Mixing a lively, quick, and courageous Chihuahua with a spunky, loyal, and happy Shih Tzu sounds like a winning combination. The Shi Chi or Chi Tzu may be small but its personality is immense. Its round, happy eyes are always inviting, wanting people to play with it, hold it, and cuddle with it. Their loyalty is unquestionable and its fun-loving nature is simply unmatched. It’s the perfect lap dog for active singles and adventurous families. Small as it may be, the Shi Chi can easily take the world by storm and it can do so without so much as lifting a paw – its cuteness is more than enough. But that’s just for starters. Are you ready to learn more? Then read on.
History of the Shi Chi
As much as we would like to share with you who created the Chi Tzu or Shi Chi, we couldn’t find any information that will point to a specific individual that can be credited with the crossbreeding of a Shih Tzu with a Chihuahua. And while mixing different breeds of dogs have been going on since time immemorial, in an effort to produce a dog that is better suited to meet the needs of its creators, it was only in the early parts of the 1990s when crossbreeding became widespread.
The prevailing notion is that the hybrid was created in the United States sometime in the 90s to the early part of the 21st century. No one knows exactly when or even where the hybrid was created.
Since the hybrid was possibly created in the 1990s to the early 2000s, establishing the uniformity of the dog’s physical characteristics, behavior, health, and temperament can be very difficult. This is because it takes many years of strict breeding practices to get the ‘ideal’ dog. That being said, we wouldn’t really recommend comparing your Shi Chi with the Chi Tzu of a friend or anybody else. This will simply be absurd since their characteristics are not nearly uniform yet. There is always a great disparity in the characteristics between dogs even though they are of the same hybrid – Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix.
Now, if the creator’s intention is to make a dog that will become purebred someday, it is imperative that he use only a purebred Chihuahua and a purebred Shih Tzu. This will create an F1 hybrid. There are individuals who may think that crossing an F1 Shi Chi with another F1 Shi Chi will result in another F1 Shi Chi. This is not the case, unfortunately. The offspring of this mix will lead to an F2 hybrid. If you mate an F1 Shi Chi with either a purebred Shih Tzu or a purebred Chihuahua, you’ll get an F1B Chi Tzu.
We know this is getting confusing, but bear with us. It is easier to predict the characteristics of a first-generation hybrid (F1) than a second generation cross (F1B or F2). This is because the closer the offspring is to the original gene pool, the less are the variances seen. In like manner, the farther the offspring to the original gene pool, the greater are the variances or differences that can be seen.
As such, when you do choose to get a Shi Chi, make sure that its parents are a purebred Shih Tzu and a purebred Chihuahua. This is one way you can feel more certain about the characteristics of the dog. Do understand, however, that it will still be different from having purebred parents from the same breed.
Who are the Parents?
Given that the Shi Chi is a mix of two different dog breeds, it would definitely be an advantage if we have a clear idea on who the parents are. Again, it is important to reiterate that the best possible outcome for a hybrid is one whose parents are both purebred.
It may be small, but the Chihuahua’s courage and devotion are immeasurable. It knows exactly what it wants and knows how to get it with its single-minded determination. It has become the must-have dog for celebrities and socialites who are fond of dressing up the little hound and carrying it inside posh and expensive oversized purses earning them the nickname of ‘purse puppies’.
Despite their size, Chihuahuas are super-feisty that they won’t mind coming face-to-face with a much larger dog. They are never frightened or timid. They’re fearless. It’s a Napoleon with four legs. Physical stature doesn’t deter it from being the leader of its pack. This can be quite troublesome especially with large Alpha dogs. As fearsome as the Chihuahua is, it is definitely no match against the likes of a Rottweiler or a Pit Bull Terrier. And if you happen to see the little hound shivering, it is not because it is afraid, but because it is cold.
But what really endears small Fido is its enduring loyalty to a single person it chooses as its very own. It is friendly to its family, but when it comes to the attention it requires, the Chihuahua expects it to come only from this special person. It has this expressive face that is made even more spectacular by its large, round eyes. One look and he’s got you.
The problem with Chihuahuas is that they are unwilling victims to the so-called ‘small dog syndrome’. Many owners of small dogs like the Chihuahua think that small dogs don’t require any training or socialization at all. They believe that training is only for larger dogs. Unfortunately, this can spell trouble not only for the Chihuahua but also for its owner and his or her family. An untrained and un-socialized Chihuahua can be a spoiled brat with four legs.
What many don’t realize is that the Chihuahua is an excellent watchdog. It is very yappy, a behavior that can be easily managed with early training. They are generally mistrustful of strangers since they know that their owner belongs only to them. They’re not being protective, mind you. They just don’t want other people to get the attention of their special person. Call it selfish, but that’s what you’ll get if you don’t socialize and train the Chihuahua.
The Chinese called it the Lion Dog while people in Tibet referred to it as the Chrysanthemum Dog. Whatever it is called, the Shih Tzu is an elegant-looking toy dog that is one of the most photographed breeds on the planet. When fully groomed, no other dog can match the beauty of a Shih Tzu.
To give you an idea of just what kind of dog the Shih Tzu is, try mixing a dash of lion with one part baby seal. Now add a few teaspoons of rabbit, a dash of ballerina, and a bit of beggar. To the concoction, add a few drops of domestic cat and a jigger of monkey. Add to the mix one part jester, a dash of old man, and a pinch of teddy bear and you’ve got a Shih Tzu.
Perhaps what we’re trying to say is that this dog can have so many different personalities. It can be fierce and brave, yet playful and fun-loving, too. It is intelligent, but can also be very stubborn. It is always happy and spunky at times. It’s outgoing, independent, and alert. It is this alertness that makes it an excellent watchdog, although it was never bred for such a purpose.
It can easily make friends with other dogs as well as kids and adults. It doesn’t allow other people to pass without them petting the royal Lion dog first. However, when it comes to larger dogs or canines that are a bit hyperactive, Shih Tzus can be quite the temperamental hound.
Although Shih Tzus have always been the prized lap dogs of the mighty emperors of China, they never show aggressiveness or arrogance in their stance. A true sweetheart, the Shih Tzu is intensely motivated to give love to the world. In return, it expects the same kind of love to be shown to it. You’d be surprised at just how much love this dog can give and the world is more than happy to return the favor.
Remember what we said about getting an F1 Shi Chi? This is so you can be sure that you’re a lot closer to the ‘standards’ of the hybrid. As such, if you have an F1B or an F2 hybrid, there’s a possibility that the following facts may not apply.
- The Chi Tzu or Shi Chi is a toy dog. It can grow a minimum of 7 inches and maxes out at 10.
- It is a lightweight hybrid, but often depending on which parent has a more dominant trait for height. It can weigh between 3 to 9 pounds, nonetheless.
- Despite its size and barring any unfortunate events, the Shi Chi can live up to 15 years, maybe even more.
- The Chi Tzu can have short or medium coat, although some can also have a longer one especially if the Shih Tzu parent has a more dominant trait for the coat length.
- They usually have longer, soft and wavy topcoats while their undercoats are short and fine.
- Regardless of the length of the Shi Chi’s coat, it doesn’t shed very much, making it great for people who may have hypersensitivity to pet dander.
- The ears can be varied. Either it sticks up like a Chihuahua or a bit floppier like a Shih Tzu.
- Monthly baths are a must.
- Shi Chis are very playful; plenty of energy packed into a small package. However, they don’t need that much exercise as they can already get it from their intense playtime activities.
- The hybrid is recognized by a number of canine hybrid organizations like the International Designer Canine Registry, the American Canine Hybrid Club, the Designer Dogs Kennel Club, and the Designer Breed Registry. It is also recognized by the Dog Registry of America.
Things You Should Know
Perfect for singles as well as families who may not have the luxury of space in their homes, the Shi Chi can be a very interesting hybrid to become a family pet. However, like all pets, the Chi Tzu requires almost the same kind of care for it to thrive and grow into a well-rounded pooch. Here are things related to the Shi Chi that all pet parents and would-be pat parents need to know.
One of the most common mistakes of pet owners of toy or small dogs is that they think this breed no longer needs to be trained. They are playful, spunky, and full of energy that they seem to be in no need of training. But that’s exactly why they are prone to the ‘small dog syndrome’. They don’t get trained and socialized early in their lives that behavioral problems almost always come out.
Housebreaking is important, unless you don’t mind turning your home into the Shi Chi’s unusually large restroom. Be prepared to increase your patience and strengthen your perseverance, however, as the Chi Tzu can be a real bummer when it comes to training. It’s not that this hybrid is not smart or intelligent. But, owing to the Narcissistic personality of the Chihuahua and the “I’m a Chinese imperial dog” mindset of the Shih Tzu, it takes a really special person to train the Shi Chi.
Technically, dealing with this kind of personality is relatively easy. You just have to nourish that oversized ego of the Chi Tzu and it will follow your lead. That’s the secret. Praise it, play with it, and give it treats every time you go on a training session and it will learn what you want it to learn. Why? You’re acknowledging its self-importance by rewarding it. Now try to yell at it, punish it, or do anything harsh and the Chi Tzu will be as stubborn as ever.
Because of their diminutive size, the Chi Tzu will not really require that much food. A fully grownup Chi Shi needs about 140 to 325 calories of high-quality, protein-rich dog food every day. Of course, this calorie requirement can still change depending on a host of factors such as the dog’s activity levels, current life stage, weight, and even any need for weight control. That is why we don’t tell you to give half a cup to 1 cup per day because we’re not sure about the amount of calories in a serving of your brand of dog food.
For example, you can have two dog food brands. One has 350 calories per cup while the other has 200 calories per cup. Based on calorie density, Dog Food A is more calorie-dense than Dog Food B. That means, if your Chi Shi needs about 325 calories per day, then you only need less than a cup of Dog Food A. If you use Dog Food B you will be feeding more than 1.5 cups per day. As such, we strongly encourage pet parents to learn how to compute for their dog’s calorie requirements on a daily basis.
There’s another reason why we don’t want you to go with the ‘cup’ thing. Let’s say you’re going to go with 1 cup. If you use Dog Food A, your dog will be getting slightly more calories than it actually needs. If this continues it can lead to weight problems. If you use Dog Food B, your dog will feel lethargic and weak. Why? It is not getting enough calories from its food. Remember, in our example 1 cup of Dog Food B is only 200 calories, yet your Chi Tzu needs 325.
Here’s another reason why the Shi Chi may be good for you. They don’t really need that much exercise. Take note, we said “that much”. This means you still have to give it some exercise every chance you get. The good thing is that if you can spend at least 30 minutes of really vigorous playtime (and we’re sure your Shi Chi will love it) and the Chi Tzu’s exercise needs will be completed.
This is one good thing about playful small breeds. They don’t need formal exercises as long as they get to play all they want. They can even play with your kids, although we don’t recommend having them pay with really small tots as the latter may not know how to properly pet or handle such a diminutive dog.
Shih Tzus do exceptionally well with other dogs and pets. It is the Chihuahua where one might have an issue when it comes to its relationship with other pets and other people. It’s like mixing a Narcissistic dog with a friendly clown. Such combination is ridiculous, but can be easily managed with early socialization.
As much as possible, you don’t want any of the self-important, Narcissistic personality of the Chihuahua. You also don’t want the overly friendly nature of the Shih Tzu. Training and socialization can really get you a middle-of-the-road type of Chi Shi that is friendly to most yet fully guarded to some; just like us.
If your Chi Tzu comes with a short coat, then grooming is never an issue. Once weekly brushing is enough just to keep its coat clean. However, if the Shi Chi’s coat is a lot closer to that of a Shih Tzu, daily brushing is an absolute must; unless you don’t mind having a scruffy rag for a dog. Brushing removes tangles and mats while distributing the natural oils on its skin.
Bathing is also a must for long-haired Chi Tzus which should be done as frequently as once a month. Clipping the nails is also an important part of the grooming routine and so is cleaning the ears and inspecting it for any signs of discharge, inflammation, or foul odor. The teeth should always be cared for regardless of how difficult it can be. Daily is recommended, although once or twice weekly should be sufficient.
Hypoglycemia is very common among toy and small breeds like the Shi Chi. This develops because their caloric intake is way below what they need. Also, they are very rambunctious four-legged punks that can use up their energy stores in a flash. Feeding them more frequently with more calorie-dense dog food should help prevent hypoglycemia. But be careful since giving way too much calories when your dog is not really active can also lead to obesity.
Chi Tzus are also at risk for the development of cataracts, hip dysplasia, and breathing problems as well as luxating patellas.
You should probably bring home a Shi Chi if you…
- Live in a small, cramped space with no backyard or access to an open public space
- Live alone or with children who are aged 8 years and above
- Have allergies or hypersensitivity especially to dander
- Can promise to play with them or bring them out for a walk for at least 30 minutes every single day
- Have the patience and perseverance to train them as puppies
- Know how to employ positive reinforcement
The Chi Tzu may not be a good idea to bring home if you…
- Hate yappy, noisy dogs
- Clearly cannot make time for them
- Have really young, small kids
Their child-like behavior is one of the things that people love about the Chi Tzu hybrid. It is forever enthusiastic and playful. There’s never a dull moment whenever the Shi Chi is around. As such, it works well with those people who have a more carefree, fun-loving, and free-spirited nature in life. If you’re one who enjoys a good laugh as much as adore taking a walk outside, then the Shi Chi is for you.
It’s forever loyal, too, a trait it got from its parents. However, it can be very possessive especially if it wasn’t trained and socialized properly. The same is true when it comes to strangers. This is definitely the Chihuahua talking.
The Shi Chi is a very excitable breed. Even before you turn the knob in your door, it will already be jumping with joy. Give it a treat or even a new toy and it will get even more excited. It’s a firecracker, ready to burst into pure energy at any time.
Getting a Shi Chi into your life is like bringing home a very loyal and entertaining friend who will be with you ‘til its last breath. It will entertain you with its antics and bring infectious laughter to the whole family. It is, after all, the best little bundle of joy with four legs.