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ShiChi is a dog breed resulting from a cross between Chihuahuas and Shih-tzus and is a subset of designer dogs. This particular crossing of Shih-Tzu and Chihuahua originated in the United States. ShiChis are not an AKC-recognized breed; but are instead, a hybrid of purebreed dogs. These types of dogs usually range between 5-10lbs for males and 4-8lbs for females. ShiChis are sometimes more healthy than their purebred counterparts due to and effect called "hybrid vigor." However, although purebred Shih-tzus are generally thought of as hypoallergenic, ShiChis are not necessarily hypoallergenic by default. ShiChis may be hypoallergenic, but the length of the Chihuahuan parent's fur plays a large role. If the Chihuahuan parent's fur is of the long variety, then the ShiChi offspring will tend to give off less allergens because the ShiChi will shed much less and have very "poofy" fur. The ShiChi's fur length is highly variable; especially if the Chihuahuan parent is short haired. They come in many color variations. ShiChis are a little slower than Yorkshire Terriers to housebreak, but kenneling them is a method that many trainers use on Shih-tzus, which seems to work well on ShiChis.

ShiChi Pup at 5 Weeks. Puppies should NOT leave their mothers earlier than 8 weeks; antibodies from the mother's milk help protect the pup until it begins to develop enough of its own. Under 2.0lbs

Contents

Terminology: "Teacup" vs. "Toy"

Contrary to some breeder's claims, there are no "Teacup-ShiChis" or "mini-ShiChis." Shih-Tzus are considered a toy breed, as are Chihuahuas. Their offspring will be small and of toy breed size. The term "teacup" is something which the AKC does not consider an actual size. Additionally, legitimate breeders do not normally apply the controversial term of "teacup" to refer to their dogs. The term "teacup" once meant that the puppy was small and nearly teacup sized. However, there are countless instances where the term "teacup" was applied to pets which were not healthy, which were underweight, had hereditary disease, so on so forth--the term was applied to puppies that failed to thrive and thus appeared small. Due to recent increased public awareness about puppy mills and the negativity associated with "teacup" puppies now, most breeders avoid this term entirely. The term "toy" seems to be what is accepted and commonplace to refer to small dogs lately.

Positives

ShiChi Pup at 10 weeks relative to a Jansport (TM) purse. 2.7lbs

Although ShiChis continue to grow up until about a year old and generally get about 5-10lbs at maturity, they make fairly good housepets for small spaces such as condominiums or apartments. ShiChis are curious and get distracted easily. Thus, they are difficult to potty train to go outdoors. Taking the puppy out early morning and late night when there are fewer people and other dogs around will speed up the potty training process, as will keeping the puppy on a leash. Using a phrase such as "potty" will help the dog associate a word with the action. Additionally, ShiChis can be trained to go on Ugodogs and similar indoor potty mats more easily than outdoors, because there are fewer distractions. Always reward the puppy when they go potty in the correct place.

ShiChis love children and bouncy balls and can get along well with a variety of people and pets. Due to their small size, they are usually accepted in the cabin spaces of most pet-friendly airlines for additional fees [updated as of January 2010, the fee for American Airlines in a cabin-carry-on was $30USD one-way for a domestic flight within the United States]. ShiChis have reasonable temperament and are generally quite friendly and inquisitive. Finding more interactive toys (a chew toy that has moving parts or makes noises instead of a plain plastic bone, for example) for them will help them become smarter, but spending time each day to simply play with the puppy is more important than any toy. They are alert and if allowed to, will sleep with their rump facing the person they've bonded with. Often times, their tail will be close to or touching the person they are guarding. This is so that they are aware if "their person" shifts around. Even in the middle of sleeping, ShiChis will wake up and shift positions if their person has moved away. ShiChis are light sleepers and will bark if there are odd noises or approaching footsteps, especially at the door. Unfortunately, this may initially include everything from the radio alarm clock to explosions in video games. Though Shichis are remarkably loyal and make reasonable dogs for alerting the owner of activities outside, they are actually poor guard dogs due to their tiny size. Shichis are reasonably alert, but not physically intimidating.

ShiChi pup at 12 Weeks. "Left-Gloved" Masked Tuxedo patterned fur. ShiChis may exhibit very odd-lengthed fur and the fur may vary in pattern. 3.4lbs


Though puppies are energetic and curious, these dogs are small but not as fragile as a Chihuahua, and do not require as much high maintenance. Instead, they are the delightful mix of fun and casualness. ShiChis enjoy the small things in life and can entertain themselves fairly easily with tennis balls and chew toys. They are low to medium-low on maintenance requirements for toy breeds. Some of the other very intelligent dogs such as Yorkies can tire more quickly of apartment life and become quite bored. Left alone too long, a Yorkie can start to show signs of mental instability. A ShiChi is does not get bored as easily because it has a significantly lower dog IQ when compared to a Yorkshire terrier (Stanley Coren, The Intelligence of Dogs).

Long-haired Chihuahua and Shih-Tzu mix. Tuxedo patterned fur. 16 Weeks old, 6 lbs

Depending on whether the Chihuahuan parent had short hair or long hair, the ShiChi may have thick fur, consisting of an undercoat and an overcoat, which is useful for colder climates but problematic in hotter climates. Some ShiChis are hypoallergenic because they take after the Shih-Tzu side more strongly and/or have a long-haired Chihuahuan parent.

ShiChi General Health Guidelines

  • ALWAYS VISIT YOUR PUPPY AT THE BREEDER'S BEFORE YOU BUY. With the amount of money you will be spending just in the food and vet bills for your puppy, you really need to visit where your puppy was born and raised. If you can't visit the location, find a different puppy that is closer. You definitely want to ensure that your puppy was born and brought up in a healthy, clean, interactive, and loving environment. Puppies from filthy conditions may cost a lot in vet bills, and puppies from antisocial environments might have behavior problems and might bite people. Look for puppies that are kept in a clean nest area, have wet noses, have healthy looking (fluffy and silky--think mohair) coats, look active,are inquisitive, are friendly, and are not shy. For the first few weeks of life, puppies are very curious in particular about strangers, and so when you approach them, expect them to sniff and play. Do not pick the runt of the group just because it is smaller and looks "cute" or "sad"--runts were sometimes picked on by the rest of the litter and may have behavioral problems in addition to health problems. Find out about your puppy's dog parents and people parent(s). Although the AKC lists breeders, the AKC is not required to check these breeders at any time, nor ensure the quality of the breeders' dogs. Check things out for yourself.
  • Try to avoid weaning pups from their mothers before 8 weeks of age. This is especially critical for puppies expected to be flown in across long distances, as during flights puppies are exposed to much more than their local pathogens. Although some pups may be adventurous and start eating solid foods, through the first two months of life, puppies are just adjusting to being outside the womb. They are laying down very basic foundations they will need for moving about, thinking and interacting, digesting, etc., and all of these things take energy. So, it is especially important for the puppy to be healthy during this period. If the puppy gets sick, it might recover poorly because its body mass is very little (it's a toy variety!), it does not have fully developed immune system to combat diseases, and dosage of medicines even from a vet for a small puppy is very difficult. Many medications come in two sizes: Adult and Puppy. Just as the category of "child" is inappropriate dosing (in most cases) for a 2 month old baby, so too with the medication differences for a newborn pup compared to the "puppy" category. Having their mother's antibodies helps to protect the puppy from local (to the mother) common diseases until the puppies grow enough of their own.
  • Waiting around 8 weeks will also help you determine if you are allergic to the ShiChi or not. Although a long-haired Chihuahuan parent often means the ShiChi is hypoallergenic, when the puppy is very young and growing very fast, it will shed skin cells and baby fur at a much faster rate than usual, and all these skin cells and fine fur may cause allergies in the first few months, though thereafter the dog does not cause allergies at all.
  • Do not let your puppy play outside until its firt set of shots are done. Puppies are curious. Puppies do not understand that fecal matter is dirty or dangerous. Not all dogs are vaccinated and some dogs are sick. If your puppy eats the fecal matter of other dogs or even grass that another dog wiped its rear on, or grass that contains fecal matter that's been dispersed because of sprinkler systems, it can get internal parasites. Even for adult dogs, parasites aren't easy to fight off without medication. Many of these parasites in adult dogs are detected because of abnormal behavior or something like a "bloated tummy." For puppies who are growing and playing a lot, a full tummy and some playful (and sometimes weird) behavior is normal, and this makes it very difficult to catch symptoms quickly. Younger puppies also can't physically afford parasites because they do not have reserves as adult dogs do, and are much more fragile.
  • ShiChis do require thorough baths and grooming, just as many of the designer breed dogs do; especially long-haired ShiChis. The fur of long-haired ShiChis will mat if not properly maintained. ShiChis should not be bathed more than once a week, however, since their skin is sensitive and will dry out, flake, and become more prone to skin diseases if washed too frequently. Bathing and grooming ShiChis are not particularly difficult tasks. Just getting human haircut buzzers works fine for puppy haircuts--make sure it has length guards. These kits usually run around $25-$35 at places such as Walmart, Kmart, or Target. Watching your local groomers helps and there are many Youtube videos of different styling techniques if you want to try something fancy.
Click to see where most ear-infection medications should go, for puppies.
  • It is important to look at your dog frequently and closely. Observing how they are during their normal state is important in discovering any ailments before they become major problems. A dog's nose should be wet and cool--if it is warm, it could be a sign of a fever of some sort. The fur around the eye should be clean. The paws may be a little rough, but they should not be scaley or flakey. Feel the feet for thorns and insects. Be aware of what is a 'normal' behavior and what is a 'normal' look for your puppy, and what is not. Being partly Shih-Tzu makes ShiChis prone to ear infections early on. Thus, it is recommended by most veterinarians that puppies younger than 6 weeks are not given ear washes which are injected into the ear canal. Instead, there are ear washing solutions which first go on cloth or cotton balls, and which can then be applied to the external portion of the puppy's ear. These reduce the likelihood of ear infection and/or damage to the puppy's fragile ears.

If the dog's ear gets infected, one of the earlier signs is a funky (putrid or sour, usually) smell from the dog's ears. There may also be residues (often pus-like, brownish, or occasionally bloody) in the ear, and the dog may also scratch his ears frequently, shake his head frequently, or whine and appear un-playful. There are several different types of treatments to use. Some of these come with a long tube, and are intended for injection into the ear canal of the dog, and not merely the external portion of the ear. It is a good idea to ask your vet to demonstrate the usage of the treatment. This step could save you additional visits and anti-microbial ointment costs.

Never stick anything into a dog's ear which may damage the sensitive tissue. Do not stick Q-tips (ear canal length varies depending on the size and type of dog; sometimes Q-tips are too long, and additionally, they might become lodged), hard objects, or objects with sharp edges, as these may cause damage. Only use the tip that comes with the medication to treat the area--do not attempt to develop your own. The tips used for ear-infection medications are a specific length, and your vet will prescribe the correct type of medication (and correct tip) for your pet.

General Training Do's and Don'ts

  • Praise often. Dogs tend to want to please people. If you sound happy, then your puppy will be happier. Even if you don't have a treat, rubbing your puppy's tummy and saying nice things will positively reinforce whatever it is you're trying to get your puppy to do.
  • Reward the puppy for coming when you call them. Never call the puppy to you then spank or yell at it, because they will associate you with punishment, and will not come when you call.
  • This is sometimes controversial, but some people spank and some do not. If you're thinking, "Should I spank my puppy?" Don't--if you're questioning it, they're probably too small for spanking. Spanking is not necessary and if at all avoidable should not be done. It may be a shorter way out, but it has very negative effects on the puppy. It cannot defend itself, it cannot protect its face, and to the puppy, something the size of a large building is coming down out of the sky to beat it. Spanking young puppies is unreasonable and unethical. Spanking larger dogs should still be avoided, and if done, only on the rump with your hand so you know just what you're doing and how hard. Spanking has the potential to develop very aggressive or extremely skittish behavior. If the puppy does not understand something then it does not make sense to spank the puppy for something it does not even understand. Dogs generally care about how their owners feel. Using an unhappy voice and temporarily ignoring the puppy is usually sufficient as soon as the dog is old enough to understand when people are happy or not. Short (10-20min) time-outs in a room (not a kennel) when the puppy has done something severely wrong will work alright as punishment. Between 3-5 weeks, puppies go out of their way to approach strangers. How strangers behave during this period can either encourage friendliness or instill fear and aggression in puppies, so watch them carefully during this time and speak softly. Spanking before 14 weeks of age is likely to cause phobia of strangers and a fear of hands (that could result in biting people's hands) because from about 12-14 weeks is when stranger avoidance begins to take shape. The puppy may, during this period, become confused and decide that even its owner is a "stranger" and see hands as aggressors. (Beaver, 1999)
  • Do not use the kennel as punishment because then when you need the dog to get into the kennel for travel, the dog will be very upset when you put it into the kennel. Make the kennel a happy place. Put treats, toys, its blanket, etc. in there. Training the puppy to get into the kennel easily is very helpful on multiple occasions: dog groomer, vet, when you're on vacation, when your dog is injured, etc. Additional ways to get your puppy used to the kennel is to leave the door of the kennel off, and put the kennel close to where people are (ex: near the kitchen, or at your study if you spend a lot of time there). This way, your puppy will not feel "left out" when it's in its kennel.
  • Give your puppy chew toys, and make sure it knows that the chew toy is his. Hand him new toys personally, and play with him with the new toys for a while. This will establish that only things given by you are his toys, and that he cannot just pick whatever he wants to, to be his toy. Permission is given by you.
  • Play with your puppy often. He will learn not to bite as hard, etc., through play. If he nips you, say "no" sternly and then ignore him for a few minutes. They will learn this way, that nipping is unacceptable.
  • Never do anything to your puppy out of anger or frustration. Don't blame, finish thinking. Instead of going, "Why did he eat my shoes?! RAWWRRR!!!" Continue that thought in a rational, Sherlock Holmes way, "Did he eat my shoes because he's hungry? Does he have chew toys? Is his food gross? Is my shoe shiny? Does he like shoelaces?" Once you figure out why, you can correct the issue. If you stop at just step 1, you will tend to blame the dog and be angry. Don't blame the dog. The dog came to humans as a blank slate; if we want a good dog, it is our responsibility to educate it.
  • Play with your puppy's paws, feet, mouth, and ears often. This will get him used to people doing that, and visits to the vet and the groomers will be much easier and less stressful for both the puppy and the professional. If you want your puppy to be comfortable taking baths, then begin by bathing him when he is young, avoid getting water in his eyes, ears, or nose, and give him a treat while you blowdry him. Do not point the blowdryer at his face. Towel dry first, and have the blowdryer at a low setting and fluff the fur with your hand as you blowdry so you have an idea of how hot the blowdryer is. A dog's ears are very sensitive. Do not blowdry the front of the ear. Towel dry the ear gently. Keeping the fur around the ear short will help with drying time.
  • Be patient. Remember, your puppy was a doggy's baby too! Your puppy is precious. Your puppy will likely spend their entire life with you. Make its life a happy one and it'll do the same in return.
  • Please see your vet for the most accurate information. Additionally, the dog training page of Wikipedia provides some general information.

External links

References

  • Beaver, Bonnie V. (1999). Canine Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians. W. B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, PA
  • "The Intelligence of Dogs", by Stanley Coren

ISBN-13: 978-0553374520

  • "The Modern Dog", by Stanley Coren

Free Press 2008

  • Interview with Kagan Rachel Dvm, Carlsbad Animal Hospital December 8th 2009, January 15th 2010, and March 1st 2010
  • Interview with Village Pet Shop, Store. Carlsbad, NM March 1st 2010







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