Dogster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Shih Tzu Vs. Shih Poo: Which Should I Choose?

Written by: Lorre Luther

Last Updated on April 13, 2024 by Dogster Team

Shih Tzu vs Shih Poo

Shih Tzu Vs. Shih Poo: Which Should I Choose?

Shih Tzus and Shih Poos are small, incredibly friendly dogs that make wonderful companions. Although the American Kennel Club only recognized Shih Tzus in 1969, the breed has existed for centuries. Shih Tzus were most likely developed by mixing Lhaso Apsos and Pekingese dogs to create affectionate, devoted lapdogs with gorgeous silky hair.

Shih Poos, on the other hand, aren’t an official breed; they’re first-generation mixes of Shih Tzus and Toy Poodles. While still relatively small, Shih Poos can sometimes be a bit bigger than purebred Shih Tzus. While Shih Tzus typically have long, silky hair, Shih Poos can have short or long hair that’s often curly. However, some have fur that more closely resembles Poodles’ curling hair.

Because Shih Poos are hybrid dogs, they can end up with physical and personality traits from both parents. As a result, Shih Poos are sometimes easier to train than Shih Tzus, thanks to their Poodle heritage.

dogster face divider

Visual Differences

Shih Tzu vs Shih Poo - Visual Differences
Image Credit: Left – Oksamutnaya, Shutterstock | Right – Lim Tiaw Leong, Shutterstock

At a Glance

Shih Tzus
  • Average height (adult): 9–10½ inches
  • Average weight (adult): 9–16 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10–18 years
  • Exercise: 1 hour per day
  • Grooming needs: High
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Generally
  • Trainability: Playful, affectionate, and loving
Shih Poos
  • Average height (adult): 8–18 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 8–18 pounds
  • Lifespan: 13–17 years
  • Exercise: 1 hour per day
  • Grooming needs: High
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Generally
  • Trainability: Playful, people-oriented, and smart


Shih Tzu Overview

Shih Tzus generally make fantastic pets due to their affectionate and fun-loving personalities. They’re generally small dogs, with most growing to 9 to 10½ inches and weighing between 9 and 16 pounds.

While Shih Tzus have glowing personalities, they can be difficult to train without consistent effort. They are healthy dogs, with many living into their later teens. Shih Tzus aren’t low-maintenance dogs when it comes to grooming, and most require daily brushing and regular trips to the doggy spa for baths and hair trims.

Shih tzu puppy dog eyes
Image Credit: Angel Sallade, Shutterstock

Personality / Character

Shih Tzus are playful and friendly companions that love hanging out with their favorite people. They are outgoing and quite loving, which makes sense as they were bred to be sweet, people-centered companion animals. While they bark a bit when excited, they can learn to limit excessive vocalization and respond to stimuli in ways that humans generally prefer. Most are quite good with children and other animals, both cats and dogs.


Shih Tzus can be difficult to train as they often find ways to morph training sessions into fun non-training-related playtime activities, which can sometimes result in unruly behavior. Shih Tzus require consistent, purposeful early socialization and solid, consistent training to be their best selves.

Harsh training techniques don’t work with these sensitive dogs. Sharply worded corrections and raised voices often cause stress in dogs, which can make it more difficult for them to learn. Puppy classes are a great way to get dogs started on the right foot, and they give pets a chance to get out, play, and be social.

A very cute Shih Tzu puppy posing on a warm summer day
Image Credit: Duncan Woodhouse, Shutterstock

Health & Care

Shih Tzus are generally healthy dogs, although there are a few breed-specific conditions to look out for if you’re considering adopting or purchasing one. They’re prone to developing eye conditions, ear infections, and gum disease. And as a brachycephalic breed, they can sometimes have difficulty tolerating heat and strenuous exercise. Other potential health conditions include obesity and glomerulonephropathy, which is a kidney disease that can result in vomiting, lack of appetite, and diarrhea.


They require anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes of daily physical activity; two good walks and a bit of playtime will do the trick. Shih Tzus tend to put on weight easily. Being overweight increases dogs’ chances of developing conditions such as high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and heart disease. Regular breed-appropriate exercise can significantly impact the dog’s mental and physical well-being.


Shih Tzus have beautiful, thick, silky double coats that need daily brushing to prevent mats and tangles from developing. They also require baths about once a month to keep their coats in top shape. Many owners prefer short puppy cuts to reduce their time spent on daily brushing.

Most Shih Tzus require monthly trips to the grooming salon, but some dogs only need trims every 6 weeks or so. Most need their teeth brushed around three times a week and their nails trimmed every 3 or 4 weeks.

dog breeds shih tzu
Image Credit: Liliya Kulianionak

Suitable for:

Shih Tzus make excellent pets for those who live in apartments or small homes. They’re lap dogs and are often happiest snuggled up close to their favorite person, although they require regular walks and daily playtime to stay physically and mentally fit.

Shih Tzus are sensitive and social dogs, so they usually do best in homes where they receive lots of attention and spend most of the day with loved companions.


Shih Poo Overview

Shih Poos are friendly, loyal, and often quite intelligent. They’re first-generation Shih Tzu-Toy Poodle mixes and can inherit physical and behavioral traits from both parents. Shih Tzus and Toy Poodles are loving and incredibly devoted to their companions. Both don’t enjoy spending time alone and require frequent grooming. Shih Poos, however, are often relatively easy to train due to their smarts and people-pleasing tendencies.

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

Personality / Character

Shih Poos are incredibly friendly. Most love to meet new people, and many do well in novel situations. Although affectionate and playful, Shih Poos are even-tempered, making them fantastic family dogs. Because they’re typically so laid-back, most are fine around children, cats, and other dogs. They’re very people-oriented; most don’t do well when left alone for long as the breed is prone to developing separation anxiety.


Shih Poos have a lot of energy and require regular exercise to stay centered. Most are okay with two daily walks and a few energetic games. Shih Poos enjoy exercise but are not built for long runs or hikes over rugged terrain. Because Shih Poos are so people-oriented and sensitive, they often suffer from separation anxiety when left alone. Getting enough exercise often helps manage anxiety.


Shih Poos are often relatively easy to train, particularly those with a good dose of Toy Poodle heritage; Poodles of all sizes are incredibly smart. They’re usually sensitive animals, so they don’t respond well to criticism, raised voices, or sharp commands. Most learn quickly when exposed to positive reinforcement. Although Shih Poos are generally well-behaved, like all dogs, they benefit from good socialization and obedience training.

Black female shih tzu poodle sunbathing
Image Credit: Bri2598_Shutterstock

Health & Care

Shih Poos are hybrid dogs that can end up with Toy Poodle and Shih Tzu breed-specific conditions. In addition to the Shih Tzu breed-specific conditions reviewed above, Shih Poos are also prone to developing ear infections and dental diseases. Tracheal collapse and Von Willebrand’s Disease, a blood clotting disorder, are also sometimes seen.


Shih Poos can have long or short hair, which can be either curly, straight, or somewhere in the middle, and they require daily brushing to prevent things from getting out of control. Most benefit from regular trips to the groomer for trims every 6 to 8 weeks.

While it’s usually possible to take care of dogs’ grooming needs at home, it’s often easier to take Shih Poos to the groomer as they have the expertise and supplies to trim dogs’ facial hair and clear their ears without causing undue stress. Sanitary trims make it easier to maintain dogs’ hygiene between trips to the doggy spa.

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

Suitable for:

Shih Poos make wonderful companions for those searching for a loving, devoted companion that thrives when spending time with their favorite person. Because they’re so people-oriented, many do best in homes with stay-at-home residents. They’re great options for retirees, seniors, and families who typically spend more time at home. Most are happy to accompany their favorite people on errands and other outings.


Which Breed Is Right for You?

Shih Tzus and Shih Poos are sweet, playful, energetic dogs that love spending time with their favorite people. They don’t require much exercise and prefer not to be alone. They’re both great pets for those who live in apartments and small homes, as they’re not active and energetic to the point of distraction.

Trainability is one of the most significant differences between the two. While Shih Tzus are sometimes difficult to train, Shih Poos are eager to learn. Most Shih Poos are well-behaved by nature and generally do well when meeting new people and animals, although, like all dogs, they benefit from good socialization and obedience training.

Shih Tzus can be difficult to train because they’re easily tempted by other pursuits. If you’re new to training, a Shih Poo may be more suitable for your home, but with patience and determination, you can train a Shih Tzu to be a well-behaved pet.

Related Read:

Featured Image Credit: Top – Castorly Stock, Pexels | Bottom – Lim Tiaw Leong, Shutterstock

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Dogster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.