breed spotlight: maltese shih tzu
Introducing the Maltese Shih Tzu, also known as the ‘Malshi’ is an increasingly popular crossbreed and is one of the top 10 most googled dog breeds on the internet! They're notorious for their petite build along with heaps of charisma! You may have heard of this crossbreed before or have no idea that the Maltese Shih Tzu cross even existed; if that is the case, look no further. Here’s everything you need to know on all things Malshi!
The Malshi is relatively new to the canine world, as the first cross breed between the Shih Tzu originating from China and the Maltese originating from Malta, happened in 1990. This was with the intention to breed a low-shedding companion dog for allergy-sufferers, or for those who generally prefer a smaller dog with low-moulting qualities. This breed is desired due to its mix of traits from its personality and appearance and is most recognised in Australia, which is where the first litter of Malshis were born!
The Maltese Shih Tzu is recognised as a toy-sized dog, typically growing on average between 20-30cm in height and weighing 3-6kg. Despite their size, Malshis can become confident dogs and like to think of themselves as good guard dogs and only tend to bark when alerting their owners of unusual sights and sounds that they may discover.
coat & grooming.
The most common colours you would see from Malshis are a variety of brown, white, black, and cream. Some Malshi’s coats will be a mix of these colours, and some may have additional tan markings. Malshi’s coats are typically kept as long, straight, and elegant, but they require a lot of attention despite the low-moulting element. Regular brushing is necessary for the general maintenance of their coat. Most low / non-shedding dogs need extra brushing and more frequent visits to their local dog groomer, as they can’t naturally moult out their coats, resulting in a build-up of knots.
If daily brushing and regular sessions at the groomer aren’t applied to your dog’s routine, it can lead to severe matting of their coat, and they may have to be clipped at a very short length to salvage their coat, which wouldn’t be ideal during winter. The last thing you’d want is for any dog to have a negative experience at the groomer, especially when their coat is considered as high maintenance.
A good way you can keep on top of preventing knots from forming in a Malshi’s coat, is by using products such as specialised detangling spray and conditioning spray, accompanied by a strict grooming regime. There’s also a range of brushes to choose from, designed for dogs with different coat textures and lengths.
Like all dog breeds with longer or curlier coats, it’s important to keep delicate areas such as around their eyes, paws and bottom trimmed for hygiene purposes. Keeping Malshis’ eye areas trimmed will help with the prevention of tear stains, which Malshis are prone to. You also can help avoid this by regularly using a damp cloth or dog-friendly face wipes, preferably on a daily-basis.
lifestyle & healthcare.
Due to their size and exercise requirements, Malshis will happily live in a home with plenty of space or a cosy apartment. It is important to make sure you have access to outdoor space for toilet training, whether it’s a balcony, terrace or garden.
Malshis are happy living with people of all ages and make great family pets, however, it is important that younger children approach small dogs carefully as smaller dogs may feel a little overwhelmed and intimidated. With this in consideration, it might be best for Malshis to live with a family of older children.
The average lifespan of a Malshi is 12-14years. Even though Malshis don’t need much exercise, it is still important to walk them once a day or at least have a 10–15-minute play session with them at home or in an outdoor space. Dogs of all breeds need physical and mental stimulation; on a rainy day you won’t typically find a Malshi climbing the walls in desperation for some exercise, however, they love to utilise their intellectual skills, so a puzzle toy will be more than enough to keep them occupied, unless they choose to have a long snooze!
As the Maltese Shih Tzu cross is classed as a ‘toy’ dog breed, it is advised to feed them in reduced quantities but more frequently throughout the day. There are types of dog food that have been produced to cater for small dogs, with pieces of kibble made to an appropriate size to aid digestion. Feeding guidelines are provided with all types of food to ensure you are feeding them the correct amount, along with providing plenty of water throughout the day.
how to train a maltese shih tzu.
Maltese Shish Tzus inherit their intelligence from both parent breeds and are naturally inquisitive, therefore making them easily trainable. Similarly, to most dogs, they want to please their owners and are highly motivated by food, so they will learn quickly when using high-value training treats whilst teaching them commands.
Do not underestimate a Malshi’s intelligence, make sure you start as you mean to go on, be firm but fair when training. Patience and persistence are key and like humans, every dog is different and will learn at their own pace. Try not to fuss over your Malshi too much despite their endearing looks, as their stubborn streak may come out which isn’t helpful when trying to establish boundaries and progressing with training.
ethical breeding & what to look out for.
All dog breeds are prone to certain health problems and things can become more complicated when looking after a crossbreed like a Maltese Shih Tzu, as there are two breeds to think about when approaching a breeder. It’s imperative to be alert when speaking to a breeder and finding out all the information you need before making the life-changing decision of taking a dog home. Unfortunately, due to Malshis having a reputation of being ‘designer dogs’, there is high demand for dogs just like them, especially during lockdown, so please be aware of potential scammers or puppy farms when trying to find the perfect pup.
Firstly, you should make sure that you can visit the breeding establishment, or video call the breeder at least to see where the dogs are reared and cared for. You also need evidence of the prospective puppy interacting with their littermates and mother, if you can also see the father, that’s a bonus! Another crucial part of finding an ethical breeder is to ask for a copy of both parents’ health certifications to ensure they have had recent health-checks for diseases that the concerned breeds could develop. Any reputable breeder will automatically provide you with the relevant documentation and will happily talk you through it in detail.
Finally, you should always be able to have access to the breeders’ license number and they should willingly answer any questions you may have to put your mind at ease. Do not hesitate to query the breeder if they are unable to provide a license number; walk away if you have any reservations. Here you can find out exactly what to look out for when sourcing an ethical breeder: https://www.pawsinwork.com/blog/ethical-dog-breeders-what-to-look-for.
pros & cons of owning a Malshi.
To summarise, there are many pros of introducing a Malshi into your life. Ultimately because of their size, they are able to become accustomed to all styles of living, from large family homes to intimate spaces and do not require much exercise. With the correct training and socialisation, they will get along with all family members, including the four-legged ones! They are intelligent, so are easy to train and they don’t require a lot of regular exercise, but it is still important that all dogs are exercised and are always given the opportunity to let out their energy, depending on their specific needs. Malshi’s are fun, loving, and thrive off their owner’s company, this can however, lead to some hurdles.
A disadvantage to owning this crossbreed is the fact that they rely heavily on being around their owners, and this can reach a certain point that their confidence and independence is compromised. This can therefore lead to problems such as separation anxiety, meaning they could be triggered whenever they are left at home or in a room on their own, even if this is for just a short period of time. Malshis would not suit living with people who have a busier lifestyle and often tend to spend hours away from home. You’d need to carefully consider this if you’re looking to bring a Malshi into your home.
As previously highlighted, it is important to clarify the health status of both the Maltese and Shih Tzu parents as both sides can carry specific health risks. For example, Malshis can be exposed to breathing-related complications because of the brachycephalic (flat-faced) characteristic of the Shih Tzu, so you’d need to be aware of these potential issues, especially in the summer months when dogs mainly rely on panting as a self-cooling mechanism.
There will always be advantages and disadvantages of owning any breed of dog. It’s safe to say that the Maltese Shih Tzu mix is loving, loyal, intelligent and can flexibly become part of your everyday life.
become a breeder partner.
We are incredibly passionate about our puppy therapy events, as our aim is to ensure that the pups have the best start in life, so they can become fantastic future companions, regardless of breed! This is not only a wonderful experience for our clients, but the pups will gain the much-needed exposure to different experiences through their crucial socialisation period.
We take this process very seriously and carefully screen potential owners and breeders who’d like their litter of pups to partake in our events. If you’re interested in finding out more about our methodology and becoming a breeder partner with us, you can check out all the details here https://www.pawsinwork.com/our-owners - we look forward to working with you and your pups!