What Is the Difference between a Shih Tzu and a Shihpoo?


The Shih Tzu Compared to the Shihpoo

The first time you heard someone talk about their Shihpoo dog, you probably confused it with the Shih Tzu, and you would not have been the only one to do so. The names sound similar and are related but there are definite differences.

So, what is the difference between a Shih Tzu and a Shihpoo?

  • The Shih Tzu is a small, low-allergen-producing dog
  • The Shihpoo is a small, hypoallergenic dog
  • Both dogs shed little to no hair
  • A Shih Tzu is an officially-recognized dog breed with a short muzzle and long, straight hair.
  • A Shihpoo is the crossbreed offspring of a Shih Tzu and a Miniature or Toy Poodle, having wavy or curly hair

What is a Shih Tzu?

The name Shih Tzu translates as “Lion Dog” from its original Chinese. The breed originated in Tibet along with the Llasa Apso but became the official dog of the Chinese court in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In fact, there is reason to believe the members of the royal court were so possessive of the breed that anyone outside the palace possessing a Shih Tzu could expect severe treatment.

The standard Shih Tzu weighs between 9 lbs and 16 lbs, and measures around 10 inches in height, which is the distance from the top of the dog’s shoulders to the ground.

Because of the Shih Tzu’s regal background, the breed is loving, loyal and friendly, content to be cuddled (pampered) and held and is pleased to make the day of children and adults alike.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the Shih Tzu as a unique breed in the 1930s. The Shih Tzu is classified in the “Toy” category (along with the Chihuahua, Maltese, MinPin, Pomeranian, Poodle, and Yorkshire Terrier, to name a few).

What is a Shihpoo?

The Shihpoo is a crossbreed, with one Shih Tzu parent and one Poodle parent (usually of the toy variety but sometimes of the miniature size. As such, the Shihpoo inherits characteristics of both parents, often more of one than the other.

A hypothetical Shihpoo inheriting half father’s and half mother’ personalities and blending them perfectly would be completely relaxed like the Shih Tzu and full of energy like the Poodle. He or she would have long, flowing hair from the Shih Tzu and tight curly hair from the Poodle. Obviously, such a Shihpoo cannot exist with these opposite characteristics. They typically land someone in the middle.

In reality, a Shihpoo might have long wavy hair more like its Shih Tzu parent, or it might have very tight curly hair identical to its Poodle parent. Most likely, it will be somewhere in between. Regardless, both parents are hypoallergenic and so low-shedding as to be considered basically non-shedding, so you can generally expect the Shihpoo to be both hypoallergenic and as non-shedding as any dog breed can be.

As for energy level, the Shihpoo can range from the serene and tranquil version of its Shih Tzu parent to the playful and athletic version of its Poodle parent. In reality, many Shihpoos will be content relaxing much of the day, being cuddled on the couch or groomed on their cushion, while also enjoying a fun game of fetch or tug-of-war whenever the owner feels up to it.

What’s In a Name, when It Comes to a Shihpoo?

A Shihpoo, by any other name, is still just the sweetest dog there is. Spell it Shih-poo, Shih Poo, Shihpoo, Shipooh, or, call it a Shoodle, Poo Tzu (the most hilarious in my opinion) or a Tzoodle if you want. Just don’t call it a Pooshi, which is a mix of a Poodle and a Shiba Inu. Any way you say it or pronounce it, the Shihpoo is one of the most adorable family dogs you will ever find.

As for the Shihpoo’s weight, it will depend largely on the Poodle parent’s size. If the Poodle parent is a miniature Poodle, you can expect the Shihpoo to weigh between 12 lbs and 18 lbs. If the parent is a toy Poodle, the Shihpoo will more likely weigh between 8 lbs and 12 lbs.

From the top of their shoulder to the floor, most Shihpoos will measure between 8 inches on the very low end to 13 inches for the larger varieties.

What Color Are Shihpoo Coats

Based on a 2019 survey we conducted of 249 Shihpoos for sale around the US, the two most common coat coloration, at 30% of all dogs, is a base white with patches of black and/or brown, followed by either all black or black with small white patches at 25%. Other coat colors included mostly brown (12%), cream/cafe au lait/gold at 11%, and all white at 6%. They are rare, but you may also find Shihpoo coats in red and gray.

Gold, Brindle, White with Patches, Brown base, and Black base

Obviously, the Shihpoo inherits the colors of its parents. From the Shih Tzu parent, the Shihpoo can inherit coat colors of black, blue, gold, red, silver, or white. From the Poodle parent, the Shihpoo might inherit coat colors of black, blue, brown, cafe au lait, cream, gold (apricot), gray, red, silver and white.

Examples of Shihpoo Traits Inherited from Shih Tzu and Poodle Parents

As an example of how a Shihpoos parents will affect both the color and the weight of the puppy, both of our Shihpoos had 12-lb mother Shih Tzus and 6-lb father Toy Poodles. The mothers were similar colors (white with light brown and black patches). The father of our first Shihpoo was all white while the father of our second Shihpoo was all black.

Both Shihpoo puppies weighed around 3 lbs when we brought them home at eight weeks. The first Shihpoo, Titus, topped out at 13 lbs while the second Shihpoo, Stark, is 10 lbs at six months and will likely top out around 12 to 13 lbs as well.

As a puppy, Titus was mostly white with strong brown and black patches. As he matured, his browns and blacks faded, leaving him looking almost all white with light colorings of brown and grays, mostly on his head.

Stark inherited most of the black from his Toy Poodle father. He has patches of white on his chest (his “shield”), one white paw, and a white soul patch on his chin.

The two traits potential owners love that Shihpoos inherit from their Shih Tzu and Poodle parents include the hypoallergenic nature of their coats and the low-shedding to non-shedding nature of their coats.

Keep in mind that hypoallergenic does not mean that no one will be allergic to the dog’s coat. “Hypo” essentially means extremely low possibility. As for shedding, we can have either of our dogs on our laps for an hour, whether cuddling or playing, and notice no more than one or two strands of hair on our own clothing.

The Shih Tzu Tail and the Shih Poo Tail

The Shih Tzu Tail, according to the AKC standard, will curl up and over the back of the dog, regardless of whether the dog is standing, trotting or running. The hair of the Shih Tzu tail is often left long and flowing.

The Shihpoo tail may look exactly like the Shih Tzu’s tail, curling up and over the dog’s back. However, if the Shihpoo inherits its Poodle parent’s tail, its tail may stick straight out behind the dog.

Example of Shihpoo tails

Titus inherited his Shih Tzu mother’s tail. He never wags his tail, even when excited to get a treat or play a game. It always remains curled up over his back.

Stark, on the other hand, inherited his Toy Poodle father’s tail. It sticks straight out the back and, when the puppy gets excited, his tail acts like a wrecking ball swinging side to side.

Related Questions

Do Shihpoos get along with other dogs?
Shihpoos can get along very well with other dogs
. Shihpoos should be introduced to other dogs and allowed to introduced themselves, sniffing and all. Otherwise, expect your Shihpoo to bark at the dog passing on the other side of the street.

How much should you pay for a Shihpoo?
Based on our 2019 survey of 249 Shihpoos for sale around the US, Shihpoo prices range from around $200 (usually rescues) to nearly $3,000. The average cost of a Shihpoo is $930, with the median price being $850. On average, female Shihpoos cost $40 more than males.

Published September 20, 2019

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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