Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
fast facts

About Shih-Poo

8-18 lb
10-15 years
Not Applicable
Best Suited For
Families with children, singles and seniors, apartments, houses with/without yards
Fun-loving, energetic, spunky, playful
Comparable Breeds
Poodle, Shih Tzu
8-13 inches

Shih-Poo Basics

Are you ready for some action, Shih-Poo style? If you are looking for a dog breed with a name that you will never stop laughing about, then you just found it. But, apart from a funny designer name, this crossbreed has so much more to offer. The Shih-Poo is a fun-loving and energetic little designer dog, whose zest for life is intoxicating. They are happy-go-lucky tiny doggos that thrive around people and will love to be included in your every adventure – heck, they’ll demand to be a part of everything you do and vice versa.

A mix of Shih Tzu and Toy Poodle, he’ll have everyone in the family running around and chasing a ball alongside of him. Although he doesn’t need loads of exercise, he is spunky when he wants to play and will wear his family down long before he ever tuckers out. Shih-Poos will race around the house or run around the yard. It doesn’t matter much to them. They are little balls of energy always looking for the opportunity to explode. This crossbreed is a great companion for families who live in small apartments or have large backyards in the suburbs. He’s quite adaptable to a variety of living situations and will find ways to burn off that energy just about anywhere.

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Not unlike most designer dog breeds, the Shih Poo is also susceptible to the diseases that are common for its parental dog breeds – or, in this case, the Shih Tzu and the Poodle. Add to that some of the problems with health that are common for small breed dogs and tend to come with age, such as dental issues, cataracts, or arthritis, and it’s clear that regular vet visits are a must if you want to make sure your crossbreed pet stays in top shape. This is why many owners opt for pet health insurance – without it, vet bills can be quite a strain on the budget. Lemonade Pet Insurance provides plans that cover anywhere from 70% to 90% medical expenses for diagnostics, procedures, and medications, so you don’t have to worry about astronomical bills in case your pet gets sick or hurt unexpectedly. And it’s affordable, too – as an example, you’ll pay $29.50 each month for a 3-year-old Labrador in Texas, with 80% co-insurance, an annual limit of $20,000, and an annual deductible of $250. If you want to add the Preventative package, which includes a wellness exam, vaccinations, and more, you’ll pay $45.50 each month.

Always a clown, the Shih-Poo seems to have a way of cheering people up and making even the saddest person smile. These pups have a magnetic personality that will pull in people of all ages. Their loyal and sweet nature makes them ideal companions, especially for retirees looking for a four-legged friend to spend their golden years with. Nothing will make you smile in your autumn years quite like having a Shih-Poo bouncing around your home.

While quite intelligent, this Shih Tzu and Poodle mix dog might not be a wise choice for beginner dog owners. They can be stubborn and difficult to housebreak, and unless you had previous experience with dog training, you might find them a handful. Training this fluff balls will tax even the most patience and experienced of professional dog trainers, so new dog owners don’t stand a chance. Also known as Shoodle, Shihpoo, Shih-Doodle, and Shi-Poo, this adorable little hybrid definitely has a lot to offer to his family. Read on to find out more about this popular designer dog breed!

The Shih-Poo is a mix of Shih Tzu and Toy Poodle breeds.


It’s always difficult to determine the origin of individual designer dog breeds. Breeders have been intentionally crossbreeding purebreds for decades now, but it doesn’t change the fact that the majority of mixed breed dogs came to be by the way of accidental mating. This is why it’s sometimes impossible to know when a breed came to be unless someone steps up to claim it as their own “creation”. There have probably been many Shih Tzu and Poodle mixes throughout history, but the moment of interest for the history of the Shih-Poo is the one when that crossbreeding became intentional. That’s the moment that can’t be nailed down. At some point these designer pooches became popular, yet it’s unclear precisely when. Sometimes you simply have to embrace the mystery and go with it.

Even though there’s no clear information about the origin of the Shih-Poo, it’s safe to assume that these hybrids share their story with the majority of other designer dogs. This means that the breed probably had its start in the United States at some point in the last 30 years. Not exactly an enriching a detailed history to be sure, but it is the most accurate possible assessment. However, even though we might not know when the breed was created and who did it first, it’s easy to see the reason behind the creation of the Shih-Poo. These dogs were developed to make perfect compact companions with the added benefit of hypoallergenic coats. Simple as that!


The Shih-Poo was developed by breeding a Toy Poodle with a Shih-Tzu. As a direct cross between two purebred dogs, these are considered to be first generation mixes who are known for their uniqueness and unpredictability. You see, when you cross two purebred dogs, you can never be certain which dog’s genes will be more influential in the mix. It’s a crapshoot every time. Sometimes, puppies will look like one parent more than the other or end up being a perfect blend of the two. On the other hand, some people believe that first generation mixes are much healthier than their purebred counterparts, even though this is yet to be proven. They consider that “diluting” the genes of both breeds and mixing them reduces the chances of inherited health issues, which are common in purebred dogs. Most Shih-Poos right now are the result of a first generation crossbreed between two purebred parents of each breed. The breeding cycle has yet to move on from that stage in the process. 

Yet, while this makes it impossible for a breed standard of Shih-Poos to be created, it’s likely that further crossbreeding is in the future for the breed. Chances are that breeders intend to carry out a strict breeding program to include multigenerational dogs. Shih-Poos will be bred to unrelated Shih Tzus, Poodles, or other Shih-Poos, all depending on what is the ultimate goal for this hybrid. These breedings will hopefully result in developing a new purebred dog. This takes time, several generations, and careful/ethical breeding practices. We’ll get there, but for now it’s too early in the lifespan of this adorable designer dog for anything resembling a purebred Shih-Poo to exist.

As a result, Shih-Poos are not recognized by official canine clubs, such as the AKC, as a “real” breed, but are rather considered to be mixed breed dogs. The lack of a breed standard, due to unpredictability of the breeding process in first generation mixes, means that your pet won’t have official pedigree papers issued by the official institutions. Still, you can always inquire about the parent’s pedigree to determine the quality of the lineage or obtain unofficial pedigree from smaller organizations that are enthusiastic about designer dog breeds and recognize their potential.


Shih-Poos need to be fed a high quality diet of dry dog food. Dry kibble is essential as this crossbreed tends to have dental problems, including premature tooth loss. Dry food can help to prevent this as well as cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. Make sure that the kibble that you chose suits your Shih-Poo’s age (ex: puppy, adult, senior), as well as their size and activity level. Usually, premium small breed dog formula is a perfect choice for these petite pooches, but that will change as they age into different needs. This is why it’s always wise to keep your vet up to date with your dog’s diet. They will have an educated and expert opinion on what kibble is best suited to your pup throughout their lifespan. It will change over time, so make sure to check in at every appointment and especially after milestone doggo birthdays.

A good rule of thumb is to go for a formula that’s well balanced and made from wholesome, nutritious ingredients. The first ingredient should be real meat, followed by healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, sources of fiber, minerals, and vitamins – all essential to make your pet thrive and stay healthy and happy. Avoid kibble formulas that are made with cheap fillers, artificial ingredients, and have a small percentage of real meat in the mix, instead relying on legumes or similar plant-based sources to up the protein content in their kibble.

Now, no matter what food you put into their dish, this crossbreed has the tendency to overeat. So, careful monitoring of the Shih-Poo’s caloric intake is important to his overall health and well-being. Don’t let them free-feed. They will definitely go overboard and fill their cute little faces with every morsel of food put in front of them. Instead, take their daily dose of kibble and split it into two separate meals. The exact amount will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but it’s usually no more than a cup of kibble per day. Again, make sure to consult your vet about the proper amount of food for your pup as they will have a more valuable opinion about your specific dog than any kibble manufacturer.

Although generally bright, the Shih-Poo is quite stubborn, especially when it comes to training.


Although generally bright, the Shih-Poo is quite stubborn. Especially when it comes to training. He doesn’t feel the need to learn how to behave, do tricks, or even go outdoors to use the bathroom. These little furballs will only do what they want when they want if left to their own devices. In order for the Shih-poo to become reliable in your home, it may take as long as one year of stringently bringing him outside until he does his business. Patience is a virtue when house training these pups. They won’t make it easy. Crate training may help cut down on this time however. Many Shih-Poos don’t mind urinating and defecating in their crates. So this could be beneficial during training.

While you might be frustrated with your pet’s stubbornness, you should never lash out at them, yell, punish, or otherwise be harsh towards them. Not only that it can be counterproductive and make your pet dig in their heels even more, but it is also cruel and can be detrimental to your relationship with your pet. All training should be done using positive reinforcement methods. Yummy rewards and excited praise will help make training sessions go more smoothly and give your willful little pooch additional motivation to be focused and get the job done. Also, it is worth noting that Shih-Poos have short attention spans, so sessions should be quite short but done repetitively throughout the day. They will lose interest quickly in the moment, so it’s best to keep training sessions short and sweet, but consistent. Wear them down. Be patient. Don’t give up. You’ll get there eventually.


Shih-Poos can weigh anywhere from 8 and 18 pounds and stand from 8 to 13 inches tall at the withers. As you can see, there can be significant differences in weight and size between different Shih-Poos, even across a single litter. This is a part of the unpredictability of all designer dogs and some would say, a part of their unique charm! Be warned that even breeders can’t accurately predict the size of a Shih-Poo in adulthood, so don’t get your heart set on specific size as you might get disappointed as they reach maturity.


Shih-Poos are playful and energetic dogs. They love to chase after balls, play with squeaky toys, or drag stuffed animals around the house with them. Generally, the Shih-Poo makes a great playmate for older and respectful children but they won’t tolerate harsh handling or hair pulling. So perhaps this isn’t the best pup to have around young kiddies. Since the Shih-Poo is a crossbreed, some are accepting and affectionate toward strangers while others are reserved or shy around them. They love to cuddle with their owners and expect to sleep in bed with them at night. So don’t expect your Shih-Poo to ever be far from your side.

There is one big down side to bringing one of these pups into your home though. The Shih-Poo loves to hear himself bark. He could listen to his own voice all day and all night long and you could very well be trapped by his yaps if you aren’t careful. Training the dog to quiet on command can be difficult, however; it is essential if you’d like to keep your sanity and avoid problems with your neighbors. Consider this training necessary for your future survival.

Common Health Problems

Dental problems are prevalent in the Shih-Poo. They also have issues with their eyes and skin. Shih-Poos are predisposed to hypothyroidism, patellar luxation, renal dysplasia, lung disorders, Von Willebrand’s Disease and Invertebral Disk Disease. Cleft palate has also been diagnosed in this crossbreed. So, you’ll want to make regular visits to your vet. Problems will arise.

Life Expectancy

Because this is a relatively new crossbreed, the data is limited regarding life expectancy. Breeders believe that the average lifespan for the Shih-Poo is between 10 and 15 years.

Exercise Requirements

Although energetic, the Shih-Poo doesn’t require a lot of vigorous exercise. Short but brisk walks in the morning and evening are all that is necessary to keep this spunky little guy fit. He will happily run around the home playing with a ball or other toys the rest of the time. Romping and playing in a grassy backyard with children or racing around a dog park with his canine pals will also be appreciated by the Shih-Poo. This is not a hybrid breed that will enjoy jogging or hiking with his owners. That’s too much. Playing is great but too much exertion is counterproductive to the Shih-Poo’s health. So keep that in mind if you enjoy being a particularly active dog owner.

Shih-Poos are playful and energetic dogs.

Recognized Clubs

The American Kennel Club does not recognize the Shih-Poo as a true breed of purebred dog. The registry organizations that do recognize the Shih-Poo as a crossbreed are the American Canine Hybrid Club, Designer Dogs Kennel Club, Dog Registry of America, Inc., International Designer Canine Registry and the Designer Breed Registry.


Shih-Poos’ coats can be long and silky or short and curly or even somewhere in between. Colors are as various as those in the rainbow. Major differences in coat style and color can occur within the same litter of Shih-Poo puppies. You never quite no what you’re going to get with Shih-Poo puppies since this crossbreed is so new. However, you can guarantee that your Shih-Poo will be a little cutie no matter what.

Brushing is essential and should be done at least twice weekly. The Shih-Poo’s coat might need seasonal trimming. It all depends upon the type of coat the particular dog has. Bathing is necessary each month as he may develop skin issues.


Shih-Poo pups are cute and cuddly but they can also be a handful. Housetraining is time consuming and the owner must watch for signals that the puppy needs to do his business. Potty training can be difficult with this dog. Start as early as possible and be consistent- it’s the only way to make sure your pooch reaches his full potential. Arm yourself with lots of patience and some tasty treats for positive reinforcement, and you’ll be good to go! Additionally, you should make sure to expose your Shih Poo puppy to other people and animals from a young age. Socialization is important as it makes your dog friendly and easy going instead of timid and nervous. This limits the possibility of a scared and socially inept dog in the future. Such dogs can become snappy and wary of strangers and other dogs, which is never a favorable trait.

Shih Poo Frequently Asked Questions

Do Shih Poo dogs bark a lot?

Despite being a small dog breed, the Shih Poo doesn’t bark a lot. Of course, to prevent them from becoming a barker, you should train and socialize them on time. Another thing to do in order to minimize a chance of your pet barking a lot is to avoid leaving them on their own for long periods of time, as they could develop social anxiety and start barking and howling as a result. Fear and insecurity will often lead to excess barking as well. If a pet is neglected and left alone cooped up in an apartment, they will resort to barking – constantly. Excess barking can also occur when a dog is not properly socialized, which can be another result of constant time indoors. They can bark when they spot a stranger outside. Besides barking, separation anxiety and fear can result in shred furniture and other accidents around the house.

Do Shih Poo shed a lot?

Shih Poos are low shedders and have fine, thin, relatively short hair. They are a good choice for people with mild dog allergies as there won’t be as much dander and hair to provoke an allergic reaction. One of the parent breeds, the Shih Tzu, is well known for their beautiful coat and their winning streaks at beauty contests. When combined with the Poodle, the fine and thin hairs are transferred to the Shih-Poo. This means that shedding will be at an absolute minimum, and only regular grooming and brushing will be required, as well as trims from time to time. In general, these unique dogs will make a great choice for anyone that would like to avoid pet shedding.

Are Shih Poos high maintenance?

Shih Poos are not high maintenance dogs but they are not low maintenance, either. These designer dogs will still require brushing almost every day, to avoid their fine hair from tangling and matting. Similarly, most Shih Poos will need regular trims, so many pet parents opt for grooming salons to minimize the hassle. However, with all things considered, it becomes clear that these dogs are fairly easy to care for. With a little attention to their diet, regular vet checkups, and some moderate walking and exercise, your Shih Poo will be a happy and content dog!

Are Shih Poos lap dogs?

They fit the lap, they love to lounge, and they enjoy being close to their owner – Shih Poos are definitely lap dogs. This doesn’t mean that they are lazy and too clingy, though. While they are affectionate and cuddly, these small dogs are still playful and energetic. A loving Shih Poo can form a strong bond with their owner. And that can result in plenty of time spent together. While they might not insist on sitting in your lap, Shih Poo’s will definitely have no issue about it. If you prefer a lap dog, this breed will definitely fill that role.

Are Shih Poos smart?

Yes, Shih Poos are smart, but with intelligence in small dogs comes another trait- stubbornness. If left unchecked, your pet could develop a stubborn streak which will make training much more difficult. In most cases, though, Shih Poos like to please their owners so when you rely on positive reinforcement training, you’ll see the results of your work. Try not to go “against the grain”, and rely on your patience with training. That way, you can quickly overcome that stubborn streak and reveal the Shih Poo’s smart and composed side. And – like most small breeds – Shih Poos can have quite the large and colorful character.

Do Shih Poos have separation anxiety?

Shih Poos are loving dogs that create a strong bond with their owner and don’t do well alone, so they are prone to developing separation anxiety. To help your pet avoid developing this behavioral issue, be sure never to leave them alone fodong periods of time- if you work long hours, Shih Poo isn’t the best fit for you. Of course, this breed will benefit the most from a loving family environment. That way, someone will always be by their side to care for them and provide company. If you are an owner living solo with your pet, you might find it difficult to plan ahead, travel to work, or enjoy activities on your own. A Shih Poo that is left cooped up will develop separation anxiety, which will result in excess stress, chewed up furniture, nasty surprises, and a lot of other negative results. These dogs depend on love, and you will need to provide it.

How much do Shih Poos sleep?

The amount of sleep a Shih Poo needs will depend on their age. Puppies can sleep up to 18 hours a day as their growing body needs the rest, and the same goes for seniors, which can snooze 16 to 18 hours a day with ease. In the case of adults, you can expect your Shih Poo to sleep between 12 and 14 hours a day. You shouldn’t be worried if your Shih Poo pet is a real snoozer. They love to sleep! Just make sure their daily routine involves plenty of exercise and walking. Also, a balanced diet is a must in this case. Without these two, a Shih Poo that sleeps a lot can quickly become lethargic and obese.

Photo credit: Strolwiki/Wikimedia; ribeiroantonio/Bigstock

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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