The Shihpoo mixed breed dog is a relative newcomer to the canine world, having appeared in the US in the late 20th century. Sometimes referred to as a designer dog, Shihpoos come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, depending on their parents and natural chance. Shihpoo families are fiercely devoted to their dogs, usually referring to themselves as parents or sibs.
What is a Shihpoo?
A Shihpoo is the offspring of a Shih Tzu and Poodle or of two Shihpoos. Shihpoos are not considered a breed but a mix of two breeds. As a mixed breed, Shihpoos do not have a set of standard characteristics, but they are generally adorable, sweet, and playful. Shihpoos can also inherit traits of one parent more than another.
Shih Tzu-Poodle Mix
Shihpoos are the offering of purebred Shih Tzus and Poodles. Most Shihpoos are a mix of a Shih Tzu parent and a Poodle parent (usually toy or miniature), but many Shihpoos are now second- or even third-generation Shiphoo, meaning their parents and grandparents were Shihpoos.
Moreover, the immediate offspring of these two purebreds is known as a first generation Shihpoo. If two first-generation Shihpoos produce offspring, their pups will be second-generation Shihpoos.
Because Shihpoos did not become popular until the 1990s or so, and because no Shihpoo registry exists to track their ancestry, Shihpoo families should not expect their puppies to be accepted as a breed.
As a mixed breed, Shihpoos have no breed standards to match. They have no ideal weight, no target size, no unique physique, coat type, or even posture to conform to. Some Shihpoos look and act very much like a Shih Tzu. Others look and act like Poodles. Still others look like a mix.
Shihpoo Quick Facts and Characteristics
- Adult Weight and Size: Shihpoos can come in toy or mini sizes (8-15 lbs with most common weight reported being 10 lbs). They typically measure 8-13 inches from the floor to the top of their shoulder. See details on growth information here.
- Coat: From wavy hair inherited from the Shih Tzu to tight curls inherited from the Poodle.
- Coat Colors: Black, White, Brindle, Red, Sable/Gold, solid or mixed
- Coat Shedding: Shihpoos inherit their non-shedding coats from both their Poodle and their Shih Tzu sides, so they are as near a non-shedding dog as they can be.
- Grooming Requirements: Low if hair kept short, Medium for longer hair. A bath every two to four weeks is usually sufficient.
- Haircut/Grooming Frequency: Generally every one to six months
- Health Concerns: Undetermined, though likely similar to parent breeds. Some Shihpoos inherit an underbite from their Shih Tzu side, which can sometimes (rarely) cause concerns with the soft tissues of the lips. Patellar Luxation, or loose kneecaps is not uncommon among small dog breeds. Get a certificate of health from the breeder and ask for health information on the parents.
- Hypoallergenic: Shihpoos have a strong tendency toward an extremely hypoallergenic coat, thanks primarily to their Poodle parentage.
- Intelligence: High
- Lifespan: Shihpoos live on average between 10 and 18 years (based on parents’ average lifespan). We have seen reports from a few former Shiphoo families of their dogs living to be 20 or even 22 years old.
- Other Names, Spellings and Nicknames: Shih-poo, Shipooh, Shipooh, Pooshih, Poo Tzu, Shoodle, Shihdoodle, the “Teddy Bear Dog,” Designer Dog
- AKC Recognition: Shihpoos are not recognized as a breed but as a mixed breed by the American Kennel Club
Typical Behaviors and Personalities
Shihpoos absolutely love to do two things with their families: play and cuddle. Add in some healthy food and regular exercise (often substituted by active play), and your Shihpoo will live an extremely contented life.
- Activity Level: Most Shihpoos will content themselves with cuddling for hours upon hours, but they will benefit from regular exercise, even in the form of indoor games of fetch or tug-of-war, both of which they typically love. See more exercise ideas here.
- Bark: Low to medium. They are not yippity dogs like a Maltese, a barky dog like a Chihuahua, or a howler like a Beagle. Shihpoos descend, though, from Tibetan monastery dogs whose role included alerting the monks to anyone approaching. They may bark at doorbells, neighborhood dogs, or even passing cars. Some families initially get concerned when their Shihpoo growls and barks when playing, but they quickly see this as a call for attention or even an expression of having fun. Shihpoos don’t usually bark at visitors once they are in the home. More on minimizing barking here.
- Good with Children: Yes, though probably too small for toddlers. More on Shihpoos and Children with Autism here.
- Lap Cuddler: Yes. Shihpoos are wonderful cuddlebugs.
- Trainability: Medium. More on easy, early commands here. Some Shihpoo families report a stubborn streak in their puppies. Early and consistent training will be key. However, most of these reports revolve around food preferences, particularly around the transition from puppy to adolescent (6-9 months), an experience common to most dogs.
How do you pronounce Shihpoo?
You can pronounce the name, “Shihpoo,” one of two typical ways. First, and probably most accurate, would be to say SHE-poo (yes, pretty much just as it is written). Mahy Shih Tzu clubs insist on pronouncing their dog’s breed as SHE-tzoo, so SHE-poo makes sense. However, I also argue for the SHIP-oo pronunciation in my video.
Depending upon where you and your puppy live, though, you may also call the dog a Shih-poo (hyphen is silent), Shih Poo, Shoodle, or Pootzu. You can call the offspring of a Shih Tzu and a Poodle any of these names.
Still, the most common term is Shih-poo, although the non-hyphenated version will eventually win out as the most simple version, which is how English and most languages change over time.
Interestingly, the term Shoodle is most commonly used in Australia.
Shihpoo puppies can be ready for their new home around eight weeks. Shihpoo Central pleads with both adopting families and breeders NEVER to rush the process. Shihpoo puppies need those full eight weeks to physically and emotionally mature. The 4-8 week “toddler” stage remains critical for puppies to develop their bonds with their mother and siblings. Without that time together with their littermates, the puppy may experience trouble socializing with other dogs as they get older.
Unfortunately, some irresponsible breeders may allow new Shihpoo families to take their puppy home at 6 or 7 weeks. Shihpoos are so darn adorable at this stage that families can hardly help themselves. Please exercise restraint, and give your Shihpoo the time with his or her family required for healthy socialization.
Shihpoos for Sale
Shihpoo Central does not list or recommend specific Shiphoo breeders. However, we do have certain recommendations you should follow when choosing a breeder. We also highly encourage potential Shihpoo families to consider rescuing a Shihpoo, which requires a little extra patience and effort but can save a puppy from the life and risks of a pound dog.
Accordingly, based on a 2019 survey of Shihpoo breeders found online and nationwide in the US, you should expect a breeder to charge anywhere from $400 to over $2,000, with some charging nearly $3,000.
Shihpoo Social Media
You can find a number of Social Media options for sharing your Shihpoo’s photos and antics. Additionally, many Shihpoo families use social media pages to ask questions about health concerns, nutrition, behavior, training, and other issues relating to raising a dog. Of course, families should always take serious health questions to their veterinarian.
Here are a few social media pages to consider:
You can find quite a few Facebook pages and groups dedicated to the Shihpoo mixed breed. Here are a few I recommend and participate in regularly:
- Shihpoo Central
- Shihpoo Nation
- Shihpoo Parents
- Shih Poo (Shih Tzu – Poodle)
- Shih Poo and Shih Tzu Lovers
Instagram is the perfect place to share and enjoy great photos of Shihpoos. Check out these accounts and hashtags:
Twitter provides a platform for breaking news and opportunities to communicate information or share photos and memes quickly. However, the lifespan of a tweet, the time that the tweet will typically remain visible to others – is less than 20 minutes. We use Twitter to send out our Shihpoo of the Week photos each Monday. However, most other Shihpoo-related Twitter accounts focus on their own puppy. Here’s our account link: