If you've brought home a Shih Tzu poodle mix, better known as a Shih-poo, it's likely he'll remain a fairly small dog. That's because most of these "designer dog" crosses involve breeding a Shih Tzu to a toy or miniature poodle, rather than to a large or standard poodle.
Since the Shih-poo is a cross between two purebred dogs, your puppy will likely mature somewhere in the size range for these canines. The American Kennel Club breed standard for the miniature poodle states that the Shih-poo stands between 10 and 15 inches high at the withers, while the toy poodle stands 10 inches or less. There is no weight specification in the poodle standard. The AKC standard for the Shih Tzu ranges between 8 and 11 inches at the point of the shoulder. The Shih Tzu also has a weight limit ranging from 9 to 16 pounds. Figure that your dog will grow up to be in the Shih Tzu weight range, standing between 8 and 15 inches tall at the shoulder
Meet the Parents
One of the best ways to determine how big your Shih-poo puppy will grow is by meeting the father and mother. That's usually possible only if you purchase your puppy from a private breeder, rather than from a pet store. If the parents are unusually small or large for their respective breeds, there's a greater chance that your puppy will inherit those traits. In addition to size, you'll also get a good idea of the parents' temperaments, which can be handed down to their offspring.
Standard Poodle Crosses
While Shih-poos are usually crossed with the smaller poodles, that doesn't mean a breeder might not cross a standard poodle with a Shih Tzu. Since both breeds are reputedly hypoallergenic, a standard poodle/Shih Tzu cross could produce a medium-to-large-size dog suitable for a family with children. The smaller Shih-poos are really too little to roughhouse with kids. While the AKC denotes standard poodle size as over 15 inches high at the shoulder, in reality most standard poodles are much larger than that. Many standard poodles reach 21 inches or more, weighing between 45 and 65 pounds. Figuring a puppy's eventual size is more difficult with this cross, but the Shih-poo should mature at over 15 inches and weigh between 20 and 40 pounds. Ask the breeder to show you examples of grown dogs of this particular cross to get a better idea of size at maturity.
Both breeds require regular sessions at the groomer, and the cross is no exception. Since poodle hair is tight and curly and Shih Tzu hair is longer, the type of hair your dog sports depends on the roll of the genetic dice. Usually, Shih-poos have wavy coats. Brush his coat a few times a week to prevent matting. You'll find these puppies in various colors and color combinations. Permissible poodle colors include white, black, blue, silver, cream, gray, brown and apricot, while the Shih Tzu breed standard permits all colors. While "cute" isn't a color, it's the overall reaction a Shih-poo receives from onlookers long after his puppyhood is over.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.