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The Shichon: Shih Tzu 'cross' Bichon Frise

White bichon frise advice
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Cross a cuddle-crazed Shih Tzu with a brainy Bichon Frise and you may just have discovered the perfect dog: not too large and not too small with a heady mixture of good looks and loyalty. Its name? The Shichon (AKA the Zuchon or Teddy Bear): a recent addition to the controversial designer crossbreed market

By Nick Whittle

Although it is hard to say with any certainty what the temperament of the Shichon is, we do know that she is likely to be one of the safest and adaptable of all small dogs, and especially good for young families.

How do we determine what a new crossbreed will turn out like? Investigate the pros and cons of the pedigree parents, of course. And in the case of the Shichon we must first study the characteristics, personality and illnesses of her parents: the Shih Tzu and the Bichon Frise.

The History of the Shih Tzu

Some toy dogs have a tendency to be a little agitated and nervous. The Shih Tzu is not one of them. Originally a prized possession of the ancient Chinese emperors, the ‘Chrysanthemum Dog’ is still one of our nation’s favourite dogs; her gentle and affectionate personality seeing her happily through the centuries. It is rumoured the Shih Tzu began its long and illustrious blood line after being bred of the Tibetan Lhasa Apso and the Chinese Pekingese.


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The History of the Bichon Frise

Bichons descended from the ancient ancestors of the poodle and the barbet. From this union also issued forth the Barbichon (a small curly-coated Maltese) and the Bolognese. The Maltese tends to be thought of as the older type of breed but some suspect the Bichon Frise to be the original stock. Most of today’s bichon breeds have emerged after centuries of Barbichon cross breeding. The appearance and temperament of this family of dogs is especially attractive to children.


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Shichon crossbreed dimensions

Neither parent of the Shih Tzu-cross-Bichon Frise is large so we can, with a degree of confidence, predict that a Shichon adult will grow to around 11 inches at the shoulder and will weigh in the region of 12 to 14 pounds. The adult Shih Tzu pedigree measures 9 to 10 inches at the shoulder and weighs on average 9 to 16 pounds, and the Bichon measures 9 to 11 inches and weighs 12 to 18 pounds.

Shichon appearance

The genes of the Shih Tzu and the Bichon are matched in dominance which means that an offspring of the pairing may have any of the colours and the fur type of her parents. The coat of the Shichon is long but unlike her Shih parent it does not shed, which is good for sufferers of allergies.

However, as a consequence of her having an ‘hyopallergenic’ coat, a Shih Tzu-cross-Bichon Frise will require more maintenance and grooming than most dogs. The coat of the Shichon although almost always white can be of any colour exhibited by the parents.

Bichon Frise cross Shih Tzu temperament

The Shih Tzu and the Bichon are not dissimilar in their temperament. Here are some of the most notable aspects of both:

Bichon Frise:

Active, Affectionate, Cheerful, Feisty, Gentle, Playful, Sensitive.

Shih Tzu:

Active, Affectionate, Courageous, Gentle, Intelligent, Loyal, Playful.

From these two lists we can reason that the Shichon (its being a mix of both dogs in equal measure) may be more likely to be active, affectionate, gentle and playful. Indeed, most owners of Shichons have remarked that their dogs are not only a perfect in-house companion but are also very good with children and other animals; they also require less exercise than a big dog and enjoy gentle playing, but are more likely to want to have a cuddle.

How to train a Shih Tzu cross Bichon Frise

It is during the training of the Shichon that owners tend to notice some troublesome traits. Some of these traits stem, it is assumed, from the Shih Tzu’s willingness to protect the pack. After all, the dog has been bred for centuries as a faithful companion and if she senses that she or her family are 'under threat' she will not act kindly to it.

Some owners of small dogs are tempted to let them have their own way; others may see no point in training a dog (especially a toy dog) that is so naturally affectionate. However, the training of a dog is vital. Indeed, training your Shih Tzu cross Bichon Frise properly, allows you to remain in control of her behaviour.

Anti-social habits that dogs adopt if they are allowed to be disobedient can lead to them causing damage to furniture and, worse still, exhibiting aggression. Furthermore, a dog that has not been trained in recall commands or has been improperly socialised can herself be in grave danger when out on a walk.

Fortunately, the Bichon’s love of learning and the Shih Tzu’s willing to please her family should make the training of the Shichon considerably easier.


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Health of the Shichon

Many purebred dogs are prone to health issues and these are often inherited by the dog that issues forth from the union. The majority of illnesses here seen however can assault the bodies of any small dogs, although a Shichon’s parents seem especially prone to cataracts and gum disease:

  • Joint problems of the knees and hips
  • Gum disease and tooth loss
  • Deafness
  • Epilepsy
  • Blindness
  • Liver disease
  • Hyperadrenocorticism
  • Cataracts

Due to the shape of her face (which is often from the Shih parent) she won’t enjoy overly hot weather and may pant excessively after exercise. Vigilance is required of a Shichon’s health, especially the health of her eyes and gums.

A Shichon enjoys exercise but she does not like to be outdoors in bad weather. Walks are all very well and good but interaction with her family is what a Shichon most enjoys. A small dog most deserving of your love is the Shichon.

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