The Shichi is a meeting of two larger-than-life personalities: the Shih Tzu and the Chihuahua. Thus, she will be small and she will be feisty.
Of which genes are the more dominant it is hard to say. The Shichi resembles more often than not the Shih parent but her coat has more in common with the Chihuahua. She is however always small: the Shichi is a toy dog born of toy dogs and as such the adult measures around 10 inches at the shoulder and weighs no more than 4 kilos.
The Shichi will either have the fox-like ears of the Mexican or the floppy ears of the Chinese. She will generally have a round head, a black muzzle and dark-brown eyes, and she is altogether a handsome dog. Although their fur colour may change with age, most Shichis wear fur that is a mixture of black, brown, white and cream; the fur tends to be both long and short and is not prone to excess moult.
Meet the parent Shih Tzu
This breed is a trustful kind and although initially wary of strangers 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. Contrastingly, she will not be happy to be left in a cold room or outdoors and will be especially unhappy about being left alone.
Meet the parent Chihuahua
Owners of small dogs like Chihuahuas are less likely to take their pet to obedience classes than owners of big dogs. Some consider the dog’s diminutive size reason enough for her not to need training and socialisation. However, this gives rise to the much-talked-about behavioural problems of the unadjusted small dog. Any dog that is not socially confident is easily provoked to attack and lacks tolerance of human interaction. This is especially seen of poorly-trained toy dogs.
The temperament of the Shichi
The temperament of the Shichi bears some resemblance to that of the Shih parent. The cross is known to be playful, adaptable and calm. However, the addition of the Chihuahua’s fearsome loyalty and overly cautious attitude to new experiences should raise a degree of concern of families with young children. Furthermore, the Chihuahua breed is known for its tendency to prefer the company of other Chi dogs over that of non-Chi dogs.
Training your Shichi
Regardless of the size of your dog, it is your responsibility to train her. Small dogs especially will exhibit ‘small dog syndrome’ if they are left to their own devices instead of being trained and stimulated. A toy dog, after all, is not a toy.
Consistent training of your Shichi puppy will pay dividends in the future. A well-taught and well-rounded dog will be one that is a pleasure to have around even in the presence of new faces. Both parents of the Shichi are intelligent animals and will respond well to friendly and confident discipline. Puppy training classes are especially worthwhile to be considered by new and first-time owners. Here your dog can learn what behaviours are acceptable to both human and canine. Without proper training the following poor behaviours may be exhibited of your Shichi:
- Separation anxiety
- Excessive vocalisation
- Protective / defensive aggression
- Attempts to dominate the 'pack'
Shichis require companionship and do not do well when they are left alone for long periods of time. A companion dog ideally of similar heritage would make the perfect housemate for a Shichi. If this is not a practical move for the family, you should be mindful of her dislike of being by herself. Avoid shutting her in a room by herself (even as a punishment) or spending a long time away from her.
Health of the Shichi
Because the Shichi is a crossbreed it is likely to inherit the health problems associated with the parents. However, some illnesses specific to the Shih Tzu cross Chihuahua are:
The Shih’s congenital bulging eyes are likely to become infected or irritated, and untreated inflammations can lead to corneal ulcers.
A cataract occurs when the lens of the eye (through which light passes) becomes cloudy and imperfect. The condition affects the dog’s eyesight and will eventually cause her to be blind.
Entropion is another word for the curling in of an eyelid towards the eye. The condition is often seen of squashed-face dogs. If untreated the eyelashes of the eye lid can cause irritation of the eyeball.
This condition is also common of squashed-face dogs. The tear film that lubricates the eye runs off onto the face rather than channelling into the dog’s tear duct.
Respiratory complaints are common of both the Shih Tzu and the Chihuahua. The Chihuahua is also prone to tracheal collapse. Neither breed tolerates heat especially well.
Toy breeds such as the Pekingese and Shih Tzu are especially susceptible to intervertebral disc disease: the degeneration of the intervertebral disks of the spine.
Digestive enzymes begin to irritate the pancreas and may cause extreme pain if untreated.
Before you buy your dog you should ask the breeder to provide you with the history of the Shichi’s parents’ health; a reputable breeder will be able to provide you with this information. You should avoid dealing with a breeder who has scant detail of the parentage. Nor should you approach a breeder who is only contactable online or is asking what appears to be a premium price for the Shichi. Unscrupulous breeders will breed dogs only for profit and with little concern for the dog’s health.