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Pin-Tzu (Shih-Tzu & Miniature Pinscher Mix): Info, Pictures, Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Pin-Tzu (Shih-Tzu & Miniature Pinscher Mix)

Height: 8–12 inches
Weight: 8–16 pounds
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Colors: Black, brown, fawn, black and white, brindle
Suitable for: Families, singles, active owners
Temperament: Energetic, alert, friendly, independent

A mix of a Shih Tzu and Miniature Pinscher, the Pin-Tzu is a tiny ball of energy that loves to play. They usually have a short to medium-length coat, with a small muzzle and floppy ears and soft, gentle eyes. These dogs’ parent breeds have distinctly different characteristics, so they are a unique and interesting breed. Although they are an energetic and playful breed, they are most commonly kept as lapdog companions, a job in which they relish. The Pin-Tzu is a relatively new hybrid, and a quick look at their parent breeds will give us insight as to what to expect from these tiny pooches.

The name “Shih Tzu” translates as “little lion,” which may be true in appearance but not in personality, as these are mostly gentle little dogs. They were bred as lapdog companions in Tibet, mostly for royal families during the Ming Dynasty. They are also commonly known as the “Chrysanthemum Dog,” due to the way the hair on their face spirals out like a flower.

The Miniature Pinscher originated from Germany and was bred to hunt rats and other pests on farms. Many make the mistake of associating the Pinscher with Dobermans due to their similar looks, but they are actually a much older breed. They are tough, bold, and courageous dogs with a ton of attitude. They are also sleek, fast little pooches with abundant amounts of energy, considering their puny size.

If you like what you’ve read so far about this rare little hybrid, keep reading our guide below to find out more about this unique lapdog.

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Pin Tzu Puppies


These adorable lapdogs are small in size but have a massive personality busting out of their pint-sized frames. These dogs are a relatively new breed that may be difficult to find and should always be purchased from a reputable breeder. Dogs that come from backyard breeders can often have health issues due to bad breeding practices.

An important point to consider before bringing home a Pin-Tzu puppy is that although these dogs are great lap dogs and loyal companions, they do have a large amount of energy that needs to be burned. These are not dogs that can be left at home without exercise, as they will quickly develop destructive behavioral issues, including barking and chewing.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Pin-Tzu

1. Miniature Pinschers are not related to Doberman Pinschers

It is a common misconception that Miniature Pinschers are a smaller form of Dobermans, but they are an entirely separate breed. Miniature Pinschers are also a far older breed than Dobermans, originating almost 2,000 years ago. They can be seen depicted in paintings from the time and were bred as small and agile ratters. You’d be forgiven for mistaking the two, though, as they are similar in appearance.

2. Pin-Tzus are highly athletic

Although the Shih Tzu has a long flowing coat with a reputation for pampering and show dog competitions, they are also highly athletic dogs. Underneath that manicured coat is a strong and agile body that often competes in and wins agility contests.

Miniature Pinschers are powerhouses, and owners will attest to the fact of their seemingly never-ending reserves of energy. They have a common nickname, the “king of toys,” which points to their courageous, playful, and athletic nature among toy breeds. Pin-Tzus are usually just as athletic and energetic as their parent breeds.

3. Pin-Tzus love to bark

Miniature Pinschers have a high tendency for barking and will alert you to every tiny change in environment, every barely audible sound, and even the slightest of movements. In short, they’ll bark at everything. You’d think that this would make them great guard dog — and with the correct training, it might — but this incessant barking causes the “cry wolf” syndrome among owners, and you’d be forgiven for ignoring their “warnings.”

Shih Tzus are much the same when it comes to barking, but they can be easily reigned in with the correct training. These calm dogs have almost no breed-specific behavioral issues, but persistent barking is the one thing they have an abundance of.

You can be sure that this propensity for barking will come through in your Pin-Tzu, but consistent training will usually calm the tendency down significantly.

Parent Breeds of the Pin Tzu
Image Credit: Jumpstory

Divider 3Temperament & Intelligence of the Pin-Tzu 🧠

Pin-Tzus are courageous, energetic, friendly, and independent little dogs that have an abundance of personality flowing from their pint-sized frames. Their confident and headstrong natures can sometimes get them into trouble, though, as they may pick fights that they simply cannot win.

These dogs will often be assertive and want to assume the leadership role in the household. They will need training that is equally assertive to let them know that you are the one in charge. They will quickly dominate the family household if not kept in check, and this trait can sometimes lead to aggressive behavior.

They can be independently minded at times — even aloof — and this can cause trouble during training. But with persistence and consistency, they can become obedient and well-behaved dogs. This independent nature has a plus side in that it makes them somewhat unattached from their owners, so they won’t suffer from separation anxiety when left alone at home. This makes them ideal pets for owners who are frequently away from home. You can be sure they’ll be good watchdogs when trained properly, with their alert temperament and high propensity for barking.

Are Pin Tzus Good for Families? 🏡

Pin-Tzus can be snappy and easily frightened, and this can be a problem with children. They also have an independent and assertive nature that may not go well with small kids wanting to play. Consequently, we don’t recommend these dogs for households with young children.

Do Pin Tzus Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Pin-Tzus usually get along well with other pets, but their dominant nature may cause issues when they try to assert their leadership with larger dogs. That said, correct and consistent training will make them calmer and more amenable to other pets, and their independent nature may eventually lead them to do their own thing and pick their battles wisely.

Divider 4Things to Know When Owning a Pin-Tzu

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Pin-Tzus are tiny little dogs that don’t need much food, but they do have a great deal of energy and fast metabolism and will thus require more food than most other breeds their size. This is why they should be fed the best quality, nutrient-packed dry kibble possible, to keep their tiny motors running effectively.

They’ll need about 1 cup of quality dry food a day, and we recommend substituting this occasionally with canned food and lean meats. This will ensure that these energy-balls get the sufficient protein needed to keep up with their constant movement.

They are best fed twice daily — in the morning and evening — as this will aid their fast metabolism in functioning correctly.

Exercise 🐕

These dogs are high-energy little pooches that have a surprising amount of stamina considering their size. Thus, we recommend two 45-minute sessions of exercise a day. One session should consist of vigorous and high-intensity exercise like running, jogging, or cycling. The second session can be more laidback, with more mentally-stimulating exercises like fetch, catch, and other stick or ball activities.

Daily exercise is essential with these dogs, as they have so much excess energy to burn off. Regular exercise will help prevent some of the common behavioral issues in these dogs, like barking, aggression, and chewing. Regular exercise will lead to a happy and healthy dog, and a happy and healthy owner too!

Training 🦮

Pin-Tzus can be a challenge to train, as they have a stubborn and independent nature that makes them averse to taking orders. Basic obedience training should be started as early as possible to promote good habits and prevent bad ones. They will need to be trained assertively, as they need to know who is in charge or they will swiftly take that role on for themselves.

Due to their occasional bouts of aggression when asserting their authority, regular training is essential, especially if these dogs live with other dogs or children. It will take a great deal of hard work and patience to train these obstinate dogs, but consistency is key. If kept on a regular schedule, you’ll have a well-trained Pin-Tzu in no time. Just don’t expect to enter these dogs into any obedience competitions, as basic command training is all you’re likely to get from these independent pooches.

Grooming ✂️

Pin-Tzus usually have a shaggy and medium-length coat that doesn’t require much regular grooming. That said, their coat is fairly wiry, and if it does get matted, it can be difficult to brush out, so brushing once a week is a good idea. Other than that, these dogs are fairly low maintenance, and the occasional teeth brushing and nail clipping are all that’s needed.

Health Conditions ❤️

Miniature Pinschers are a healthy breed and relatively free from breed-specific issues. If your Pin-Tzu inherits their genetics mostly from this breed, they will likely enjoy a long and disease-free life. While Shih Tzus are also a healthy breed, they have several possible genetic issues that could be inherited by your Pin-Tzu.

Shih Tzus have a few eye disorders that they can commonly suffer from. Keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea, which can lead to ulcers and even blindness if left unchecked. Proptosis is another eye-related condition in which the eyeball becomes dislodged from its socket, but there are surgeries that can resolve the issue. Progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts are also common eye-related issues in Shih Tzus.

Hip dysplasia and patella luxation are musculoskeletal issues that are relatively common among Shih Tzus, caused by them landing too hard when jumping off high places. These disorders can differ widely in severity, and they will usually live a happy life, albeit with mild joint pain.

They can also suffer from mild food allergies, ear infections, and skin infections, all of which can be largely prevented with a good diet and proper hygiene.

Minor Conditions
  • Cataracts
  • Skin infections
  • Food allergies
  • Skin allergies
Serious Conditions
  • Cancer
  • Keratitis
  • Brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome
  • Proptosis
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Patella luxation
  • Progressive retinal atrophy

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Male vs. Female

The final decision to make if you feel that the Pin-Tzu is the dog for you is whether to get a male or female. Bear in mind that upbringing and environment are much more accurate predictors of personality than gender. However, male and female Pin-Tzus do have small differences.

Female Pin-Tzus are generally more assertive than males and will want to rule the household. They are also more independent than males and will tire quickly of games and training. Males are usually more playful and easy-going and will display more affection than females.

Spaying females and neutering males will mostly mitigate most of these differences and make for a calmer, gentler, and all-round happier dog with a far more even temperament.

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Final Thoughts: Pin-Tzu

The Pin-Tzu is surely a force to be reckoned with — a courageous, assertive, and personality-packed pooch with no shortage of charisma and character. They are tiny dogs that will shock you with their massive amount of energy reserves, a seemingly never-ending well that requires a ton of exercise to burn out. They can be stubborn, strong-willed, and obstinate little dogs that may provide a real challenge to train. But if you have the patience and the time, the investment will certainly be worth-while, and you’ll soon fall in love with this charismatic little dog.

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Featured Image Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock

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