The Shih Poo, as a hybrid of a Shih Tzu and a Poodle, is an energetic, playful, sometimes stubborn little crossbreed that's beloved by owners everywhere. These companion dogs are nearly always toy-sized; though technically they can be bred from larger Standard Poodles, practically all Shih Poos come from Mini or Toy Poodles to keep their size small. And one of this hybrid's best attributes: Shih Poo care doesn't take a lot of work. Below you'll find plenty of details on how to take care of your Shih Tzu-Poodle mix: puppy development, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and more. For answers to all your questions about raising a Shih Poo, read on!
As a small-sized crossbreed, Shih Poo puppy development typically spans 12-15 months from birth to full maturity. Physically, Shih Poo puppies grow quickly in height and length for the first 5-6 months, then those growth rates slow somewhat while the adolescent gains muscle mass and fat; a Shih Poo is usually at or near its full adult size by 10-11 months of age.
Socially, Shih Poo pups develop steadily. They reach adolescence at 5-6 months, sexual maturity at 8-9 months, and full mental maturity at 12-15 months (though as playful dogs, some Shih Poos may retain their puppylike behavior--or seem to do so, at least!--for up to an additional year). For specific milestones in Shih Poo development, see the following chart:
|Dog Age||Development Milestone|
|2-3 Weeks||Eyes/ears open, begins walking|
|6 Weeks||Can be introduced to solid food|
|2 Months||Old enough to be separated from mother, housetrained; vaccinations/de-worming needed|
|3 Months||Can begin exercising|
|5-6 Months||Adolescent period starts, characterized by increased independence, fear, disobedience, hyperactivity; obedience training might be needed during this stage|
|8-9 Months||Sexual maturity; can be transitioned to adult food|
Overall, the typical Shih Poo doesn't need a great deal of exercise. These hybrids are naturally energetic and playful, and will normally get a lot of their required daily physical activity just running around being their boisterous selves. That said, some dedicated exercise is still needed on a daily basis--to keep their often fussy personalities in check as much as anything else.
But specifically how much exercise does a Shih Poo need? An adult Shih Poo, depending on its age and overall activity level, will need 30-45 minutes of proper exercise each day. You can begin exercising your Shih Poo puppy at three months of age by taking it on short (5- to 10-minute) walks, then increasing the walks' length and frequency as the puppy grows.
Some precautions to consider when exercising a Shih Poo: first, puppies younger than eight months old shouldn't participate in activities that include a lot of jumping, running, and navigating of stairs, as doing so can injure their still-developing bones and joints, leading to more problems once they mature. And regardless of age, Shih Poos are social, fairly needy little dogs, and will benefit more from activities in which their humans also take part. (Simply letting the dog out to play by itself in the backyard, in other words, simply won't do any good; the poor dog will be miserable, and will spend the entire time barking and scratching at the door to be let back in.) It's also recommended that your Shih Poo be leashed when in public. These dogs are curious and confident, and may run off if given the chance; they could also be viewed as actual prey by larger dogs and other predators. For both these reasons, a Shih Poo will need to be carefully controlled when you're out and about.
Safeguards aside, it's important to give your Shih Poo some exercise every single day. If bored or restless, a Shih Poo will become disobedient and fussy, and will likely bark nonstop and turn hyperactive out of simple frustration. Consistent exercise, therefore, is good for the dog's peace of mind--and for your own as well. A few exercise ideas:
- Walking: Two 15-20 minute walks per day is a good target
- Fetch: Can be played indoors or out
- Hide-and-Seek: Good indoor, rainy-day activity; give the dog a healthy treat when it finds you
- Dog Park: A Shih Poo will enjoy the company of other dogs
- Blowing Bubbles: the dog will love "attacking" bubbles you blow
When indoors, it's a good idea to give your Shih Poo access to one one more balls or toys that will allow the dog to burn off excess energy. It's also recommended that you establish a regular exercise schedule for the dog, such as walks after breakfast and dinner and a play period in the afternoon.
Care needed for this hybrid in terms of shedding and drooling is pretty low overall.
A Shih Poo, as a Shih Tzu-Poodle mix, can have a long, silky coat like a Shih Tzu or a shorter, wavy/curly one like a Poodle--or somewhere in between. Regardless of its coat type, Shih Poo shedding is pretty minimal (though not non-existent). Regular brushing and bathing, owners say, will keep the shedding to its usual minimum.
And a Shih Poo almost never drools. It may slobber a bit in anticipation of food or when particularly excited or nervous, but that's about it. If your Shih Poo is drooling excessively, it may be a sign of a medical issue, in which case a veterinarian's care may be necessary.
Like all breeds, a Shih Poo's diet is vital to keeping it happy, healthy, and long-living. Shih Poo food will need to have animal proteins and carbohydrates for energy, vitamins and minerals for digestive and immune health, and omega fatty acids for coat and skin wellness. This means the most sensible choice is premium dry food, particularly the kind made for small breeds, as it contains the above-listed ingredients and is formulated to keep your Shih Poo healthy in the long term. Cheap, generic dog food, while less expensive and easier to obtain, is not a healthy choice at all; these inexpensive foods contain mostly empty "filler" ingredients that not only won't sustain a dog's health, but may even shorten its lifespan.
Another reason premium dry food is best: a Shih Poo's dental issues. More than most breeds, these dogs are prone to cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss--and dry food is the best type of food for promoting dental health in a dog. In addition to dry food, it's a good idea to give your Shih Poo treats formulated for dental health (like Z-Bones Edible Dental Chews, for example) instead of generic dog treats, which often contain a lot of sugar and may cause tooth decay.
But how much of this premium dry food will a Shih Poo eat? The short answer: not much of it. The typical adult Shih Poo, depending on its age, size, and activity level, will need ¾-1 cup of dry food per day, divided into two meals. A Shih Poo puppy, again depending on its age, will need a bit less: about ½ cup, divided into three meals (not two) until six months of age. For more info on feeding a Shih Poo from puppyhood through maturity, you can reference this chart:
|Dog Age||Dog Weight||Food Type||Amount||Frequency|
|6 Weeks||1 lb||Dry (Puppy formula)||>0.1 cups||3x/day|
|3 Months||2 lbs||Dry||0.1 cups||3x/day|
|6 Months||4 lbs||Dry||0.2 cups||3x/day|
|9 Months||7 lbs||Dry* (Puppy/Adult)||0.4 cups||2x/day|
|12 Months+||10 lbs||Dry (Adult formula)||0.5 cups||2x/day|
*--Around this time, transition to adult food by first mixing in a little adult food with the puppy food. Over the course of a week, with each meal add a bit more adult food to the mixture, until the dog is eating it entirely.
If possible, try and stick to the above-listed portions; though they may seem tiny, they're ample enough for these little dogs--and the Shih Poo breed has a high tendency to become obese if constantly overfed. A fat Shih Poo will have joint, breathing, and digestive issues, not to mention a shortened lifespan. You can control your Shih Poo's weight in several ways: by having consistent feeding and exercise schedules, by feeding the dog healthy treats instead of table scraps, and by not leaving food in its bowl all the time, thereby allowing the dog to eat anytime it wants. It's better to put your Shih Poo's bowl down only at mealtimes, then pick it up 15 minutes or so after the dog begins eating.
If you're worried your Shih Poo is overweight, give the dog this simple test: run a hand along its side, and if you can't feel any ribs, it's diet time. Reduce the dog's daily food consumption by one-fourth, and add an extra walk or play period to its daily exercise schedule.
Though opinions differ over what's the best dog food for Shih Poo puppies and adults, the most popular and sensible choice is premium dry food, particularly the kind formulated for small breeds. Two recommended brands:
- Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed
- Nature's Variety Instant Raw Boost Small Breed Formula