Maltese Shih Tzus: The Complete Guide to Origin, Temperament & Care
The Maltese Shih Tzu, also known as a Mal-Shi or Malti-Tzu, is a popular mixed dog breed obtained by crossing a purebred Maltese with a purebred Shih Tzu. This adorable hybrid combines the best qualities of both parent breeds, resulting in a friendly, playful, and affectionate companion dog.
In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about Maltese Shih Tzu dogs, including:
An Overview of Maltese Shih Tzus
The Maltese Shih Tzu is a designer dog breed that first appeared in the 1990s. They were originally bred to be smaller companion pets with the friendly personality of the Maltese and the spirited nature of the Shih Tzu.
Maltese Shih Tzus are petite dogs, usually weighing between 5 to 12 pounds and standing around 8 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder. They have a rounded head, dark almond-shaped eyes, floppy ears, and a black nose. Their muzzle is slightly shorter than other breeds.
Their coat is long, silky, and flowing. Common coat colors include white, black, brown, and gray. Maltese Shih Tzu coats are hypoallergenic and non-shedding, making this hybrid a good choice for people with allergies.
The Maltese Shih Tzu personality is playful, energetic, friendly, and highly affectionate. They form very strong bonds with their human families and do not like to be left alone for long periods. Early socialization and training are important for these clever dogs.
Maltese Shih Tzus get along well with children and other pets when properly introduced. Their small size makes them adaptable to apartment living, but they still require daily walks and playtime. Overall, these hybrids make excellent companion dogs.
Do Maltese Shih Tzus Shed?
One of the most appealing characteristics of the Maltese Shih Tzu is its hypoallergenic coat that doesn't shed. Instead of shedding hair like other breeds, the Maltese Shih Tzu's long fur continues to grow. This makes them a good choice for people with allergies.
However, they do require frequent brushing and grooming to prevent tangles and mats. Owners should brush the dog’s coat daily using a slicker brush and metal comb. Regular bathing and hair trims every 6 to 8 weeks will also help manage the long fur.
While Maltese Shih Tzus are considered non-shedding, no dog is 100% non-shedding. You may see small amounts of hair on your furniture or clothes, but they will not coat your house in hair like heavy shedders. Overall, the Maltese Shih Tzu’s coat is much lower maintenance than other breeds when it comes to shedding.
Maltese Shih Tzu Mix: Size and Appearance
As a designer hybrid breed, there can be some variation in the Maltese Shih Tzu's appearance, depending on which parent breed is more dominant. However, Maltese Shih Tzu mixes generally share many physical traits.
Maltese Shih Tzu adults are typically small dogs, reaching about 8 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing between 5 to 12 pounds. Their compact size makes them well-suited for apartment living.
The Maltese Shih Tzu has a long, silky coat that can grow up to 10 inches or more. Common coat colors include white, black, brown, gray, and apricot. The hair does not shed and is hypoallergenic.
Head and Face
This breed has a rounded head with floppy ears. The muzzle is slightly shorter than other breeds. Eyes are large and dark. Expression is alert and lively.
The Maltese Shih Tzu has a compact, well-proportioned body. The torso is short with a level back. Legs are delicate and slender but allow for energetic movement. The tail curls up and flows over the back.
The long coat requires daily brushing and combing to prevent tangles and mats. Trim around the feet and face when needed. Bathe and shampoo every few weeks. Professional grooming every 6-8 weeks is recommended.
With its adorable appearance and friendly nature, it’s easy to see why the Maltese Shih Tzu mix is such a popular hybrid breed! Proper grooming and care will keep their coat looking its best.
Teacup Maltese Shih Tzu Puppies for Sale: What to Know
Teacup Maltese Shih Tzu puppies are tiny versions of this popular mixed breed. Weighing under 5 pounds as adults, these miniaturized hybrids have become a coveted - and often expensive - pet. Here's what to know about teacup Mal-Shis:
There's No Official Teacup Breed
While breeders market "teacup" Maltese Shih Tzus, there are no specific guidelines or breed standards for teacup or miniature sizes. Typically, teacup Mal-Shis are the product of selectively breeding the smallest puppies in a litter.
Health Problems Are Common
Extremely small size brings an increased risk of genetic health problems. Common issues include hypoglycemia, luxating patella, heart defects, liver shunts, fragile bones, dental abnormalities, and respiratory issues. Reputable breeders screen for these conditions.
Demand Drives Up Prices
Teacup puppies are in high demand, so disreputable breeders often charge exorbitant prices, even thousands of dollars per puppy. Be very wary of breeders who seem focused only on making money.
Look for Signs of a Responsible Breeder
Avoid pet stores and online purchases. Seek out ethical, conscientious breeders who health test parent dogs and breed for health and temperament - not just tiny size. Meet puppies in person before buying.
While teacup Mal-Shis are undeniably cute, their miniscule size creates health risks. Always work with responsible breeders if considering one of these petite puppies.
The Marvelous Maltese Shih Tzu
The Maltese Shih Tzu is a popular mixed breed that blends the hypoallergenic coats of the Maltese and Shih Tzu into a petite, loveable package. These "designer dogs" exhibit hybrid vigor and combine the best traits of both parent breeds. In this in-depth guide, we will explore the history, appearance, temperament, health, care and more about these darling crossbreeds.
A Brief History of the Maltese Shih Tzu
The Maltese Shih Tzu is a relatively new crossbreed that originated in the 1990s and 2000s when designer dogs became popular. The parent breeds - the Maltese and the Shih Tzu - have contrasting histories:
- The Maltese breed hails from the Mediterranean island of Malta. They were treasured as companion dogs by Roman governors and other nobility. Their silky white coat was adored. Maltese dogs were favored across the courts of Europe for centuries.
- In contrast, the Shih Tzu traces back to Tibet and China as an esteemed companion dog prized by royalty and monks. The Shih Tzu's long, flowing coat allowed it to survive the cold temperatures of the Tibetan mountains. Its upbeat personality earned it the nickname "little lion dog."
By breeding these two purebreds, breeders sought to merge the best qualities of both lineages into the Maltese Shih Tzu hybrid. The crossbreed has steadily grown in popularity over the last 20-30 years.
Appearance and Characteristics
The Maltese Shih Tzu is a petite breed, typically weighing between 7-15 pounds (3-7 kg) and standing 8-10 inches tall (20-25 cm).
Some key physical traits include:
- Coat - A long, straight, silky coat that can be white, black, brown, gray or a mixture. The coat is hypoallergenic with minimal shedding.
- Head - A slightly rounded head with floppy ears covered in fur. They have a button nose and large, wideset dark eyes.
- Body - A compact yet sturdy body build. The overall appearance is well-balanced and proportions.
Their adorable expression combines spirited intelligence with cuteness. The coat parts down the middle of their endearing face.
Captivating, Companionable Temperament
The Maltese Shih Tzu has a pleasant, upbeat temperament that makes them ideal as family pets. Key personality traits include:
- Extremely affectionate and gentle. Loves cuddles!
- Devoted and loyal to family members.
- Gets along wonderfully with children and other pets.
- Lively, playful and energetic - enjoys play time and toys!
- Thrives on being close to their owners as much as possible. Prone to separation anxiety.
- Cautious around strangers but warms up quickly. May bark at newcomers.
- Intelligent and lively with an endearing personality.
They inherit the best traits of both parent breeds when it comes to being an attentive, doting companion. With early socialization and training, these crossbreeds become fast friends with everyone they meet.
Moderate Exercise Needs
Despite their energy, Maltese Shih Tzus have only moderate exercise needs. Their small size prevents them from needing extensive physical activity.
- Short 10-15 minute daily walks are perfect. Occasional play time in a secure park.
- They enjoy exploring outdoors but do not require long hikes or runs.
- Their exercise needs can often be met even with indoor play sessions.
- Take caution in heat, humidity and cold due to their small size.
Mental stimulation through training and games is important too. Puzzles and interactive toys provide needed mental exercise.
Trainable with Proper Techniques
Maltese Shih Tzus are intelligent and respond readily to training, especially when positive reinforcement is used. Here are some tips:
- Start training early and use reward-based methods. Food rewards and praise work best.
- Socialization is critical - get them exposed safely to new places, people, dogs early on.
- Teach good manners like not jumping or barking excessively.
- Curb any tendency to develop "small dog syndrome" like bossiness.
- Remain patient and consistent. They aim to please their owners.
- Obedience training strengthens the bond with your pet.
While stubbornness can be a factor, setting reasonable expectations for these hybrids sets them up for training success.
Demanding Coat Care Needs
The Maltese Shih Tzu has a long, flowing coat that requires significant weekly grooming and care:
- Daily brushing is ideal to prevent tangles and mats. A metal comb removes knots.
- Trim hair around eyes and feet occasionally for neatness and visibility.
- Bathe every 2-3 weeks with a high-quality dog shampoo. Dry thoroughly.
- Take care not to get water in ears due to infection risk. Use cotton balls.
- Schedule professional grooming every 4-8 weeks for haircuts and styling.
- Daily teeth brushing and twice weekly nail trimming.
Owners who don't mind the grooming demands will be rewarded with a gorgeously silky coat. For lower maintenance, keep the coat trimmed short.
As a small breed, the Maltese Shih Tzu should be fed a high-quality dry kibble formulated for small or toy dogs. Follow these guidelines:
- Amount - Feed 1/2 to 1 cup total per day, divided into two meals. Follow label portions.
- Quality - Pick a premium brand diet rich in meat proteins and nutrients. Avoid fillers.
- Customization - Tailor amount based on age, activity level, and weight.
- Avoid overfeeding as obesity is a risk with their small size. Limit treats.
Do not allow begging, table scraps or people food, which can lead to picky eating and obesity. Provide fresh water at all times.
Health Concerns to Know
As a hybrid, the Maltese Shih Tzu enjoys increased health from hybrid vigor. However, potential concerns to screen for include:
- Patellar Luxation - Kneecap dislocation. Causes lameness and pain.
- Heart Disease - Mitral valve disease and vascular issues may occur.
- Eye Conditions - Cataracts, corneal ulcers, and progressive retinal atrophy.
- Liver Shunts - Abnormal blood vessel development.
- Respiratory Problems - Brachycephalic dogs can have obstructed breathing.
- Dental Disease - Crowding, tooth decay, gum infection.
Reputable breeders will screen for these conditions in parent dogs. Routine veterinary care helps catch issues early.
Finding a Healthy Maltese Shih Tzu Puppy
Locating a responsible breeder is key to getting a healthy Maltese Shih Tzu pup. Be wary of backyard breeders only focused on profit. Expect long waitlists from quality breeders.
- Ask about parent dogs' health tests, temperament, and living conditions. Meet the mother dog if possible.
- See where puppies are raised. It should be clean, enriched and well-supervised.
- Get copies of health clearances like eye, knee and DNA certifications.
- Puppies should stay with mom 8-12 weeks minimum. This provides needed socialization with litter mates.
- Be prepared for costs from $600 to $1500+ USD depending on lineage and location.
Adopting retired adult show dogs is an option too! Reputable rescues also sometimes get Maltese Shih Tzu surrenders.
Is This Hybrid Right for You?
Before getting a Maltese Shih Tzu, ensure your lifestyle makes a good match:
- Their affectionate nature thrives with constant companionship. Not suited to frequent or long periods alone.
- Expect to invest time into thorough weekly grooming and brushing. The coat requires maintenance.
- Maltese Shih Tzus bond very closely with owners and do not tolerate neglect.
- This crossbreed gets along wonderfully with respectful, gentle children and other pets.
- Their moderate activity needs make them adaptable to most living situations.
If you have the time and desire to shower a pet with love and attention, the devoted Maltese Shih Tzu will reward you generously in return! Reputable breeders can help match you with the perfect pup.
Common Health Problems in Shih Tzus
While generally considered a healthy and long-lived breed, Shih Tzus can be prone to certain health conditions, some of which may be inherited. Here are some of the most common health problems seen in Shih Tzus:
- Brachycephalic syndrome - This condition affects dogs with short, snub noses and includes breathing issues, eye problems, and difficulty regulating body temperature.
- Patellar luxation - Dislocation of the kneecap is common in small breed dogs like Shih Tzus. Mild cases may not require treatment but severe cases may call for surgical repair.
- Hip dysplasia - An inherited condition where the hip joint does not fit together properly, causing arthritis and lameness.
- Skin allergies - Allergies to pollen, mold, dust mites, and other environmental triggers may cause itchy, inflamed skin.
- Dental disease - Shih Tzus have a compact jaw, putting them at increased risk for overcrowded, misaligned teeth and dental infections.
- Eye conditions - Problems like progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, and dry eye are seen in the breed.
Reputable Shih Tzu breeders screen breeding dogs for these and other inheritable disorders to reduce their prevalence. As a prospective owner, be sure to ask about health testing.
Caring for Your Maltese Shih Tzu: Diet, Grooming, and More
Maltese Shih Tzu dogs are lively and affectionate companions when properly cared for. Here is some essential information about caring for these popular hybrid pups.
Diet and Nutrition
- Feed a high-quality small breed dry dog food.
- Divide daily food into two or three smaller meals.
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup daily is typical.
- Avoid free feeding to prevent obesity.
- Provide plenty of fresh water.
Grooming and Coat Care
- Brush thoroughly 2-3 times per week.
- Use a metal comb to detangle or mats may form.
- Bathing every 2-4 weeks is recommended.
- Keep hair trimmed neatly around eyes, muzzle, and feet.
- Take to a professional groomer every 6-8 weeks.
- Clean ears, trim nails, and brush teeth regularly.
- Maltese Shih Tzus need 30-60 minutes of activity per day.
- Several short walks and indoor play sessions are ideal.
- Avoid strenuous exercise in hot, humid weather.
- Games, learning new tricks, and supervised outdoor time provide important mental stimulation.
- Maltese Shih Tzus are intelligent and respond well to positive reinforcement training.
- Use praise, treats, and rewards to teach good manners and obedience.
- Crate training assists with potty training.
- Early socialization to various people, animals, and environments is essential.
- Attend puppy kindergarten for continued socialization and training.
With proper care in terms of diet, grooming, exercise and training, the Maltese Shih Tzu makes a wonderful family companion. Their small size belies their vibrant and lively spirit!
Finding a Healthy Maltese Shih Tzu Puppy: 5 Tips
Looking to add a Maltese Shih Tzu to your home? Here are five tips for finding a happy, healthy Maltese Shih Tzu puppy:
1. Seek out responsible breeders. Find breeders who health test parents, allow visits, answer questions, and care about puppy placement. Run from greedy breeders just cranking out litters.
2. Meet the puppy’s parents. Assessing the temperament and health of the parents offers insight into the puppy. At minimum, the mother dog should be on site.
3. Check puppy health. Look for bright eyes, clean ears, and good energy levels. Ask about vet checks, vaccinations, and deworming. Pass on puppies that seem lethargic or ill.
4. Consider adult adoption. Adult Mal-Shis from rescues and shelters often come already trained and with known personalities. You’ll avoid destructive puppy behaviors too!
5. Prep your home. Puppy-proof your home by removing hazards, creating a confinement area, securing potty pads, and stocking up on collar, leash, food, bed, and toys.
Patience and diligence in your search will be rewarded! Reputable breeders and organizations have the inside scoop on available Maltese Shih Tzu puppies and dogs needing homes.
5 Fun Facts About Maltese Shih Tzus
Maltese Shih Tzu dogs have captured hearts around the world thanks to their lovable personality packed into a portable size. Here are five fun facts about these popular hybrid pups:
- The Maltese Shih Tzu is sometimes nicknamed the “Malti-Tzu” or “Mal-Shi”.
- They make great therapy dogs due to their affectionate, comforting nature.
- Maltese Shih Tzus have a long lifespan of 12-14 years.
- These energetic pups enjoy activities like agility, rally obedience, and learning new tricks.
- Maltese Shih Tzus are classified as a “designer dog breed”, carefully bred for desired characteristics.
Whether you’re already a Maltese Shih Tzu owner or are considering adding one of these charismatic companion dogs to your family, isn’t it fun to learn more about their endearing qualities and history? With their comedic antics and cuddly ways, the Mal-Shi is sure to keep you smiling.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Maltese Shih Tzus bark a lot?
Like most small dogs, Maltese Shih Tzus may bark more than larger dogs. However, with proper training, exercise, and attention, excessive barking can be minimized. Their barking stems from wanting companionship, so keeping them engaged and stimulated helps curb barking behavior.
How much exercise does a Maltese Shih Tzu need daily?
About 30-60 minutes of activity a day is ideal for a Maltese Shih Tzu. Short 10-15 minute walks and indoor play sessions are great ways to meet their exercise needs. They enjoy learning tricks and playing interactive games as well. Too much strenuous exercise can be harmful to their delicate joints.
What health problems are common in Maltese Shih Tzus?
Patellar luxation, dental issues, hypoglycemia in puppies, and skin allergies are some health issues that can affect Maltese Shih Tzus. Buying from health-tested parents and maintaining vet checkups minimizes risk. Their life expectancy is around 12-15 years.
How often should you groom a Maltese Shih Tzu?
Frequent grooming is a must for the Maltese Shih Tzu’s long fur. Daily brushing removes tangles and prevents matting. Bathe and shampoo every 2-4 weeks. Most owners have their Mal-Shi professionally groomed every 6 to 8 weeks to neatly trim the coat.
Are Maltese Shih Tzus good with kids?
Yes, Maltese Shih Tzus tend to do very well in homes with children thanks to their playful, friendly temperament. Supervise young kids to avoid rough play that could injure small dogs. With socialization and training, Maltese Shih Tzus and kids can become the best of friends.
The Maltese Shih Tzu is an excellent companion dog for many reasons. With a diminutive size but outsized personality, these hybrid dogs are lively, affectionate, playful, and people-oriented. Their gentle temperament and non-shedding coat makes them versatile family pets.
While Maltese Shih Tzu care does require time commitment in terms of grooming, training, exercise and health management, owners find that these charming and devoted pups enrich their lives. If you’re seeking a pint-sized best friend, the Maltese Shih Tzu could be the perfect fit!