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Maltese Shih Tzu: Complete Breed Guide

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 a designer dog intentionally bred from two purebred parents. The result is a cute, fluffy, loving pup that stands less than 12 inches tall.

Table of Contents

  1. Origins of the Maltese Shih Tzu
  2. What Does a Maltese Shih Tzu Look Like?
  3. Personality and Behavioral Traits of the Maltese Shih Tzu
  4. How to Train Maltese Shih Tzus
  5. Grooming and Maintaining a Maltese Shih Tzu's Coat
  6. Nail Trimming
  7. Common Health Issues
  8. Eating Habits

Origins of the Maltese Shih Tzu

The breeding between the Maltese and the Shih Tzu began in the 1990s. U.S. 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. They quickly discovered that the breed choice for the father and the mother was irrelevant to creating a pup with these desirable traits.

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 on 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 Maltese Shih Tzu 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 around 9 pounds 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.

With parents having such gorgeous coats, you can expect a Shih Tzu and Maltese mix to look beautiful. Their fur is long, soft, silky, and wavy. Most coats are white or white with tan markings on the body and ears. While it's less common, they can have black and brown colored markings.

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 Behavioral Traits of the Maltese Shih Tzu

The Maltese Shih Tzu 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.

These cute pups are high-energy and require lots of attention. As a result, they can be needy and do not do well when left along for too long, in which case they may display negative behaviors such as barking or destructiveness.

Proper socialization is another non-negotiable for this breed. This dog may be feisty or aggressive when meeting new people in unfamiliar situations. However, they get along well with everyone, including children and other dogs when properly socialized.

Malshi's tend to get tired quite quickly — an advantage of their small size. 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.

How to Train Maltese Shih Tzus

Once a Malshi develops a bond with you, they are incredibly eager to please and always game for a training session. Positive reinforcement and mentally stimulating exercises are the most effective training methods, making these hybrid pups relatively easy to train. Keep in mind, they love to chase small objects thanks to their small prey drive — perfect for a game of fetch!

You must be consistent and strict with training. Set and stick firm boundaries to prevent behavioral issues like barking and snappiness. It's easy to give in and spoil these super cute and endearing pups, but they are smart enough to turn this into your weakness and get one over on you.

Grooming and Maintaining a Maltese Shih Tzu's Coat

grooming a maltese shih tzu

Maltese Shih Tzus don't shed much, thanks to their Maltese heritage and lack of an undercoat. This makes them virtually hypoallergenic and eliminates the need to constantly vacuum dog hair around the house. They're an ideal breed for people with allergies. Despite not having an undercoat, a Malshi's hair demands a lot of maintenance. You can expect to brush their coat daily, or every other day, to prevent tangles and mats.

You should bathe your Malshi every month or so to keep their fur soft and fluffy. With this designer breed, there are many unique haircuts you can give your Maltese Shih Tzu, which should occur every two to three months. This designer toy breed can also be susceptible to tear stains, which appear as dark marks below their eyes. This is normal and not a cause for concern, but some owners like to use tear stain removers to remove them.

Nail Trimming

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, you should trim them with a dog nail grinder or clippers once or twice a month to prevent overgrown nails. Our regular and soft grinding heads are perfect for the smaller nails on your Maltese Shih Tzu. They will allow you to gently trim back your pup's nails without scaring them with loud noises.

Yet, some dogs still struggle to get their nails clipped. While a Malshi's small size makes their claws thinner and easier to cut than larger breeds, they might have anxiety over having their paws handled. If you're wondering how you can best trim your dog's nails, consider the following tips and tricks:

  • Only grind a small amount at a time.
  • Grind across the bottom and in from the tip.
  • Give your pup treats regularly.
  • Push on the paws to extend the nails to assess their condition.
  • Keep your dog in a comfortable position.
Ultimate Pet Nail Grinder

Common Health Issues

The Maltese Shih Tzu is a generally healthy dog with a good life span of 12 to 14 years. Still, some health dispositions can affect how long Maltese Shih Tzus live, so owners should be aware of the following common health issues that come from their parents.

  • Bone and joint disorders: Conditions like Patellar Luxation can dislocate the knee when flexed.
  • White shaker syndrome: This condition causes head and body tremors, common in small white dogs.
  • Eye disorders: Conditions like Glaucoma can result in optic nerve damage caused by fluid buildup.
  • Hypothyroidism: This endocrine disorder affects a dog's metabolic state, resulting in lethargy, weight gain, and more.
  • Respiratory problems: Issues like loud and distressed breathing can occur when this breed is exposed to high temperatures or dry air.

common health issues maltese shih tzu

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

Eating Habits

Despite their small size, Maltese Shih Tzus eat quite a lot of food. It's often easy for them to gain substantial weight, especially since they spend most of their time indoors. Giving them the right amount and type of daily nutrients is essential.

How much food you give them will depend on their age, weight, and activity level. The typical recommended daily amount of food for a Shih Tzu is around ½ to 1 cup of dry food. If you have a puppy, a good rule of thumb is to give them about an ounce of food per pound of their body weight. This can increase to ½ an ounce for adults. If your dog lives a more active lifestyle, you can increase the amount of food you give them.

While Maltese Shih Tzus don't get too big, they are more likely to be overweight than other breeds. So, giving them the proper diet at the correct times is crucial. You should feed them twice a day with a healthy diet to ensure they maintain a suitable weight, typically between 6 to 12 pounds. Avoid diets with too many carbohydrates. Some foods containing suitable protein, healthy fats, and valuable vitamins and minerals include:

  • Fish
  • White chicken meat
  • Blueberries
  • Sweet potato
  • Brown rice
  • Green beans
  • Baby carrots
  • Lamb

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, whether you're a couple living in an apartment or a large family with small children.


Last Updated on July 26, 2023 at 9:00 AM

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