50 Questions to Answer Before Buying a Shihpoo


Bringing home a Shihpoo (whether you spell it Shipoo or Shih-poo or Shihpoo) is a life-long commitment. Before you even go to the shelter to adopt or to the breeder to pick out a puppy, make sure you can answer all of these questions appropriately.

1. Am I committed to caring for this Shihpoo until the end of his or her life?

Avoid impulse purchases, especially with living creatures. Do not approach the adoption or purchase of a Shihpoo with a “let’s try it out” attitude. Nor should you give a Shihpoo puppy as a gift unless you are 100% sure the recipient will be 100% committed to caring for the puppy. Finally, bthere are many seniors in our population who love and are loved by sweet lapdogs like Shihpoos. If there is a high likelihood that your Shihpoo with a 15-year life expectancy might outlive you, please have a plan on who will care for him or her after you are gone, and make sure to communicate that plan to your own family and friends.

2. Can I afford to care for this Shihpoo?

Although Shihpoos eat less than large dogs and tend to be healthier than many pure breeds, you will still have the additional monthly expense of food, the frequent expenses of grooming and clipping and buying toys, and the odd expenses of clothing or sweaters or vet bills. Be sure you have made room for such expenses in your household spending plan.

3. Is anyone in the family hyper-allergic to pet dander?

Shihpoos generate very little pet dander and are typically considered very hypoallergenic. However, the “hypo” prefix means “under” or “minimal.” It does not mean “nothing” or “none.” All dogs generate pet dander. Some, like Shihpoos, generate far less than others.

4. How important is it that I have complete quiet in my home?

All dogs bark, Shihpoos included, to one extent or another. Shihpoos inherit a sort of watchdog personality from their Shih Tzu line, using their barks to warn their families of anyone or anything approaching their home. So, if you or someone in your home has a common condition of hypersensitivity to noise (called hyperacusis, which is prevalent in 9% to 16% of the population), you may want to opt for a cat. However, if you are okay with the rare bark, a Shihpoo will be fine. You can also train your Shihpoo to minimize his or her barking.

5. How committed am I to training a puppy 5-10 minutes a day?

Shihpoos are loving and sweet dogs by nature. Regardless, they require training, especially as puppies. Are you prepared to spend a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes a day (though 15-30 may be required at times) training your Shihpoo puppy to go potty outside, to sit, to stay, to go to bed in his or her crate, and to follow other important commands?

6. How tolerant am I of accidents on the carpet or floor?

Puppies can learn to do their business in the back yard pretty quickly. If you live in an apartment that has no back yard, you may need to use a potty pad and a spray that encourages its usage. Still, you should expect a few accidents early on, as well as the odd accident or two a year. If you can accept these possibilities and are okay with cleaning up the mess in a few minutes, you might have a great home for a Shihpoo.

7. Are there any family members who would be too rambunctious for a small dog?

Shihpoos belong to the toy dog category, ranging in weight from five pounds on the low end to 15 or even 18 pounds on the upper end. As a very small dog, even though they can be sturdy and athletic, Shihpoos can be susceptible to injury from small children who might manhandle, drop, or jump on them. Some three- and four-year-old children might be ready for treating a small puppy with respect. Many may not.

8. Am I ready to wake up once or twice a night for the next three to four weeks to help train the puppy to sleep through the night?

Although temporary, the first few weeks of having a Shihpoo puppy in the home and potty training her or him will be demanding. Plan to set an alarm to wake yourself up two or three times a night to take your young puppy outside to do his or her business. If the thought of losing such sleep stands your hair on end, you should probably consider a Shihpoo rescue instead of a puppy.

9. Will someone in the household be available to care for the Shihpoo during the day so he or she will not spend more than three or four hours at a time in a crate?

Families of many dog breeds are comfortable leaving their puppies free to wander the house while they are gone for hours at a time, or even for the entire workday. Shihpoos should not be left alone for the entire day. If you are not prepared to, at the VERY least, spend every lunch hour with your Shihpoo, you may want to consider another breed. Other options include hiring a sitter to play with your Shihpoo once or twice a day while you are at work.

10. Am I ready to have a puppy who typically spends no more than a few minutes at a time outside?

Shihpoos are not outside dogs. They can enjoy an hour or so in the back yard by themselves when the weather is nice, but do not leave them in the cold, the rain or the heat for any period of time beyond what is required for going potty. Instead, expect your Shihpoo to be an indoor dog. If you walk her or him in such extreme weather conditions, plan his or her clothing accordingly.

11. Are there other pets in the home that will need habituating to the new puppy?

Shihpoos can get along great with other pets in the home, particularly other dogs and cats. However, plan to take several days habituating your pets to each other, keeping them in separate rooms and introducing them initially from afar.

12. Am I willing to pay for vaccinations to keep the puppy from developing life-threatening illnesses and conditions?

Most pet families understand the importance of immunizing their dogs and cats, even if, ironically, too many do not feel the same urgency about protecting their own children. Still, you should expect to pay for the medications or to have them included in a monthly veterinarian service plan. Be prepared for the expense and for the time required to give follow up doses.

13. Am I willing to keep the Shihpoo even if he or she ends up larger or smaller than the breeder estimates?

Our Shihpoos’ parents were 6 and 12 lbs, so we expected (and hoped) our puppies to reach an adult weight of somewhere in between. Both ended up at 14 lbs. Are you still willing to care for and commit to your Shihpoo if her or his adult weight turns out heavier (or lighter) than expected?

14. Have I chosen and lined up a veterinarian who is taking new patients?

Be sure to do your research. Like family physicians, veterinarians vary in expertise and personality. Look for one you are comfortable with, and confirm that she or he is accepting new patients.

15. Will your puppy be microchipped by the breeder/shelter, will you have your veterinarian microchip your puppy, or will you microchip your puppy yourself?

Do not consider microchipping as an option. Make it a mandatory part of bringing a new puppy into your home and life. Even if you think your Shihpoo will never leave the comforts of your home’s interior, there is always a chance he or she might escape. In such cases, the best chances of bringing your beloved puppy back home involve big bright neon signs posted immediately around the neighborhood at high traffic areas, identify tags with updated information around your Shihpoo’s neck, and a microchip with correct phone and address information implanted under your puppy’s skin.

16. Do you know what food your puppy will be used to after being weened, and have you decided which puppy food (dry or wet) you will feed your Shihpoo at home?

Ask your breeder or the shelter what type of food your Shihpoo will be or has been used to eating. Purchase a bag and consider using it in the foreseeable future. If you choose another brand, make the switch gradually, mixing the two brands over a period of a week to habituate your puppy to the new food.

17. How do I plan to socialize my Shihpoo?

If you have another dog or cat in the home, your Shihpoo may have sufficient socialization to be emotionally healthy around other animals. Otherwise, consider how you will provide opportunities for your puppy to meet and play with other dogs in order to avoid anti-social behavior. Going on walks and allowing your puppy to meet other dogs is the minimum recommendation. Taking him or her to a dog park each week is great opportunity for the puppy to learn proper interactions with other dogs.

18. Will my Shihpoo need warm clothing in the winter?

If you live in a place with cold winters (near or below freezing), you might consider having a sweater for your puppy for times when you take her or him outside for more than a couple of minutes. This is particularly important if you plan to keep your Shihpoo’s coat trimmed short in the puppy cut style.

19. Do I have a water bowl for my Shihpoo and have I determined where to place it?

Find a water bowl that will provide your puppy with sufficient hydration. Your Shihpoo might drink an ounce or two of water a day for every pound of their weight, so be prepared to fill the water bowl daily. Also, make sure to place the water bowl somewhere your Shihpoo can access it at any time. Do not place it in rooms where doors are frequently shut (e.g. laundry rooms and mudrooms).

20. What type of hair cut do I want to give my Shihpoo and how much grooming am I committed to?

If you want a show dog Shihpoo, you should plan to have him or her groomed every four to five weeks. Besides the additional expense, you should plan to include grooming (brushing) into your evening bedtime routine. Otherwise, if you are hoping for a low-maintenance dog, keep your Shihpoo’s hair cut short in the “puppy cut” style. You can cut it yourself (see our video here) or take her or him to the groomer every six weeks or so. With many Shihpoos, puppy cuts may not even require much brushing to minimize matting.

21. What type of crate will my Shihpoo sleep in? Wire or plastic or wood?

Wooden crates are aesthetically the most pleasing option and can fit into a home’s decor quite well. However, they tend to be high-end, expensive items. Wire or plastic crates can be found very affordably on Facebook marketplace or Craigs List and usually require just a simple wipe down with pet-friendly cleansers to restore them to near-new condition.

22. Where will I place my Shihpoo’s crate? In a bedroom, the kitchen, an office or elsewhere?

Placing your Shihpoo’s crate (her or his “den”) in the right location is not as easy as you might think. You want it somewhere quiet and dark for daytime naps, so a bedroom seems appropriate. You may also want it accessible in case you choose the “open-door crate policy” as described below, meaning a kitchen nook or a corner in the living room would be a good choice.

23. Will my Shihpoo have an open-door crate policy?

Training your Shihpoo to use his or her crate as a place of safety and security can be quite simple. If you choose to keep the crate door open permanently, your puppy may go in and out at his or her pleasure. Do not invade this space, though. You must consider it all but inviolable. Otherwise, you may close the crate door during naps and at night. Be sure, though, to NEVER use your puppy’s crate for discipline or punishment.

24. Do I have a food bowl for my Shihpoo

Like the question about a water bowl, this one seems a bit silly. However, you may want to experiment with different types of bowls after you bring your puppy home. If you have a Shihpoo who eats appropriate meals at appropriate times, you will generally be fine with standard metal food bowl (do not use plastic bowls, since they get scratched, turning them into streaked Petry dishes).

At times, you may also consider a dog food dispenser on a timer. Whether you are at home all day or often away, a food dispenser with a timer can train your Shihpoo to eat on a regular schedule.

25. Do I know my options if my Shihpoo puppy eats too fast?

If you have an overeater who does not know how to slow down at the food trough, you should consider getting a slow feeder bowl. It looks like a circular maze, but its narrow and winding grooves force your Shihpoo to slow down.

26. Where am I going to place the food bowl?

Your Shihpoo may wonder early on if he or she is the Alpha dog in the house. One reason she or he has for this thinking has to do with dinner time. If you place the food bowl by the kitchen table, as soon as you start to gather for a meal, your Shihpoo will run for his or her bowl and start eating. The first one to eat is the Alpha dog (it is the same principle of going through a door with your Shihpoo… who goes first? the Alpha dog).
Make sure you are the Alpha in the home by placing your puppy’s bowl away from the dinner table. As cute and cuddly as she or he is, you need to minimize potential confusion over who is in charge in the home.

27. How often will I need to fill the food bowl?

Young puppies may eat three or four times a day. As they grow into adolescence (6-9 months) and adulthood (9+ months), two meals a day is usually sufficient.

28. How often will I need to fill the water bowl?

Unlike food that some dogs can have too much of, your Shihpoo will not “over-drink.” Make it a routine to check her or his water bowl every day to keep it filled. As a rule of thumb, your puppy will drink an ounce a day for every pound he or she weighs. So if your Shihpoo weighs 8 pounds, she or he will probably drink at least a cup of water a day.

29. Am I going to join a Shihpoo social media site?

Shihpoos seem natural subjects for social media. Their photogenic natures shine on just about any social media site. From Facebook to Instagram to Twitter, you can decide which one, two or all media you would like to use for sharing your most amazing Shihpoo photos, laughs, and other experiences.
Besides photos, you may want to join and follow groups of other Shihpoo families to learn more about Shihpoo behavior and health.

30. Do I want to participate in a Shihpoo Facebook group?

Facebook has some wonderful Shihpoo groups for sharing the joys of being a Shihpoo Mama, Papa or sib. Some are open to the public (e.g. Shihpoo) while others require you to join and be approved (e.g. Shih poo Family).
Besides lots of adorable photos to share and browse, you often read experiences that help you know what to expect as a Shihpoo family, from vet visits to behavior questions.

31. Would I like to share photos of my Shihpoo on Instagram?

Instagram is meant for photos of Shihpoos. If you need pick-me-ups, just follow Shihpoo families on Instagram and enjoy the cuteness. Instagram uses hashtags (#) for identifying themes and trends, so if you want to see cute Shihpoos, search #ShihpooNation and “#ShihpoosOfInstagram.

32. Do I have a special blanket or two just for the Shihpoo to lay on while on the couch?

Cuddling on the couch with your Shihpoo is your great reward for staying up late to potty train him or her, for providing meals and treats, and for the hundred other things you do for your puppy day in and day out.
Make the most of your couch time with a couple of comfortable blankets, keeping in mind that all dogs tend to do what is called “denning” before they lay down (turn in circles and even digging at their bedding). So, you will want sturdy blankets that will not unravel easily.

33. Do I have a sleeping pad for the Shihpoo’s crate?

Besides the crate, your Shihpoo should have soft bedding for sleeping on. For young puppies, especially as they begin teething by age four or five months, expect them to chew up whatever fabric they find in their crates. Do not place any stuffed bedding in with them that they can tear open and scatter everywhere. Once your Shihpoo is through her or his teething period, you can be more selective of the types of padding you place in the crate.

34. Do I have a napping bed or pad for the Shihpoo to place in the kitchen or living room?

Besides the sleeping pad in your Shihpoo’s crate, you should consider having a second pad for the puppy to curl up in during the day when sleep calls. As with the crate padding, a napping pad or bed will end up in shreds during your Shihpoo’s teething months, so find a pad with as few corners and edges as possible, preferably one that is not stuffed with foam or cotton.

35. Are there rooms that will be off-limits to the Shihpoo?

Before bringing your Shihpoo home, decide which rooms of your home or apartment will be open to your puppy and which will be out of bounds. Generally, you should plant to introduce your puppy to one room at a time, allowing him or her to become accustomed to the notion that it is a living area and not a place for peeing or pooping on the floor.
Your Shihpoo will be smart enough to learn that certain rooms are off limits. Still, you should make it a habit to close the doors of any rooms you prefer to keep Shihpoo-free.

36. Am I aware of the methodologies for training a Shihpoo to go potty outside?

From potty bells to potty pads, you should acquaint yourself with various methods to train your Shihpoo to go potty outside whenever possible. You should expect your puppy to be ready to train as soon as you bring her or him home from the breeder.

37. What types of snacks am I willing to buy for and give to my Shihpoo?

Your Shihpoo should not derive a large percentage of his or her daily nutrition either from snacks and treats or from table scraps. Still, consider appropriate snacks for your puppy, from healthy and natural treats you can provide from your garden or fridge to store-bought goodies. Become a label reader of puppy food and snacks, just as you likely are for the human food you put on the table. Minimize foods – even snacks – high in fats and fillers.

38. What type of dental care will I provide, hand brush, finger brush, or drops?

Decide ahead of time how you plan to care for your Shihpoo’s oral health. You can use a dog brush or a finger brush. You may choose from a variety of dog toothpastes, but please do not use human toothpaste. Since dogs end up swallowing all the toothpaste used in her or his mouth, you will need to find products without ingredients that might hard your puppy (e.g. excessive fluoride). You might also consider tooth drops and other non-brushing options for your puppy.

39. Do I have a collar for my Shihpoo?

You will need the smallest collar sold in stores for your Shihpoo when you first bring her or him home. Tear-away collars are becoming more and more preferable in order to prevent the possibility of choking should their collar get caught in bushes or other restrictive situations.

40. Do I have a harness for my Shihpoo?

A harness both goes around your Shihpoo’s neck and goes around her or his shoulders and chest area. Make sure it has a ring on the top shoulders area for connecting your leash. Given the Shihpoo’s tendency for shallow tracheas leading to lots of coughing, look for a harness made of soft and stretch materials.

41. Do I have a leash to use on walks with my Shihpoo?

You may not need a leash for a while, but you will want to have this critical piece of equipment early on. If you bring your Shihpoo home when she or he is just a young puppy, you will likely have to keep him inside or in the back yard, away from all other dogs, until nearly two weeks after his final vaccination booster. That means she or she will be at least four months old before you start taking your beautiful puppy on a walk or to the park.
Retractable leashes are very convenient for walking your puppy. Beware of using them, though, with collars. Should you drop the leash and your Shihpoo escape, the handle of your retractable leash is likely to snag on a branch or get stuck between rocks, increasing the chances of strangulation. Although no guarantee against such possibilities, use a harness with a soft and stretchable neck collar if you are going to use a retractable leash.

42. Do I want to dress my Shihpoo up at Halloween and other holidays? If so, as what?

Like cuddling on the couch together, dressing up your Shihpoo can be a fun and satisfying experience, and even a highlight of the year. These puppies are so photogenic and fit so well into many costume concepts that you have plenty of options if you so choose.
Any bear-related theme would achieve super cuteness status, while the irony of a tiny dog in any superhero costume is pretty much a guarantee to get plenty of smiles and laughs.

43. How do I plan to keep my Shihpoo safe in the car?
Having a loose Shihpoo in the car while you drive will, at some guaranteed future time, become a distraction. Plus, a dog will be just as susceptible to injury and death in an accident as a human. Keeping your Shihpoo in a car carrier or using a seat harness are good options for keeping your puppy safe. You might even consider a pet car seat and carrier for your little guy or gal, especially if you plan to keep your puppy in the front passenger seat where they are equally at risk of danger from airbags as little children.

44. Do you plan to travel with your Shihpoo?

If you plan to travel with your Shihpoo, you will need to understand the requirements for taking your puppy along. These will include fees, travel crates, and documentation. If you plan to travel but leave your Shihpoo at home, be sure to research your options for a dog sitter. Are you willing to allow a neighbor or family member to care for your puppy? At your home or theirs? If you prefer a professional sitter, look into the various services available in your area, considering the cost and the sitter’s experience.

45. What basic training commands do I want to start with?

Most Shihpoo families think that their puppies will become the most naturally obedient and polite dogs in the neighborhood. As with all dogs, your Shihpoo will require consistent and deliberate training to become such a dog. Breeders do not train puppies, and rescues may or may not come trained with any commands. Decide which commands you would like to train your puppy to obey, how much time and at what time each day you will train him or her, and what resources you will need (mostly training treats).

46. Do I know what to look for in healthy dog foods?

The bags of dog food you find in the department store and the pet store vary greatly in their nutritional value for your Shihpoo. As you prepare to bring a Shihpoo into your home, you may even consider speaking with your chosen veterinarian ahead of time about the type (dry or wet) and even the brand of food to offer your puppy. Look for foods whose first ingredient is protein-based (meat) followed by whole grains.

47. Do I want to leave my Shihpoo in a dog run outside for an hour or so at a time, weather permitting?

Do you have space outside for your Shihpoo to run, play and enjoy some sunshine? While you should not leave your puppy outdoors for hours at a time, you might want a dog run to prevent your Shihpoo from leaving his or her poops all over the back yard.
Many families also find they do not need a dog run. Puppies tend to do their business in the same area of the yard, often corners of the lawn, so picking up after them can sometimes be easier than expected.

48. Do I know how tall the dog run fence needs to be?

Some dog runs are made of chain-links while others are made of welded wire. Some have canvas overhead covers while others still are self-contained units with rubber floormats. Shihpoos are surprisingly good jumpers and only mildly described as diggers, but you will not generally need a tall dog run to keep them from getting out. As long as the fence meets the ground without gaps or holes, neither should you worry much about the Shihpoo digging his or her way out under the fence.

49. Do I know who much such a dog run or dog pen will cost and how it needs to be installed/assembled?

Purchasing a dog run for your Shihpoo should not cost an arm and a leg (or even a paw). Finding a used kennel or dog run on a Facebook marketplace or on Craigslist should cost less than a half day’s wages for the median household. If you opt for a new and top-of-the-line run with sides, overhead coverings and even easy-to-rinse floormats, expect to pay ten times a day’s wages for the typical household.

If you choose a basic wire “corral” formed of multiple panels, you can set it up, move it, and re-form it wherever and however you choose. Because you should not plan to leave your Shipoo outside in the elements other than to go potty, you will not generally need a dog run with an overhead covering.

50. Am I ready and committed to spending 15 to 30 minutes a day walking or playing with my Shihpoo?

This should be the fun part. Walking your Shihpoo is important for his or her health and can contribute to your own physical and emotional well-being. Shihpoos need minimal activity each day, but they do need at least some. If you don’t plan to walk your Shihpoo daily, plan to play fetch for up to 15 minutes at a time, twice a day.

You can spend weeks coming up with questions to ask and months researching and finding their answers. Do not fall victim to paralysis by analysis. While the questions above will help you prepare for a positive introduction of your Shihpoo into the household, there is really just one question you must ask and answer. It is the first question on this list:

Can you commit yourself to care for this Shihpoo for the rest of her or his life? If you can feel and answer “yes” to this question, you will figure out how to work out all other questions over time.

Todd Christensen

Founder and lead blogger at ShihpooCentral.com, Todd loves his family's two Shih-poo puppies, Titus Rex and Stark Antonio (aka Sir Titus Whitus and Baron von Wigglebutt). He and his wife have four wonderful human children as well, and he doubles by day as a financial educator facilitating budgeting, credit building and debt elimination workshops.

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