Differences Between A Shih Poo Vs Maltipoo

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    The Shih Poo and Maltipoo are similar cross breeds of dogs since they both share a common parent breed – the Poodle. But when it comes to deciding which breed you want to introduce into your family, it can be helpful to know the differences between them. 

    The Maltipoo is a cross between a Maltese and a Poodle, while a Shih Poo is a cross between a Poodle and a Shih Tzu. Despite having a shared parent, these two breeds differ in appearance, energy levels, temperament, lifespan, and more. 

    While these dogs are similar in a lot of ways, they are also very individualized. Let’s explore these differences, from ancestry to physical characteristics and more.

    Ancestry Differences

    One of the most significant differences between these two dogs is their ancestry. While both share the parent Poodle, Maltipoos are crossed with a Maltese and Shih Poos are crossed with Shih Tzus. 

    Both of these breeds are thought to have originated in modern times to breed smaller dogs that were also hypoallergenic with a longer lifespan. Shih Poos have only been bred for 30 years or so, and the same can be said for Maltipoos. 

    Still, both of these breeds have a rich history from their ancestry.

    A Quick Background on Maltese Dogs

    First originating in Malta, the Maltese is one of the earliest-bred small companion dogs. The earliest record of this dog breed is in the 1800s, although it is uncertain how long they were living in the country before this record. They could have existed solely in Malta for hundreds of years! 

    The only reason we know a rough estimate of their origin is thanks to the many paintings which featured them as lap dogs. 

    Their popularity began to grow in the 19th and 20th centuries throughout Malta and then the rest of the world. Due to their cute appearance and mild temperament, everyone in the world wanted to own a Maltese. 

    They were first seen in English dog shows in 1859. 

    A Quick Background on Shih Tzus

    The Shih Tzu breed is thought to have originated more than 1,000 years ago, being kept in monasteries within Tibet. Legends will say that these dogs even turned the prayer wheel, and historical illustrations show this breed as little lions. 

    The Shih Tzu was a worshiped figure when they first originated, and everyone wanted one. However, they were often reserved for the richest and most powerful families only.

    Many people think of Shih Tzus being first bred in China, but this is not true. It is more likely that Tibet, China’s western neighbor, sent Chinese royalty Shih Tzu dogs as gifts.  

    It is said that Buddha Manjusri, the God of Learning, used to travel with a little lion dog – what we now believe to be a Shih Tzu. 

    These dogs were first seen in England in 1933. 

    A Quick Background on Poodles

    The Poodle is the national dog of France, where they are known as Caniche, or ‘duck dog’. Despite this, Poodles actually originated in Germany where they were used as duck hunters. These retriever dogs are thought to have been bred more than 400 years ago. 

    Hunters shaved their Poodles from the hair on all areas of their bodies except the vital areas that needed to remain warm when in the cold water. These were the chest, hips, and leg joints that remained hairy – all other areas were shaved. 

    This was the first Poodle haircut that we know and love today. Despite starting off as water retriever dogs, their elegance quickly shot Poodles up to a life of luxury. French nobles took a shine to them, sparking their popularity in Europe. 

    Size Differences

    There isn’t much difference between the size of a Maltipoo and a Shih Poo, since their parent breeds are of a similar size. 

    However, you can get both of these breeds in either a Miniature or Toy size. Still, the Shih Poo will still weigh more than the average Maltipoo. In contrast, Maltipoos will be slightly taller than the average Shih Poo. 

    Maltipoos have an average height of 8 to 14 inches, while Shih Poos range from 10 to 13 inches. 

    Maltipoos can weigh anywhere between 5 to 20 pounds, while Shih Poos can weigh from 5 to 25 pounds. 

    The size and weight of these dogs will depend on a number of factors, such as the size of their parents, their gender, and their age. 

    Energy Level Differences

    Maltipoos are known for having high energy levels, but their small size often means that their owners will only need to incorporate 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise into their daily routine. 

    Maltipoos also are predisposed to joint issues, which can also put a strain on their exercise levels. Water play is the best for their joints. Poodles are also known for their love of water, so this can be applied to Shih Poos, too. 

    Get a child-sized swimming pool and let your dog play in it for a few turns. 

    In contrast, Shih Poos are less high-energy than Maltipoos. They have a moderate energy level and prefer smaller bouts of exercise throughout the day rather than one block of high-intensity exercise. 

    Shih Poos enjoy playing with their family rather than taking long hikes. This means that they are ideal for families with small children. While they do need exercise to keep them entertained, it is not as strenuous as what the Maltipoo requires. 

    Appearance Differences

    Some people have a difficult time distinguishing between a Maltipoo and a Shih Poo. They do look very similar at first glance, and you might not be able to tell how to find their differences. 

    The most common difference in appearance is that the Maltipoo has a curlier and shorter coat than Shih Poos, who will have longer and softer coats. The latter’s coat will also be wavy rather than curly. 

    You can find both of these breeds in a number of different colors, although Maltipoos come in a greater variety than Shih Poos. 

    Another distinguishing detail is that Maltipoos have shorter ears than Shih Poos. 

    Behavioral Differences

    Their behavioral differences is one of the most important differences between these breeds when it comes to deciding which you want in your family. 

    You don’t want to be choosing a bad-mannered dog when the latter is much easier to take care of thanks to its easier temperament. 

    Luckily, the behavior of Maltipoos and Shih Poos is quite similar. For example, both of these dogs are susceptible to separation anxiety if left alone for too long. 

    Despite this, Maltipoos are more laid back than the tightly wound Shih Poo. The latter tend to be more stubborn, making the former better for beginners. 

    Still, don’t let this fool you into thinking these dogs don’t need constant training and obedience lessons. Without these, your dog might begin to become more stubborn, making it more difficult for you to look after them. 

    Both Maltipoos and Shih Poos are very intelligent and quick learning thanks to their Poodle parentage. 

    If you have an ever-changing routine, the Maltipoo might fit into your life better. This is because they are the more flexible breed out of the two, while Shih Poos might get distressed if you interrupt their daily routine.

    Common Health Issue Differences

    Just like any dog breed, both Maltipoos and Shih Poos are not exempt from the risk of developing health issues. These dogs are more susceptible to developing health concerns the more they age. 

    Here are the common health issues that Maltipoos are associated with: 

    • Shaker Syndrome
    • Epilepsy
    • Arthritis
    • Eye Ulcers
    • Hip Dysplasia

    And, here are the health issues that Shih Tzus are predisposed to: 

    • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
    • Cataracts
    • Glaucoma 
    • Cherry Eye
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Cleft Palate 
    • Renal Dysplasia

    As you can see, many of the health concerns related with Shih Poos are concerning their eyes. If you choose to welcome this breed into your family, you need to be vigilant about spotting any sign of vision issues. 

    Most hybrid dogs are less likely to inherit health issues than their parents, thanks to recessive genes potentially wiping out the health concerns of a purebred dog. 

    Still, this does not mean that you shouldn’t be careful when it comes to monitoring your hybrid dog breed. 

    Lifespan Differences

    Any dog’s lifespan will be different depending on its gender, health conditions, and other factors. However, in general, Shih Poos have a slightly longer lifespan than Maltipoos. 

    Shih Poos can live between 12 and 16 years, while Maltipoos live between 10 and 15 years. 

    As you can see, there is an overlap here that might see some Maltipoos live longer than Shih Poos. This all comes down to the individual dog. 

    Still, both of these dogs have a longer lifespan than other small companion dogs, and they’re both relatively healthy breeds. 

    Maltipoo vs. Shih Poo: Which is Right For You?

    Both of these dogs come from either Toy or Miniature Poodles. They’re gorgeous puppies that look lovely with the personality to match. Choosing between these two breeds can be difficult, so you need to know exactly what you can give to your dog.

    For example, Shih Poos are slightly more stubborn and will need more time training than Maltipoos. They also require more of your attention to prevent separation anxiety from setting in.

    Shih Poos are also predisposed to more health issues later in life such as eye problems and skin infections. This can take more of your time and leave you with a higher vet bill. 

    Still, both of these breeds are affectionate, high energy, and lovely to be around. They’re both good with small kids and strangers, and you’d enjoy either breed as a family dog

    Just make sure that you are weighing up your options properly before choosing the dog breed for you. Don’t rush into a decision that you might regret later down the line when you find you don’t have enough time to care for one of these dogs. 


    While these two dogs are more similar than other breeds might be, there are still some distinguishable differences that can determine which breed is best suited for your family. Make sure you choose the right breed that will fit into your lifestyle the best. 

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