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Everything you need to know about the Shih Tzu cross

Black and white shih tzu advice
© Pixabay

Some toy dogs have a tendency to be a little self-centred and haughty but the Shih Tzu is not one of them. The purebred Shih Tzu is a ready-made companion. She is not especially playful (although will show moments of playfulness), nor is she a fearsome guard dog (except when your own safety is threatened). What a Shih Tzu does best is to be by your side at any given time of the day or night.

By Nick Whittle

Originally the favourite pet of ancient Chinese emperors, the ‘Chrysanthemum Dog’ is still one of our nation’s favourite dogs; her gentle and affectionate personality has seen her adored through the centuries. Read on to discover whether the Shih Tzu cross is equally as endearing as her pedigree parent.

What about the Shih Tzu?

The breed is a trustful kind and although initially wary of strangers, the dog easily makes friends. A Shih Tzu is an adaptive animal capable of finding peace and comfort in any type of living space, especially where there is warmth and company. To this end she is not happy to be left in a cold room or outdoors, and will be especially unhappy about being left alone. That being said, as long as she is eventually reunited with her family she can deal with short periods of loneliness reasonably well.


A post shared by Brody the Tzu (@brodacious.brody) on

The breed requires more than a little exercise and a Shih Tzu should be walked at least once a day. If you deny her the chance to burn off her energy you will find her using one of the rooms (and the furniture) as an assault course. The same can be said of a Shih Tzu cross, but the energy level of such a dog is largely determined by the breed of the other parent.

Shih Tzus are normally crossed with breeds such as the poodle, beagle, terrier and spaniel, all of which have hefty stamina. Take a look at some of the most popular Shih Tzu crossbreeds:

Breed colours of the Shih Tzu range from gold and white to solid black but the colour of the cross’s litter will be altered by the colour of the other parent. The Shih Tzu genes seem not to be overly dominant in this respect. The size of the adult cross will be determined by the size of the other parent; dogs of the Shih Tzu breed tend to stand between 8 and 11 inches at the shoulder.

What is the temperament of the Shih Tzu cross breed?

The natures of the breeds that a Shih Tzu is crossed with are all similar in kind: affectionate, loyal and gentle. However, the Shih Tzu's love to be still and to be held is not shared by all pedigrees. For instance, spaniels and beagles can become restless after a few minutes of human companionship and tend to enjoy an active playtime as much as quiet cuddle time.

The Shih Tzu is gentle with children, however not all dogs are as virtuous, and some (such as the poodle) can become ‘fed up’ with constant attention and unwanted tugs and slaps. Care should be taken to discuss the personality traits of each parent with the breeder of the Shih Tzu cross.

Is a Shih Tzu mix prone to Shih Tzu illnesses?

The Shih Tzu purebred lives between 10 to 16 years. However, during that time the dog is vulnerable to the following diseases and conditions, and it should be assumed the same applies to the cross breed:


A hormonal condition that leads to a reduction or absence of thyroxine in the blood. Thyroxine is integral to the regulation of metabolism and immunity. This chronic illness is usually treated by the administration of a lifelong thyroid supplement.

 Intervertebral disk disease

Toy breeds such as the Pekingese, Basset hound and Welsh corgi are especially prone to this disease which brings about a degeneration of the intervertebral disks of the spine. The condition is accompanied by a lot of pain. Treatments of the disease may include pain killers, steroids and surgery for the worst cases.

 Breathing problems

The Shih Tzu is a dog that is known as brachycephalic or ‘squashed-face’. The inbreeding of this feature of the dog causes her to be susceptible to breathing problems. The PDSA has published some useful tips for prospective owners of squashed-face dogs.

Squashed-face dogs include shih tzus and pugs.
The Shih Tzu cross may be susceptible to breathing problems.© Pixabay

Haemolytic anaemia

The Shih Tzu (and potentially a Shih Tzu cross) is more likely than most dogs to contract an illness called haemolytic anaemia, an immuno-pathology that stimulates the destruction of red blood cells by the body’s own immune defences. The treatment of this disease involves a prolonged administration of immunosuppressive therapy

Shih Tzu cross puppies

Training is an exceptionally important part of rearing a Shih Tzu cross breed. These are dogs that are alert, eager to learn and keen to please their owner. Concise and consistent training should begin at about six months, and positive interaction during training will make for a well-rounded and sociable individual. Inconsistencies of training will lead to confusion and behavioural difficulties.

There is no way to tell what parent a Shih Tzu cross puppy has taken after. Her character will begin to blossom when she is between three and six months old but the true traits of her genetic heritage will not make themselves known until she is an adult.

There is, of course, a chance that your cross breed may exhibit only the worst traits of each of her parents. Separation anxiety, barking, and destructiveness are common behavioural problems of beagles, and terriers tend to have so much a free spirit that they are very difficult to control. However, all of these traits can be eradicated.

It is not as easy to determine the character of the Shih Tzu cross as it is a cross from a dog such as the Rottweiler. The Rottie’s gene pool seems more dominant than most, which leads to its pedigree characteristics shining through the mix. However, going by the accounts of the owners of Shih Tzu mixes, the dog appears to retain the beauty of the pedigree and its love of companionship and loyalty.

Check out these other mixed breeds:

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