Origins of the Shih Tzu Terrier crossbreed
A Shih Tzu Terrier mix is a dog that has both Shih Tzu and a terrier breed in their genetics. Either the parents were a purebred Shih Tzu and a terrier breed or both parents were Shih Tzu terrier mixes.
Shih Tzus originated in Tibet approximately 1000 years ago. While larger breeds were used for guarding, Shih Tzus were bred to be companion dogs. occasionally, gifts were sent to neighboring China emperors. They were particularly taken with their Tibetan lion dogs, as they were known then.
Over the years, Chinese emperors bred their Tibetan Shih Tzus with Pekingese and Chinese Pugs. This resulted in the Shih Tzu breed we know today. Further breeding in England honed the breed. Focusing particularly on ideal body size and attempts to reduce instances of certain hereditary conditions.
Terrier breeds were used for hunting and controlling rodents populations on farms. Most terrier breeds have deep chests which were favored during early breeding programs. A deeper chest aids breathing, especially when going down rabbit warrens during hunts. They also have a strong tail, which was desirable since this was the only way farmers could pull their dogs out of rodent dens.
It is not clear when the first Shih Tzu terrier cross occurred, but they quickly became popular in the 1960’s and 70’s. There are many different terrier breeds, but those mostly commonly bred with Shih Tzus are:
- Yorkshire terrier
- Skye terrier
- Norwich terror
- Norfolk terrier
- West Highland terrier
- Cairn terrier
Typically, the smaller terrier breeds are preferred as Shih Tzus are petite dogs and matching adult sizes means there are fewer chances for mix breed puppies to develop health problems.
Since there are many different terrier breeds, a Shih Tzu terrier mix typically has visual and character traits of both breeds and no two Shih Tzu terrier mix dogs will look the same.
Shih Tzu terrier mixes can have short, smooth coats, coarse coats, curly coats, long and silky coats or wiry coats. Their coat texture and color depends entirely on which terrier breed is part of their genetic makeup.
When it comes to colors, Shih Tzu terrier mixes are just as varied. Shih Tzus have 10 recognized coat colors, plus 5 different markings or patterns. If you then include the various coat colors and markings of the terrier breed they are mixed with, the possibilities for the resulting puppies are endless.
- Tuxedo: solid body color with white markings in the chest, belly and paws
- Blaze: a white stripe between the eyes and sometimes continuing down the neck
- Saddle: marking in the same area of the back as a horse’s saddle
- Collar: a solid body color with a paler shade around the neck.
In terms of height and weight, Shih Tzu terrier mixes are generally under 30 pounds and less than 15 inches tall. This is only a guide, as some terrier breeds are larger and can result in larger Shih Tzu mix puppies.
The personality of your Shih Tzu mix should include some characteristics of their Shi Tzu parent and also certain traits from their terrier parent. Shih Tzus are friendly, affectionate dogs with a playful and outgoing nature. Terrier breeds tend to have an independent streak, are generally confident dogs and can be stubborn. They are excellent watch dogs and are very active.
Your Shih Tzu terrier mix will likely have a combination of these personality traits. Therefore it is important to learn your dog’s personality early and adjust your training accordingly. Both breeds require a good deal of mental stimulation as they are easily distracted and a bored dog will become a destructive dog.
Lots of short training sessions, puzzles and brain games will keep your Shih Tzu terrier mix happy, healthy and mental engaged. You can purchase puzzles and games from most pet stores or online sites. Alternatively, you can make games yourself with simple household items such as toilet roll tubes and empty soda bottles.
Both Shih Tzu and terrier breeds are active dogs and have a high exercise requirement. They should have at least an hour of exercise each day, including time off the lead for activities.
Swimming is a great form of exercise for Shih Tzu terrier mixes as it supports cardiovascular health and is gentle on the joints. Shih Tzu mixes generally enjoy socializing and playing with other dogs, but some may inherit the independent nature of terrier and prefer their own company.
Shih Tzu terrier mixes are particularly good at canine sports such as agility and scent tracking, so you may want to look into joining a local group. These sports require a high energy level but also depend on your dog being focused and engaged with you.
Shih Tzu are intelligent dogs and eager to please their owners. Terriers on the other hand are smart dogs, but they can be stubborn, so training your Shih Tzu terrier cross should begin as early as possible.
Training should be consistent to help them learn faster and your training sessions should be fun, so your dog is more likely to engage with the training. use your dog’s preference to maintain focus. If they are food motivated then be sure to have a few treats on hand. If your Shih Tzu mix has a fondness for toys, your reward should be a short play session.
house training can be tricky for Shih Tzu terrier mixes as they are small dogs so they will need to relieve themselves more than a larger dog. They can also be a little stubborn so consistency is key here. Never react to any indoor accidents as this may make your dog more nervous the next time they need to ‘go’.
When you first bring your dog home, you should keep them on the same food they had with their previous owner. If you wish to change to a different dog food, you should do this gradually over 2 or 3 weeks to prevent digestive irritation such as diarrhea.
Shih Tzu can be intolerant to certain foods and are prone to skin conditions, so the best diet for a Shih Tzu terrier mix is a grain and gluten free food. Natural ingredients such as pea protein, spring greens, pumpkin and sweet potato are great for healthy skin, good muscle development and a healthy digestive tract.
You can add supplements to your dog’s diet such as fish oil to promote a shinier coat and to hydrate the skin. This helps to strengthen the hair follicles and reduce shedding.
Small breed puppies should be fed 3-4 times per day until they are 6 months old. At this age, you can slowly wean them down to 2 meals per day. If you want to feed your dog healthy snacks, try giving them sliced apple, watermelon and blueberries. Fresh fruits like these are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Avoid fatty processed treats and do not give your dog any citrus fruits, nuts, chocolate or avocado as these foods can be toxic.
Whether your Shih Tzu terrier mix has a short smooth coat or a long, dense coat they will require regular grooming. For short coats you can use an undercoat rake or fine toothed comb to remove loose hairs from the undercoat and a firm bristled brush to keep the top coat smooth and shiny.
If your Shih Tzu cross has long hair, they will require more frequent grooming to prevent matting and they will need to have a haircut every 6-8 weeks to prevent their coat from getting too long.
You will also need to trim your dog’s nails every 4-6 weeks to ensure they do not experience an ingrown nail or discomfort when walking. You can clip your dog’s nails at home but if you are uncomfortable doing this then a dog groomer can do it for you.
Your Shih Tzu terrier mix should be bathed roughly once per month. Too frequently and you can strip the coat of natural oils, which will cause dry, cracked skin and excessive shedding. Leaving it too long to bathe your dog can result in a bad odor and skin infections from bacterial growth.
Give your dog a quick brush before you start and make sure there is a thick towel or non-slip mat for your dog to stand on. Soak their coat with lukewarm water then apply a dog friendly shampoo, avoiding the face as much as possible. Rinse of the suds and check their paws for any debris between the toes or cuts to the paw pads.
Dry off your dog with a towel and use a hair dryer on the lowest setting if your Shih Tzu terrier mix has a longer coat. You can also take this opportunity to clean their face with a doggy wipe and clean their ears with doggy ear drops.
Teeth cleaning should also be part of your regular grooming routine. Specially formulated toothpaste can be bought from any pet store or your veterinarian. dog toothbrushes tend to be soft bristles so they are gentle on the mouth, especially for puppies.
Start by letting your dog lick the toothpaste off your finger so they can get used to the unusual texture. Then start introducing the sensation of the toothbrush by simply touching it to their teeth and gum and immediately giving lots of praise and a treat. Gradually build up the time the toothbrush rests on their teeth until you can introduce gentle brush strokes. You should aim to clean your dog’s teeth at least once per week.
So that is everything you need to know about Shih Tzu terrier mixes. They are wonderfully energetic and playful dogs that are easily adaptable to any situation. Given the right training and a little patience, your Shih Tzu should grow up to be a well-balanced, friendly dog that will fit right in with any dog group. They are great with children and with proper supervision, they should be able to live peacefully with most other domestic pets.