Shichon: Your Complete Guide

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The bichon frise Shih Tzu mix goes by many names: shichon, zuchon, even teddy bear. This small mixed breed is adorable and has a great personality. If you want to know more about the shichon, then you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve prepared an in-depth guide to this breed and will be answering every question a potential owner could ask. We’ll share information about this breed’s history, temperament, coat type, grooming needs, trainability, energy levels, health risks, and much more.

A Quick Look at the Shichon

This chart will help you quickly determine if the shichon may be a good fit for you. If you’re still interested in the breed after looking over the chart, then keep on reading!

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Weight/Height 9-15 lbs, 9-12 in.
Coat Type Long, wavy, or curly hair, double-layered
Grooming Needs four out of five bones
Shedding one out of five bones
Temperament Playful, affectionate, gentle, happy-go-lucky
Good With Kids four out of five bones
Good With Other Animals four out of five bones
Intelligence three out of five bones
Easy to Train four out of five bones
Energy Level three out of five bones
Barking Habits three out of five bones
Lifespan 10-18 years


What Is the History of Shichons?

The exact history of the shichon is unknown, but we do know that breeders mixed Shih Tzus and bichon frises with the goal of developing a dog with the small size of the Shih Tzu but the disposition of the bichon frise. To learn more about this breed’s history, we can look at the histories of the parent breeds.

Bichon Frise

The bichon frise is thought to have hailed from Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Eventually, the breed became a favorite of nobility in Spain, Italy, and France as early as the 13th century. After the French Revolution, these dogs found themselves without noble benefactors and instead made a living as circus performers.
Bichon frise standing amongst autumn leaves in yard

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is practically royalty, as imperial breeders developed them for Chinese emperors and their families. As a result, this breed was owned exclusively by Chinese royalty and kept within palace walls for hundreds of years.

It wasn’t until the 1930s that the outside world became aware of this breed, and fanciers began to refine Shih Tzus into their own ideal dogs. Fun fact: Shih Tzu means “lion dog” in Chinese.
Blond, long-haired Shih Tzu wearing red bow

What Do Shichons Look Like?

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Shichons are typically toy-sized dogs with cute button eyes and a soft, fuzzy coat. Perhaps these traits are what gave them their nickname of “teddy bear dog.” They come in many different colors and often have a wavy or curly coat.

As a mixed breed with no standard, there is the opportunity for variance. Some shichons may have a long, straight coat like the Shih Tzu, whereas others may take after the bichon frise and have a long, curly coat.

What Size Is a Shichon?

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Shichons typically weigh between 9 and 15 pounds and stand between 9 and 12 inches tall. This makes them slightly smaller than the bichon frise but slightly larger than a Shih Tzu. Of course, there is no breed standard for shichons, so it is possible for them to be as big as a bichon frise (12-18 pounds) or as small as a Shih Tzu (9-16 pounds).

What Is a Shichon’s Coat Type?

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fur texture graphic with curly selected

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Shichons often have a curly or wavy coat that is soft and low shedding. Both parent breeds have long fur, so you can expect this of the shichon as well. Similarly, both bichons and Shih Tzus have double-layered coats, so shichons will, too.   Some shichons may take after the Shih Tzu and have a long, straight coat instead.

What Is a Shichon’s Temperament?

Shichons are affectionate dogs who adore their families and are great with kids. They’re typically friendly toward strangers, and their low prey drive means they can live with small pets like hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, etc. They’ll definitely bark to alert you of something they find suspicious, but they are not considered a yappy breed.

Are Shichons Affectionate?

Shichons are likely to be lovey-dovey with their families. They enjoy cuddling and being held on one’s lap. A shichon that takes after the bichon frise will see strangers as new friends, whereas a shichon that takes after the Shih Tzu may be a little less open to strangers and take a bit more time to warm up to them.

Are Shichons Good With Kids?

The shichon has a great personality for families with children as they are affectionate toward all family members and are gentle, too. Shichons love to play and will enjoy running around with kids. However, the shichon’s small size means they can be injured more easily than larger breeds, so it is important that children learn how to gently and safely interact with this breed.

Are Shichons Good With Other Animals?

As our section on history explained, both bichon frises and Shih Tzus were companions to nobility and royalty. As such, they were not bred to hunt or chase other animals. These dogs, as well as their shichon offspring, have low prey drives.

Not only are shichons unlikely to chase animals in the yard, but they aren’t likely to chase your guinea pig or hamster either. If you have other small pets, they’ll most likely be safe around a shichon. Still, supervision is always a must.

Are Shichons Aggressive?

Shichons are a happy-go-lucky breed and are unlikely to be aggressive in any way. As with any breed, socialization during puppyhood is imperative as it prevents aggression based on fear of unfamiliar people, animals, or objects.

Do Shichons Bark a Lot?

There is a stereotype that all small breeds are yappy and bark a lot. As is often the case with such sweeping generalizations, this is not true for many small breeds, including the shichon.

Shichons are not excessive barkers. This does not mean that they never bark, either. Like most dogs, they will bark when the doorbell rings or when a stranger walks up the driveway.

Therefore, shichons would likely be okay in apartments, even those with noise restrictions. You can also train your shichon not to bark; this can be done at any age but may be even more effective if you start when they are a puppy.
White shichon with a short clip sits, head tilted

Are Shichons Intelligent?

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Shichons are relatively smart and know how to use their cuteness to get their way. You have to be careful not to spoil them too much and be consistent when ignoring undesirable behaviors.

Are Shichons Easy to Train?

The shichon’s intelligence paired with their love for their people, make them relatively easy to train. They enjoy spending time with their owners and want to receive praise, so using positive reinforcement techniques works superbly.

This breed can learn impressive tricks and can enjoy dog sports like agility. There is just one thing shichons may struggle with, though, and that’s housetraining. You’ll need to be patient with this breed and continually reward them for doing their business outdoors until they get the hang of things. Crate training may also be helpful.

Though hiring a trainer isn’t a necessity for this breed, we still recommend going to some sort of training class as it can help your shichon with socialization and obedience in new or distracting environments. Trainers may also have useful tips for housebreaking.

Are Shichons Energetic?

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The shichon has a moderate amount of energy. They need daily walks and playtime to meet their mental and physical stimulation needs. However, because they are so small, these walks and play time probably won’t take up much more than an hour of your time each day, and some of it can take place indoors.

Not to mention, play can be done in short sessions throughout the day whenever the dog gets a burst of energy. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance breed in terms of exercise, the shichon is a good choice. If you want a dog that can keep up with your own exercise routine, then you may want to keep looking.

Are Shichons Good Apartment Dogs?

Shichons are a great choice for apartment living because they are small and don’t need a lot of space. They’re not super high energy and are happy to chill out on the couch. When they do want to play, it can be done indoors or on a walk — they don’t need a yard.

Are Shichons Good Watchdogs?

Shichons are too small to be good guard dogs, but they will bark to alert you to the presence of anything they find odd or out of place. If you simply want a dog to alert you to things, then a shichon could be a great choice. However, if you’re looking for a dog that will help you feel protected and safe, a shichon may not be the best option.
Fluffy brown and white shichon stands in the grass

Are Shichons Good Service Dogs?

Shichons aren’t big enough for all service tasks (like guiding the blind), but they can still make fantastic support animals. Because they are easily trainable, friendly, and loving, they could excel as psychiatric service dogs, emotional support animals, and therapy dogs.

How to Care for a Shichon

The shichon requires daily teeth brushing to prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay. Their ears should be checked regularly for infection, and nails should be trimmed as needed.

You may also prefer to clip the dog’s coat; this is largely up to preference, but most owners prefer to have their shichons trimmed roughly every two months. You can bathe your shichon about once per month or on an as-needed basis.

Do You Need to Groom a Shichon?

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Because the shichon’s hair grows quite long, they do need to be groomed. Most people prefer to have their shichons professionally groomed about every two months. Some who prefer to keep the coat a bit longer may have their shichons clipped monthly, but a longer coat means more frequent brushing.

How often you brush the coat depends on the length you prefer to keep it at. The longer the coat, the more often you should brush it. Long coats need daily brushing to prevent matting.

Shorter coats may only need weekly or even biweekly brushing. You’ll need to brush the coat more frequently as it grows out, as matting can make it difficult to give the dog a nice trim.

Do Shichons Shed?

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The shichon’s hair grows long and continuously. It will not fall out until it has grown fully and is ready to be replaced by new hair. This cycle of growth can take years, which is why shichons barely shed. Because of this, many people call this breed “hypoallergenic.”

While no dog is truly hypoallergenic, the shichon’s minimal amount of shedding means the breed can be a lot easier on people with allergies. So those with allergies who are not willing to live life without a dog (we don’t blame you) may be able to live more comfortably with a shichon.

What Should a Shichon Eat?

Shichons should eat the highest quality small breed dog food you can afford. The best dog foods follow AAFCO guidelines, undergo feeding trials, and are formulated by a veterinary nutritionist.

To determine how much to feed your shichon, you can follow the guidelines on the back of your preferred dog food. Otherwise, you can calculate your dog’s calorie needs yourself or use an online calorie calculator.

Knowing how many calories your dog needs per day can be helpful, especially during training, as you can reduce the portion of dog food to make up for the calories your dog is getting in treats. This helps prevent obesity.

Some articles may state that shichons shouldn’t have wet dog food because they are prone to tooth problems. However, it is a myth that dry kibble can clean tartar or plaque off of a dog’s teeth. Just as with humans, anything dogs eat, crunchy or soft, can leave remnants on their teeth.

Therefore, you’re welcome to feed your shichon whatever type of food you prefer, including wet food. Just follow the guidelines on the packaging in order to store the products safely.
Close-up of the face of a white shichon lying down

What Health Problems Do Shichons Have?

As a mixed breed, the shichon is at risk for any disease that could affect either of the parent breeds. This might make it seem like the shichon is more likely to be unhealthy than a bichon or a Shih Tzu, but this isn’t the case. Still, it is important to know any potential issues your dog could face.

Health risks for the shichon include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, retinal detachment, corneal dryness, eye inflammation, allergies, and bladder infections. Tooth loss as a result of gum infection can also be common if the shichon does not receive proper dental care.

All these health risks may seem scary, but you can increase your chances of getting a healthy dog by purchasing from a reputable breeder. These breeders will health test their breeding stock for all relevant diseases prior to mating. This way, they know that their dogs are not passing any issues to their puppies.

When it comes to dental problems, this can be prevented by brushing your shichon’s teeth daily and following your vet’s recommendation for professional cleanings. Most veterinarians will recommend yearly dental cleanings for shichons.

How Long Do Shichons Live?

Bichon frises can live for 10 to 18 years, and Shih Tzus live for about 12 to 18 years. Therefore, you can expect a shichon to live a maximum of 18 years.

Are Shichons Expensive?

Shichon puppies typically cost anywhere between $500 and $2,000 to purchase. Not all cheap dogs are from unethical breeders, but when considering puppies at a lower price, you definitely need to research and possibly even reach out to the breeder and ask questions, as it is important to ensure these puppies have been bred responsibly.

You’ll also want to consider the costs of keeping a shichon. Most owners prefer to keep these dogs clipped so that they don’t need to constantly brush their dogs. Unless you learn to do this yourself, consider this a bi-monthly expense.

Shichons may also need annual dental cleanings at the vet. These often cost hundreds of dollars. If your shichon needs any special treatments such as tooth extractions or treatment for periodontal disease, then the cost will be even greater. Brushing their teeth daily can help you avoid serious dental issues, but you’ll still want to fork out the cash for professional cleanings to further protect their teeth.

Other than these things, shichons don’t have any extra costs associated with them. On the bright side, they don’t eat much, so you won’t have to spend much on kibble.

How to Find a Shichon Breeder

We already know that you’re capable of using Google to find breeders in your area. However, there are some important questions you should be asking each breeder you’re interested in. These questions will ensure that you’re going to get a healthy puppy from a reputable source.

  • What are your credentials? You should learn about how long the breeder has been in business as well as how familiar they are with shichons.
  • Have the parent animals undergone health testing? Ask to see these tests.
  • Can I see where the dogs are kept? A respectable breeder should be happy to show you the dogs’ living conditions.
  • Can I meet the parent? This will give you a sense of the parent dogs’ temperaments and the potential temperaments of the puppies.
  • How do you socialize your puppies? Socialization is important for puppies to become friendly and confident.
  • Are the puppies up-to-date on vaccinations? You need to know your puppy’s health history so that you know which shots are still needed.
  • Do you offer a health guarantee with a contract? Some breeders guarantee the health of their puppies: should your puppy come down with a serious illness early on, the breeder may offer to reimburse the purchase price of the dog or even take the puppy back. This will also help you avoid purchasing from breeders who are irresponsible.
  • What do you require of potential adopters? Many breeders want to make sure their puppies are going to homes where they will be treated well and kept for life. Therefore, breeders may ask a number of questions about you, your situation, and your experience as a dog owner.

Can You Adopt a Shichon?

As with many “designer dogs,” it isn’t easy to find a shichon at your local shelter. If you have your heart set on rescuing, then you may need to be willing to travel to other states. You’ll want to look for shelters that specialize in rehoming Shih Tzus or bichon frises, as these shelters often take in mixes.

It also doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on shelters dedicated to rehoming small breeds. If you’re patient, you may eventually be able to find a shichon available for adoption.

Are Shichons Purebred?

Shichons are not purebred. Rather, they are the offspring of two purebred parents (or, in some cases, the offspring of two shichons).

Can You Show Shichons?

Unfortunately, shichons are not eligible to take part in dog shows because they are not purebred.
Caramel and white shichon in a green bow sitting

Are Shichons Good for New Dog Owners?

Although an inexperienced owner may experience some frustration when it comes to house training a shichon, the breed is otherwise a great choice for a first-time dog owner. Shichons are loving, playful, good with kids, and friendly. They are able to learn fun tricks and even sports like agility.

A new owner should understand that housebreaking will come with time; you just have to be patient. Reward the dog every time they potty outside and do not punish them if they have an accident indoors as punishment can make the problem worse. Use an enzyme cleaner when dealing with urine in order to prevent the pup from continually peeing in the same spot within your home.

Is a Shichon the Right Dog for Me?

By now, you probably have a pretty good idea if the shichon could be the perfect dog for you or not. Still, this was quite a long article with a lot of information. So, let’s quickly sum up who the shichon is and isn’t right for.

The shichon may be right for you if:

  • You have allergies but still want a dog.
  • You want a small dog that is good with children.
  • You’re looking for an affectionate, cuddly dog.
  • You want a playful but not demanding dog in terms of energy or exercise.

The shichon may not be right for you if:

  • You’re not prepared to spend extra time on housebreaking.
  • You want a dog that can join you for strenuous exercise.
  • You don’t want to trim the dog’s coat yourself or pay for a groomer to do so.
  • You won’t brush the shichon’s teeth daily.