The Bichon Frise Shih Tzu mix, or Zuchon, is one of the most popular dogs in the “designer breed” category. Although the word “designer dog” has recently garnered a negative connotation, these mixed-breed pups are actually some of the healthiest and pleasant pets you can have.
Zuchons go by many names and are also called Shicons, Teddy Bear dogs, Tzu Frises, and Fuzzy Wuzzies. If you can’t tell from all of their adorable titles, Zuchons are cute small dogs with fluffy soft hair and incredibly sweet and loyal personalities.
If you are considering getting one of these delightful pups, then this article will explain everything you need to know about Bichon Frise Shih Tzu mixes so you can make the best decision.
What is a Zuchon? Everything you Need to Know about Bichon Frise Shih Tzu Mixes
Zuchons are a mix between the happy-go-lucky Bichon Frise and the smaller and adorable Shih Tzu. Because this dog breed is often created through crossbreeding over multiple generations, many Zuchons have different personalities and different appearances depending on what traits they inherit from their ancestors.
This dog breed was created to combine the loving and wholesome personality of the Bichon Frise with the small size and appearance of a Shih Tzu. In general, most Zuchons are a wonderful combination of both sides and make excellent family dogs, apartment dogs, and even guard dogs.
Must-Know Zuchon Basic Facts
If you are looking for an adorable best friend with a great personality, then look no further than the Zuchon. Although some Zuchons more closely resemble Shih Tzus while others look more like Bichon Frises, you can be sure that no matter which pup you choose they will end up looking like a fluffy “teddy bear”.
Although there can be a lot of variation in size between Zuchons, most dogs in this breed are considered small dogs weighing anywhere from 9 to 15 pounds. Their height is typically between 9 and 12 inches, however, some dogs may grow larger. The best way to predict how big your Zuchon puppy will get is by meeting both of its parent dogs.
The average lifespan of a Zuchon is between 12 and 18 years. To ensure your friend has the longest and happiest life, it’s important to regularly brush their teeth, check their eyes, and feed them properly so they maintain a healthy weight.
Zuchons may have many different textures of fur. Some may have longer fur like a Shih Tzu while others have curly and soft fur like a Bichon Frise. Common Zuchon colors include tan, gray, black, brown, and white. Zuchons can be a mixture of two or more colors or just one color.
Zuchons normally have black noses and may have dark brown or hazel eyes. They normally have floppy long ears and a short snout.
History and Origins of the Zuchon
While Shih Tzu Bichon Frise mixed dogs were likely produced naturally in the past, the two dog breeds weren’t purposely mixed until around 20 or 30 years ago when designer breeds first started to become popular. Nobody knows exactly when the Zuchon breed was created, but it probably started in the US.
The goal of mixing these two breeds together was likely to create a small dog with the lovable and friendly disposition of a Bichon Frise. Because of the great success of this in the Zuchon, the breed has become popular very quickly.
With the recent rise in popularity also comes a rise in the chances of finding this type of dog in shelters and rescues which is great for owners looking to adopt and not shop.
Shih Tzu History
While the Zuchon is a very recent breed, the Shih Tzu has a much longer lineage. These dogs were first created in China by imperial breeders and were the pets of royalty during at least two dynasties. It wasn’t until the 1930s that the Shih Tzu breed became known outside of China and began to spread all over the world.
Bichon Frise History
The Bichon Frise is believed to have come from the Bichon Tenerife, which is a currently extinct dog breed that was very popular amongst sailors. Although starting as a working dog, the Bichon Frise eventually became popular amongst royalty and upper-class families in Europe.
It wasn’t until the French Revolution when many noble families were overthrown that Bichon Frises found their way onto the streets and were better known to the average person. The Bichon Frise breed was officially recognized by France in 1933.
Zuchon Health and Care
One of the biggest benefits of buying a mixed breed dog or “designer dog” is that they are less likely than purebreds to inherit any genetic diseases. This is because mixed-breed dogs have access to a larger gene pool.
Even so, Zuchons still have a chance of inheriting genetic disorders from either their Shih Tzu or Bichon Frise ancestors. Below we have listed the common health problems to look out for as well as the best ways to care for your Zuchon.
Common Health Problems
Zuchons are typically healthy dogs but they do have some health problems that you and your vet may need to look out for. Both Shih Tzus and Bichon Frises can have hip and eye problems so it’s important to be careful with your dog’s joints and to regularly get their eyes checked.
Zuchons are also at risk to develop gum disease, Cushing’s disease, or have sensitive skin and allergies.
To minimize the risk of respiratory problems, try and pick a Zuchon that has a longer snout. Shih Tzus have short noses which can cause breathing problems. To avoid this, you can try and choose a pup with a Bichon Frise nose.
General Care Requirements
Zuchons are prone to obesity and are also medium to high energy dogs, so it is important for owners to give them proper exercise. They are small dogs, so daily playtime and a 20-minute walk should be enough.
These dogs are also known for having dental problems and it is important for most small dog breeds to have their teeth brushed. Similarly, it’s important to check their eyes and ears regularly and clean them if necessary.
Despite having long hair, Zuchons are quite sensitive to climates that are too hot or too cold. During the winter, you may need to buy a sweater for your dog to keep him warm. In the summer months, it is also important to make sure they aren’t overheating.
It is especially necessary to make sure your dog doesn’t overheat if their snout is on the shorter side. Dogs with squished noses already have breathing difficulties and the hot weather may cause respiratory distress.
Feeding and Dietary Requirements
Zuchons should be given high-quality dog food that is meant for small breeds with a good amount of protein to back up their high energy. Because they are prone to obesity, it is important not to free feed but instead set up a feeding schedule with specific amounts.
Most vets recommend that Zuchons eat two meals a day each with one and a half to two cups of food. It is also important to buy food that fits the specific age of your dog whether they are a puppy, adult, or senior.
Unlike other dogs, Zuchons cannot eat wet food because it is dangerous for them. Picking a quality dry food with few fillers is the best way to make sure your pet stays healthy.
Zuchon Temperament and Personality
Zuchons are particularly loved for their wonderful personalities and are often described as being extroverted, intelligent, and playful. Because of their small size and good temperament, these dogs are well-suited for living in an apartment, although a house with a yard is still the best option.
Unlike other small dog breeds, Zuchons can make good watchdogs. Although they do bark sometimes, they are not a yappy breed.
What is the Most Likely Zuchon Temperament?
Zuchons are very loving and fun dogs to own. They are loyal and protective of their families but are also smart and fun-loving. These dogs do well with small children and make good playmates. They are very emotionally intelligent and are known for making good therapy animals.
Because of their high energy, Zuchons love games and do very well with agility exercises and tricks. They also like cuddling and spending time in their owner’s laps.
One thing to look out for with Zuchons is that their intelligence can make them stubborn. This particularly comes into play when they are puppies and need to be housetrained.
Because of their people-loving personalities, Zuchons are predisposed to having separation anxiety and can become destructive when left alone often or for long periods of time.
How good are Zuchons with Children and other Pets?
This breed is great for people with children and pets. Zuchons get along well with all types of people and animals provided they are socialized when they are young. They don’t have a prey instinct so they won’t go chasing after your other pets and they love the attention they get from children and strangers.
When playing with children, it is important that the activities are supervised by adults because Zuchons are fragile and easily injured. It is also important to supervise play with other larger animals to make sure it doesn’t get too rough for the Zuchon.
Supervised play with children or other animals is a great way to exercise a Zuchon and keep them healthy.
Type of Person Best for a Zuchon
Zuchons are great for all types of people but are especially good family pets. These dogs are prone to separation anxiety and do better with families or multi-person households where they don’t have to spend too much time alone. Single people with full-time jobs may find that their Zuchon gets nervous and destructive while they are away.
These pups do well in apartments as long as they are able to spend time outside every day. They are sensitive to climate and may need sweaters or extra cooling measures in the winter and summer.
While these are high energy dogs, they have small bodies and won’t be able to complete long runs or hikes. If you are an avid hiker, be prepared to carry your Zuchon on longer trails.
Why are Zuchons Good Companions?
Zuchons are such good companions because of their gentle and emotionally intelligent nature.
These dogs are often very in tune with their owners and you may find that they will try and cheer up a family member when they are upset or ill. These dogs are great emotional support animals and like the Bichon Frise are also good companions for the elderly because of their devoted and sweet disposition.
How easy are Zuchons to Train?
Zuchons are generally easy to train because they are smart and driven to please their owners. The best way to train this type of dog is with plenty of positive attention and praise for good behavior. Zuchons thrive on attention and will quickly learn what makes you happy. On the other hand, these pups don’t respond well to negative tones or physical punishment.
Their intelligence can also make them a bit stubborn which is usually discovered during housetraining. The best way to get through to your stubborn Zuchon is with plenty of patience and positive reinforcement.
Owners who let their Zuchons get their own way often and early may find that they end up with a spoiled and stubborn little teddy bear.
Although relatively active dogs, the small size of a Zuchon means that he only requires moderate exercise. Walking for around 5 miles a week accompanied by daily play and fetch should be enough for this breed.
For owners with a yard, letting the dog out to run around or play with other animals or children is a great way to get in their exercise. If you live in an apartment, it will be important to take your Zuchon on a daily walk.
Zuchon Grooming Basics
Both the Shih Tzu and the Bichon Frise have high grooming requirements and because of this, the Zuchon also needs a bit of grooming. Besides brushing and visits to the groomers, this dog will also need teeth cleanings, ear cleanings, and eye check-ups.
Type of Coat
The type of coat a Zuchon has can vary greatly even within the same litter. Because these dogs are a mixed breed, each pup may have a coat that is closer to a Shih Tzu or Bichon, or they could have a coat that is a good mix of both.
Zuchon fur can come in many colors and a few different textures. Dogs that get their coat from the Shih Tzu will likely have long and wavy hair. Those who get their coat from the Bichon Frise will have curly and soft hair.
Zuchon Grooming Requirements
It’s no secret that Zuchons are on the high maintenance side of things with it comes to grooming. These dogs will Need to be brushed every day, or at least every other day, to prevent fur from getting tangled and matted They will also need regular appointments with a groomer who can give them a nice cut to keep the fur clean and out of their eyes.
Although Zuchon fur does require some work, they barely shed and are good pets for those with allergies.
Zuchons also need dental care and require a good tooth brushing two or three times a week to prevent gum disease and bad breath. Ears should be checked for dirt around once a week and eyes should be wiped with a clean cloth once every few days to get rid of any eye gunk that may be present.
Do Zuchons Shed or are they Hypoallergenic?
The Zuchon is a great choice for people with allergies because they barely shed, especially if they are brushed daily and properly groomed. These dogs are often considered to be hypoallergenic although it’s always important to test it with the person who is allergic.
Top Tips for Finding a Zuchon
The Zuchon is a popular designer dog breed and can be found in shelters and at rescues. If you’d like to find a Zuchon puppy, you will need to look for a respectable breeder. To avoid puppy mills, you should not purchase your pup from a pet store or from online ads.
Adopting from a Rescue or Shelter
If you are looking for an adult dog, then the most ethical way to find your pet is at a shelter or rescue. Because the Zuchon is a mixed breed, it might be difficult to find this specific dog at your local shelter. However, if you are set on finding a Zuchon, you can try looking at Shih Tzu rescues or Bichon Frise rescues because they will typically also take in mixed dogs.
If you can’t find any in your area, you can also check out online adoption pages that often list breed information and allow you to search by zip code.
How to Carefully Choose a Breeder
If you are looking for a puppy, the best way to find one is through a reputable breeder. Good breeders will allow you to spend time with a puppy’s parents and will give you plenty of information about their ancestry.
These breeders will also want to ask you questions to make sure that the puppies are going to a good home. Any seller that guarantees certain colors, sizes, or personalities in their dogs should not be trusted because these aspects of mixed breed dogs vary and cannot be predicted.
Typical Puppy Costs
The average Zuchon puppy can cost anywhere from $350 to $1250 depending on the breeder.
Pros and Cons of Getting a Bichon Frise Shih Tzu Mix
- Smart, sweet, and not aggressive
- Emotionally intelligent and make good support and therapy dogs
- Get along well with children and other animals
- Are well-suited for apartments
- Small dog with a playful and loyal personality
- Are good watchdogs
- Prone to separation anxiety
- Are fragile and can be easily injured
- Stubbornness can make them hard to potty train
- Need to be brushed every day
- Possible teeth, eye, and ear problems as well as breathing issues
Other Similar Small and Medium Dog Breeds
If you are thinking about getting a Zuchon, you may also be interested in other great mixed breeds including the Bich Poo, Shi Poo, Shorkie, and Auss Tzu.
Auss Tzu—This breed is similar to the Zuchon in that it is a small dog with a sweet personality. Combining the adorable size and stubbornness of the Shih Tzu with the hardworking and loyal attitude of the Australian Shepherd makes these dogs great companions.
Shorkie—As a mix between a Shih Tzu and Yorki, this breed is great for small dog lovers who are also looking for that cute factor. These little guys are smart, brave, and loyal and also have that adorable teddy bear appearance.
Shi Poo—This cross between the Poodle and Shih Tzu is often an adorable combination of Poodle looks in a Shih Tzu size package. These dogs are very playful and are typically easy to train.
Bich Poo—This dog is a mix between the Bichon Frise and the Toy Poodle creating a playful small dog that is just as cute as the other “teddy bears”. Bich Poos are usually very affectionate and are good family dogs that get along well with other pets.