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Maltese Shih Tzu: Complete Breed Guide

maltese shih tzu puppies

The Maltese Shih Tzu is a hybrid small toy breed dog, a mix between the Maltese and The Shih Tzu. The Maltese Shih Tzu, or Malshi for short, is known as a designer dog as it was intentionally bred from two purebred parents. The result is a cute, fluffy, loving pup that stands less than 12 inches tall.


Maltese Shih Tzu Origin

The breeding between the Maltese and the Shih Tzu began in the 1990s. US breeders found that combining the low-shedding quality of the Maltese and the friendliness of the Shih Tzu makes an ideal tiny house dog that can adapt to all living environments. 


What’s more, the long glossy coat of the Shih Tzu combined with the Maltese’s soft, wavy fur results in one of the fluffiest pups you can find. However, this designer pup is not cheap; bringing one into your family will set you back between $400 and $800.


What Does A Maltese Shih Tzu Look Like?

Like any hybrid breed, it can be difficult to predict what a Shih Tzu Maltese puppy will look like. Usually, each puppy in a litter will possess different colorations and characteristics. Even so, you can expect a Malshi to stand around 10 inches tall and weigh approximately 9 lbs when they reach full size at just two months old.


Unlike some other breeds, male and female full-grown Maltese Shih Tzus weigh about the same size. Moreover, breeders have found that it doesn’t matter which breed is the sire and the dam when breeding a Malti Tzu as both are around the same size.


Because both the mother and father have such gorgeous coats, you can expect the Shih Tzu Maltese mix to look beautiful. Their fur is long, soft, silky, and wavy but not completely curly. Most will be white or white with tan markings on the body and ears. However, their coats can have black and brown colored markings, although less common.


Aside from their cotton-like coats, Malti Tzu’s big round hazel or brown eyes are another iconic characteristic, although not as bulging as the Shih Tzu.


Personality and Behavior of Maltese Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu Maltese mix takes the best personality traits from both parents, such as the playfulness and charm of the Shih Tzu and the affection and intelligence of the Maltese. 


Despite being small, these cute pups are high-energy and require much attention. As a result, they can be needy and do not do well when left alone for too long. They may display negative behavior such as barking or destructiveness in these cases. 


Proper socialization is another non-negotiable for this breed. If a Shih Tzu Maltese puppy is not socialized, it may be feisty or aggressive when meeting new people. However, if well socialized, they can get along well with everyone, including children and other dogs.


One advantage of their small size is that Malshis tire quickly. Therefore, they only require around 15-30 minutes of walking or exercise daily, which is ideal for busy people. They are also highly adaptable and can happily live in any type of home, including an apartment, as they don’t specifically need an outdoor space. 


How to Train Maltese Shih Tzu's

Because Malti Tzus inherit the Maltese’s intelligence, these hybrid pups are relatively easy to train. Positive reinforcement and mentally stimulating exercises are the most effective training methods.


Once a Malshi develops a bond with their owner, they are incredibly eager to please and thus, are always game for a training session. However, the owner must be consistent and strict with training, as it’s easy to give into and spoil these super cute and endearing pups. 


Many owners of Malti Tzus see and treat this tiny pup like a baby, but they are smart enough to turn this into your weakness and get one over on you. Therefore, set and stick to firm boundaries to prevent behavioral issues like barking and snappiness resulting from poor training. 


Also, note that this breed has a relatively high prey drive, so they love to chase small objects. Therefore, they can become excellent participants in a game of fetch.


Grooming and Maintaining a Maltese Shih Tzu's Coat

Maltese Shih Tzus do not shed much, thanks to their Maltese heritage and lack of undercoat. Along with not having to constantly vacuum dog hair in the home, their low shedding makes them almost hypoallergenic, so they are an ideal breed for people with allergies.


Their lack of undercoat doesn’t mean they don’t require regular grooming, though. In fact, this canine’s luxurious coat is high maintenance, requiring brushing daily or every other day to prevent tangles and mats. 


In addition, bathing your Malshi every month or so is best to keep their fur soft and fluffy, and you should take them for a haircut every 2 to 3 months. As a designer breed, there are many unique haircuts you can give your Maltese Shih Tzu, should you wish.  


Another essential part of a Malshi’s grooming routine is nail clipping. As this breed spends more time indoors than others, they cannot naturally wear down their nails as much. So, to prevent overgrown nails, you should trim them with a dog nail grinder or clippers once or twice a month. Their small size makes their claws thinner and easier to cut than larger breeds.


This designer toy breed can also be susceptible to tear stains (dark marks that appear below the eyes), with or without discharge. This is normal and not a cause for concern, but some owners like to use tear stain removers to remove them.


Common Health Issues

The Maltese Shih Tzu is a generally healthy dog with a good lifespan of 12 to 14 years. Still, all breeds have some health dispositions, so owners should be aware of the following common health issues that come from their parents. 

  • Bone and joint disorders like Patellar Luxation – a condition where the knee dislocates when flexed.
  • White Shaker Syndrome – head and body tremors, common in small, white dogs.
  • Eye Disorders like Glaucoma – optic nerve damage caused by fluid build-up.
  • Hypothyroidism – this endocrine disorder affects a dog’s metabolic state resulting in lethargy, weight gain, and more.
  • Respiratory problems like loud and distressed breathing when exposed to high temperatures or dry air.

Before paying any money for a Shih Tzu Maltese puppy, ask the breeder for the puppy’s and its parent’s health clearances. All reputable breeders screen their dogs for the above common health issues and will be able to provide certification of negative tests.

Final Thoughts

Of course, there is no denying that the Maltese Shih Tzu is a super cute dog. However, the beauty of this designer toy breed is not the only reason for its popularity. Malshis make the perfect pets for all types of homes, from a couple living in an apartment to a large family with small children.

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