Maltese Shih Tzu

Maltese Shih Tzu

Welcome to our article all about the Maltese Shih Tzu! If you’re a dog lover looking for a small and adorable companion, then this breed might just be perfect for you. The breed, also known as the Malshi, is a delightful crossbreed that combines the best qualities of the Maltese and Shih Tzu breeds.

In this article, we will explore the history and origins of the breed, as well as delve into their size and appearance characteristics. We’ll also discuss their life expectancy, temperament, trainability, and adaptability, so you can have a better understanding of what to expect when bringing one into your home.

Additionally, we’ll explore their exercise requirements and energy level, as well as their grooming needs. As with any breed, it’s important to be aware of potential health issues that may affect the breed, and we’ll cover this topic as well.

If you’re wondering how the Maltese Shih Tzu compares to other breeds, we will provide you with a list of comparable breeds to help you make an informed decision. And finally, we’ll showcase some notable dogs from this breed, so you can see just how wonderful and unique they can be.

So, whether you’re considering adding one to your family or simply want to learn more about this charming breed, keep reading for all the information you need. Let’s dive in and discover the world of the Maltese Shih Tzu together!


History and Origins of the Maltese Shih Tzu

This breed is a crossbreed that originated from two ancient and beloved dog breeds, the Maltese and the Shih Tzu. To understand the history and origins, let’s take a closer look at the histories of both parent breeds.

The Maltese

The Maltese is an ancient breed with a history dating back over 2,000 years. Originating from the Mediterranean island of Malta, these dogs were highly prized by nobles and aristocrats throughout history. They were known for their elegant appearance, playful nature, and loyal companionship.

The Maltese breed has been depicted in ancient artwork and mentioned in historical texts from various civilizations, including the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. They were often seen as symbols of luxury and refinement, and were even favored by royalty, such as Queen Elizabeth I of England and Queen Victoria.

The Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu, on the other hand, has its roots in ancient China. This breed was developed by crossing Tibetan breeds, such as the Lhasa Apso and Pekingese, with small Chinese breeds. The Shih Tzu was highly regarded as a companion dog and was often kept by Chinese royalty and nobility.

Known for their distinctive facial expression and luxurious coat, the Shih Tzu became popular outside of China in the early 20th century. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1969, further solidifying its status as a beloved companion dog.

The Crossbreeding of Maltese and Shih Tzu

The intentional crossbreeding of the Maltese and Shih Tzu began in recent decades with the aim of combining the desirable traits of both breeds. The goal was to create a small, affectionate, and friendly companion dog that would inherit the hypoallergenic coat of the Maltese and the charming personality of the Shih Tzu.

The Maltese Shih Tzu, or Malshi, quickly gained popularity for their adorable looks and loving nature. While the breed is not recognized by major kennel clubs as a purebred, they are widely recognized as a sought-after designer breed.

By combining the histories and characteristics of the Maltese and Shih Tzu breeds, the Maltese Shih Tzu has become a beloved companion to many dog lovers around the world. Their unique lineage and charming qualities make them a popular choice for those seeking a small and lovable furry friend.


Maltese Shih Tzu

Image courtesy of karsten-winegeart


Maltese Shih Tzu Size and Appearance Characteristics

When it comes to the size and appearance of the Maltese Shih Tzu, there are certain characteristics that set them apart. Let’s explore their size, body structure, coat, and other physical features.


This is a small-sized breed. On average, they typically stand between 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) tall at the shoulder. In terms of weight, they usually range from 7 to 14 pounds (3 to 6 kg). However, it’s important to note that individual dogs may vary in size, with some being slightly smaller or larger.

Body Structure

They has a compact and well-proportioned body. They have a sturdy frame, with a slightly longer body than their height. Their chest is deep and their back is straight. Despite their small size, they possess a well-muscled and agile physique.


One of the most distinctive features is their coat. They inherit the beautiful, long, and silky hair from both parent breeds. Their coat is usually dense, soft, and flowing, giving them an elegant and luxurious appearance.

The coat can come in a variety of colors, including white, black, brown, gold, or a combination of these colors. Some Maltese Shih Tzus may have markings or patches on their coat, adding to their unique and adorable look.

Facial Features

They have a sweet and expressive face. They have a rounded head with a well-defined stop. Their eyes are large, dark, and round, giving them a gentle and affectionate expression. The ears are floppy and covered with long hair, adding to their cute appearance.


The tail is usually carried over the back. It is covered with long hair and gives them a graceful and elegant look.

Overall Appearance

In summary, this is a small and compact dog with a well-proportioned body. They have a beautiful, silky coat that comes in various colors. Their facial features are endearing, with expressive eyes and floppy ears. With their charming appearance, they are sure to capture the hearts of dog enthusiasts everywhere.

Life Expectancy of the Maltese Shih Tzu

The life expectancy of a Maltese Shih Tzu can vary depending on several factors, including genetics, overall health, and the level of care provided. On average, the Maltese Shih Tzu has a lifespan of around 12 to 15 years. However, it’s important to note that some individuals may live longer while others may have a shorter lifespan.

Several factors contribute to the longevity of the Maltese Shih Tzu breed. Responsible breeding practices, proper nutrition, regular exercise, routine veterinary care, and a safe and loving environment all play a role in ensuring a longer and healthier life for your furry companion.

Genetics also play a significant role in determining the life expectancy of the Maltese Shih Tzu. By selecting healthy parent dogs with no known hereditary health issues, reputable breeders aim to produce offspring with a better chance of living a long and healthy life.

Proper nutrition is vital in promoting the overall health and longevity of the Maltese Shih Tzu. Providing a balanced diet that meets their specific nutritional needs, including high-quality dog food and appropriate portion sizes, can help prevent obesity and other related health issues.

Regular exercise and mental stimulation are essential for the well-being of the Maltese Shih Tzu. Engaging in daily walks, interactive play sessions, and providing them with toys and puzzles can help keep them physically and mentally stimulated, promoting a healthier and happier life.

Routine veterinary care, including vaccinations, regular check-ups, and preventive treatments for fleas, ticks, and parasites, is crucial for maintaining the health of your Maltese Shih Tzu. Regular vet visits allow for early detection and treatment of any potential health issues, increasing the chances of a longer and healthier life.

Creating a safe and loving environment for your Maltese Shih Tzu is equally important. Providing a stress-free environment, socializing them with other dogs and people, and ensuring their safety by keeping them away from potential hazards can contribute to their overall well-being and life expectancy.

By understanding and implementing these factors, you can help maximize the life expectancy of your Maltese Shih Tzu and enjoy many happy and healthy years together.


Maltese Shih Tzu

Image courtesy of Anyaal



The Maltese Shih Tzu is known for its friendly and affectionate temperament, making it an excellent companion dog. Here, we will delve into the typical temperament traits and characteristics of the Maltese Shih Tzu breed.

Affectionate and Loving

The Maltese Shih Tzu is a highly affectionate breed that thrives on human companionship. They are known for their loving nature and enjoy being close to their owners. This breed is often referred to as a “velcro dog” because they love to be by your side, whether you’re relaxing on the couch or going for a walk.

Playful and Energetic

Despite their small size, the Maltese Shih Tzu is a playful and energetic breed. They enjoy interactive play sessions and engaging in activities that stimulate both their mind and body. Regular exercise and playtime are essential to keep them happy and prevent boredom.

Sociable and Friendly

The Maltese Shih Tzu tends to be sociable and friendly with people of all ages, including children. They are generally good with other pets, especially if they are properly socialized from a young age. Early socialization and positive experiences with different people, animals, and environments can help shape a well-rounded and sociable Maltese Shih Tzu.

Alert and Watchful

While they may have a friendly disposition, the Maltese Shih Tzu also possesses a natural alertness. They make excellent watchdogs and will readily alert their owners to any perceived threats or unusual occurrences. However, it’s important to note that their small size may limit their effectiveness as guard dogs.


The Maltese Shih Tzu is a relatively adaptable breed that can thrive in different living situations. Whether you live in a small apartment or a spacious house, they can adjust well as long as their exercise and socialization needs are met. They can also adapt to different lifestyles, including families, singles, or older people.

Separation Anxiety

Due to their strong bond with their owners, the Maltese Shih Tzu may be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods. They prefer to be in the company of their loved ones and may become anxious or exhibit destructive behavior when left alone for too long. Providing them with proper mental stimulation, crate training, and gradually increasing their alone time can help alleviate separation anxiety.

In summary, the Maltese Shih Tzu is an affectionate, playful, and sociable breed with a natural alertness. They thrive on human companionship and enjoy being part of a loving family. With proper socialization, training, and care, the Maltese Shih Tzu can make a wonderful and devoted companion for individuals and families alike.


Maltese Shih Tzu

Image courtesy of Anyaal


Trainability and Adaptability

When it comes to trainability and adaptability, the Maltese Shih Tzu exhibits certain characteristics that are important to consider. Let’s explore their trainability and adaptability traits in detail.

Trainability of the Maltese Shih Tzu

The Maltese Shih Tzu is generally a trainable breed, but it’s important to approach their training with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement techniques. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Socialization: Early socialization is crucial for the Maltese Shih Tzu to develop good behavior and adapt well to various situations. Introduce them to different people, animals, and environments to help them become well-rounded and confident.
  2. Basic Commands: Start their training with basic commands such as sit, stay, come, and down. Use positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and rewards to encourage their learning and cooperation.
  3. House Training: Consistent and positive house training methods are important to establish proper bathroom habits. Crate training and a regular schedule for outdoor breaks can help them understand where and when to eliminate.
  4. Leash Training: Teach your Maltese Shih Tzu to walk on a leash calmly and comfortably. Start with short walks and gradually increase the duration and distance. Use positive reinforcement to reward good leash manners.
  5. Obedience Training: Consider enrolling your Maltese Shih Tzu in obedience classes to further enhance their training. These classes can provide structured training sessions and help improve their socialization skills.
  6. Patience and Consistency: Keep in mind that the Maltese Shih Tzu may have a stubborn streak at times. It’s important to be patient, consistent, and provide clear guidance during their training sessions.


The Maltese Shih Tzu is generally adaptable to different living situations, but there are a few factors to consider:

  1. Living Space: They can adapt well to apartment living as long as their exercise needs are met. However, they still require regular outdoor activity and mental stimulation.
  2. Temperature Sensitivity: Due to their long, flowing coat, the Maltese Shih Tzu may be sensitive to extreme temperatures. They may require extra care in hot weather to prevent overheating or in cold weather to keep them warm.
  3. Travel and Change: With proper socialization and training, the Maltese Shih Tzu can adapt to traveling and changes in their environment. Gradual exposure to new experiences can help them adjust more easily.
  4. Separation Anxiety: As mentioned earlier, the Maltese Shih Tzu may be prone to separation anxiety. They may find it challenging to adapt to being left alone for long periods. Gradual training and acclimation to alone time can help alleviate this issue.

In conclusion, the Maltese Shih Tzu is a trainable breed that benefits from positive reinforcement techniques and consistent training. They can adapt well to different living situations, but it’s important to provide early socialization and consider their sensitivity to temperature and separation anxiety. With love, patience, and proper training, the Maltese Shih Tzu can become a well-behaved and adaptable companion.

Exercise Requirements and Energy Level

Understanding the exercise requirements and energy level of the Maltese Shih Tzu is essential for providing them with a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Let’s explore how much exercise they need and their typical energy levels.

Maltese Shih Tzu Exercise Requirements

The Maltese Shih Tzu is a small breed with moderate exercise needs. While they are not as high-energy as some larger breeds, they still require daily exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Daily Walks: Taking your Maltese Shih Tzu for daily walks is important to provide them with mental and physical stimulation. Aim for at least 20 to 30 minutes of brisk walking each day. Adjust the duration and intensity based on their age, health, and individual energy levels.
  2. Playtime and Interactive Activities: In addition to walks, engage in interactive play sessions with your Maltese Shih Tzu. This can include playing fetch, tug-of-war, or using puzzle toys to keep their minds active. Indoor games and activities can be beneficial, especially during inclement weather.
  3. Socialization Opportunities: Incorporate regular socialization opportunities into their exercise routine. This can involve visits to dog parks, playdates with other friendly dogs, or supervised interactions with trusted friends and family members.
  4. Mental Stimulation: Alongside physical exercise, mental stimulation is important for the Maltese Shih Tzu. Provide them with toys that challenge their problem-solving skills, teach them new tricks, or engage in short training sessions to keep their minds sharp.

Maltese Shih Tzu Energy Level

The Maltese Shih Tzu is generally considered to have a moderate energy level. They are playful and enjoy interactive activities, but they are also content to relax and cuddle with their owners. It’s important to note that individual energy levels can vary, even within the same breed.

Understanding your Maltese Shih Tzu’s energy levels will help you tailor their exercise routine accordingly. Pay attention to their cues and adjust the duration and intensity of exercise based on their needs. Some Maltese Shih Tzus may require more exercise and mental stimulation, while others may be satisfied with a slightly lower activity level.

Remember, it’s essential to strike a balance between providing enough exercise to keep them healthy and preventing overexertion, especially in hot weather or for older or less active individuals.

By providing regular exercise, playtime, mental stimulation, and socialization opportunities, you can ensure that your Maltese Shih Tzu remains happy, healthy, and well-rounded.


Maltese Shih Tzu

Image courtesy of maxime-agnelli 


Grooming Requirements

The Maltese Shih Tzu has a beautiful, long, and silky coat that requires regular grooming and maintenance to keep it in optimal condition. Let’s explore the grooming requirements for the Maltese Shih Tzu breed.

Coat Care

The coat of the Maltese Shih Tzu is one of its most distinguishing features. Here are some key points to consider for maintaining their coat:

  1. Brushing: Regular brushing is essential to prevent matting and tangles in the long hair of the Maltese Shih Tzu. Aim to brush their coat at least 2-3 times a week, if not more, using a slicker brush or a comb with wide teeth. Be gentle and patient, starting from the roots and working your way down.
  2. Bathing: The Maltese Shih Tzu typically requires regular bathing to keep their coat clean and healthy. Aim for a bath every 2-4 weeks, or as needed, using a gentle dog shampoo. Be sure to thoroughly rinse their coat to remove any shampoo residue.
  3. Trimming: Regular trimming of the hair around the eyes, ears, and paws is necessary to prevent irritation and maintain hygiene. You may choose to take your Maltese Shih Tzu to a professional groomer for these specific areas.
  4. Professional Grooming: Depending on your preference and the specific needs of your Maltese Shih Tzu’s coat, you may opt for professional grooming every 4-8 weeks. Professional groomers can provide a thorough grooming session, including trimming, bathing, and styling the coat.

Eye and Ear Care

The Maltese Shih Tzu’s eyes and ears require special attention to keep them clean and free from infections. Here’s what you should know:

  1. Eye Care: Regularly check their eyes for any signs of redness, discharge, or irritation. Use a clean, damp cloth to gently wipe away any debris or tear stains, being careful not to touch the eyeball. If you notice any persistent eye issues, consult with a veterinarian.
  2. Ear Care: Check their ears weekly for any signs of redness, odor, or excessive wax buildup. Clean their ears using a veterinarian-recommended ear cleaning solution and cotton balls or pads. Be gentle and avoid inserting anything deep into the ear canal to prevent injury. If you notice any signs of infection, consult with a veterinarian.

Dental Care

Maintaining good dental hygiene is essential for the overall health of your Maltese Shih Tzu. Here are some dental care tips:

  1. Brushing Teeth: Regularly brush their teeth with a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste. Aim for daily brushing or at least 2-3 times a week. This helps prevent dental issues such as plaque buildup and gum disease.
  2. Dental Chews and Toys: Provide dental chews or toys designed to promote oral health. These can help reduce tartar buildup and keep their teeth clean.

Nail Care

Regular nail trimming is important to prevent overgrowth and discomfort. Trim their nails every 2-4 weeks, or as needed, using a dog nail clipper or grinder. Take care not to cut into the quick, which is the sensitive part of the nail that contains blood vessels and nerves. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable doing it yourself, consult with a professional groomer or veterinarian.

Anal Gland Care

The Maltese Shih Tzu may occasionally require anal gland expression, which is a process where the anal glands are emptied to prevent discomfort and potential infection. It’s recommended to consult with a veterinarian or professional groomer for this task.

By following these grooming routines and providing regular maintenance, you can ensure that your Maltese Shih Tzu’s coat remains healthy, clean, and beautiful. Regular grooming sessions also provide an opportunity for bonding and strengthening the relationship between you and your furry companion.

Health Issues

Like all dog breeds, the Maltese Shih Tzu is prone to certain health issues. Understanding these potential health concerns can help you take proactive measures and provide the best care for your furry friend. While not all Maltese Shih Tzus will experience these conditions, it’s important to be aware of them. Here are some common health issues associated with the breed:

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is a condition where the kneecap (patella) becomes dislocated from its normal position. This can cause discomfort, lameness, and difficulty in walking. Regular veterinary check-ups and monitoring can help detect and manage this condition.

Dental Problems

Due to their small size and crowded teeth, Maltese Shih Tzus are prone to dental issues such as tooth decay, gum disease, and early tooth loss. Regular dental care, including brushing their teeth and routine dental check-ups, can help prevent these problems.

Eye Problems

Maltese Shih Tzus may be susceptible to various eye problems, including cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and dry eye. Regular eye examinations by a veterinarian and proper eye care can help monitor and manage these conditions.

Respiratory Issues

The short snout and flat face of the Maltese Shih Tzu can contribute to respiratory problems, such as brachycephalic airway syndrome. This can lead to difficulty breathing, snoring, and intolerance to heat. It’s important to provide them with a cool and well-ventilated environment and avoid excessive exercise in hot weather.


Maltese Shih Tzus may be prone to allergies, including food allergies, environmental allergies, and allergies to certain grooming products. It’s important to identify and avoid triggers that may cause allergic reactions and work with a veterinarian to develop an appropriate treatment plan.


Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms may include weight gain, lethargy, hair loss, and skin problems. Regular thyroid screening and monitoring can help manage this condition.

Other Considerations

While not specific to the Maltese Shih Tzu breed, it’s important to consider general health care practices such as maintaining a healthy diet, providing regular exercise, and ensuring proper vaccination and parasite prevention. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian are crucial to monitor your Maltese Shih Tzu’s overall health and detect any potential issues early on.

Remember, responsible breeding practices, regular veterinary care, a balanced diet, and a safe and loving environment can help minimize the risk of these health issues and contribute to the overall well-being of your Maltese Shih Tzu. By being proactive and attentive to their health needs, you can help your furry companion lead a long, happy, and healthy life.


Maltese Shih Tzu

Image courtesy of thecreativecircle


Comparable Breeds

If you’re considering the Maltese Shih Tzu, you may also be interested in exploring other breeds that share similar characteristics and traits. Here are a few comparable breeds to consider:

1. Maltese

The Maltese, one of the parent breeds of the Maltese Shih Tzu, is a small toy breed known for its elegant appearance and affectionate nature. Like the Maltese Shih Tzu, the Maltese is known for its long, silky coat and friendly temperament. They are both suitable for individuals or families looking for a small, companionable dog.

2. Shih Tzu

The other parent breed of the Maltese Shih Tzu, the Shih Tzu, is a small breed known for its luxurious coat and gentle personality. Shih Tzus are friendly, outgoing, and make excellent family pets. Like the Maltese Shih Tzu, they require regular grooming to maintain their coat’s health and appearance.

3. Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is a small, cheerful breed known for its curly, hypoallergenic coat. They are friendly, sociable, and make great family pets. Bichon Frises have a similar size and temperament to the Maltese Shih Tzu, making them a good choice for individuals or families looking for a small, affectionate companion.

4. Havanese

The Havanese is a small breed with a long, silky coat and a friendly, outgoing personality. They are known for their affectionate nature and adaptability to various living situations. Havanese dogs are similar in size and coat characteristics to the Maltese Shih Tzu, making them a good alternative for those interested in a small, low-shedding breed.

5. Pomeranian

The Pomeranian is a small toy breed known for its fluffy double coat and vibrant personality. They are lively, intelligent, and make excellent companions. While Pomeranians have a slightly different coat type compared to the Maltese Shih Tzu, they share the same small size and can be a suitable choice for those seeking a small and energetic breed.

Remember, each breed has its own unique characteristics and considerations, so it’s important to research and spend time with different breeds to determine which one best suits your lifestyle, preferences, and needs. Consulting with reputable breeders or rescue organizations can also provide valuable insights and guidance in finding the right companion for you.

Notable Dogs from This Breed

The Maltese Shih Tzu breed has gained popularity over the years, and there are many notable dogs that have captured the hearts of dog enthusiasts. While every Maltese Shih Tzu is special in its own way, here are a few notable dogs from this breed:

1. Gizmo

Gizmo gained fame on social media for his adorable looks and playful antics. His playful and friendly nature has won the hearts of many followers, making him a beloved ambassador for the Maltese Shih Tzu breed.

2. Bailey

Bailey is a therapy dog who brings joy and comfort to people in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. With his gentle and affectionate demeanor, Bailey exemplifies the loving and caring nature of the breed.

3. Luna

Luna is a highly trained dog who competes in dog agility competitions. Her agility, speed, and intelligence showcase the versatility and trainability of the breed. Luna proves that these small dogs can excel in various canine sports.

4. Max

Max is a therapy dog who visits schools and helps children with disabilities. His calm and patient nature, combined with his friendly disposition, make him a comforting presence for those in need. Max demonstrates the therapeutic qualities that the breed possesses.

5. Coco

Coco gained recognition for her role in a local community theater production. With her charm and stage presence, Coco showcased the adaptability and showmanship of the breed.

These notable dogs represent just a fraction of the many wonderful examples around the world. Each one brings joy, companionship, and love to their families and communities. Whether they are social media stars, therapy dogs, agility competitors, or performers, these dogs exemplify the incredible qualities that make the Maltese Shih Tzu a beloved breed choice for many dog lovers.

Remember, every dog is unique and has the potential to bring happiness and companionship to their owners. These notable dogs are just a few examples of the incredible dogs within this breed.

The Maltese Shih Tzu, also known as the Malshi, is a delightful crossbreed that combines the best qualities of the Maltese and Shih Tzu breeds.

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