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Shorkie dogs (a hybrid mix of the shih tzu and the Yorkshire terrier) are a pint-sized pooch and new kid on the block, and it's easy to see why interest in them is growing. Combining the Yorkie's small size with the shih tzu's sturdier build, the shorkie is a bright, affectionate, spunky dog that's considered nearly hypoallergenic.
Loyal and loving, shorkies adore their families—but decidedly do not enjoy being left alone. Snuggly but playful, shorkies don't need a huge yard or hours of activity. They do, however, require considerable grooming to keep their low-dander coats free of tangles.
With any new crossbreed like the shorkie, it's tough to know how much each parent breed will affect the puppies' appearance. But, because both the shih tzu and the Yorkshire terrier have long, silky, low-shedding coats that feel more like human hair than traditional dog fur, owners can count on that consistency—and count on needing to either brush it daily to avoid tangles or keep it in a "teddy bear" cut. Although the shorkie's grooming needs are high, this type of fur tends to have less dander, making it a good choice for allergy sufferers (though no dog can be deemed 100-percent hypoallergenic).
What's less certain is the coat's color, which can come in any combination of blue, red, black, brown, fawn, or white, and her face is often darker than her body. Generally, the shorkie is a tiny but muscular dog with thin legs, a round face, and short muzzle. Her little tail is likely to curl over her back, possibly with a long plume of hair, and her adorable little triangular ears add to her alert look.
Small but mighty, the shorkie is a charming pup with a sweet but spirited nature. She makes a wonderful family pet and devoted lap dog for just about any owner who's ready to spend lots of time together.
The shorkie does not appreciate being left alone for long, which makes her a great companion for seniors, too. While shorkies (especially shorkie puppies) make active play pals, you can also expect plenty of snuggle time once her physical and mental needs are met.
She's alert, sensitive, and quick to bark at just about anything that startles her, whether that's a person, an animal, or one of those dastardly floating leaves that come out of nowhere. Training and socialization in puppyhood will go a long way toward keeping your shorkie healthy, happy, and less likely to engage in some of the less cute qualities they can sometimes exhibit, like that barking, digging, or chasing.
The shorkie's slight size can make her feel like she needs to stand up for herself in order to be seen. It's up to her owners to help her feel secure and teach her quieter methods of self-expression through consistent positive reinforcement training.
"Fearful behaviors are really common, and having a little dog you can't touch in your home is a really challenging situation!" says Dr. Jill Sackman, DVM, PhD, owner of Animal Behavior Consultants of Michigan. "Handling and touch is really important. You want [a puppy] who's outgoing, who's interested in interacting and exploring their environment."
Pretty much any space your shorkie shares with you will do, whether that's a studio apartment or a home with a sizable fenced-in yard. You need to provide your shorkie with enough physical activity and mental stimulation to keep her happy and healthy. Otherwise, she's going to entertain herself—and probably not in ways that are very entertaining to you.
Because she doesn't like being left alone, she'll love to join you for social outings. But remember: Just because your pup can fit in your purse, that doesn't mean she should stay there.
"Make sure you're taking them on walks out in public and not just carrying them around," says Erin Askeland, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, Animal Health and Behavior Consultant at Camp Bow Wow. "You want them to get out on their own four feet." If you do carry her on occasion, make sure she's secure and doesn't jump from up high, which could end in injury.
With a crossbreed like this, a wide variety of traits can be inherited from either parent breed. So while some shorkies will be lively little dogs who love to zoom around, others will be more content spending quality time on the couch. Pay attention to what your shorkie seems to enjoy most, and when it comes to games and training, look for fun activities that engage her natural instincts in a safe and secure way.
"If they want something to chase, give them something to chase!" Askeland says. "I love using interactive mechanical toys ... something like a fish on a string, kind of like a flirt pole, can be really fun to play with, especially inside."
She's also a fan of indoor games like hide and seek, which engages her terrier desire to search. And if you've got a big chaser, Askeland suggests finding a local lure chasing group.
The shih tzu tends to tolerate other pets easily, while Yorkies sometimes prefer to be the star of the show, so it can be difficult to predict how your shorkie will do with a four-legged sibling. But as long as your pup is well-socialized when she's young, she should be fine with canine or kitty roommates.
The shorkie's coat may be considered high maintenance, but the fact that it's low-dander more than makes up for the daily brushing it requires to stay knot- and tangle-free. Along with regular brushing, you should plan on taking her to the groomer every six weeks or so.
Many owners keep their shorkies in a puppy or "teddy bear" cut to reduce daily grooming time—plus, there's no denying it's super adorable. It's vital that you get your shorkie used to being handled and groomed from an early age so your regular sessions are a fun bonding opportunity, not a chore you both dread.
In addition to grooming your shorkie's coat, her nails should also be trimmed monthly, she'll need her ears cleaned on occasion, and she's going to need a little help keeping her pretty little face clean with warm water and a soft cloth—between getting food in her fur and having teary eyes, she's been known to get a little messy.
With two intelligent, companionable parent breeds, the shorkie should be exposed to regular, positive reinforcement-based training from puppyhood. Patience may be necessary, as the Yorkie side of this hybrid brings an independent spirit. Remain consistent and shower her with praise (and perhaps her favorite squeaky toys) in training sessions, and your hard work will pay off. But be careful about rewarding her with too many treats—she's so small that even a slight weight gain can have a major negative impact on her overall health.
Even if your shorkie has lots of energy, that doesn't make her an appropriate running or hiking buddy. A couple short, daily walks will be enough to meet her needs, especially if she's provided with toys and games for mental stimulation when she's inside. And because of their smooshed faces, shorkies don't tolerate heat or cold well. You'll need to tailor your activities to her rather than the other way around.
Just like her appearance and temperament, it can be difficult to predict exactly what health conditions will be prevalent in a new crossbreed such as the shorkie mix.
"This is a mixed-breed dog that there is not a lot of long term experience with, [so] we aren't aware of the ramifications regarding longterm health," says Ryan Llera, DVM. But, based on the parent breeds and the diminutive shorkie size, they can live between 12–15 years. Llera says there are some potential health conditions owners should be aware of:
- Patellar luxation: A condition where the kneecap dislodges from its normal position. This is common in small dog breeds.
- Dental disease: Small dogs are also prone to dental issues. Llera recommends frequent teeth brushing, dental chews, and regular dental cleanings.
- Heart disease: Shih tzus and Yorkies are both affected by heart disease, so there's potential for a shorkie to inherit this risk.
- Cushing's disease: This is a specific type of hyperadrenocorticism caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland. Like heart disease, both parent breeds are susceptible to this condition.
- Obesity: If you're unsure about how much food, when, or what to feed your dog, talk to your veterinarian about how to maintain a healthy shorkie weight.
While it's likely that plenty of unintentional shih tzu and Yorkshire terrier pairings have happened throughout history, the shorkie as a designer crossbreed is a relative newcomer. Believed to have originated in the 2000s, it's easy to understand why breeders would see potential in this mix; both breeds boast an allergy-friendly coat and affectionate nature, while the shih tzu adds loyalty and the Yorkie brings the spunk.
When it comes to this—and any hybrid breed—it's particularly important to research any shorkie breeder due to the prevalence of puppy mills in the designer dog market. Unscrupulous breeders take advantage of the increase in popularity of different breeds, including crossbreeds, and breed dogs in inhumane conditions without the kind of attention to their health and well-being that responsible breeders provide.
Make sure you don't fall for a puppy mill scheme by keeping an eye out for these red flags as you're on the lookout for your new best furry friend:
- There are multiple mixed breeds for sale from the same breeder.
- The website offers wait times for puppies.
- The breeder offers to ship puppies.
- It’s difficult to identify breeder contact information (no phone number, contact email, etc.).
- The shorkie is just too cute to stick to one name, so you may also see the crossbreed referred to as the "shorkie tzu," "Yorkie tzu," or, imaginatively, "the shih tzu Yorkie mix."
- While they're not acknowledged by the American Kennel Club, the shorkie tzu is recognized by the American Canine Hybrid Club.
- What's the difference between a shorkie and a shorkie poo? It's simple: a shorkie plus a poodle gives you a shorkie poo. All three parent breeds tend to be adored by allergy sufferers for their low-dander, low-shedding coats.