Shichon (Bichon Frise x Shih Tzu Mix): All You Need to Know

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Shichon (Bichon Frise x Shih Tzu Mix)Affectionate and friendly, a shichon is a mix between a bichon frise and a Shih Tzu. This bichon frise hybrid inherits the looks and temperament from its purebred parents, so there are no two shichons that are exactly the same.

In the following sections, we’ll introduce you to all you need to know if you’re considering welcoming a shichon into your family and heart.

Shichon (Bichon Frise x Shih Tzu Mix) History

The mix between these two breeds with a royal history is believed to have appeared naturally throughout time. However, designer breeders only started to mix the bichon frise and shichon on purpose only two or three decades ago. Most people believe that the hybrid originated in the United States, but no one has claimed it so far, so its exact origin remains mysterious to this day.

One of the main objectives pursued by breeders was to obtain a pup more suitable for people with allergies, retaining the small size of a shih tzu and the adaptability and friendliness of a bichon frise. Not long after, the hybrid became very popular not only in the United States but also in many other countries around the world.

The shichon is a relatively new hybrid, but fortunately, there is plenty of information on its parents. Both the bichon frise and Shih Tzu have been around for a long time.

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu originated about a millennium ago, and it’s believed to have been bred by the Tibetan monks.

Shih Tzu can be translated to “little lion”. There is a legend that associates this breed with the Tibetan Buddhist God of Learning. According to it, he was traveling with a small lion dog, described as a Shih Tzu, which could turn into a full-sized lion.

During the 1900s, the Shih Tzu breed nearly went extinct. The Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi passed away in 190 when she was supervising a breeding program of Pekingese, Pugs, and Shih Tzus. Unfortunately, the program ended when she died. After that, it became nearly impossible to get a Shih Tzu.

The small pups were bred to be sent as gifts for emperors, so they have royal ancestry, similar to bichons frises that have been the favorite breed among European royal families in the past centuries. The bichon frise was initially a sailing dog, but once it became popular in Europe, royal families treated it like a lapdog, bred for attention and love.

The bichon frise is part of the same family of breeds as the Maltese, Havenese, and Bolognese.

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Shichon Appearance, Coat, Size, and Weight

Shichons are also called teddy bear dogs, which is exactly what they look like. The color coat may vary, but it is undeniably fluffy and soft. It is usually silky and long, but may also be wavy, a feature inherited thanks to the bichon frise’s curly coat. Shichons may come in a variety of colors, including chocolate, cream, tan, silver, or apricot, among others.

In terms of size, both parents are small, so the hybrid will retain this trait. At maturity, the shichon may weigh a maximum of 15 lbs and be up to 12 inches tall. With floppy ears and black eyes, the shichon is cute and cuddly, but its coat may require frequent trimming and grooming, especially around its eyes.

The shichon hybrid may be quite muscular. Despite the small and brittle looks, a Shih Tzu has a sporty build, with a muscular body that can perform well in agility.

The appearance may also depend on whether your shichon pup is a 50/50 hybrid or a multigenerational one as it is difficult to predict whether it will have traits from both its parents or inherit from one parent more than the other. Many breeders also breed shichons with other unrelated shichons (second generation shichons), or breed a shichon with a bichon frise or a shih tzu. In this case, your hybrid pup may exhibit more genes from one parent than the other.

If you are looking for a small breed, either because it’s your preference or because your house is quite small, the shichon may be exactly what you’re looking for. They are highly adaptable to apartment living.

Shichon Maintenance, Activity, and Space Requirements

The shichon doesn’t require as much maintenance as a bichon, but you still need to ensure you establish a regular maintenance schedule. You will need to brush your pup every day to avoid painful mats and tangles or keep the hair short to ease your task. If the coat is short, you may only need to brush them weekly, but it also depends if your pup’s coat is prone to matting or not, and if it is straight or wavy. The wavier it is, the more you need to care for it.

Just like with any other dog, bathing should be done as often as necessary. Teeth brushing should be a daily task to promote oral health, or at least 2-3 times per week to have a happy, healthy pup.

After going outside, you may need to check their eyes and years and clean the dirt and debris to avoid potential infections. You may also need to clean their coat as often as possible, especially as it tends to grow quite long, so it’s very like that dirt gets caught in it after an outdoor play session.

The shichon will surely need more attention than other breeds, especially as the puffy texture and relatively long coat will make it tricky to avoid issues. The bichon frise is also known for its sensitive skin, so you need to treat it with maximum care and invest in high-quality dog-friendly products.

In terms of activity, you don’t need to have a large garden to keep your hybrid happy and active. It can be perfectly content with apartment living as long as you go on daily walks of about 30 minutes.

The pup is a mix of quiet and playful, which means that they have enough energy to walk around the block before taking a nap on your lap. Due to lower activity requirements, this pup is suitable for a family that’s not very active or as a companion dog for seniors.

It’s important to keep in mind that this small hybrid, just like other small breeds, is very sensitive to extreme weather and temperature. Depending on your climate, they may need to wear a sweater when going outside during winter. If the temperature is very high or too low, the hybrid may not be able to breathe properly, leading to overheating in summer or respiratory distress in winter.

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Shichon Temperament and Intelligence

Temperament may depend on each hybrid pup, but most owners describe them as intelligent extroverts. Despite the small size, they come with plenty of energy but are always ready to take a nap with their owners, too. The bichon frise is known for its barking tendency, but the shichon is not a very loud barker, although it does protect its family and is a great watchdog.

Shichon is a good choice for families with kids, too. However, if the kids are small, they should be supervised by an adult while playing with a shichon. Even the most gentle and careful kid can drop the pup by mistake, which can easily lead to a fractured bone due to their frail body. However, shichons love kids and adapt very well to families with children, as long as they are handled with care and love.

Shichons are intelligent but may prove a bit stubborn at times. They are highly trainable, but you may want to opt for professional training if you are a first-time pet owner. The shichon is communicative and easy to train because they love to spend time with you, and may learn tricks and commands with ease.

These pups respond best to positive rewards and training sessions that are short and fun. Also, for the best result, the pup needs to be trained at an early age.  It would be best to start crate training as soon as you get your shichon puppy.

As housetraining can be a bit difficult, you could use potty pads indoors to train the pup, if you cannot take it outdoors in the yard or outside on a leash. The small size is a benefit of this hybrid, so it can be potty trained to use pads indoors in case you cannot go outside during adverse weather conditions. This adaptability makes it suitable for older owners, too.

Socialization is also important, as this will help them cope with change and be friendly with other family members and pets. Fortunately, this hybrid has a very low prey drive, which means that it is not very likely to chase around cats and other small animals. However, for best results, they should be introduced to the whole family as early as possible.

While it’s cheerful and loving, these traits can also be a downside. The shichon loves to spend time with its family, so separation anxiety can easily manifest if you leave the pup by itself for too long, just like in its bichon frise parent. Thus, you should spend sufficient time at home, or make sure someone stays with it while you are out.

Regarding other pets, a shichon can be friends with all family members as long as early socialization and training happen at a young age. If you introduce your dog to other pets during puppyhood, it will learn how to behave and interact. The shichon may be less friendly if it is always isolated and doesn’t play or meet other animals.

Shichon Health and Lifespan

A shichon’s health may be impacted by the issues that affect its parents. In general, a hybrid is healthier than pure breeds, so it may not suffer from any issues as long as you opt for a responsible breeder. Health conditions that affect its pure-bred parents may include cataracts, hip dysplasia, and hypothyroidism.

For instance, both its parents may develop hip dysplasia, which means that the joint doesn’t develop the way it should. If left untreated, it can cause pain, osteoarthritis, and mobility problems.

If your dog has longer hair, especially around its eyes and ears, you need to keep it short and clean it all the time. This is to avoid eye or ear infections, especially as dirt and debris can get caught in the fur. Most health issues develop later in life, so regular vet checkups are required to diagnose and treat them early.

A minor problem would be keeping a healthy weight, but this can be avoided if you have a regular walking routine. Unfortunately, this may be a common problem with small-sized breeds, so it’s important to make sure it gets all the exercise it needs.

Shih tzus often have an underbite, which may also affect this hybrid. An underbite means that its teeth are misaligned, also known as canine malocclusion. In some cases, a dog with an underbite may not be in any pain or discomfort, but sometimes this may be the case.

A puppy or dog with a painful underbite may have unusually bad breath, a bloody drool, and difficulty picking up food or toys. Thus, it’s important to take your shichon puppy to the vet as soon as possible, as they can diagnose this condition. Otherwise, the pup may develop severe and painful consequences, including nasal disease and gum disease.

A shichon usually lives up to 18 years old. In general, smaller breeds live longer than larger dogs, and hybrid dogs have a better life expectancy than their pure-bred parents. Fortunately, this means that the shichon will be a loving part of your family for a long time, but proper care, diet, and exercise are very important to make sure they will have a long and happy life. The senior pooch will still require you to provide plenty of care and attention.

Also, you should consult the vet regarding its diet and the nutrients needed. This avoids the problem of overfeeding while ensuring your puppy gets all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

In general, most experts recommend dry food. There are specific types of food designed for smaller breeds, too, but your vet may be able to recommend exactly what and how much you should feed your pup. It is very easy to overfeed a shichon because of its small size, so make sure you stick to the recommended serving sizes. Gaining weight can lead to many health issues and impact the length of its lifespan.

Along with the right amount of food, your pup will also need an active lifestyle to stay healthy. Intuitively, a more active pup will require more food than a pup that stays indoors most of the time. This is why talking to a vet can help you determine the right amount of food, even though most manufacturers provide guidelines for portion sizes.

In addition to this, factors like the age and size of your hybrid will influence its nutritional needs, so you will have to adjust its diet as your pup becomes mature.

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6 Shichon Fun Facts

Here are some fun facts about shichons:

  1. Shichons have different names, including zuchons and tzu frises.
  2. They are known as a teddy bear pup, thanks to their round faces that resemble toy teddies.
  3. Shichons are great therapy dogs and can provide emotional support.
  4. They are a designer breed quickly gaining popularity around the world.
  5. Shih tzus are known as “chrysanthemum-faced dogs” because the hair on their face grows in literally every direction, so many owners keep it clipped short.
  6. Their appearance will change as the puppy grows, so the coloring of the mature pooch is very difficult to predict.

Is Shichon the Right Breed for You?

The shichon is an adorable, intelligent pup with lots of love to give. It thrives in any type of household, whether it is a larger family with kids, a single-person household, or a household with seniors. The shichon is very versatile and adaptable, as long as you train it from an early age and remain consistent.

This bundle of fluffy fur loves to play, take a nap with you, and do just about anything you are up to. They do not enjoy spending time by themselves, so you need to make sure you have enough free time to spend with your pup. Also, the pooch may require time-intensive, attentive maintenance and grooming, especially if you lack experience.

Despite their looks and size, shichons are not toys, so they must be treated with respect and lots of care. To have a healthy puppy, it’s always important to choose a responsible breeder. If this is not the right mixed breed for your needs and availability, thankfully, there are many other dogs that would be a great addition to your family.