent breed, their coat may be short to medium in length. Shih-Mo’s generally have dense, soft fur which will require the occasional grooming and trimming in order to keep it in good condition. Shin-Mo’s can come in a variety of difficult colors including tan, brown, white, grey or a mixture of colors such as white and brown or tan and white. Give your Shih-Mo pup a bath as required.


Puppies should always be supervised by an adult when in contact with children, especially when they are young. Children may accidentally pull on tails, ears and fur and may accidentally harm dogs which is why the utmost care must be taken when introducing any puppy to a child, no matter what kind the breed.

Photo credit: Stacey S/Flickr

Diana Faria
Diana Faria

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