In the world of designer mixed breeds, it can definitely be difficult to stay on top of the funny dog breed names you may hear. One designer breed that’s rapidly gained in popularity over the last decade is the Shih Poo, also known as the “teddy bear dog” for its adorable, affectionate expression that looks just like a stuffed bear.
Thinking about adopting a Shih Poo? Here’s everything you should know about these spunky and energetic pups.
What Is a Shih Poo, Exactly?
As the name suggests, the Shih Poo dog is a mixed breed: a cross between a Shih Tzu and a miniature or toy Poodle. Their cute, alert-looking expressions and their sturdy bodies can make them easily identifiable.
The Shih Poo looks like a living teddy bear with a sweet personality to match.
Shih Poos aren’t purebred dogs or a breed in their own right. The Shih Poo isn’t recognized by breed organizations like the American Kennel Club but that doesn’t mean they’re mutts.
As a designer cross, Shih Poos can come with a high price tag but it can be worth it once you fall in love with their sweet looks and fun personality.
What Does a Shih Poo Look Like?
The Shih Poo’s appearance is determined by his genetics. As you can imagine, the Shih Poo can have traits of both the miniature Poodle and the Shih Tzu. Some Shih Poos have the curly, hypoallergenic coat of a Poodle while others have the Shih Tzu’s long, straight coat.
Some Shih Poo puppies look more like one parent than the other. Some are the perfect blend of both. Shih Poos are usually white or white with tawny patches but they can also be all black, tawny, or some other combination.
No matter which parent your pup favors, you can bet your Shih Poo will be cuddly, small, and soft.
Just keep in mind that the Shih Poo is a crossbreed with no breed standard. Most Shih Poos today are a first generation cross between two purebred parents.
The Shih Poo’s Personality and Temperament
Shih Poos have very unique personalities that match their fluffy appearance. These small dogs are typically very friendly and affectionate with lots of energy. They tend to be outgoing and fairly easy to train. Shih Poos also come with quite a stubborn attitude at times, however, their intelligence should not be underestimated.
Remember that your pup’s personality and temperament comes from both their environment and the temperament of their mother.
Both the Shih Tzu and Poodles are more often than not on the outgoing, friendly end of the spectrum, but how your Shih Poo puppy turns out will really depend on how lucky their genes are, what they learn from their mother and siblings, and the amount of socialization they receive before and after moving into their new home. Shih Poo pups should not be overly aggressive or shy, so if their parents run away or won’t let you near, or even go as far as to growl at you, it’s probably best to move on and find another litter.
Tips for Training Your Shih Poo
Use positive reinforcement techniques to train your Shih Poo; reward them with play, praise, and treats. So long as you can show what’s in it for them, they’ll have a fun and enjoyable time learning.
You’ll want to get started as soon as you bring your puppy home. If you put it off for too long, your Shih Poo will be growing ever more headstrong and will be much, much harder to deal with.
If you can, try taking the puppy to a regular training class, ideally before they reach the age of 10 to 12 weeks old. This is a great way to teach them the most important skill of all: socializing. If this not be possible, then make sure your training at home involves lots of socializing among family and friends.
Tips for Finding Shih Poo Puppies
Maybe you want to get your pup from a rescue or shelter, or perhaps you want to find a reputable breeder. Either way, here are some tips to bear in mind when looking.
Shih Poo puppies are obviously adorable. That’s why you’re here. But just like everything else in the world, the rules of supply and demand come into play in the doggy world, too. Cute puppies are definitely some of the highest sellers, making the Shih Poo a high favorite of irresponsible greedy breeders and puppy mills. Don’t expect to have to fork out millions though; local shelters or nearby adoption organizations often have fantastic examples of Shih Poos waiting to find a new home.
If you wish to adopt your Shih Poo from an animal rescue or shelter, there are many great options and opportunists available. Sites like petfinder.com make searching for a Shih Poo in your area a quick and simple task. These sites even allow you to make very specific requests and they can be a great tool to help you find animal rescue groups that are local to your area. Also, advertising in the local newspaper has not completely gone out of fashion yet, and social media sites can be a great place to start your search.
Choose a Breeder Carefully!
If you want to purchase from a breeder, make sure to find one who has completed all relevant health testing to ensure your puppies won’t carry any of the potential genetic diseases common to Shih Tzus and Poodles. You can expect to pay somewhere from a few hundred to even a thousand dollars or more for a Shih Poo, so make sure you’re spending wisely.
It should go without saying that you should avoid any breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can offload their puppies and take your money. It’s also worth noting the risks involved when buying a puppy online. A top tip is to put no less effort into buying a new puppy than you would when buying a new car.
Your breeder should be able to assist you with finding exactly what you want from a dog. The breeders will see the puppies daily, and can often make alarmingly precise recommendations once they know more about you, your personality, and your lifestyle. Regardless of what you’re after in your Shih Poo, make sure to find a puppy that’s been well socialized since early puppyhood, and whose parents have great, agreeable personalities.
Shih Poo Health Problems You Should Watch Out For
All dogs, just as all humans, have the potential to develop health problems, genetic or otherwise. If you come across a breeder who does not offer a guarantee on the health of their puppies, or who tells you that the mixed breed has no known health issues and is 100% healthy, or has told you that his or her puppies have been isolated from any main parts of the house for health reasons, stay well away.
It’s imperative that you find yourself a breeder who will be, above all else, open and honest with regards to any health issues in the mixed breed and the frequency with which they occur in their lines.
As you would possibly expect, the Shih Poo is still susceptible to any and all health issues that may befall the Shih Tzu and Toy Poodle. However, there is a small chance that the genetic diversity brought on by mixing these two breeds may decrease any chances of developing certain inherited diseases. Genetic variation by its very nature makes this quite difficult to predict though, so you’ll want to do some research.
Not all conditions your Shih Poo puppy could potentially inherit will be detectable, and it can be quite difficult to predict if an animal will be free of these issues. Therefore, it’s vital that you find a reputable breeder who is fully committed to breeding the healthiest possible dogs. It should be expected that they can produce upon request independent certification that the puppy’s parents and grandparents have been screened for genetic defects and have been deemed healthy for breeding. Accept no less than the breeder being able to show evidence that both of the parents have the appropriate health certifications from the likes of the Canine Eye Registry Foundation and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.
If you’ve found a breeder that cannot provide you with written documentation to prove the parents were cleared of breed-related health issues, walk away.
Having the dogs simply checked by the vet is not an acceptable substitute for genetic health testing.
In spite of all this, don’t forget the most common health problem that can affect all dogs: obesity. You and you alone have the power to prevent your Shih Poo becoming obese, and keeping your pup at an appropriate weight and providing them with a healthy diet and good exercise is one of the simplest and easiest ways to prolong their life.
What Makes the Shih Poo Such an Awesome Support Animal?
Simply put, Shih Poos are incredibly cute and incredibly loving, affectionate creatures. For these reasons and more, Shih Poos can make more than just a great pet; they’re also great as emotional support animals. Ahead, we’ll go through just some of the reasons that can make them so perfect for the job.
Shih Poos Are Awesome Companions
Shih Tzus were originally bred for companionship, and this trait definitely passes down to the Shih Poo. Emotional support animals have an important task in offering their distressed owners some extent of emotional stability, and this can come in the forms of constant companionship and unconditional love: two traits the Shih Poo can offer in abundance.
Shih Poos Offer Great Loyalty and Devotion
Anyone who is suffering with depression, self-esteem issues, or another form of emotional disorder can benefit greatly from a companion who can devote all their love and attention, and it doesn’t get much more warm and loving than the Shih Poo. These small, lovable bundles of fluff could cuddle all day, and they’re extremely devoted and loyal. These characteristics can go some way to alleviating symptoms you may experience.
Shih Poos are Small and Portable – Great for ESAs!
The Fair Housing Amendments Act has certain protections in place for emotional support animals. This means they can live in a residence that may have anti-pet policies. There are still policies in place that can supersede this, but only for certain larger, noisier, and more aggressive breeds.
Obviously, these are three things the Shih Poo is not, so as an owner you shouldn’t have trouble with a Shih Poo as an ESA. Weighing in at an average weight of between 7 and 20 pounds, the Shih Poo is extremely portable and travel-friendly.
Though the Air Carrier Access Act no longer allows ESAs to ride in the cabin of an airplane, the Shih Poo is small enough that it can likely be taken onto the plane as a carry-on if allowed by the airline. There will be a fee, but you’ll feel relieved knowing your ESA is just under your seat instead of in cargo.
Shih Poos Have a Calm and Relaxed Nature
Having a relaxed nature is one of the most important factors to take into consideration when looking for an emotional support animal. The last thing you’d want if you’re already feeling worked up, exhausted, and stressed is to have to calm down an overly excited, aggressive, or loud dog.
If what you’re looking for in an emotional support animal is a calm, contained companion that wants to cuddle on the couch all day and night then the Shih Poo is the one for you. On top of this, the breed doesn’t require a huge amount of exercise, so if you are unable to take your dog for frequent walks every day then there’s a bonus.
Shih Poos Crave Attention
Your Shih Poo will be frequently craving your attention, so they’ll do anything to make you happy, and the littlest praise can go a long way. If they can latch onto something that seems to please you, they’ll try to win your attention and praise by doing it over and over and over again.
Shih Poos Can be Hilarious
You can always count on your Shih Poo to make you smile again after a rough day. Laughter is always the best medicine, as they say, and these dogs are well known for putting smiles on their owners’ faces.
Shih Poos Are Extremely Affectionate
Most importantly, Shih Poos are just simply incredibly affectionate and loving. What more would you want from an emotional support animal? Like the Shih Tzu before it, these dogs were bred to be loved, and they’ve certainly come to learn how to show it back. Compared with all other breeds, this is undoubtedly their greatest attribute.
Over the centuries, dogs and the companionship that they bring have proven time and time again to provide a natural, safe, and effective remedy for all sorts of emotional and mental disorders such as anxiety, phobias, PTSD, depression, and more.
If you’ve decided that a Shih Poo is the right breed for your emotional support or service animal, take the extra step of having them registered for your protection and convenience. US Service Animals offers a fast, easy registration process that includes an animal ID, certificate, and inclusion in our national database.