Maltese Shih Tzu Mix Breed Information
The Maltese Shih Tzu (also known as a Malshi) is a small, loveable pompom. The perfect companion for the more “relaxed” family member.
A designer dog breed, bred by crossing the gorgeous hypoallergenic Maltese with an oh so fluffy Shih Tzu.
Not only is the Shih Tzu Maltese an affectionate breed, but, they can also be playful, highly adaptable, and can fit in with a variety of different lifestyles (e.g. a young, thriving city life and a loving suburban life).
This designer toy breed is classed as a toy dog, once matured, measuring up to 12” tall and 12 pounds in weight. They have a short muzzle and round head with a soft non-shed coat.
So, if you are interested in this mix breed, keep on reading to discover their temperament, lifespan and size as we cover the facts.
|Maltese Shih Tzu Facts|
|Breed Type||Mixes and More|
|Purpose||Companionship and Designer|
|Suitable For||Elderly, attentive owner, or even a great little addition to the family!|
|Size||Up to 12″ for both males and females|
|Weight||6 to 12 pounds|
|Lifespan||12 – 14 years|
|Color Variations||White, black or brown with a combination with different markings|
|Temperament||Sweet, Loving and Loyal|
|Activity Levels||Low – A brisk 15 – 30 minute walk each day is sufficient|
|Daily Food Consumption||Up to 1/2 a cup of high quality kibble|
|Known Health Issues||Brachycephalic Respiratory Syndrome, White Shaker Syndrome, Patellar Luxation|
Maltese Shih Tzu Breed Information
The Maltese Shih Tzu is bred from two pure breed parents; the petite and hypoallergenic Maltese dog and the clever and spunky Shih Tzu.
Because both parents are of a similar size, the sire and dam can be interchangeable.
So, where did this little designer dog come from?
Although both parents originate from different parts of the world (Maltese from the Mediterranean and Shih Tzu from Asia); the Maltese Shih Tzu was actually bred first in the United States in the 1990s.
The idea of mixing the Maltese dog and Shih Tzu dog was to create an adorable little companion who did not shed as much; much like that of a Shorkie.
If you are a Pretty Little Liars fan then you will know that Ashley Benson has one of these designer hybrids.
The shih tzu maltese is not recognized by any major kennel club as it is a hybrid dog.
Maltese Shih Tzu Puppies
The litter size ranges from between 6-8 puppies; due to their small size this is a large litter size. Each litter is unique in coloration, as is the case with many designer hybrids, so there is no telling just what each litter will look as they may come in many different colours.
A maltese shih tzu price tag ranges from between $400 – $800 USD, with variations dependent upon which breeder you purchase from.
You may even be lucky enough to find one in a rescue center as adopting a dog is always a heart-warming option.
What is the Maltese Shih Tzu life span?
This dog lives on average for approximately 12-14 years. Being the perfect small companion dog, you will definitely appreciate every year spent together.
How big is a Maltese Shih Tzu full grown?
Remember, this is a toy dog breed. Therefore, your puppy will not grow very much after two months of age (see table below). Both sexes of the dog are approximately the same size.
|Puppy (2 months)||7 inches||4 lbs|
|Dog (12 months)||10 inches||6 – 12 lbs|
Maltese Shih Tzu Temperament
|Ease of Care|
The Maltese Shih Tzu has a very loving temperament. In fact, they crave love and need to know just how much you love, love, love them. Just like another Maltese mix; the Morkie.
They have such a great temperament they are suitable for both the elderly and children. This is because they are energetic enough that they can keep your children busy, but they can also be docile and snuggly and are therefore the great companion to the elderly.
They can be confident and are sometimes somewhat suspicious of strangers. When they are not introduced properly to strangers; they may act a little feisty.
They are great with other pets too as long as they are introduced and socialized frequently.
It is very important that the Shih Tzu Maltese gets all of the attention they require; without proper care and affection, this breed may get bored and depressed. This can then lead to destructive and unsettling behavior.
The notion of hybrid vigor is worth understanding if you’re looking for a Maltese Shih Tzu. Hybrid vigor isn’t necessarily characteristic of mixed breeds; it occurs when new blood is brought in from outside the usual breeding circle — it’s the opposite of inbreeding.
However, there is a general misconception that hybrid vigor automatically applies to mixed breeds. If the genetic pool for the mixed breed remains the same over time, the offspring won’t have hybrid vigor. And if a purebred breeder brings in a dog from a different line, those puppies will have hybrid vigor, even though they’re purebred.
Maltese Shih Tzus are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. Not all Maltese Shih Tzus will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.
If you’re buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy’s parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.
Before you bring home your Maltese Shih Tzu, find out if he’s from a first-generation or multigenerational breeding (though multigenerational breedings are rare for this mix). If he’s a first-generation dog, research the health concerns that occur in both the Maltese and the Shih Tzu. Regardless of generation, both parents should have applicable health clearances. Some disorders are caused by recessive genes that may not appear for generations.
In Maltese Shih Tzus, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand’s disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).
- Patellar Luxation: also known as slipped stifles, this is a common problem in small dogs. The patella is the kneecap. Luxation means dislocation of an anatomical part (as a bone at a joint). Patellar luxation is when the knee joint (often of a hind leg) slides in and out of place, causing pain. This can be crippling, although many dogs lead relatively normal lives with this condition.
- White Shaker Syndrome: This affects young to middle-aged dogs. The disease is seen in both the Shih Tzu and Maltese and has been seen in any crosses produced by either breed. Symptoms are uncontrollable shaking and an inability to walk. An episode can last all day. Treatment is usually corticosteroids for three to six months, after which time most dogs don’t need additional treatment (although some may require low doses every other day to keep the condition under control).
The Maltese Shih Tzu is an adaptable dog who can change his habits to reflect the home that he lives in. He can be active and outgoing in a high-energy home, but he can also be calm and reserved in a quieter home.
Regardless of personality, the Maltese Shih Tzu requires the same amount of care. He should have a daily exercise, but this can be as simple as a leisurely walk through the neighborhood or a fun game of fetch down a hallway or in the yard. Expect about 10 to 15 minutes of exercise per day.
He can do well in apartments, but the ideal is a home with a small yard. Maltese Shih Tzus love the outdoors and will spend a significant amount of time playing and romping outside. A home with air-conditioning is suggested, since some Maltese Shih Tzus can suffer from respiratory problems that can be made worse in heat and humidity; don’t let him stay outside too long or play too hard when it’s hot and humid.
Training is as important for Maltese Shih Tzus as it is for all dogs, and he can be trained with little difficulty since he’s bright and eager to learn. He makes an excellent dog for first-time owners. Socialization is important, especially since the Maltese Shih Tzu is a social dog and loves to receive visitors or go visiting himself.
He can be noisy and will alert bark when he sees something or someone suspicious; however, he’s not as noisy as some other small dogs, and that includes his parent breeds. (That’s the joy of the hybrid.)
Crate training benefits every dog and is a kind way to ensure that your Maltese Shih Tzu doesn’t have accidents in the house or get into things he shouldn’t. A crate is also a place where he can retreat for a nap. Crate training at a young age will help your dog accept confinement if he ever needs to be boarded or hospitalized.
Never stick your Maltese Shih Tzu in a crate all day long, however. It’s not a jail, and he shouldn’t spend more than a few hours at a time in it except when he’s sleeping at night. He’s a people dog, and not meant to spend his life locked up in a crate or kennel.
Recommended daily amount: 1/4 to 1/2 cup of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.
Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you’ll need to shake into your dog’s bowl.
Keep your Maltese Shih Tzu in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you’re unsure whether he’s overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.
First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can’t, he needs less food and more exercise.
Coat Color And Grooming
The coat of the Maltese Shih Tzu should be long, and soft and silky in texture. It should have some wave to it, but it should never be curly. Maltese Shih Tzus generally are white or white with tan markings on the body and ears, but they can sport a combination of other colors, such as black, brown, black and white, brown and white, and black and brown.
A fine Maltese Shih Tzu coat requires care and needs daily brushing to keep out tangles and mats. Regular bathing keeps the coat soft and silky. He can be clipped to make grooming a bit easier, but he still needs to be brushed weekly at a minimum, and clipped every six to nine weeks.
Maltese Shih Tzus can have some problems with tearstains under the eyes, like their Maltese parents; these may need to be treated with commercial tearstain removers. Keeping the area around the eye clean helps reduce staining.
Brush your Maltese Shih Tzu’s teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.
Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn’t wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you’re not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.
His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog’s ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don’t insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.
Begin accustoming your Maltese Shih Tzu to being brushed and examined when he’s a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he’s an adult.
As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.
How to Care for a Malshi
Food and Diet Requirements
Being on the small end of the scale, the Maltese Shih Tzu doesn’t actually require that much food and they will never say no to a healthy treat.
|Calories (per lb per day)|
It may seem strange that your puppy will require more calories per day than your adult Malshi (since they are smaller), however this is completely normal.
Your puppy needs more calories as it is growing and therefore needs more energy to support this process.
An adult Maltese Shih Tzu requires round ½ a cup of high quality dry dog food per day. A good option is to feed your Malshi kibble specialized for small and toy dog breeds.
You should split feedings into two servings throughout the day. This will ensure your dog remains satisfied all day and night.
Luckily for this breed, Shih Tzu Malteses are not prone to obesity! However, it is probably better to keep them away from Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonalds. As with any animal, it is important that we stick to foods which meet all the dog’s nutritional and daily requirements. This ensures that your pet stays healthy!
Remember, as with any dog, your maltese shih tzu dietary requirements may change in accordance with their age, size and activity level.
Let’s be honest, no dog will say no to a nice big yard to run around in. However, a big yard is not necessary for the Maltese Shih Tzu. They can happily live in a small space such as an apartment. However, this does not mean that no exercise should occur.
They don’t require a harsh or physical exercise plan (e.g. a herding dog which requires agility training). However, you should expect to walk them for a brisk 15 to 30 minute daily walk.
You should also look to use some mental stimulation games (see suggestions below) to help keep them entertained whilst not over excising them.
This way they will have your company, attention and exercise all in one.
Remember to use a leash as they love to be little explorers. The Malshi is very intelligent and therefore is always interested in discovering its new and exciting surroundings.
Like any dog, a Malshi needs positive reinforcement training.
Over-spoiling any dog can lead to bad behavioral habits (e.g. destruction and barking) so be careful when it comes to “over-babying” your pup.
The Maltese Shih Tzu has a tendency to show signs of distress around strangers. However, this can be a result of inadequate socialization. Great socialization activities include, trips to the dog parks, little walks around the neighborhood, and even little trips to a dog-friendly beach!
Short for ideas? Google dog-friendly places in your area and you will be sure to find cool and different places to take your Malshi.
Simple mental stimulation is sufficient for your little Malshi. All they really need is to know that you care and love them, cuddles are enough to keep them more than occupied.
They can be quite an energetic breed if they need to be, so small games are suitable for mental stimulation.
Try games of hide and go seek, or, even fetch.
For a fun game of hide and seek simply run around with your Malshi, then quickly hide. Call his or her name and let them try and find you. To make it more fun, you can even sneak away and try new hiding positions and again call their name! Trust me, they will be racing around trying to find you.
The most important thing to remember is that they do not do well when they are alone. They can easily suffer from separation anxiety. They require and crave your affection both mentally and emotionally. So as long as this is given then you should both be okay.
Known Health Problems
The Maltese Shih Tzu is a hybrid dog which was bred with a goal of eliminating known health faults present in the purebred parents whilst introducing the hypoallergenic coat of a Maltese.
However, unfortunately this doesn’t always happen and some health issues and diseases are still present. As a loving owner, you will want to have a brief idea on what health problems your little Malshi may be predisposed to.
- Brachycephalic Respiratory Syndrome is commonly seen in dogs who have a short and flattened head/face shape as this causes the shape of their noses and muzzles to be irregularly short. This may lead to difficulty breathing which may result in intense loss of breath if they are over-exerted. Unfortunately for the Malshi, both parent breeds, the Maltese and the Shih Tzu, are genetically predisposed to this syndrome. Therefore, passing on the health problem to your poor little Maltese Shih Tzu.
- White Shaker Syndrome, is prevalent in many small dogs. This syndrome causes the dogs whole body to unexpectedly shake and is caused by an inflammation in the brain which is idiopathic. Sometimes owners may mistake the shaking for their dog just being cold. But if the tremors persist, then you should contact your local veterinarian!
- Patellar Luxation is a common orthopedic problem in many dogs. This can result in your dog’s knee becoming dislocated. Sadly, this condition is common in small and toy breeds. Prolonged or continuous stress in the area may lead to surgery.
Maltese Shih Tzu Appearance: Coat, Color and Haircuts
So, we have established the fact that they resemble a pom pom. But let’s get more specific, what does the Maltese Shih Tzu really look like?
Generally speaking, they’re definitely on the small side compared to your average dog. Their bodies and head, although small, are quite proportionate.
They may have big bulgy eyes, which may be hazel or amber.
Their coats are normally long (although their owners often give them trendy haircuts) and straight or wavy.
Uniquely, they don’t often have an undercoat. This dog was bred specifically to eliminate shedding. Although some shedding does still occur. These dogs are known to be hypoallergenic (i.e. reduced shedding) so whoever is on vacuum duties will thank you!
Their coat can come in a variety of colors and may range anywhere from white, black, brown, or a combination of colors. For example, white and black, white and brown, brown and black… You get the point!
The markings on these small dogs vary often and therefore makes it a bit easier to tell your little maltese shih tzu from others.
Maltese Shih Tzu Grooming
Light brushing is enough to get rid of that small amount of excess fur and dander. Brushing can be daily or as minimal as just twice a week.
Owners of the breed normally opt for a Maltese Shih Tzu haircut; especially in the summer months. This will also make grooming a lot easier.
If you want to keep your pup’s hair nice and silky smooth, then bathing twice a year is not a bad idea. Regular nail clipping also doesn’t hurt. And make sure their eyes are kept clean as they may get quite gunky! If their eyes aren’t cleaned regularly then this can lead to tear staining (as seen commonly in the parent breed, the Maltese).
A small dog which is highly adaptable, requires little exercise, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg on monthly dog food.
These loveable, affectionate, intelligent and playful pompoms are the perfect companion for any family or individual, no matter what the living situation.
Just be sure to show your maltese shih tzu some love, attention and have plenty of time for them.
Comment below if you too know of someone with a kind and out-going Maltese Shih Tzu, we would love to hear just how loving and affectionate they are!