Maltese Shih Tzu – Breed Characteristics

Maltese Shih Tzu Breed

The Maltese Shih Tzu, also known as the Mal-Shi, Malti zu, or the Malt-Tzu, is a hybrid dog of small size that is a cross between the Maltese and the Shih Tzu.

This dog belongs to the so-called designer dogs which have been created in order to have a specific look and to rule out any possible genetic diseases that can be found in the original pure breeds.

However, this hybrid dog has not been accepted by any official kennel club and it seems there is little interest in developing it into a real breed.

The Mal-Shi is still a very cute and friendly dog that deserves to be talked about. In this article we are going to take a look at this small but very unique and interesting hybrid dog and see what makes him so outstanding.

Breed Characteristics

Breed Characteristics

Dog Breed Group: Hybrid Dogs
Height: Generally 10 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: Generally 6 to 12 pounds
Life Span: 12 to 14 years


When it comes to adaptability, the Maltese Shih Tzu is considered an easily adaptable dog because he is great for apartment living. Due to his small size, he would not mind even smaller apartments. He can be a great companion for the elderly or anyone who does not like harsh training and exercises.

Additionally, this dog is great for novice owners because he is not complicated at all.  He loves pleasing the owner and he is not difficult to train. All you need to do is socialize and train him on time and, of course, love him, and he will be a great friend and loyal companion.

The Maltese Shih Tzu does not like being lonely because he can be self-destructive and depressed. This is a companion dog and he would not tolerate being abandoned.

However, this dog is very sensitive when it comes to cold and hot weather. He does not tolerate either, and you will have to be careful during the summers and winters. Never leave him outside for long or he might die!

Maltese Shih Tzu

When it comes to friendliness, the Maltese Shih Tzu is a great companion and friend and he is always affectionate towards his family members. He can be great with children as well, but he is not suitable for toddlers and small kids because he would not tolerate being pulled at roughly, he will most likely defend himself if he is treated poorly!

That means that he is not really patient and you should be aware of it. When it comes to other dogs and strangers, he can be shy and suspicious, so make sure that you have socialized him from an early age. Taking him to dog parks and teaching him to behave properly will save you both from trouble.

When it comes to health and grooming, the great thing about the Maltese Shih Tzu is that he almost does not shed at all! However, that does not mean that you won’t have to groom him regularly. He also does not drool and his size is perfect for traveling and apartment living.

However, grooming this dog is not considered easy and his general health is kind of poor as well, which is probably the result of cross breeding which resulted in a flat face and small windpipe. This hybrid is also known for suffering from malformed knee joints which leads up to arthritis.

Speaking of trainability, the Maltese Shih Tzu is a really easy to train dog. He is moderately intelligent and he likes to play and please his owner so if you start from an early age, you should not have any problems with his obedience.

Maltese Shih Tzu Mix

However, because of his unique heritage, this dog does have a potential for mouthiness and prey drive. That means that you should never keep him off leash in unfamiliar and wild areas, otherwise he might go after small animals and moving objects he finds interesting.

He also loves to bark, which is a known trait in small dogs, so be aware of the fact that it is something you might never be able to teach him not to do. His wanderlust potential is minimal.

When it comes to exercise needs, the Maltese Shih Tzu does not require harsh training, mostly because of his small size, but also because he tires easily because of his unique physical traits – flat face and small windpipe. The intensity of the games should be low, just enough to keep him engaged and healthy. He is more or less a playful dog and his energy level is moderate as well.

Main Highlights

  • The Maltese Shih Tzu is a hybrid or designer dog, meaning that he is a cross between a Maltese and a Shih Tzu. The purpose of cross breeding is to rule out diseases and create a new breed with unique looks.
  • This dog breed is more or less energetic and playful even though it is small. He simply loves playing but his exercises should not be rough!
  • Be aware of the fact that the Maltese Shih Tzu simply loves barking and training him from an early age might never stop it. That actually makes him a great watchdog.
  • This breed does not shed, but he still requires regular grooming.
  • The Maltese Shih Tzu is an excellent companion because he adapts easily to apartment living and he is great for the elderly.
  • This hybrid does not like being alone or neglected so you should never abandon him, he might become destructive.
  • The Maltese Shih Tzu is not really patient with small children and strangers, so you should socialize him on time.
  • This breed is not really healthy – mostly because of his flat face and small windpipe. That is why they do not tolerate harsh weather.
  • Never buy a Maltese Shih Tzu puppy from illegal or suspicious breeders, especially puppy mills! Otherwise you might end up with a sick puppy and just contribute to the illegal trade of dogs!

Breed History

The Malti zu was created in the 90s in the United States. The reason for creating this hybrid was to make a non-shedding companion dog with cute looks. This dog is considered one of the most popular hybrids in Australia and North America, even though it has not been accepted as an official breed.

Additionally, most of the Malti zus are the offspring of the first generation, which means that there are not many of them out there.

However, there have also been some consequences regarding this hybrid’s health. Having in mind his mixed heritage, he has a flat nose and small windpipe, which results in common respiratory problems and intolerance to harsh weather.


The Malti zu is a dog breed of small size. The males and females are almost the same and they are usually 10 inches tall and weigh 6 to 12 pounds. The life expectancy is around 12 years.

Personality and Character

The Malti zu is a dog that is friendly, playful, loyal, affectionate and adaptable. His energy level is moderate but he can be very active and outgoing, even though there are some that can be laid-back and quite quiet. He loves his family and he is fiercely loyal to his owner. His temperament is considered well-rounded and nice, never vicious or malicious.

However, due to his mixed heritage, he can prove to be suspicious and shy towards strangers and sometimes even nervous around small pets. Make sure to socialize him with other people and animals so he can be friendlier. All in all, he is a great companion dog and a friend for life.

Health and Potential Problems

Maltese Shih Tzu Health

The Malti zu is not considered a healthy dog, mostly because of his cross breeding which resulted in a flat face and small windpipe; here are some conditions that affect this hybrid more than usual:

  • Patellar Luxation, also known as slipped stifles or malformed knee joints, is a common condition that affects a dog’s kneecaps and produces internal friction that can also cause arthritis. It can cause severe pain as well, and the severe cases include crippling. However, the pet can lead a normal life if the proper medication is provided but they are not encouraged to breed.
  • White Shaker Syndrome is a condition that usually affects young to middle-aged dogs. It is interesting to note that this condition has been seen in the pure breeds that were used for the creation of this breed and it is common for hybrids in general. The dog shakes for the whole day and he can also be unable to walk. The treatment includes corticosteroids for three to six months.
  • Other: hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, von Willebrand’s disease, respiratory problems, eye problems.

Care Features

The Mal-Shi requires the fulfillment of his basic needs just like any other dog – he needs his teeth brushed at least two to three times per week in order to prevent and gum diseases and teeth decay.

He also needs his nails trimmed at least once per month. When you notice them clicking on the floor, then you will know it is time to trim them so the dog does not hurt himself. Besides this, you need to bathe him at least once per month and you need to groom him when it is needed. You must brush his coat and walk him daily. Besides walking, you need to play with him and engage him both physically and mentally on a daily basis.

This dog is small so he does not require much, but you must love him and never neglect him. You need to check his body after each walk so you do not miss an infection or injury. You will notice that the Mal-Shi is an easily adaptable dog that can adapt his habits according to yours, so as long as you are there for him, you won’t have any problems.
Feeding Schedule

When it comes to the feeding schedule, the Mal-Shi is a small dog, therefore he does not require much — 1/4 to 1/2 cup of high-quality per dog. It would be for the best to mix dry and canned food but it all depends on your dog’s age, general health and activity level. This breed is active and playful, and they are usually like that at home as well, but you should not overfeed them.

Make sure to include all the best when you buy food – vitamins, vegetables, proteins and the meat of high quality. If the food is great, the health will be okay as well. The Mal-Shi can become easily dehydrated during the summer so make sure to enable your dog access to fresh water all the time.

Coat, Color and Grooming

Maltese Shih Tzu coat

Speaking of coats, the Mal-Shi’s coat is long, soft and silky. Sometimes it is wavy but never curly. The major color is white, but some of them can have tan markings or even have a combination of other colors, such as brown and white or black and brown and white.

The Mal-Shi’s coat needs daily brushing, especially if he spends much time outside. In order to prevent mats and tangles you need to brush and comb it on a daily basis. The grooming is more difficult and you might need to hire a professional groomer when it is needed. Bathing needs to be regular as well, so you can keep his coat shiny and clean and prevent further tangling.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

This dog hybrid is a friendly one, and as we already said, he loves being around his family and friends. Due to his mixed heritage, he can be suspicious towards strangers and unfamiliar dogs and sometimes he might even go after small animals.

When it comes to children, he is not suitable for toddlers and really small children due to his not really patient nature, but he can go along well with older kids as long as they behave properly.

Make sure to train and socialize your Mal-Shi from an early age by positive reinforcement and taking him to dog parks. This will help him get over his shyness and suspicious nature and he will become even friendlier.

To sum up the article, we have covered the most important characteristics of a dog breed called the Maltese Shih Tzu, also known as the Mal-Shi, Malti zu, and Malt-Tzu, the hybrid dog breed from the United States. You are now familiar with this small dog’s physical traits, health issues, grooming problems, and personality quirks.

Even though the Malt-Tzu has not been accepted by any official kennel clubs that does not mean that he does not deserve as much love as any other pure breed. He is unique due to his cross breeding, but he is still an affectionate companion who would love his owner to the end of his life. This dog is super cute, smart, pretty, friendly and adaptable. Show him love and care and he will do the same.