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Shichon - Fun Facts and Crate Size

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 Shichon - Fun Facts and Crate Size

Shichon

Quick Facts:

  • Not AKC Recognized
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Size: small
  • Energy: medium
  • Recommended Crate Size: 24” dog crate*

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Soft, cute, playful, and cuddly, that’s what the Shichon is.  A proud member of the Teddy Bear Dog Club, or dogs that bear an uncanny resemblance to Teddy bears, this pup is a prize.  He’s friendly, excellent with kids, barely sheds at all, and is pretty portable too.

The Shichon is a designer dog of a Bichon Frise and Shih Tzu mix.  They may also be called Zuchons or Tzu Frise. 

His teeny, small size makes him even more adorable and that’s a fact he’s quite aware and proud of. 

And, why shouldn’t he be?  He is small in stature only though for in his mind, he’s a giant.

Breed

When breeding designer dogs became the trend in America in the 1990s, the thought of crossing the beloved Bichon Frise and an oriental Shih Tzu came to mind.  It seemed like a match made in dog heaven.  And, it really was.

Although the exact history of the beginnings of the designer breed is not available, it is known that a lot of thought went into the making of this fine dog. 

It was clear that the plan was for the creation of a smart, social, small, very friendly and cheerful, lap dog that could be easily transported and who was allergy-friendly.  In short, this design was to be to fashion a dog that was as close to perfect as possible. 

Because the Shichon is a designer breed and not a pure breed, he cannot be accepted into the American Kennel Club or any of the other major dog breed registries. 

He is, however, recognized by the American Canine Hybrid Club as well and is a proud member of the Designer Dogs Kennel Club too.

To learn more about this sweet pup, it’s important to take a look at his parent breeds, the Bichon Frise and the Shih Tzu and you will understand why the mix of these two awesome breeds was a dream come true.

The Bichon Frise has been one of the most popular family dogs for ages.  They look like little cotton balls (always in white or shades of white) with big black expressive eyes.  Mischievous and loving, the Bichon is a happy-go-lucky dog that anyone would easily fall in love with. 

The perky white pup hails from the Mediterranean, a descendant of the Standard Poodle and the Barbet who possibly was developed in France in the 1300s. 

He is believed to have accompanied his humans along trade routes to countries near and far like Spain, France, and Italy.  He was the favored dog at that time. 

Even when the French Revolution took place and many of the noblemen who had the breed were jailed, the Bichon were able to survive because they were simply adorable. 

They quickly found a new place in the society as circus performers.  They were formally recognized as an official breed by France in 1933.

He’s never been a working dog except for his time in the circus if his natural love for performing is considered working. 

His job seems to be being a great companion and that...he is.  The Frise found his way to America in 1955 and received full AKC recognition in 1972.

Reaching just about one foot in height, the Bichon is not considered a Toy breed although he could almost qualify. 

He is graceful and confident and needs his people.  He tends to suffer from separation anxiety more than most dogs and sometimes has a slight independent streak that most likely roots back to his Poodle ancestry. 

Other than that, there aren’t many other downsides about the Bichon which easily shoed him in to become one of the chosen parents for designing a near-perfect small family dog.

Shih Tzus are a Toy breed that has an exotic look about him and rightly so.  He brings with him a good bit of Chinese history for he warmed the laps of Emperors where he earned the name of “lion dog”. 

Dating back to at least 800 BC, it is said that Shih Tzus are most likely the result of breeding a Pekingese, Sin-Tibetan breeds, and the Lhaso Apso.  Weighing in at anywhere from 8 to 16 pounds, this parent breed is a charmer. 

He makes an excellent family dog and is very good with children.  Finally earning his AKC recognition in 1969, it’s not a wonder he was chosen to be the other parent to a designer breed that would steal the hearts of all.

First generation Shichons are a product of a fifty-fifty blend of Shih Tzu and Bichon.  Past there, a number of combinations can occur such as a first generation Shichon bred with another first gen or a Bichon with first gen and so on. 

Because the Shichon dog is not regulated by the AKC or any other official registry, there are no set rules although breeders definitely have their opinions on the matter. 

First generation Shichons tend to be much healthier than those that are further mixed.  The goal of designing dog breeds is to produce dogs that don’t have the strong genetics that make them so prone to certain medical and behavioral issues. 

Although this feat has been somewhat of a success in the first generation Shichons, second generation ones tend to be apt to all of the woes from both parents which is far from ideal. 

The first gen Shichon is indeed the best of both parents, usually.  Since the Bichon and the Shih Tzu are all-around great, fun and friendly breeds, how could he miss? 

Although you can never be sure quite what you are getting when you cross two breeds, this union is almost always a sure success, personality, and beauty-wise, at least.

There are cases, however, with all designer breeds where things don’t go quite as planned.  Sometimes it is apparent in a personality flaw or in poor health genes.  Getting a crossbreed is much like receiving a present. 

You don’t know what you get until the gift is unwrapped.  That is something every pet parent should be aware of and should also be prepared for.  Regardless, you are committing to love and cherish the little ball of fur when you take him in.

Shichons haven’t been on the scene all that long but they have certainly made a great impression during the time they have been.  They have stolen the hearts of many and they just keep growing more and more popular.

Appearance

Shichons look a lot like a little, stuffed animal.  You just want to squeeze him!  But, don’t!  Although his fluffy hair makes him look a little larger, he’s just between 10 and 15 pounds and fully-grown will only stand about 9 to 12 inches tall.

The fluffy coat of a Shichon is dense, long, and curly.  It is very soft and silky to touch making it a temptation to skip work and just pet him all day long.  Their coats are hypoallergenic, barely shedding at all. 

Typical colorings include cream, gray, red, black, apricot, silver, white, tan, chocolate, and reddish black. Sometimes they are a mix of the given colors. They actually often noticeably change colors as they get older.

Shichons have a full face, black button noses, and brown or dark brown big round eyes.  Their ears adorably hang to frame their little faces and their tails are medium length.  They sport curls all down their backs.

From the top of his head to the pads of his paws, this darling designer breed couldn’t look more like a silky, curly little Teddy bear if he tried.  He is simply adorable.

Nutrition

The Shichon is a very small dog so it’s important that you feed him according to his pint-size needs and for his breed requirements.  Speaking with his veterinarian is wise so she can recommend a diet that suits his needs.

It is fully advised that you feed him only top quality dog food that is specially formulated for him.  Some hold to the belief that this dog breed should not have wet dog food but that is something to discuss with his vet.

Most likely his vet will recommend that he be fed several smaller meals per day until he’s a little older and then the schedule and amount may change.

Shichons are prone to become overweight.  Obesity in dogs, just as with humans, can open the door to a world of medical problems like heart disease and diabetes. 

For that reason, it is important to feed him appropriate food in amounts and frequencies that are customized for his size, breed, and age. 

In between meal snacks and treats should be limited so he will eat his regular food.  Remember, he has a tiny tummy so it’s vital that he puts in it what is healthy for him.

Grooming

The Shichon is a non-shedder, for the most part.  His coat doesn’t give way to dander and other allergens, making him an excellent choice for those who suffer from allergies. 

Just because he doesn’t shed, he’s not maintenance free as some believe though.  He definitely requires some grooming to keep him healthy and happy.

His cute, curly coat needs to be brushed at least once or twice per week so it doesn’t mat and tangle.  Pay particular attention to the hair next to the skin that can easily be overlooked and can get in complete disarray if it is neglected.

You will want to bathe your Shichon once a month or have him bathed by a groomer.  Bathing any more frequently is not recommended as his coat and skin have a tendency to become dry and itchy. 

Use a conditioning, hypoallergenic shampoo on him and be sure to fluff his coat back up after his bath.

The coat of a Shichon does need to be trimmed up from time to time lest he becomes shaggy looking but a formal trim isn’t necessary unless you prefer him to have one. 

His coat is naturally gorgeous but can get too long and become unruly so a little trim every few months is a good idea.  Ultimately, with the Shichon, you can choose between clipping or scissoring. 

If you go with a groomer, the Puppy Cut, Show Cut, or Teddy Bear Cut are the most popular options.

The hair in his eye area will need to be trimmed too and if you don’t feel you can do that safely on your own, you will want to have a groomer do it for you. 

Keeping eye hair trimmed back is a must for his health because as mentioned before, not doing so can lead to eye infections and irritations. 

There is also a good bit of hair that grows around his nose so keep it trimmed so it’s not irritating his nose.

Shichons have floppy ears that hang so be sure to keep them extra clean and dry to prevent ear issues.  They can develop ear infections that left untreated can warrant surgery or may even lead to deafness.

Since Shichons are inside dogs, it’s doubtful he’ll wear his nails down much on his own.  You’ll need to help him out by keeping them trimmed up.

Exercise

The Shichon isn’t overly active.  He runs about average with medium energy although as a young pup, he might bounce around a lot for short intervals to get some pent up energy out.

About 20 to 40 minutes of exercise a day is good for this pretty pup.  You can even divide it up and walk him for 20 minutes twice a day so he doesn’t get too worn out with his wee little legs.

Because he doesn’t require a lot of exercise, he can easily live in a small apartment or even a hotel room but only if he gets his walking time and a little play time in between.

When walking him, be sure to keep an eye out for larger dogs, kids on bikes, and such so he doesn’t get injured.  He doesn’t realize he’s so small and isn’t afraid so it’s good to air on the side of caution when he’s exposed and vulnerable. 

Playing fetch is fun for this little guy and for you because he is so darn cute when he gets into it. 

He will quickly catch on to the concept of giving you the ball, stick, or toy back to toss again...and again...and again.  He may even add his own twist of silly antics to the traditional game.

Pet Crate Size

Pet Crates Direct recommends a 24” dog crate* for most adult Shichons but due to variances in sizes, a slightly smaller or larger size may be required.

More Information

Personality

Zuchons, also known as Shichons, are perky and precious.  They love to play and have fun but will settle right on down for a long lounge in your lap too.

Talk about smart!  This dog gets his intelligence from both parents.  He will shock you at times, he’s so sharp.

Shichons are family dogs, through and through.  They love children and get along well with other pets in the house too. 

Although they don’t seem to know or care how tiny and fragile they are, they must be watched around rambunctious children and overly active or large pets in the home.

They may love a little too deeply though because they cannot stand to be alone.  Plan to devote lots of attention to this fuzzy friend.  They fit right into almost any scene from riding along for a shopping trip to packing up and heading to a friend’s house which makes a great solution for the separation anxiety issue. 

Contrary to many other petite breeds, the Shichon is usually calm, cool, and collect which makes him a joy to bring along and makes him a welcome guest too.

Sometimes...they bark.  They can get on an obnoxious roll if someone rings the doorbell or if he hears a strange noise on the television. 

Although his bark is actually quite tiny and rather cute, the insistence can get annoying to you, other family members, and to neighbors as well.  So, plan to deal with any excessive barking when he’s very young and all will be fine.

Because they are a little on the needy side and can suffer from anxiety, Zuchons may tend to chew things when stressed such as if left alone for a time (like...five minutes). 

Making sure he has plenty of chew toys of his own will help prevent him from chewing on your slippers and sofa but sometimes, he may choose to chew on your things just to prove a point.  Sometimes it is best to crate him when you’re gone, for his sake and for yours.

In fact, Shichons are so friendly and intelligent, they make fabulous therapy dogs.  In fact, one reason they were created in the first place was to be a faithful therapy dog for handicapped children. 

Their sweet personalities make them absolutely perfect for the part.  It is even said that this designer breed is so attuned, he can pick up on your feelings and appropriately react in order to soothe you, cheer you up, or deliver the emotional remedy you happen to need at the time might be.  Simply...amazing!

Training

Shichon puppies are very trainable.  They are smart as whips and love to please.  They do have a little independent streak, however, and maybe a tad stubborn at times.  But, with patience and persistence, they will ace the challenge and make you proud.

As with most very small dogs, housebreaking might not be as easy as the other areas of his training.  Just think of how small his little bladder is and you’ll understand why it can be a little difficult at times. 

You will need to let him out (or put him in a litter box) quite often.  Still, he may have accidents.  He’ll get the hang of it though but will probably never be able to hold his business for too long.  He’s just too little to do so.

Be sure to socialize him by taking him all sorts of places and exposing him to all types of people and animals too.  He’s naturally friendly but he’ll need to learn a few things. 

Be prepared to scoop him up if he gets too friendly to a large, rough-housing kind of dog or if little children try to pick him up.  He will learn what is ok and what is not.  He’ll also get used to loud noises and busy places.

Obedience training is usually super easy with this crossbreed.  He is happy to do most anything that will make you happy. 

He will follow commands if he wants to.  And, once you show him that you are the boss and not him, he will usually follow them regardless of if he’s in the mood to or not, just because you asked him too. 

It is imperative to get the obedience training down because he’s so small, he’ll need to heed your warnings immediately to avoid danger.

Trick training is really fun with the Shichon.  He will be a pro at rolling over, playing dead, and all sorts of cute antics.  He will love performing them and you’ll love teaching and watching him.

Don’t forget to add in some brain training exercises.  This little fellow is smart and you want to make sure to embrace that about him.  Brain games will challenge him and keep him from getting bored.  Plus, he will amaze you.

Speaking of amazing, this dog is capable of miracles so you may choose to have him professionally trained to be a therapy dog.  Everyone can use a little therapy from this loving character!

The key to training a Shichon is patience, persistence, and plenty of love.  Scolding him will break his heart and he won’t respond well at all and furthermore, he may resort back to the stubborn, defensive traits that vaguely run through his blood. 

Treats can be used for motivation but should be limited because this breed does have a tendency to overeat.  Praise, praise, and more praise is the best bet with this little guy.

Health

As mentioned before, first-generation Shichons are, as a rule, much healthier than second generation ones. 

Because Shichons, in general, fetch a price of $800 on up, per pup, the temptation for breeders to become greedy is irresponsible is present. 

The more you know about the breeder and the parents, the better.  You want your dog to be as healthy as possible.

Shichons have some health issues they are vulnerable too.  Here are some things to watch for:

Hip Dysplasia is a condition that is a deformity of the hip joint that fails to hold the hip and femur together.  It can be present at birth or can be a result of environmental factors such as excessive wear and tear due to rough terrain or jumping from heights not suitable for the size and ability of a dog. 

Shichons are prone to be born with the condition or to develop it with time.  If your dog is limping, favoring one leg, or is not walking at all, you will certainly want his vet to take a look. 

In extreme cases, there are medical procedures, like surgery, that can be done to help him.  Be careful not to allow him to jump from high places as a preventative measure against this ailment.

Hypothyroidism is a medical condition that actually affects the entire body of a dog or a human.  It is a metabolic issue that causes all functions to slow down, especially the thyroid. 

There are two main types of hypothyroidism in dogs, lymphocytic thyroiditis or idiopathic thyroid gland atrophy, and also one that is caused as a result of thyroid cancer. 

Lethargy, unexplained weight gain or loss, and a general loss of interest are signs of the disease.  If you suspect your Shichon has this disorder, your vet can run a test on his blood to determine if he does or not and in the event that he does have it, a plan of action can be decided upon.

Patellar Luxation is not uncommon in this designer breed, unfortunately.  It is a condition that entails the kneecap, or patella, dislocating from the position in the femur where it should be stationed. 

When the knee pops out of its location, it can be quite painful and debilitating.  If you believe your dog has this condition, have him checked immediately.

Respiratory conditions are another medical woe Shichons can suffer from.  Labored breathing can be a sign of respiratory disease as coughing can be as well. 

Shichons may be prone to have allergies.  They are often sensitive to foods so if you change his diet, watch for any signs that the new food isn’t agreeing with him. 

He also has a tendency to have itchy or dry skin when exposed to elements like laundry detergent that is leftover on his bedding or even a sensitivity to grass or carpet.  His vet can make recommendations on how to remedy allergies should they occur.

Eye problems sometimes develop in this designer breed.  The excess hair in his eye area is one reason for the issues but he is also prone to get cataracts which can diminish his ability to see.  If they become too bad, they can be surgically removed.

Portosystemic Shunt is a condition dogs can acquire but usually, they are born with the problem.  It involves an abnormal connection between the portal vascular system and the circulation system. 

It can be inside the liver or outside of it but either type prevents toxins from being expelled and proteins and nutrients from being absorbed. 

If your dog is malnourished although you are feeding him properly or is acting sickly for no apparent reason, he should be check for this condition. 

If he does have this problem, a medical management plan will be devised by his vet.

Although there are a number of health problems to watch for, that in no means is to say your Shichon will get any of them.  If he does, prompt medical attention is the best defense so take him in right away and begin a treatment plan. 

Is a Shichon Right for Me?

Do you love Teddy bears?  Are you able to distinguish the difference between a fluffy, living breathing puppy and a stuffed animal you can pick up and put down when you please? 

It may sound rude to ask but there are many Shichons who have found their way into shelters or rescue organization facilities because their initial pet parents didn’t realize the responsibility.

The Shichon is ideal for many housing situations as long as he is an inside dog.  He can fit right into a small apartment or condo or he can be quite comfy in a palace as well. 

This isn’t a dog to be left outside unsupervised for long though so as long as he’ll be inside, most any spot will do.

Because he is a dog and not a toy animal, pet parents of the Shichon do have a big job on their hands. 

You’ll need to protect him, on walks, around small children, and anywhere else his small stature might put him in harm’s way.  He will return the favor full-fold though by being an adorable joyful companion.

If you are going to be gone a lot, count this dog out.  He would go nuts.  He is happiest when he’s with his family. 

The good news is that he can be taken most anywhere so if that’s a possibility, you might just have met your match.

After learning all the facts associated with the Shichon, if you still believe that you and he may be soulmates, you may be well on your way to a life-changing venture with one of the most coveted, wonderful dogs in existence.

 

* Links for crate sizes will bring you to the most appropriate Amazon page.


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