Three breeds go in, two hybrid dogs come out. Both start with the Shih Tzu. Add a toy or miniature poodle and you have a Shihpoo. Sub a bichon frise, and your puppy is a Shichon, sometimes called the Teddy Bear, Tzu Frise or Zuchon. Because poodles and bichons can look alike -- and you can’t control which genes will dominate -- it’s not always easy to tell who’s who.
Shihpoos come in a variety of colors because there’s great diversity in the coloring and markings of poodles and Shih Tzus. Shih Tzus can have brown, black, white or cream colored coats; poodle colors include white, cream, brown, black and apricot. The resulting Shihpoos might be a solid color, such as cream, or a mix, with a base color plus the dark facial markings of a Shih Tzu.
Like Shihpoos, Shichons might have brown, black or gray hair and markings like their Shih Tzu ancestors. White or cream-colored Shichons are more common than white Shihpoos. Unlike Shihpoos, Shichon puppies frequently have dark brown or gray markings that slowly grow out as they age.
Coats and Appearance
The coat texture of Shihpoos and Shichons are similar and make it particularly tricky to tell them apart. While some Shihpoos inherit the tight curl of the poodle coat, others have a wavy, fluffy coat like Shichons. And both Shihpoos and Shichons can have smooth, straight coats like Shih Tzus.
Shihpoos and Shichons are considered hypoallergenic breeds because their coats don’t shed, but both require consistent grooming and nail clipping.
Shihpoos and Shichons usually have large brown eyes and floppy ears. Despite their Shih Tzu heritage, both breeds generally have the long snout characteristic of poodles and bichon frises. While Shihpoos and Shichons both have long tails, Shichons usually carry theirs in a curl on their backs.
Much like the coloring and coat texture of these breeds, the size of both Shihpoos and Shichons can vary based on their parentage. This spectrum of size is larger in Shihpoos, simply because they can be bred from toy or miniature poodles. Most Shihpoos weigh between 5 and 20 pounds and are on average 15 inches tall. Of course, a Shihpoo bred from a toy poodle generally will be smaller than one bred from a miniature poodle, which is larger than his toy cousin.
Shichons have an average weight of 10 pounds and an average height of 10 inches.
Shihpoos and Shichons are bright, intelligent breeds. Shihpoos usually have a strong desire to please their owners and family, while Shichons tend to have a bit of an independent streak and can be stubborn. Both breeds are friendly and social. Shichons are usually better suited for children than Shihpoos, who can be more timid and shy than Shichons. Shichons also generally need more activity and stimulation than Shihpoos, who are excellent lap dogs.
Julianne Kroon spends her days caring for animals as the owner an in-home pet sitting business and a dedicated humane society volunteer. She also serves as a national news editor for Internet Broadcasting and previously served as a reporter at a news radio station in Minnesota. Her work has been broadcast on KTOE Information Radio, KMSU Public Radio and featured in the "Mankato Free Press."