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Maltipoo vs Shih Poo: The Differences (With Pictures)

Written by: Elizabeth Gray

Last Updated on July 18, 2024 by Dogster Team

Maltipoo vs Shih Poo

Maltipoo vs Shih Poo: The Differences (With Pictures)

The demand for low-shedding, more allergy-friendly dogs has exploded in recent years. If you’re looking for a small, adorable dog that won’t leave much hair in your house, you might consider one of the two Poodle hybrids we’ll discuss in this article. Maltipoos are a cross between a Maltese and a Toy Poodle, while Shih-Poos combine the Toy Poodle and Shih Tzu. Although these dogs have quite a lot in common, some key differences between them could make one or the other a better fit for your family. In this article, we’ll examine the Maltipoo and the Shih Poo in more detail to determine which is right for you.

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Visual Differences

Maltipoo vs Shih Poo - Visual Differences
Image Credit: (L) Irsan Ianushis, Shutterstock | (R) Lim Tiaw Leong, Shutterstock

At a Glance

  • Average height (adult): 8–14 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 5–20 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10–13 years
  • Exercise: 20 minutes a day
  • Grooming needs: High
  • Family-friendly: Yes, with older children
  • Other pet-friendly: Usually
  • Trainability: Intelligent but sensitive
Shih Poo
  • Average height (adult): 8–18 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 8–18 pounds
  • Lifespan: 13–17 years
  • Exercise: 20–30 minutes a day
  • Grooming needs: High
  • Family-friendly: Yes, better with older children
  • Other pet-friendly: Sometimes
  • Trainability: Intelligent but often stubborn

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Maltipoo Overview

Image Credit: Elena Bennett, Shutterstock


As a mix of the Maltese and Toy Poodle, a Maltipoo may have a personality similar to either of their parent breeds or more of a combination of the two. Maltipoos are active, affectionate, and loyal dogs that bond closely with their humans. They don’t like being left alone frequently but are usually gentle and laidback dogs, but they bark a lot. They typically get along with other pets, given proper socialization.


Thanks to their Poodle parent, Maltipoos are intelligent little dogs. Their affection for their owners also makes them eager to please. Because of this, they are usually easy to train. However, they can be sensitive and won’t react well to harsh training methods.

Patient, positive training sessions are most effective. To help keep a Maltipoo from becoming a reactive barker, socialize them early. This will help the dog learn to be less defensive and react calmly when encountering an unfamiliar situation or person.

Image Credit: marketlan, Shutterstock

Health & Care

Maltipoos can inherit medical conditions common in either parent breed. To help prevent this, look for a breeder who performs health screenings on their dogs before mating them.

Some health conditions a Maltipoo could inherit include:
  • Luxating patella
  • Epilepsy
  • Liver shunt
  • Allergies
  • Dental disease


Maltipoos have significant grooming needs, regardless of the type of coat they inherit. A Maltese has a longer, finer coat than the short, curly fur of the Toy Poodle. Because neither breed sheds much, the Maltipoo’s coat can easily become matted without proper care. Their coat may need daily brushing and trimming at the groomer’s every few months. Trimming their nails about once a month and regular dental care are also essential.

a white Maltipoo dog getting its fur trimmed
Image Credit: Olena Yakobchuk_Shutterstock


Although Maltipoos are active and energetic dogs, it generally doesn’t take much effort to tire them out because of their size. About 20 minutes of exercise a day is enough for most dogs. A walk or indoor playtime are good options. Maltipoos don’t necessarily need a yard for exercise like bigger dogs.

Suitable for:

Maltipoos can fit into almost any living space thanks to their small stature and minimal exercise needs. They’re suitable for those who live in houses, apartments, or senior-living locations, as well as people with pet allergies.

While they can do well with children, they usually aren’t a good choice for families with young kids. Until they’re old enough to handle a small dog properly, some kids play too rough for a Maltipoo. The breed also doesn’t tolerate being left alone, making them unsuitable for busy individuals or families who aren’t home much.

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Shih Poo Overview

Shih Poo dog on grass
Image Credit: Bonita R. Cheshier, Shutterstock


Like the Maltipoo, the Shih Poo’s personality can more strongly resemble one parent or the other. While the Maltese and Toy Poodle have similar personalities, Shih Tzus and Poodles differ. Both breeds are happy and affectionate with their humans.

However, Shih Tzus are more independent and stubborn than the willing-to-please Toy Poodle. Shih Poos may have more forceful personalities than the typically laid-back Maltipoo. They also don’t always get along with other pets as easily as the Maltipoo, especially other dogs. Like Maltipoos, Shih Poos don’t like being left alone.


If they inherit the Shih Tzu’s stubbornness, training a Shih Poo can be difficult. Patience and creativity are often required to coax obedience out of this breed. Because of this, they aren’t always a good choice for inexperienced dog owners.

Socialization is vital for Shih Tzus to prevent them from becoming defensive and reactive. It’s also necessary if they are part of a multi-pet household since they aren’t always fond of other animals.

shih poo sitting on a grass
Image Credit: Castorly Stock, Pexels

Health & Care

Shih Tzus and Poodles are both prone to some inherited conditions that they can pass on to a Shih Poo.

Some of those health issues include:
  • Allergies
  • Epilepsy
  • Dental disease
  • Luxating patellas
  • Eye conditions
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Breathing issues

Responsible Shih Poo breeders should be happy to answer all your questions about the health of their dogs, including the type of screening tests they’ve performed.


Like Maltipoos, Shih Poos have high grooming needs. They usually have thicker, scruffier coats than Maltipoos. Daily brushing and regular haircuts are essential. Shih Poos can be prone to skin and ear issues, so avoid overbathing them, which can disrupt the natural oils of their skin. Like Maltipoos, dental disease can be a problem, so don’t neglect teeth cleaning as part of their grooming routine.

Shih Poo dog standing on leaves on the ground
Image Credit: Joshua J. Cotten, Unsplash


Shih Poos are generally less energetic than Maltipoos and need only moderate exercise. They tend to overeat and gain weight, so daily exercise is key to helping them stay healthy. About 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise per day should be enough. Shih Poos with flatter faces and short noses are at risk of overheating more easily, so use extra caution when exercising them.

Suitable for:

Like Maltipoos, Shih Poos are suitable for almost any living space. They may be better tolerated by those with pet allergies, but no dog is truly hypoallergenic. Shih Poos are a better option for dog owners with experience since they can be more challenging to train than Maltipoos. Like Maltipoos, they aren’t the best fit for families with young children. Shih Poos don’t like being left alone, but they aren’t always the biggest fans of other dogs. They often get along better with cats.

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

Maltipoos and Shih Poos are similar in size, exercise requirements, and grooming needs. They are both affectionate, friendly, and devoted to their families. Neither is a good choice for families with small children, but those with allergies may tolerate either breed.

The Maltipoo may be a better choice if you’re a first-time dog owner because they’re more mellow and usually easier to train. Maltipoos may also fit more easily into multi-dog households than Shih Poos. Both breeds make lovely pets overall, but there’s no denying that they don’t suit every living situation the same way.

Featured Image Credit: (Top) Alex Boc, Shutterstock | (Bottom) Lim Tiaw Leong, Shutterstock

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