shichon dog breed profile treatment brown dog on a pink, cream and green background

Shichon

Shichons are gentle, happy-go-lucky, playful dogs that love spending lots of time with their humans. Learn more about what makes this fluffy hybrid such a wonderful pet.
By Brittany Anas
September 02, 2021
Shichon
Breed Group
Dog Size
Other Traits
Temperament

Shichon

height
  • 9–12 inches
weight
  • 9–15 pounds
life span
  • 12–16 years
breed size
  • small (0-25 lbs.)
good with
  • families
  • children
  • seniors
  • dogs
  • cats
temperament
  • playful
  • friendly
  • outgoing
intelligence
  • high
shedding amount
  • infrequent
exercise needs
  • medium
energy level
  • active
barking level
  • infrequent
drool amount
  • low
breed group
  • hybrid
coat length/texture
  • medium
  • curly
colors
  • black
  • red
  • blue
  • cream
  • white
  • gold / yellow
  • brown / chocolate / liver
  • gray
patterns
  • bicolor
  • tricolor
other traits
  • hypoallergenic
  • easy to train
  • low prey drive
  • apartment-friendly
  • good for first-time pet owners
  • strong loyalty tendencies

Gentle and sweet, the bichon frise has a happy-go-lucky personality with playful antics. Meanwhile, the shih tzu is a loyal and friendly lapdog. Combine these two breeds, and you've got a sweet-as-can-be shichon, a fluffy cuddle champion.

Emerging in popularity, these small hybrid dogs can be a perfect fit for a number of households as doting companions for seniors or eager-to-play pets for families with children. Shichons don't shed much, either, so they may be an ideal pet for allergy sufferers. Because of their gentle nature, they could be great for first-time pet owners, too. However, shichons do require a good deal of grooming to keep their curly coats from matting, and they are a breed that likes to spend oodles of time with their humans. 

"The shichon is a cross between the loyal shih tzu and the confident bichon frise," says Linda Simon, MVB, MRCVS, consulting veterinarian at FiveBarks. "They epitomize what is the best of both breeds and have a unique, teddy-bear like appearance."

Appearance

These small dogs weigh between 9–15 pounds, which is a bit smaller than the breed standard for the bichon frise but bigger than most shih tzus. Full-grown, a shichon is just 9–12 inches in height. These pups often have a medium-length tail on one end and brown or black button eyes on the other. 

shichon dog standing outside in grass looking at the camera with their tongue out
Small, fluffy, and happy-go-lucky, the shichon is the perfect pup for almost any family.
| Credit: Kirsten Thompson / Shutterstock

As a mixed breed dog, shichon puppies—even those from the same litter—can look totally different. One pup may strut their stuff with the cocky gait of a shih tzu. Other shichons could be peppy little powder puffs with plumed tails like the bichon frise. Or shichons could inherit both parents' signature traits. Regardless, a double dose of cuteness is definitely in these dogs' DNA. 

Some may inherit a curly snow white coat from the bichon frise side of the family, while others could don silky coats credited to the shih tzu parent. Others may have a mix of both. This hybrid breed's coat can come in a number of colors, including brown, red, gold, cream, black, white, silver, and more. Some shichons may have solid coats while others may wear a mix of colors, like a black and white shichon or a cream-colored dog with red and gray accents on her ears and near her eyes. The cute combinations are endless!  

While no dog is entirely hypoallergenic, shichons don't shed much and their teddy-bear fur could be ideal for people who tend to sniffle around dogs. 

Temperament

Shichons are also diplomatic little dogs, able to get along well with most other pets, including cats and fellow dogs, as long as they have been socialized with them from a young age, Simon says. 

"Owners particularly like how people-driven the sociable shichon is," Simon says. "As both parent breeds are companion dogs, they are well adapted to living closely with their family and will form close bonds with them." 

As playful, people-loving pups, shichons fit perfectly into family life and adore the energy children bring to each day, says Corinne Wigfall, DVM, BVS, BVM, and consulting veterinarian with SpiritDog Training. Of course, always supervise kiddos when they're playing with any dog and teach your children how to properly play with small animals, respecting their boundaries and being mindful of their size.

Also, both of the shichons' parents are brainiacs, so this mixed breed is an intelligent one. Couple that with their eagerness to please their people, and you've got a dog that will be a standout student when it comes to training

brown and white shichon puppy standing on concrete steps licking his nose
Credit: lempelziv / Getty

Living Needs

Both of the shichons parents are companion dogs, so expect this little guy to want to spend a lot of time with you. Whether it's playing games, training, exercising, or lazing on the couch, the shichon's love language is most definitely "quality time"—and they just can't get enough of it with their humans.

Because of their close bonds with their people, shichons do best with a family that's home quite a bit. (They'll keep your lap warm and your spirits high during those work-from-home Zoom calls.) While shichons can be a family dog, they can also be an ideal pet for older adults because of their relatively low exercise needs, Wigfall says. 

The shichon can do well in an apartment thanks to their small size and relatively low exercise needs, Simon says. Though, he'll also enjoy romping around in a fenced backyard. And while he's naturally curious and playful, a shichon can also happily lay down and relax when you're having some down time, Simon says. 

While this breed enjoys playing outside (how about a game of fetch?) in short bursts or going for walks, shichons aren't an all-weather sporty breed. The shih tzu side of the family is known for having a flat face and thick coat, which can make him susceptible to heat stroke

Care

Shichon owners, be prepared: Your pup has quite the beauty routine, and it's important you stick to it to keep his coat in tip-top shape. 

Owners need to brush their shichon's coat daily, paying special attention to her ears and undercarriage to prevent her coat from becoming matted, Simon says. The shichon also needs regular grooming appointments with a professional. He may look great in a traditional shih tzu hair cut, like the classic short puppy cut or a medium-length shichon teddy bear cut.  

grey and white shichon with her tongue out wearing a harness and walking on a leash
A shichon dog doesn't need a ton of exercise, but he'll always be down for a neighborhood walk or backyard playtime.
| Credit: mikeledray / Shutterstock

Because of the shichon's narrow tear ducts, tear staining can be a common issue, Simon says, and his eyes need to be regularly cleaned. Gently wipe around your dog's eyes with a moist cloth. Also, their small jaws can make them more prone to dental disease, so daily tooth brushing is a must. 

Along with making sure your shichon looks his best, you need to keep him feeling his best with daily play and exercise. While shichon dogs will never come top place in a race or agility course, they do enjoy having a good run in a park or backyard to burn off some energy. 

"They have a zest for life and will readily accept any opportunity to go out, sniff, and explore," Simon says.

But shichons can burn a lot of their calories from playing inside, too, Simon says. For most, a 30–45 minute walk every day is plenty, she says.

As far as training goes, shichons are fast learners who will eagerly look forward to training sessions—because it's an opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with you! Bring lots of treats, make it fun, be generous with the head pats and praise, and keep the training sessions short and productive. As with all breeds, exercise patience and use positive reinforcement during training

Health

Like most small breed dogs, the shichon has a long lifespan. These companions can live for 12–16 years and tend to be healthy. But, like all dogs, shichons can be prone to some health problems, inherited from either side of their family. 

Both shih tzus and bichon frises can be susceptible to hip dysplasia, a condition where the joint doesn't develop as it should and becomes loose. Left untreated, it can cause pain, mobility issues, and osteoarthritis.

On the shih tzu side, some other treatable, albeit common, issues include patellar luxation (a slipped kneecap) and umbilical hernias. They can also have some eye health problems such as cataracts. Bichon frises are generally healthy dogs but may be prone to hypothyroidism and von Willebrand's disease, a bleeding disorder. 

However, the Institute of Canine Biology says mixed breed dogs are typically less likely than their purebred parents to inherit genetic disorders.

But those who are looking to bring a hybrid pup in their home need to do some important research. The shichon is a relatively new "designer" hybrid breed—and these cute dogs are in high demand, which can mean some shichon breeders are operating without the dogs' health in mind. To make sure you're working with an ethical shichon breeder and that you're bringing home a healthy dog, be aware of these common puppy mill red flags:

  • A breeder offers to ship a puppy.
  • A kennel produces multiple breeds of dogs.
  • It's difficult to find contact information on a breeder's website.
  • The breeder will not let you meet the puppy's parents or siblings.

History

While the shichon is a relatively new breed whose origins aren't quite known or detailed by historians, both of his parents are among some of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, each with their own long histories that are rich with royal ties (and a little bit of folklore, too). 

cute brown and white shichon puppy sitting outside looking directly at the camera
Shichon puppy or stuffed animal? These pups are so cute, it's sometimes hard to tell!
| Credit: Laura Cruise / Shutterstock

Shih tzus originated roughly 1,000 years ago, according to the Shih Tzu Club, and it's believed they were first bred in Tibet, possibly by Tibetan monks. These small dogs were status symbols, sent to Chinese emperors as gifts. In the 1940s and 1950s, American soldiers who were stationed in Europe brought these "little lion dogs" to the United States, according to the American Kennel Club

The shichon's other parent, the bichon frise, are merry dogs from the Mediterranean that historians say have been around since the 13th century, according to the Bichon Frise Club of America. These fluffy, white dogs enjoyed a life of luxury as the pets of European nobles; legend has it that even Cleopatra fancied bichon frises

But don't underestimate bichon frises as just some pampered pooches; they've got an entrepreneurial spirit. During the French Revolution of the 1700s, royals lost their power and the bichon was left to fend for himself on the streets. So, the ever-so-intelligent bichon frise turned to show business and began performing tricks with street performers and circus acts. These sweet dogs made it to the United States in the 1950s and the BFCA was founded in San Diego in 1964. The dogs were accepted into the AKC in 1971.

Fun Facts

  • Just like the shichon himself, the breed has some adorable pseudonyms. He also goes by "zuchon" and "tzu frise." 
  • Because of their gentle and intuitive dispositions, shichons are popular therapy dogs and emotional support animals. 
  • Shichons haven't been around for long, but one adorable pup enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame after a play match with an inflatable minion became an internet sensation.