If you want to adopt a dog, you might be looking at several options. You might even be considering either a Shih Tzu or a Chihuahua, both of which are cute and graceful family dogs. But what if we told you that you could have the best of both breeds? You can, and it’s called a Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix.
What is the Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix? It is a small and friendly toy dog that will follow you everywhere. Sometimes known as the ShiChi, ChiShi, or ChiTzu, the Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix is guaranteed to bring great joy and cheer to any family that adopts it. Let’s dive in deeper and learn about its appearance, temperament, food habits, care, and grooming needs.
Meet the Parents: The Shih Tzu and the Chihuahua
The Shih Tzu
We already know the Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix has two parent breeds that are already immensely popular and lovable. The Shih Tzu is known as the “lion dog” according to the Mandarin meaning of the word. It is believed the Shih Tzu has lived in great harmony with human beings for at least 2500 years. The breed originated from Tibet, where it was often found inside Chinese palaces and monasteries. It is a toy dog, rarely growing beyond 11 inches or weighing more than 16 pounds. It thrives in small spaces and is especially good with little children and is extremely cute and cuddly. The Shih Tzu is also known as the chrysanthemum dog, because of the distinct way the hair grows upwards on its face, giving it a distinct chrysanthemum-like appearance. The hair is long and silky and can grow to floor-length if it’s not groomed. Shih Tzus have a double coat and shed moderately all year long. They are intelligent and respond well to training. They also don’t need as much exercise as other dogs and are content with short walks and playtimes.
Just like the Shih Tzu, the Chihuahua is a tiny dog with a long history. It is famous for being the smallest breed in the world, and its ancestors thrived in a place in Mexico that came to be called the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It is believed to have descended from an earlier breed called Techichi, a dog that was domesticated by Aztecs. It is a balanced and graceful dog weighing six pounds at the most. Compact and confident, Chihuahuas can happily adapt to apartments and city life and respond well to training. It is interesting that though Chihuahuas are small, they are feisty and hold their own against much larger dogs. They are also known to choose one favorite person in the household and shower them with affection and cuddling while expecting the same in return. They are busy dogs as they like to stay close to their owners, often underfoot. Their coats can be smooth and shiny or longer and slightly wavy or even curly. Chihuahuas can be solid-colored black, white, fawn, chocolate, gray, or silver, with a range of shades for all colors.
The Appearance of a Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix
Both the Shih Tzu and Chihuahua are bred solely for companionship. When you mix the adorable Shih Tzu and Chihuahua, you get a small puppy that weighs between 5 to 9 pounds. A fully grown male can weigh up to 18 pounds, while a female weighs around five pounds. They measure about 10 inches in height and have a life expectancy of around 12 to 15 years. The ears can be either floppy or erect, depending on which parent they resemble more. The appearance of their coat also depends heavily on the parent — it can be curly/wavy like a Shih Tzu or longer like a Chihuahua. The color of its coat may range from white to brown, black, tan, cream, or simply be a mixture of those with the most common color patterns being tan and white, black and white, and red and white. It is common for the Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix to have almond-shaped eyes, a small nose, and a round face.
The Temperament of a Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix
Similar to most toy breeds, the Shih Tzu and Chihuahua mix is perfect as a constant companion and a great option for first-time dog owners. They are affectionate, friendly, and love being around people. A lot of it also depends on which trait they inherit the most from their parents. If the Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix ends up more like a Shih Tzu, it will be mild-mannered, friendly, and outgoing. If it takes more after the Chihuahua, then it might be more possessive of its humans and aggressive towards others. But this breed is mostly a people lover and thrives under undivided affection, reflecting it back on the owner. If you have very small babies or kids in the house, you might want to wait before getting a Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix. This is a small dog and can’t tolerate rough handling. Another thing to note is the dog is known to be protective. This protectiveness might turn into possessiveness if not curbed on time and may even veer into aggressiveness. You must ensure a proper balance of giving the dog your affection and encouraging it to find its own space and activities. Take your dog to meet other dogs and don’t encourage it to always sit on your lap, so it can socialize and engage itself well. You can also teach it to remove itself from your lap at a sound or command. Similarly, the Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix can be quite vocal, especially while showing its displeasure.
You need to be gentle, patient and determined when training a Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix. Some members of the Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix family can have a stubborn streak, so it is best to start training them as soon as possible. Always use positive reinforcement when they behave well and encourage your dog with words of praise and favorite treats. If other members of your family are also training the dog, all of you should use the same words of command so your dog isn’t confused and responds well to commands. As a first-time dog owner, it might also be helpful to take your dog to puppy classes for professional obedience and discipline training. One of the first things to teach your dog is, of course, potty training. Start training your dog as soon as you get them when they are still a puppy, and you will have a far easier task. Establish a daily routine right away. You can also try crate training or designate a space for them for the house training. Shih Tzu Chihuahua mixes are known to have shorter attention spans, so gently bring them back to the training or command if they seem to be distracted.
Helping Your Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix Adjust to Your Home
Your Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix might behave differently around strangers or even produce a high-pitched barking or “yipping,” though it rarely howls. You will need to teach them to be comfortable around new people and to stay calm when they see other people or their pets. If your dog inherits more traits from the chihuahua, it might be a bit nippy at times, trying to chew things they are uncomfortable with. They might also sometimes display symptoms of the “small dog syndrome,” which is a group of unwanted behaviors that smaller dogs might adopt. These include jumping up at people, being reluctant to move off seats or allowing humans to sit down, climbing over people, barking at visitors, begging for food, or being aggressive towards other dogs. Sometimes your Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix might even forget its small size and threaten or attack larger dogs. To nip this behavior right in the bud, it is important to introduce your dog to a variety of breeds and humans. You should also gently discourage any negative behaviors they display and teach them safe and healthy alternatives. Keep reinforcing the commands and training even after your Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix has learned them. Don’t forget to show appreciation and reward them with treats!
Exercise and Activity for the Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix
Shih Tzu Chihuahua mixes need minimal exercise, and exert themselves through short bursts of energy. Two walks a day is perfect for them. One can be a vigorous 20-minute walk in the morning, while the other can be a shorter and gentler one in the afternoon. If you notice any signs of overexertion or overactivity, pick them up and bring them home, as it can be difficult for them to get their energy back. As the little dogs are also quite playful and curious, make sure you stock up on some dog toys and activities to keep them engaged and alert. You can take your dog to the dog park and introduce them gradually to other pets to help them socialize and make friends. You shouldn’t leave your Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix for long periods outside the house. You can also help them stay warm by dressing them up in shoes and clothes during the colder months.
Feeding a Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix
As a Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix is tiny, it doesn’t need much food. Research your favorite dog foods and choose a high-quality one enriched with necessary ingredients. You need to understand more about the dietary requirements of your dog’s parents to provide them the best option. For strong muscles and bones, both Shih Tzus and Chihuahuas require plenty of protein from various sources such as chicken, fish, beef, and eggs. They don’t require much carbohydrates, especially as they are prone to weight gain, but you can introduce healthy carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes. Both the Shih Tzu and Chihuahua fare well with moderate amounts of fat, which helps keep their coats healthy and smooth. Based on the parents’ food habits, you can opt for a high-protein and low carbs and fats diet for your Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix. Make sure the dog food has no artificial additives, preservatives, or coloring, as it can prove particularly harmful to this small dog.
Depending on the size of the dog, take around half to one cup of the dog food and divide it into two portions. Feeding these portions to your dog twice a day should keep them energized and content. An adult Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix will require around thirty-five calories per pound of body weight. A puppy needs one-half of an ounce per pound of body weight. If you have other dogs, you must feed your Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix separately because they eat a small amount of food that mustn’t be eaten up by other pets. Keep an eye on your dog’s weight — it might be time to restrict their diet if they display any signs of obesity.
How To Groom a Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix
As said earlier, the coat of your Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix might either be short or long, depending on the dominant traits of the parent. If your dog has a short coat, you can brush it just once a week to keep it sleek and shiny. If the coat is longer, make sure to gently detangle and brush at least three times a day. Longer hair can mat and tangle, irritating and hurting your dog. Bathe your dog with gentle dog shampoo and conditioner at least once a month, or whenever you feel they need to be cleaned. Use a soft and clean cloth to wipe away any debris from their ears, and clean the corners of their eyes with a damp cloth. Brushing their teeth and keeping their nails trimmed are also good practices. Just like with other dogs, you must consult a veterinarian for their general treatments and flea checkups.
What To Keep in Mind Before Adopting a Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix
A Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix could be the perfect dog for you, especially if you are a first-time dog owner or live in smaller spaces. They are loyal, lively and fun, and can immediately lift your mood and provide you with excellent companionship. They are also one of the cutest breeds to look at and are full of affection for their humans. They are excellent lap dogs, preferring to stay close to their humans. They rarely overeat due to their small build. They aren’t overly friendly towards strangers and can behave like intelligent watchdogs. Another advantage is the Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix is usually hypoallergenic, meaning it causes fewer allergic reactions. So the Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix might be the perfect choice for you if you usually have an allergy to dogs.
However, you must keep in mind that they need to be trained well, exercised regularly, fed the highest quality food, and groomed every other day. You mustn’t leave the dog around babies, or kids that might unintentionally treat the Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix roughly during play. Remember that due to their relatively delicate disposition, a Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix could quickly get injured or bruised, so you must secure their living and laying spaces.
Potential Health Issues of the Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix
Mixed-breed dogs are usually considered healthier which is a definite plus point. But as Shih Tzu Chihuahua mixes have small mouths, they might develop tooth decay and gum disease if teeth can’t grow freely. In older dogs, you need to watch out for glaucoma, which might be a result of their protruding eyes. Other potential health problems a Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix might develop are necrotizing meningoencephalitis or inflammation of the brain found in smaller dogs. Idiopathic epilepsy might be another cause of concern, as it is an inherited disorder of unknown cause. The dog has a higher risk of suffering from patellar luxation, or dislocation of the kneecap. Make sure you discuss any concerns with your veterinarian as soon as you adopt your Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix.
You also need to make an effort to socialize your Shih Tzu Chihuahua mixes with other humans and dogs, and curb any signs of possessiveness and aggression. Even though most Shih Tzu Chihuahua mixes are a combination of feisty and mild-mannered, a lot of their traits are inherited from both parents. Beware of anyone who talks about teacup and mini varieties of the Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix. This breed is already very small, and they might develop deformities and health complications if they are bred to be unnaturally smaller. Of course, a majority of these health risks can be completely mitigated by helping your pet follow healthy habits and scheduling regular veterinarian checkups.
After knowing all about the Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix, if you feel you would be able to take good care of it, it could be the best canine companion for you!