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Shih Tzu Shar-Pei Mix (Shar Tzu): Info, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

shar pei shih tzu mix

Height: 10-17 inches
Weight: 20-35 pounds
Lifespan: 8-15 years
Colors: White, blue, brindle, gold, liver, red, brown, silver, black
Suitable for: Active families, those looking for a low-shedding dog
Temperament: Loyal, independent, reserved, calm, intelligent

Both the Shar Pei and Shih Tzu share a common homeland in China. Their respective histories go back hundreds of years. Whereas the former was a working-class dog, the latter was an animal companion with noble connections, revered by royalty. The result is the varying personalities of these pups. The differences don’t stop there. Their appearance and coat are also the opposite.

While parts of their histories are obscure, the mix between these two pups occurred probably in the 1990s. The hybrid is interesting, given the scarcity of the Shar Pei. The American Kennel Club (AKC)1 only recognized the breed in 1992. On the other hand, the Shih Tzu joined the association’s ranks in 1969. Bot the Shar Tzu or Shih Pei bring unique traits to this combination.

The Shih Tzu is a friendly pup, especially with people. You are only a stranger once with this guy. He is affectionate and shows his love freely. The Shar Pei is a different story. Although he does have the royal connections, he carries himself in a dignified manner. He is calm and reserved, as opposed to the outgoing nature of the Shih Tzu. However, there’s more to tell about the Shar Tzu.

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Shih Tzu Shar-Pei Mix Puppies


There are several things you should know up front before you get a Shar Tzu. Some depend on the dominant breed. The Shar Pei is not a pet for the first-time dog owner. His independence will likely prove challenging. If you’re expecting a puppy that will shower you with love, he is not the pup for you. However, he is a loyal dog that will make an excellent watchdog.

The Shih Tzu couldn’t be more different. It comes from being a pampered lapdog. It also means a low wanderlust potential. This pup knows to stay close to home where the attention and food are. However, he does have a relatively high prey drive that could make life miserable for the family cat. As playful as he is, the Shih Tzu isn’t overly energetic. He’d much rather snuggle on the couch with you.

Both parent breeds have a higher propensity for nippiness. It’s a bad habit that you’ll have to control early. The Shar Pei is often vocal, again, a product of his upbringing as protector of the farm. He also hunted and herded livestock, making barking an important part of his world. The Shar Tzu inherits a tendency to gain weight, which you’ll have to monitor.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Shih Tzu Shar-Pei Mix 🧠

The dominant breed has a big say in the temperament of the Shar Tzu. Both pups are intelligent, with the Shar Pei showing off his talent in coursing and tracking competitions. However, a bit of stubbornness exists in both parents. It’s essential to provide mental stimulation when dealing with a dog as smart as the Shar Tzu. Teaching him new tricks or taking him to other places will keep him alert.

Positive reinforcement and early socialization are vital when raising this pup. Both parent breeds are somewhat sensitive to stern reprimands. The Shar Pei in your pooch often becomes protective over his family. Introducing him to other people as a puppy will prevent him from becoming too territorial.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

The answer to this question depends a great deal on the dominant parent breed. The reserved manner of the Shar Pei makes him a poor choice for a family pet, especially if you have small children. He’s not overly affectionate or playful. He’s not the pet that plays fetch in the backyard with the kids. It’s the opposite case with the Shih Tzu. He is quite outgoing and kid-friendly.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

The Shar Tzu will fare best in a home where he is the pet. The Shar Pei in him isn’t tolerant of other dogs. Remember that he was a guardian at one time. Therefore, he’ll likely view other animals as potential threats. That’s not to say that he’s aggressive. It’s just that he’s protective of his home turf and what other animals he’ll let on it.

Divider 4Things to Know When Owning a Shar Tzu:

We’ve covered some of the major issues that can influence your decision. Now, let’s get down to the everyday aspects of life with a Shar Tzu. The differences between the two parent breeds make generalizations hard. We’ll highlight them in the daily tasks associated with routine care of your Shar Tzu to help you make an informed decision about getting a pet.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Size is a deciding factor in your pet’s diet. The Shar Pei is a medium-sized breed, reaching weights up to 60 pounds. On the other hand, the Shih Tzu is a toy breed that may reach 16 pounds. When choosing a food, you should opt for one that is appropriate for the dominant breed. The life stage is another vital consideration. Puppy foods contain more calories and nutrients than adult products.

Start by feeding your Shar Tzu three or four times a day, especially if he takes after the Shih Tzu in size. Smaller pups mature quicker than larger dogs and need nutritional support for healthy development and growth. You can go to two times a day once your dog is an adult. That will ensure his blood sugar levels stay stable.


Exercise 🐕

Exercise is a bit of a conundrum. This pup needs activity to stay healthy and within an acceptable weight range. Yet, the Shar Tzu isn’t an active dog. Therefore, you’ll need to take the lead to make sure that he gets enough exercise to burn off enough calories to keep him fit. Walks are excellent for tackling this task on both the physical and mental fronts. That’s the bane of having an intelligent dog.

Training 🦮

Training will pose a challenge. This pup gets independence and stubbornness from both his parent breeds. That’s part of the reason we say that he isn’t the best choice for first-time pet owners. The key is consistency with the confidence in the commands you give him to build trust and reinforce your role as the leader of the pack.

We suggest starting early to establish that hierarchy from the start. You are the boss. He is the pupil. However, you should also be gentle. Harsh commands aren’t necessary with a pup that is eager to please. Be consistent and reward him with the occasional treat are the best ways to score points with your Shar Tzu.

Grooming ✂️

Grooming the two parent breeds is worlds apart. The Shar Pei is hands-off with just the occasional maintenance. His coat is unique with a sand-like texture. However, he sheds—a lot. Running a hound glove or curry brush through his coat will give you a chance to monitor his skin and keep the hair under control.

If the Shih Tzu is the dominant breed, you’ll have a dog with a long coat that doesn’t shed a lot, fortunately. However, he does need professional grooming if you’re going to keep his hair long. We suggest keeping your pup in a puppy cut to make the maintenance easier and prevent mats from forming. If your pup is light colored, you can use a product to reduce tear stains.

Check your pup’s ears frequently. The density of hair and their flappy nature can reduce air circulation and encourage ear infections. Pluck the hair occasionally to make sure that they stay dry.

Health and Conditions ❤️

Both parent breeds have several major and minor health issues involving joint and skeletal problems. Other concerns stem from them being brachycephalic or flat-faced dogs. That accounts for the high prevalence of eye and respiratory conditions that these pups often face. A reputable seller will do the necessary pre-breeding screenings to remove carriers from their breeding stock.

We strongly urge you to keep up with annual exams or other testings as recommended by your veterinarian. It can make a significant difference in your pet’s quality of life and longevity.

Minor Conditions
  • Eye dryness
  • Allergies
  • Other eye issues
  • Ear infections
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Patellar luxation
  • Mast cell cancer
  • Blindness
  • Progressive retinal atrophy

Male vs Female

The size difference between males and females can vary widely, depending on the sex of the dominant breed. It doesn’t affect the personality of the dog or how affectionate he’ll be. That’s more of a product of his upbringing. Instead, it can affect your vet bill cost with spaying outweighing the price of neutering. Otherwise, the decision is a preference with little bearing on the dog’s personality.

Divider 53 Little-Known Facts About the Shih Tzu Shar-Pei Mix

1. Both the Shar Pei and Shih Tzu Nearly Became Extinct

The two parent breeds share a tragic past that began in 1949 with the People’s Republic of China2. The government started the elimination of purebred dogs like the Shar Pei and Shih Tzu, killing thousands of animals. Enthusiasts saved the pups from extinction in various strongholds in the country. Exporting dogs to Europe and the United States ensured their futures.

2. The Shar-Pei and Chow Chow Are the Only Two Dogs That Have a Blue Tongue

We emphasized dogs because other animals share this unusual trait, including such diverse species as the Jersey cow and polar bear3. The breed standards for the Shar Pei state that a pink tongue is a disqualification in the show ring.

3. The Lhasa Apso and Pekingese Are Cousins to the Shih Tzu

If you think that the Shih Tzu resembles some other popular toy breeds, you’d be right. The Lhasa Apso and Pekingese have a similar heritage in China. Some even believe the Shih Tzu is a cross between the two dogs.

The parent breeds of Shar Tzu
The parent breeds of Shar Tzu: Left – Shih Tzu (Goochie Poochie Grooming, Pexels) | Right – Shar Pei (Waldemar Dabrowski, Shutterstock)

Divider 3Final Thoughts

The Shar Tzu is a challenge from multiple perspectives. His personality is variable and can run the gamut from affectionate to aloof. He’s not a pet for every family because of his reserved manner. He doesn’t fit the mold of the typical puppy. That makes him a bit of an anomaly.

He won’t rush to your arms like a Golden Retriever. That fact alone might strike him off the list for a family pet. However, he will reward you with steadfast loyalty and devotion, even if he doesn’t show his emotions. His love runs a silent course that is nevertheless reliable and strong.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock, Crystal Alba

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