The Small Dogs with the Biggest Hearts
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In April 2020, I conducted a survey on several Shih-poo Facebook group pages asking why families chose a Shih-poo over other dogs. The puppy’s diminutive size was the family’s second most important reason for adopting or purchasing a Shih-poo. Families look for small dogs to cuddle with and to easily carry with them on errands and when out and about.
How big do Shih-poos usually get?
While adult Shih-poos can range from 5 lbs to nearly 30 lbs depending upon their parents’ weights, the median Shih-poo weighs around 14 lbs and stands 15 inches at the shoulder. The Shih-poo will likely weigh less than 12 lbs with a toy poodle parent and up to 25 lbs with a miniature poodle parent.
Toy Shih-poo Sizes
Because the American Kennel Club does not consider Shih-poos a breed yet but a mixed breed, there are no standards for Shih-poo weight, height, coat, or even life expectancy. However, with more than two decades of growing popularity, Shih-poos are becoming more recognizable. Plus, if the parents are a purebred Shih Tzu and Poodle, we can infer much about the Shih-poo’s likely characteristics.
The standard weight for a pure Shih Tzu ranges from 9 lbs to 6 lbs. If the Poodle parent is a Toy Poodle, it would weigh between 4 and 6 lbs. The offspring of two such dogs would likely weigh between 8 lbs and 20 lbs.
Both our Shih-poos had 12-lb mama Shih Tzus and 6-lb papa Toy Poodles. Our oldest topped out at 14 lbs around aged 18 months. Our youngest was 18 lbs around the same age.
Based on our survey of over 500 Shih-poo families, we can safely say that a toy Shih-poo will range from 6 lbs to 10 lbs.
Miniature Shih-poo Sizes
While the standard weight for Shih Tzus does not vary from the 9-16 lbs for the breed, a poodle might be classified as a toy (4-6 lbs), miniature (10-15 lbs), or standard (60-70 lbs). If your Shih-poo’s mama or papa was a miniature poodle, you should expect your miniature Shih-poo to reach an adult weight of 10 lbs to as much as 25 lbs.
Because of the complexities involved in pairing a 9-16 lbs Shih Tzu with a 60-70 lb standard poodle, I hope we never hear of a standard Shih-poo. Either the life of the Shih Tzu mama would be in jeopardy sometime between conception and delivery or the breeder would have to use artificial insemination.
Still, if you have second and third-generation Shih-poos with breeding Shih-poo parents, breeders may very well choose to breed for larger sizes. However, I would find that unlikely since the number two reason for families bringing a Shih-poo into their home is for its diminutive size.
Birth to Weened Sizes
When Shih-poos are first born, they will typically weigh between six ounces and one pound, gaining a pound over the next two weeks. By the time you are ready to bring your Shih-poo home at eight weeks, your puppy will have gained another one or two pounds, typically weighing two to four pounds.
When Shih-poos reach six weeks of age, you can estimate their final adult weight by doubling their six-week weight twice. For example, a 2-lb Shih-poo at six weeks will likely top out at 8 lbs as an adult (2 x 2 = 4 x 2 = 8). This method works best for Shih-poos with a Toy Poodle parent rather than Shih-poos with a Miniature Poodle parent.
At eight weeks, Shih-poo puppies find themselves at the height of their adorableness, with lots of unique puppy colorations and playfulness in a tiny package.
From weened to adolescence (between five and nine months), Shih-poos put on more weight than at any other time in their lives. Shih-poos with a Toy Poodle parent will typically put on another two to ten pounds by their first birthday. Shih-poos with a Miniature Poodle parent will likely put on twice that amount of weight, reaching over twenty pounds around their first birthday.
Other Factors in Shih-poo Sizes
Since Shih Tzus have just one standard size whose weight ranges from 9 lbs to 16 lbs, the biggest factor in determining your Shih-poo’s final adult weight is the size of its Poodle parent. If your Shih-poo has a Toy Poodle parent (4-6 lbs), you can expect it to weigh as little as 5 lbs or as much as 15 lbs.
If, on the other hand, your Shih-poo has a Miniature Poodle parent, expect your puppy to grow to at least 20 lbs or as much as nearly 30 lbs.
Gender also plays a role in your puppy’s final adult weight. As with other dog breeds, male Shih-poos tend to grow to larger adult weights than female Shih-poos generally. Of course, there are exceptions, but the smallest Shih-poos will usually be females.
Another influential factor in your Shih-poo’s final adult weight has to do with when you have your dog neutered (if at all). Note: While used popularly to refer to male castration, neutering is a “neutral” term that technically applies to both males and females.
If you neuter your dog early (especially before puberty around 6 months), your dog’s body may not make as much of the naturally produced chemicals that tell your puppy’s bones to stop growing. As a result, early neutered dogs tend to grow larger than dogs neutered later or who are never neutered.
You might think this is cool way to get a bigger dog, but this condition often leads to poor joint and bone health. Broken hips, for example, can be costly in both money and strength to your Shih-poo. When it comes to neutering your Shih-poo, do not push for an early surgery. Follow the advice of your dog’s healthcare professional.
Myths about Estimating a Shih-poo’s Adult Weight and Size
Although I had never heard of this myth before, you may have heard that you can estimate your Shih-poo’s final adult size by using their paw size as a puppy. This method works only marginally in standardized breeds, but it will not work at all for Shih-poos. Because Shih-poos vary in size depending upon which parent it inherits its characteristics from.
Common Problems of Obesity in Shih-poos
Similar to standardized breeds and mixed breedsk, Shih-poos can experience a number of adverse health issues if they become overweight. Such problems include joint and back problems (particularly if your home has stairs or if your Shih-poo jumps up or down from the couch), a shorter life expectency, heart disease, and breathing troubles.
Research has linked diabetes and several types of cancer to obesity in dogs. Additionally, overweight Shih-poos are more likely to experience urinary tract infections and develop bladder stones.
Help Your Shih-poo to Maintain Her or His Ideal Adult Weight
While many Shih-poo families worry about how much to feed or how to limit their puppy’s food intake, they are stressing about a smaller factor in obesity. Instead, ensure your Shih-poo gets plenty of exercise each day. This can include 30 minutes of active play time (fetch and tag among the best games) to a brisk 30-minute walk. Visiting a dog park can also typically lead to great exercise for your Shih-poo as he or she plays with other dogs.
Avoid feeding your Shih-poo table scraps and human treats. Even if the food is not poisonous or toxic, human food often contains high levels of sugar or salt that will adversely affect your Shih-poo’s weight. If you just can’t resist your puppy’s begging, put her or him in a crate while you eat. Remember, feeding your Shih-poo human food and especially junk food will lead to long-term harm for your puppy. Here is a brief list of the top human foods to avoid giving your Shih-poo:
- Chocolate (can be deadly in high doses)
- Bacon, ham, and other fatty and salty meats
- Garlic and onion, whole or as spices in the food
- Ice cream
- Raw meats or out-of-date meats (your Shih-poo’s digestive track is just as sensitive to toxins as your digestive track)
- Any candy or foods with Xyletol (includes some peanut butters
- Grapes and raisins (not just as choking hazards but because of possible kidney failure)
- Avacado (guacamole)
- Any drink with alcohol (this isn’t funny or cute. Alcohol poisoning can lead to illnesss in your Shih-poo and even death)
At what age do Shih-poos become full-grown?
Toy Shih-poos can reach full-grown weight (up to 12 lbs) between nine and twelve months. Shih-poos with a miniature poodle parent may not reach full adult weight until they turn eighteen months old.
Do Shih-poos shed?
Like their Shih Tzu and Poodle parents, Shih-poos have no underlayer of fur. Instead, Shih-poos have a single layer of hair. Their hair still requires regular grooming as it grows in order to avoid matting. Shih-poo families will find no more dog hairs than they will find human hair in their home.