Maltese Shih Tzu

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Maltese Shih Tzu

Canis lupus

Last updated: January 16, 2022
Verified by: IMP

Both parent breeds, the Maltese and Shih Tzu, once entertained royalty

Maltese Shih Tzu Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Maltese Shih Tzu Conservation Status

Maltese Shih Tzu Locations

Maltese Shih Tzu Locations

Maltese Shih Tzu Facts

Fun Fact
Both parent breeds, the Maltese and Shih Tzu, once entertained royalty
Other Name(s)
Adaptable, intelligent, active.
Litter Size
6-8 puppies
  • Pack

Maltese Shih Tzu Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Black
  • White
  • Tan
Skin Type
12-14 years
6-15 pounds

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Maltese Shih Tzu as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Tendency to Chew
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
Separation Anxiety
Preferred Temperature
Average climate
Exercise Needs
Friendly With Other Dogs
Pure bred cost to own
$400 to $2,500
Dog group
Male weight
6-15 lbs
Female weight
6-15 lbs

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The origins of the Maltese Shih Tzu date back to the 1990s. Most of these dogs are the result of first-generation crosses, but there are second and third-generation crosses as well.

The Maltese Shih Tzu (also known as the Mal-shi) is a mix between two popular toy breeds: the Maltese and the Shih Tzu. The Maltese is a graceful long-haired breed; its origins date back thousands of years to the ancient world when they were doted upon by the Greeks and Romans. The Shih Tzu, whose origins also date back thousands of years, was favored by the Chinese aristocracy on the other side of the world. Together these two breeds synergize well with each other, creating a unique composite dog.

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This interesting fusion is also reflected in its physical characteristics. The hybrid breed is characterized by rounded eyes, drooping ears, a triangle nose, curled tail, and a very thin frame. It has a long, straight, silky white coat, sometimes punctuated with tan, black, or brown markings. The coat is often described as very pleasant to the touch. Because of their small size and excellent manners, they are considered to be exceptional companions for the entire family.

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3 Pros and Cons of Owning a Maltese Shih Tzu

Pros! Cons!
Calm and Friendly: An excellent family dog for just about any living situation. Fragile: The Maltese Shih Tzu has a tiny, fragile body and should be treated with care.
Light Shedder: Despite its long coat of hair, this crossbreed dog doesn’t shed very much. Poor Strength and Endurance: If you desire a strong exercise companion or work dog, this probably isn’t the right breed for you.
Easy to Train: This breed is very eager to please its owner. Coat Care: Owners should expect to spend a lot of time grooming their luxurious coats.
The Maltese Shih Tzu hybrid has a healthy lifespan of around 12 to 14 years.

Tim Belyk/

Maltese Shih Tzu Size and Weight

The Maltese Shih Tzu is a small toy dog with a very thin frame. Some of them are so small that they almost qualify for teacup status (literally a dog that can fit inside of a teacup). Males and females weigh about the same.

Articles Mentioning Maltese Shih Tzu

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Articles Mentioning Maltese Shih Tzu

See all of our entertaining and insightful animal articles.

Height (Male): 8 to 14 inches
Height (Female): 8 to 14 inches
Weight (Male): 6 to 15 pounds
Weight (Female): 6 to 15 pounds

Maltese Shih Tzu Common Health Issues

This breed may be at risk of inheriting the most common health conditions from its parent breeds, including hypothyroidism, glaucoma and other eye disorders, white shaker syndrome (which results in episodes of uncontrollable shaking), and patellar luxation (in which the kneecap occasionally slips out of place). Cancer may also be a leading cause of death in this hybrid. Fortunately, it has a healthy lifespan of around 12 to 14 years. Good breeders should ideally screen their dogs for common health issues, including bone/joint disorders and eye problems. If you ask your breeder for proof, they will normally provide certification of a negative test. In summation, these are the most common health issues of the Maltese Shih Tzu:

  • Eye Disorders
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cancer
  • Bone and Joint Disorders

Maltese Shih Tzu Temperament

The Maltese Shih Tzu is the very definition of a lapdog. With its sweet, calm, and trusting personality, this dog follows its owner almost everywhere and enjoys being handled by people. These are also adaptable dogs that can grow accustomed to almost any living arrangement. Because they easily suffer from separation anxiety, however, it will probably need regular companionship throughout the day, or else they might engage in some anxious and destructive behavior. Ideally, a family member should be present to keep the dog company. If you need to leave the dog alone for hours at a time, then it’s a good idea to have a neighbor, friend, or extended family member check in on the dog.

Health and Entertainment for your Maltese Shih Tzu

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How to Take Care of the Maltese Shih Tzu

This breed is an excellent choice for owners with almost any kind of experience level, from first-time owners to veterans. While the coat maintenance involves quite a bit of time and effort, just about everything else should be a relative breeze. If you need personal help with dog care, then you should consult a professional.

The Best Dog Food for Maltese Shih Tzus

A full-grown Maltese Shih Tzu needs about a quarter to half a cup of high-quality dry food per day, preferably divided into about two meals. The exact amount of food will depend on the size, age, and activity level of your dog. In order to prevent weight gain, owners should limit the number of treats the dog receives.

Because of the prevalence of eye problems like glaucoma in addition to bone and joint disorders, Maltese Shih Tzu owners should look for a dog food that caters to those health needs.

Considering their unique set of needs, the best dog food for Maltese Shih Tzus is Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food.

Yes, this is marketed as senior dog food, but we prefer this dog food for Maltese Shih Tzus due to its targeted nutrition. It includes chondroitin and glucosamine aimed at sustaining strong bones, joints, and beta carotene for eyes and vision.

Order your Maltese Shih Tzu some Nutro Ultra Senior Dog Food on amazon.

NUTRO ULTRA Senior High Protein Natural Dry Dog Food with a Trio of Proteins from Chicken, Lamb and Salmon, 30 lb. Bag

  • Contains one (1) 30 lb. bag of NUTRO ULTRA Senior Dry Dog Food with a Trio of Proteins From Chicken, Lamb and Salmon
  • Features trio of protein from chicken, lamb, and salmon—chicken is the ingredient—specially formulated for senior dogs
  • Our premium dog food kibble is made with high-quality, real ingredients and provides complete and balanced nutrition for senior dogs in every bowl
  • NUTRO ULTRA Dry Dog Food is made with high-quality protein and our blend of 15 vibrant superfoods, like coconut, chia, kale, blueberries, and other quality ingredients that support healthy digestion
  • Made with no chicken by-product meal, corn, soy, or wheat, and no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives

Maintenance and Grooming

In order to keep the coat clean and nice-looking, the Maltese Shih Tzu has many special grooming requirements. Brushing will need to take place almost daily with the combination of a simple pin brush and a slicker brush, followed by a comb. Clipping should occur every six to nine weeks, while bathing is also necessary at regular intervals to maintain the natural softness and silkiness of the coat. Another important aspect of grooming is ear care. The ears should be checked about once a week for signs of an infection. Clean the outer ear with a cotton ball and cleaner to prevent infection. Owners will also need to trim the nails once or twice a month; if the nails are clicking loudly on the floor, then they need to be trimmed immediately. The teeth should be cleaned a few times a week with vet-approved toothpaste.


The Maltese Shih Tzu should make training relatively easy. These cheerful, intelligent crossbreed dogs are eager to please and learn human commands relatively quickly. They should respond very well to positive reinforcement methods but otherwise needs few other inducements. If you want to save time and effort, then you can take your dog to a professional trainer.


This type of dog only needs about 10 to 15 minutes of exercise per day. This can come in the form of a leisurely walk or more vigorous games of fetch. Because this particular hybrid can suffer from bouts of respiratory issues in humidity and hot weather, outdoor exercise sessions should be limited in the summer.

Maltese Shih Tzu Puppies

Because of this dog’s naturally friendly dispositions, owners may be tempted to neglect early training and socialization. This is generally not advised. Full-grown dogs will always behave better when they’ve had early training as puppies. Crate training is recommended (but not necessarily required) to offer puppies a safe space and assist with house training. If you plan to have your dog spayed or neutered, then this should be done around the first year of age. Unless you plan to breed your dog, spaying and neutering is usually recommended. It has many health and behavioral benefits.

Maltese Shih Tzu puppies
Maltese Shih Tsu puppies

Eric Isselee/

The Maltese Shih Tzu and Children

The Maltese Shih Tzu is an affectionate and trusting friend toward children of all ages. Thanks to its calm demeanor and small size, no child will ever be intimidated by it. With that said, the Maltese Shih Tzu will probably do best with children who are at least old enough to understand how to handle these fragile little dogs. They don’t normally like rough behavior.

Dogs Similar to the Maltese Shih Tzu

If small toy dogs appeal to you, then you should check out one of the following breeds:

  • Havenese – This small outgoing and cheerful dog is the only breed entirely native to Cuba. It is characterized by curled tail and a long silky coat with a variety of different colors, including chocolate, cream, fawn, red, and brindle.
  • Chinese Crested Dog – Few other breeds are quite as distinctive as the Chinese Crested Dog. It has long hair around the neck and head, furry “boots,” and a feathery tail. The rest of the pink spotted skin is almost completely bare. For owners who want a bit more hair on their dogs, the powderpuff variation has long hair around the body as well.
  • Poodle – The Poodle is perhaps the quintessential small dog. Affectionate, dignified, and intelligent, this breed is a great family companion for almost everyone. The Poodle has a variety of different coat colors to choose from. It also comes in four different sizes: standard, miniature, toy, and teacup.

Famous Maltese Shih Tzu Dogs

The Maltese Shih Tzu is a relatively new hybrid and probably not well-known enough to be famous. With that said, both the Maltese and the Shih Tzu are very popular around the world, and there are many famous examples. Queen Elizabeth was given a Shih Tzu named Choo-Choo as a gift earlier in her life, and Frank Sinatra supposedly gave Marilyn Monroe a Maltese in the early 1960s.

If you’re still searching for a good Maltese Shih Tzu name, then you might want to consider one of the following options:

  • Bella
  • Charlie
  • Gizmo
  • Lily
  • Max
  • Lucy
  • Chloe
  • Zoe
  • Abby
  • Riley

Last update on 2022-07-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Maltese Shih Tzu FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Maltese Shih Tzu good dogs?

The Maltese Shih Tzu is a fusion between two of the friendliest breeds you can find: the Maltese and Shih Tzu. Their sweet and affectionate temperament will endear them to all kinds of owners looking for a simple canine companion. On the other hand, they do not make for good working dogs or exercise buddies, so keep that in mind as you make your decision.

How much is a Maltese Shih Tzu?

The price of a newborn puppy may cost as low as $400 or as high as $2,500, depending on the quality of the breeder and the pedigree as the dog. The price of a full-grown Maltese Shih Tzu will obviously be a lot lower than a puppy, but because of this dog’s relative rarity, it might be hard to find for sale by an owner, a rescue, or other adoption groups. Owners will also need to factor in the price of food, toys, and other important items.

Is a Maltese Shih Tzu hypoallergenic?

While it should be noted that no dog is ever truly hypoallergenic, the Maltese Shih Tzu does come from two breeds known for shedding very little. Despite its very long hair, this hybrid is far less likely to trigger an allergic reaction than your average dog (especially if it’s inherited a coat more like its Maltese parent). With that said, individual reactions will always vary, and it’s impossible to know what your reaction will be until you’re in the same room as the dog.

How big do Maltese Shih Tzus get?

The Maltese Shih Tzu rarely grows much larger than 12 pounds.

How long does a Maltese Shih Tzu live?

The average lifespan is about 12 to 14 years.

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