- What is a Shichi Mix?: A Breed Overview
- Quick Summary of the Shichi Breed
- Appearances: How Big Does a Shichi Get?
- History of a Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix
- Pros and Cons of Owning a Shichi
- Personality and Temperament
- Ideal Living Situation for a Shichi
- Common Bad Habits of Shichis
- Care Requirements
- 13 Fun Facts About the Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix
- Shichi Health Information
- Known Health Problems
- How much does it cost to own a ShiChi?
- How to Train a Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix
- Final Thoughts
The Shichi is a mixed dog breed that combines all the best qualities of the Chihuahua and Shih Tzu breeds into one small, super cute package! Although they’ve just recently become popular, this spunky mix is on the fast track to become one of the most desired designer breeds around.
Before deciding on a Shichi, you need to know what to expect. These dogs are loyal, affectionate, and full of energy, but they also have some bad habits and potential health issues to look out for and mitigate. By the end of this article, you should have all the information you need to decide what’s best for you and your family!
What is a Shichi Mix?: A Breed Overview
As mentioned, this breed is a mix between the Shih Tzu and the Chihuahua. These dogs are particularly popular because of their looks and positive disposition.
|Shih Tzu Qualities||Chihuahua Qualities|
|Originated in East Asia (likely China or Tibet)||Likely originated from Mexico|
|Intelligent, affectionate, docile||Confident, bold, alert|
|Great companions||Great companions|
|Social||Social with training|
|Lots of energy||Lots of energy|
|Date back to ancient Asia||First discovered in 1850s|
|Good family dogs||Good family dogs, but typically have a “favorite” person|
|Long-haired||Long and short-haired varieties|
|Relatively easy to train||Difficult to train|
Quick Summary of the Shichi Breed
|Popularity||Becoming very popular in recent years.|
|Temperament||Friendly, lively, loyal|
|Average Weight||5-12 lbs|
|Coat Type||Long or short|
|Hypoallergenic?||Can be hypoallergenic if the Shih Tzu coat traits are dominant.|
|Grooming Needs||Teeth brushing three times per week, ear cleaning once per week, bathing only when necessary.|
|Brushing||Once per week with a bristle or deshedding brush.|
|Tolerance to Heat||Not very tolerant.|
|Tolerance to Cold||Not tolerant, put a sweater on them in very cold temperatures.|
|Good Environments||Singles, couples, families with children (make sure young children are careful with them). House or apartment, with or without a yard.|
|Good in Small Spaces?||Yes|
|Trainability||Difficult due to Chihuahua genes.|
|Exercise Needed||20 minutes daily.|
|Tendency to Gain Weight||Very high, make sure not to overfeed and to exercise frequently.|
|Common Health Concerns||Hip dysplasia, hydrocephalus, hypothyroidism, cataracts, glaucoma, dental issues, obesity, patellar luxation, distichiasis, brachycephalic syndrome.|
|Average New Puppy Price||$150 – $750 from a reputable breeder.|
Appearances: How Big Does a Shichi Get?
Like their parent breeds, Shichis are very small dogs and generally regarded as a “toy” breed. On average, a full-grown Shichi will weigh between just 5-12 lbs and stand between 9”-11” tall.
Because they are so small, it’s important to remember that they are delicate and will tire out quickly. If you’re considering bringing a Shichi into a home with small children, be sure you make it very clear that they are not a toy or something to play rough with – they could be seriously injured by young children who don’t know better.
History of a Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix
Like most other mixed dog breeds, Shichis don’t have a very well-documented history. However, it’s generally believed that they were developed and popularized in the United States within the past 20-30 years. While the jury is still out on how exactly they came to be, the following organizations recognize this dog breed:
- American Canine Hybrid Club
- International Designer Canine Registry
- Dog Registry of America
- Designer Breed Registry
Pros and Cons of Owning a Shichi
Shichis are generally well-tempered, outgoing, and energetic. There are a ton of reasons to own a dog like this, but there are also some things to watch out for if you’re considering bringing one home! Below are some of the best and worst parts of Shichi ownership.
Pros of Owning a Shichi
A Shichi can make the ideal pet for families, couples, or singles. Here’s some of the best parts of owning this mix:
- Hypoallergenic coat (if the coat resembles a Shih Tzu)
- Minimal shedding
- Gentle disposition
- Lots of loyalty
- Very playful
- Longer than average lifespan (12-15 years)
- Suited for both small and large spaces
- Don’t need a lot of exercise
- Good with children
Cons of Shichi Ownership
Not everything is sunshine and rainbows when it comes to owning a Shichi, and it’s important to know the downsides before making the final call. Here are some things to keep in mind while deciding if a Shichi is right for you:
- The independent personality of a chihuahua can make them hard to train
- Require a good amount of grooming and upkeep
- Can be “yappy”
- May become aggressive when feeling threatened
- May be wary of strangers without proper socialization
- Prone to obesity
- Prone to eye problems
- Prone to teeth issues
- Might not take well to other dogs in the house
Personality and Temperament
The Shichi’s personality is one of their biggest selling points. They make excellent companions, have lots of energy in small bursts, and show a lot of affection towards their people. They have a lot of personality and are sure to win the hearts of your family and friends!
That being said, it’s essential to socialize your Shichi with other people, places, and dogs from a young age, especially if you’ll be traveling, having frequent guests, or introducing them to other dogs throughout their lives. Although they’re generally a very friendly breed, a lack of proper socialization can make them timid or aggressive toward strangers and other dogs later down the line.
More than anything, Shichis love being showered in attention by the people they love. With the proper care and attention, you can expect your Shichi to be well-adjusted, outgoing, and incredibly friendly.
Ideal Living Situation for a Shichi
The great thing about Shih Tzu Chihuahua mixes is that they’re very adaptable. They make great dogs for singles, couples, even families with children! Since they’re small and don’t need a lot of space to move or run around, they’re especially well-suited for apartment life and can thrive even without a yard.
Although they are pretty energetic, their energy comes in small bursts. They tire themselves out pretty quickly, and don’t need a lot of exercise. They love to play with children, but it’s essential to let any small children know that they have to be careful with your Shichi. They’re small and delicate, and you don’t want your pet to get hurt by accident.
One thing to keep in mind is that these dogs don’t tolerate extreme weather well, especially not temperatures below freezing. If you do live somewhere that gets very cold in the winter, you might want to dress your pet up in a coat or sweater to prevent shivering while taking them to the bathroom or for a walk!
How well Shichis get along with other dogs in the household depends case-by-case. While the Shih Tzu in them will probably welcome new friends, Chihuahuas have a bit of a possessive, independent streak that might rear its ugly head in your mix! It’s always best to introduce dogs to each other as puppies, if possible. Overall, the ideal family for a Shichi is a gentle one with a lot of patience.
Common Bad Habits of Shichis
While they’re generally pretty even-tempered dogs, there are some bad habits that Shih Tzu/Chihuahua mixes can pick up, due to either their breeding or their environment. Some of these include:
- Getting snappy or aggressive if feeling threatened
- Getting “yappy” when excited
- Being standoff-ish around other dogs, especially in the house
- Being aggressive toward strangers
Properly caring for your Shichi is the most important part of responsible dog ownership. Sticking to the recommended care, feeding, and grooming requirements will ensure that your dog lives a long, happy, and healthy life.
Best Foods for a Shichi
Shichis have small, sensitive digestive systems. Due to their size, they’re also more prone to obesity than other dogs. Because of this, it’s important to feed them the correct daily portion of the most appropriate food.
Make sure to only feed your Shichi high-quality dog food, specially formulated for small or toy breeds. It should have a good ratio of healthy fat and protein over carbs, and you should make sure to stay away from cheaper, lower-quality brands. These options usually have a lot of fillers in the recipe, which can be harmful to your small dog’s health in the long run.
Contrary to what you might expect, Shichis tend to have a higher caloric need than most larger dogs! This is due to their high metabolism and frequent bursts of high energy. Generally, they’ll need about one cup of dry food per day, split into two servings in the morning and at night.
Shichi Exercise Requirements
You don’t want to subject your Shih Tzu/Chihuahua mix to prolonged exercise. They’re a very small breed and don’t have a lot of energy to spare, so you shouldn’t risk exhausting them with too much activity.
In addition to a bit of indoor play time, you should aim for a maximum of 20-25 minutes of outdoor exercise per day. You might want to take your pet on a short walk or jog. If you have a fenced-in yard, try playing some gentle tug-of-war with a rope toy or seeing if they can fetch a ball meant for smaller dogs.
13 Fun Facts About the Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix
Curious about what makes the Shichi so unique? Here are 13 fun facts you may not have known!
- Some Shichis have a double coat. This is usually shown as a longer, wavy coat on top and a shorter coat on the bottom!
- If your mix is more Shih Tzu than Chihuahua, their fur may be hypo-allergenic.
- While your dog is sure to love your whole family, some Shih Tzu/Chihuahua mixes have a “favorite” person! This is a trait normally seen in Chihuahuas, so your Shichi may exhibit this if they have more “Chi” in them.
- Shih tzus are what’s known as a “brachycephalic breed,” meaning they have a flatter face than most dogs! This may or may not show in Shichi mixes.
- There’s actually no such thing as a “teacup” Shichi, so avoid breeders who try to use this buzzword as a way to charge you more for your pup.
- Shichis are also sometimes called “Chi-Shis” or “Chi-Tzus.”
- Both the Shih Tzu and the Chihuahua are “companion breeds.”
- They’re part of a group of dog breeds known as “designer mixes.” Designer mixes are different from “mutts,” because they’re bred intentionally to get the best qualities out of each parent.
- Shichis are bred with “hybrid vigor.” While the validity of this concept is up for debate, it’s believed that mixing these two breeds creates “superior” qualities than what they offer individually.
- Shichis, like many small dogs, often fall victim to “small dog syndrome.” This refers to an owner’s belief that they don’t need to spend too much time training and socializing their puppy, because “what harm can something so small do?” However, it’s still very important to properly socialize and train your Shichi!
- These mixes have very curious minds, so you might want to try giving yours a puzzle toy to keep them focused on something productive, especially while they’re young and can be destructive.
- The average price of a Shichi puppy is anywhere between $150-$750 from a reputable breeder.
- Shih Tzus and Chihuahua have entirely opposite personalities – while Chihuahuas are bold, independent, and spirited, Shih Tzus are known for being calm, cool, and collected.
Shichi Health Information
Like many small dog breeds, there are a couple of problems inherent to Shichis. To prevent and monitor any changes in your dog’s health, make sure to take them to the vet for regular:
- Eye exams
- Dental exams
- Physical exams
Grooming and Shedding
Your Shichi might have a shorter coat that resembles their Chihuahua parent more, or they may have a longer coat like their Shih Tzu parent would. Either way, Shichis aren’t big shedders, which makes them a great choice for anyone with a sensitivity to dog dander.
Caring for your Shichi’s coat is relatively easy. Use a bristle or deshedding brush once per week to lightly brush their coat and remove any loose or tangled fur. This is especially important if you have a longer-haired Shichi, as the area around their undercarriage and head is especially prone to tangling and matting. This brushing will also help to remove any dirt or moisture that can become easily trapped in longer fur.
Shichis shouldn’t be bathed very frequently to avoid damaging their skin. You should only give your Shichi a bath (using gentle shampoo specifically meant for dogs) when necessary. It is, however, important to brush their teeth and check their ears for build-up regularly. Since both Chihuahuas and Shih Tzus are prone to dental issues, take precautions by brushing your Shichi’s teeth about three times per week. And approximately once per week, check and wipe any build-up of earwax inside their ears.
Known Health Problems
Smaller dogs, like the Shichi, tend to be predisposed to quite a few medical problems. Here are a few of the concerns you’ll have to look out for when you own a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua mix.
- Hip dysplasia: According to the American Kennel Club, hip dysplasia in dogs occurs when the ball and socket of the hip joint don’t fit together properly. This causes them to rub against each other, deteriorating the joint over time and eventually, causing it to not function properly. Since hip dysplasia is a big concern for Shichis, it’s important to take them for regular x-rays (as recommended by your vet) to be sure everything looks okay.
- Hydrocephalus: Hydrocephalus is “an excess of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that has leaked inside the skull, leading to brain swelling,” according to VCA Hospitals. This is particularly common in smaller dog breeds, and over time, leads to pressure on the skull and brain. This is a very serious concern, as it can cause brain damage or even death if left untreated. Your vet will be able to tell you if this is something you need to monitor.
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is a condition in dogs where the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough of the hormone “thyroxine,” which controls your dog’s metabolism. With hypothyroidism, your dog will have a decreased appetite but still may experience weight gain.
- Cataracts and Glaucoma: Cataracts and glaucoma are both diseases that affect your dog’s eyes and vision. Cataracts are usually pretty easy to identify, as you’ll be able to notice cloudy areas inside their eye. Glaucoma, on the other hand, isn’t as easy to identify. This disease occurs when fluid in the eye doesn’t drain correctly, causing uncomfortable pressure. If left untreated, both diseases can cause damage to the optic nerve and blind your dog.
- Dental problems: The most prevalent dental issue for Shichis is periodontal disease, caused by bacteria in dental plaque. When the teeth aren’t cleaned regularly, this bacteria can become trapped inside the gums, causing repeat infections and damage to the gums and teeth. If you notice your dog’s breath smelling worse than usual, difficulty eating, or discolored teeth, take them in for an exam as soon as possible.
- Obesity: It’s very easy to overfeed small dogs, because most people don’t realize how little food they actually need! It’s very important to keep your dog on a healthy diet and make sure they get the right amount of exercise, as obesity can cause severe issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
While these are the most prevalent concerns for the Shichi, there are a few other minor issues and concerns to keep an eye out for. These include:
- Patellar luxation
- Brachycephalic syndrome
How much does it cost to own a ShiChi?
Well since this is a new designer breed and not just any mixed breed dog, they can be expensive. Like the purebreds, the ShiChi is intentionally bred for human companionship.
Prices can vary around the country. Here is a sample of the types of costs you might have in acquiring a ShiChi.
A purebred Shih Tzu usually costs between $300 and $1000. There are not that many purebred Shih Tzus in rescues or shelters. A purebred Chihuahua puppy might cost between $500 and $1200. However unfortunate, there are an awful lot of Chihuahua puppies and mixes to be found in rescues and shelters.
Given this information a ShiChi dog will cost somewhere in this range.
- Puppy from a breeder = $150 to $1500 but the average is usually $300 to $1000.
- Adult from a breeder = $300 to $500 (usually a dog used for breeding male or female)
- Rescue = $50 to $300
Of course, these are only estimates and the prices can go up and down with the market and the overall economy. Also, you need to consider that the price you pay for the dog is only a small part of your initial expenses. Then there are ongoing expenses as well. When you first get a ShiChi, you will have initial and yearly vet expenses, food, toys, sweaters, and other accessories.
Here are some things to think about and remember when you are looking to acquire your first ShiChi.
- Make sure you are buying from a legitimate breeder and not a puppy mill.
- Insist on seeing the parents or at least the mother of the puppies.
- Exam the nose and face to see how much risk of brachycephalic condition as this could bring you a lot of heartache and vet bills in the future.
- If you have small children or other animals, arrange for a visit for the puppy at your home before purchase. Do this before adopting a rescue as well. Many rescues will require this.
- Be prepared with the right diet and chew toys for a puppy. Remember not to overfeed the ShiChi.
How to Train a Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix
It can be tricky to gauge how easily you’ll be able to train your Shichi. Shih Tzus are generally easy to train, while Chihuahuas are pretty independent and have a stubborn streak that can make them less receptive to your efforts! It depends on which parent your dog takes their personality from.
Housetraining a Shichi
Housetraining, or “potty training,” your Shichi is one of the most crucial aspects of the training process. As mentioned, Shih Tzus are much easier to train than Chihuahuas, so there’s really no way to tell how much difficulty you’ll run into. Here are some tips for housebreaking your new puppy:
- Speak in a clear, direct tone when correcting your pet. Accidents happen, and it’s important to establish what’s acceptable and what’s not. However, don’t be overly-harsh in your approach, as this can make your puppy afraid and less receptive to training.
- Use their name. Using your pet’s name while training them will help them know to pay more attention and correlate what you’re saying with what they’re doing. If you’re training a new puppy, this will also help them learn their name faster!
- Work on a schedule. Your Shichi will learn quicker if they practice housetraining on a schedule. For the first six months of your puppy’s life, correlate the number of hours between bathroom breaks with how many months old they are. For example, take a 2 month old puppy out every 2 hours and a 5 month old puppy out every 5 hours. Make sure the potty schedule is on track with their feeding schedule, as well.
- Keep your eye on your puppy. If you see your dog start sniffing around on the floor, move into another room, lift their leg, or squat, clap your hands to distract them and take them outside immediately. This will teach them that going to the bathroom inside is wrong without frightening them, while also showing them where they should be going to the bathroom.
Crate Training a Shichi
Crate training is essential for helping your dog feel safe and comfortable when you’re not around. Although most dogs outgrow the need for crating, some dogs may grow to prefer sitting in their crate, if training is done correctly!
The primary goal of crate training is to keep your puppy from soiling your floor, carpets, and furniture when you’re not home. Some dogs also feel safer and more comfortable in a confined space when they’re alone, and may bark or whine less.
The key with crate training is to make it a positive experience. You shouldn’t use the crate as a punishment, and you shouldn’t leave them inside it for too long. Shichis are very social dogs, and the lack of human interaction may make them anxious or standoff-ish.
Teaching Your Shichi Tricks
Your Shichi may take after their Shih Tzu parent and be very receptive to learning tricks, or they may take after their Chihuahua parent and retain their independence. If you’re having trouble teaching your Shih Tzu/Chihuahua mix tricks, these tips may help.
- Be patient. Teaching a Shichi might not be as easy as you’d like it to be, but they’ll learn eventually. Seeing the final result is worth the effort, and training can be a great bonding activity!
- Use positive reinforcement. Training works better when your dog is working for a reward. When your dog performs their tricks successfully, give them a small treat, pet, or word of affirmation. The best reward depends on what your particular dog values the most.
- Don’t overdo it. Remember you’re working with a very small dog here. While you should be persistent, it’s important to know when to take a break. Trying over and over again to get your dog to perform a trick will only frustrate you and confuse them, making it all but impossible for them to learn in the future.
If you’re looking for a small, affectionate, and loyal dog that can adapt well to any environment, the Shih Tzu/Chihuahua mix might just be perfect for you. This adorable toy breed is excellent for singles, couples, or families looking for the perfect addition to their household.
Although they’re harder than some to train and housebreak, they’ll reward the efforts you make early on with a lifetime of undying companionship.