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Shih-Tzu vs Shih-Poo: Deciding Which One Is Right For You

The difference between a Shih-Tzu dog and a Shih-Poo is that Shih-Tzus are purebred. A Shih-Poo, however, is the offspring of a toy poodle and a Shih-Tzu.

Designer dogs (hybrid dogs) tend to inherit the best features of both parent breeds. There’s no exact science to this method of breeding, which means you might not be able to choose a precise color or characteristic.

A good breeder should be able to give you a good idea of what your new puppy will look like. The breeder should also have a pretty good idea of any potential health problems. This is especially important.

Breeders should only breed their healthiest dogs.

This post will take you through the similarities and differences between both parent breeds (Shih-Tzu and Toy Poodle), along with the traits you can expect the Shih-Poo to display.

The Shih-Poo Explained

Shih-Poo puppies are the result of breeding a purebred Shih-Tzu and a Toy Poodle (Miniature Poodle). Both breeds are loving and intelligent, so you know you’re going to get similar traits in the puppy.

Shih-Poos are known for their adorable and alert expressions. Despite their small stature, Shih-Poos can have a stubborn streak that’s as strong as their sturdy little bodies. It’s part of what makes them so cute!

If you’ve ever heard anybody talk about the “teddy bear dog”, they’re likely talking about the Shih-Poo. That’s because of their sweetly affectionate expression that resembles a stuffed bear.

Training a Shih-Poo

Shih-Poos are highly intelligent dogs, a trait that comes from each of the parent breeds. This means the little dog will learn quickly with consistent training.

Sometimes, they may be a bit stubborn. The problem is that they’re do cute that you might be tempted to let him/her get away with too much.

Don’t do it!

The reality is that it’s equally important to train a dog of any size. A small dog shouldn’t be able to jump on people just as a large dog shouldn’t be allowed to.

Teaching your dog basic commands while not allowing him/her to run the house actually makes your dog happier.

Dogs of all sizes need to feel that they are in a secure pack environment.

They will look to you for leadership, consistency, and boundaries. If you’re not able to provide that to your Shih-Poo, he/she may develop unwanted behavioral problems.

Cute Shih Poo with light colored fur and round black eyes

Shih-Poos Need Positive Reinforcement!

This little dog needs to be socialized early and requires positive training methods.

Positive reinforcement includes praise for a job well done. For example, ignore nipping and jumping until he settles down, then offer praise.

Now that you have a pretty good idea of what a Shih-Poo dog is, let’s take a look at some specific differences between this hybrid dog and the Shih-Tzu.

Shih-Poo Personality Traits

Shih-Poos (also known as Shoodles) are loving and intelligent little dogs. They are perfect dogs for singles, couples, or families. Be forewarned: These little charmers can have a stubborn streak requiring a firm but patient hand.

Shih-Poos love to play with toys and are truly “people” dogs. They love the attention of adults and older children, but may not be well-suited to toddlers. Small children should be supervised around the Shih-Poo. Toddlers, after all, see this little dog as a toy of their own!

Living with a Shih-Poo

This little dog does equally well in an apartment or condo as it does in a larger home.

Never leave your little dog unattended in the yard, even if it’s well fenced. When working with a new puppy, you may want to consider a playpen area where the little pup can play in safety.

You’ll also want to ensure small and “tasty” objects are out of reach of your curious new puppy. This applies both inside and outside the home.

Exercise Requirements of the Shih-Poo

The Shih-Poo requires about 30 minutes of exercise everyday. This could take the form of several short walks a day or two 15 minute sessions of playtime.

Engage your dog with interesting toys that squeeze, crinkle, and rattle. These intelligent dogs require mental and physical stimulation.

Potential Health Issues of the Shih-Poo

Shih-Poos, like any dog, can be prone to certain health conditions.

A good breeder will be well-versed in any genetic problems affecting the parent breeds. Before mating a Toy Poodle with a Shih-Tzu, a responsible breeder will have genetic testing completed.

That said, there’s no 100% guarantee your Shih-Poo will have a lifetime free from health problems. According to Embrace Pet Insurance, the Shih-Poo can be at risk of a few conditions including:

  • luxating patella
  • hip dysplasia
  • eye problems including entropion, cataracts, or progressive retinal atrophy

Shih-Poo Life Expectancy

This little “teddy bear” of a dog can live as long as 15 to 17 years. This, of course, is an approximation. A healthy diet, active lifestyle, and regular wellness checks with a veterinarian can contribute to a long lifespan for any dog.

Shih-Poo Shedding

Shih-Poos are very low shedders. However, that doesn’t make them hypoallergenic. The truth is, there are no purely hypoallergenic dogs. There are only dogs who are less likely to cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to pet dander.

Shih-Poo Grooming

How you groom your Shih-Poo may depend on whether your little dog inherited the curls of his/her poodle parent or the hair-like silkiness of the Shih-Tzu.

Some of the best Shih-Poo grooming tips come from, where you can read 10 Shih-Poo Puppy Grooming Tips.

Shin-Poo Barking Tendencies

Shih-Poos are not considered “yappy” dogs. They will, however, bark at strangers and other animals if not trained.

Tip Before Getting a Shih-Poo

Join Facebook groups of this breed and read through the comments. You’ll learn a lot about the breed, including great tips, from people more experienced with the breed.

Joining groups like this also allow you to ask questions from experienced Shih-Poo parents.

Shih-Tzu vs Shih-Poo Breeds: What You Can Expect From Each

You’ll see from the checklist below that the Shih-Tzu and Shih-Poo breeds are very much alike. The major difference is that the Shih-Poo has the potential to pull more traits from his/her toy poodle parent.

That could mean the difference between having a dog with high grooming needs versus moderate grooming needs. It could also translate into a companion dog with a higher tendency (or lower tendency) to bark.

At the end of the day, the personality traits and characteristics of your little Shih-Poo lean heavily on genetics.


  • Friendly towards strangers
  • Good with kids
  • Moderate exercise needs
  • Low shedding
  • Moderate tendency to bark
  • Life expectancy 10+ years
  • Could be a little stubborn
  • Playful
  • Soft and straight hair-like coat
  • Double-coated
  • More hypoallergenic than some breeds
  • Have a good cuddle factor
  • Intelligent
  • Small dog size
  • Great family pets
  • Awesome lap dog


  • Friendly towards strangers
  • Good with kids
  • Moderate exercise needs
  • Low shedding
  • Low tendency to bark
  • Life expectancy 10+ years
  • Could be a little stubborn
  • Playful
  • High grooming needs
  • Can have straight or curly hair
  • More hypoallergenic than some breeds
  • Love a good cuddle
  • Intelligent
  • Small dog size
  • Designer dog (or hybrid dog)
  • Great family pets
  • Awesome lap dog

Differences in Fur Color and Texture Between a Shih-Poo and a Shih-Tzu

Shih-Tzus have human-like hair that can be kept long and flowing or cut. On the other hand, the Shih-Poo can have straight or curly hair and can come in a wide variety of colors and coat types.

Some puppies end up having a mix of both types of coat.

Differences Between the Shih-Tzu and the Shih-Poo Breeds

The difference is that the Shih-Poo is a mixed breed. This designer toy breed is the result of crossing two purebred dogs: the Toy Poodle and the Shih-Tzu.

The Shih-Tzu is usually a little larger than the Shih-Poo. They roughly stand at the same height (10 inches approximately), but the Shih Poo tends to weigh less.

Ultimately, the Shih-Poo takes on the best characteristics of both breeds. This tends to happen when two purebred dogs are mixed.

Your little dog will be just as smart and active as a Shih-Tzu, but it is considered to be more hypoallergenic.

Bubbly Personality Traits of the Shih-Poo

The Shih-Poo adult is an intelligent, loving, loyal, and charming dog. This kind little dog is a good fit for single people, families, and seniors.

Just look into their kind little eyes and you’ll be swayed. They’re such affectionate, playful dogs that you can’t help but fall in love with them.

A Quick Look at the Shih-Poo Parent Breeds

The parent breeds of a Shih-Poo include the Toy Poodle and the Shih-Tzu. The resulting puppies are highly intelligent, loving, and adaptable.

Toy Poodle

Toy poodles are the small version of the standard poodle. They are well known for being one of the smartest dogs on the planet.

They’re also considered hypoallergenic and are often sought out by people with mild allergies for that reason. 

These intelligent dogs are very active and social. You can expect a Toy Poodle to be very friendly with family, other pets, and even strangers. They’re talkative, which means they do have a tendency to bark.

This incredible dog needs regular exercise, training, and professional grooming.

They have very curly fur that will naturally cord if not maintained. Toy Poodles are available in a variety of colors which tends to translate to their puppies when mixed with the Shih-Tzu. 


The Shih-Tzu is a common and beloved dog by many. They are classified as a toy group in most countries, coming in at 9–16 pounds for both males and females. 

Like the toy poodle, Shih-Tzu dogs are very intelligent, loyal, and loving. They’re fun to be around and are suitable for pretty much any living situation. They thrive equally well in a large home or a small apartment.

The Shih-Tzu requires regular exercise (approximately 30 minutes per day). They are a brachycephalic breed, which means, like French bulldogs, they can develop breathing difficulties, including respiratory distress syndrome (brachycephalic syndrome).

Some other health concerns with brachycephalic breeds include:

  • respiratory distress
  • difficulty regulating body temperature (heat intolerance)
  • dental problems
  • ocular disease
  • digestive disorders
  • pneumonia
  • intervertebral disk disease

Potential Health Problems of the Shih-Poo

All dog breeds can develop health problems, especially later in life. The Shih-Poo is no different. The best way to reduce the risk of serious health problems in a dog is to buy from a reputable breeder.

It’s thought that mixed breeds are healthier overall than purebred dogs. A few things to watch for, however, can include:

  • renal dysplasia
  • dental issues (dental problems)
  • hip dysplasia
  • patellar luxation

Generally, these dogs have few serious health concerns.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting Any Dog

There are a few things to consider before bringing any dog home. The first thing is to consider your lifestyle. Shih-poo puppies are very small, for example. If you’re looking for a hardy dog that can go on hikes with you, you’ll be better off looking at a medium-to-large breed.

If you want an adorable companion that will entertain and delight you, a toy designer breed like the Shih-Poo is perfect.

Have a look at the following questions you should be able to answer honestly before bringing a new dog home.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting A Dog

  • Do I want a purebred dog?
  • Do I want a mixed-breed dog?
  • Do I want a lazy dog or a dog with high energy?
  • How much time can I devote to my dog?
  • Am I home most of the time or will the dog have to spend some time alone?
  • Am I ready to make a long-term financial and emotional commitment to a dog?
  • Do I have the time and energy to train a new puppy?
  • Will my current lifestyle change soon? In other words, will I be moving soon or am I more-or-less settled?

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Summing It Up

The Shih-Poo has a lot of the same characteristics of the Shih-Tzu and the Toy Poodle. If you opt for this fun little dog, you’ll be getting what’s known as a hybrid dog or designer breed.

The benefits of mixed breeds can include better overall health and the inheritance of its parent’s best traits.

When talking to breeders, be sure to ask whether the Shih-Poo is a first generation dog.

In some cases, breeders may offer second or even third generation Shih-Poos. For example, if two first generation Shih-Poos were to mate, their offspring would be considered second-generation.

If it’s breed standards you’re looking for, you’re better off sticking with pure breeds like the Shih Tzu or Toy Poodle. Shih-Poos have no breed standards. There is no ideal weight, size, physique, coat type, or posture.

Generally speaking, if you’re looking for a loving, loyal companion dog, the Shih-Poo may just be the perfect option.

Works Cited

Petguide.Com., 18 Jan. 2022,

Shih-Poo Dog Breed Information and Pictures., Accessed 10 July 2022.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition., Accessed 10 July 2022.

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