A miniature Australian Shepherd mixed with a Shih Tzu is called an Auss Tzu and is just as adorable as you might imagine. These dogs are a recent breed and combine the best qualities of the loyal and playful Shepherd and the small and stubborn Shih Tzu.
Auss Tzus are great family dogs and although they are full of energy, their small to medium size makes them great for both houses and apartments. Find out everything you need to know about these adorable fluff balls including the breed’s history, basic facts, health problems, grooming needs, personality and temperament, and training advice.
What is an Auss Tzu? Everything you Need to Know about Australian Shepherd Shih Tzu Mixes
The idea behind this new designer breed is to create a wonderful family dog that has the personality of a loyal herder and the looks and size of a small dog.
Must-Know Auss Tzu Basic Facts
Auss Tzus are a relatively rare breed but are expected to quickly grow in popularity due to the dog’s convenient size and agreeable temperament.
Lifespan: Auss Tzus are expected to live around 12 to 15 years.
Size: Around 10 to 15 inches tall weighing anywhere from 20 to 45 pounds. Size can vary greatly even within the same litter of Auss Tzu puppies. While most Auss Tzus are only slightly bigger than Shih-Tzus (height 8-11 inches) some can grow taller and be closer in size to miniature Australian Shepherds.
As mentioned previously, there is a great deal of variety in the appearance and size of Auss Tzus, even in the same litter. Typically Auss Tzus are a combination of two of the following colors: brown, gray, white, or black.
Overall, these dogs tend to look like slightly bigger Shih Tzus with longer snouts and more color and pattern variety. They are super adorable and each one is unique.
History and Origins of Auss Tzus
Auss Tzus are a new breed and are believed to have been created around the 1980s or 90s. Dogs with both Shih Tzu and Australian Shepherd ancestry have likely existed before that, but it wasn’t until the late 1900s that they were purposely bred together.
The major benefits of dogs that contain the DNA of two or more dog breeds are not only that they often inherit the best traits of both, but also that they are less likely to have the health issues that affect many purebreds.
Shih Tzu History
While the Auss Tzu is a recently created dog breed, the Shih Tzu is one of the worlds oldest dating back to ancient China where they were the favorite pets of emperors and affluent families. These dogs are thought to have first been created by mating miniature Chinese dogs with similar Tibetan breeds.
Shih Tzus first became popular during the Tang Dynasty and by the Ming Dynasty, they were the favorite pets of the wealthy and poor alike. This breed is a family dog with the stubborn and headstrong personality of a prince.
Australian Shepherd History
Despite their name, the Australian Shepherd was first bred in North America starting in the 1800s. As opposed to its royal Shih Tzu counterparts, Australian Shepherds were created to be loyal working dogs that were durable enough to survive in the dry American West.
While the ancestors of this breed are thought to have come from Spain, the current version was first created by a breeder in Boulder, Colorado who then sold them to sheep farmers throughout America.
Some believe that these dogs were called Australian Shepherds because the sheep they herded and took care of were from Australia, but no one is completely sure where the name originated.
Pedigrees and Recognized Clubs
Because Auss Tzus are a crossbreed between Shih Tzus and Australian Shepherds, the Auss Tzu breed itself is not eligible to be recognized by the American Kennel Club. Australian Shepherds are also not recognized and Shih Tzus were only given pedigree status in 1969.
Despite this, Auss Tzus are registered members of other dog groups including:
- Designer Breed Registry
- American Canine Hybrid Club
- International Designer Canine Registry
- Designer Dogs Kennel Club
- Dog Registry of America
Auss Tzu Health and Care
Auss Tzus will have some grooming needs and many need to be brushed every day to prevent matting and tangles. These pups are typically comfortable in most climates and although it is best for them to live in a house with a yard, they are also good apartment pets as long as they get enough exercise.
Common Health Problems
Some common health problems encountered by Auss Tzus include ear infections, eye problems, and tooth decay. Because of this, owners will need to regularly clean the eyes, ears, and teeth of their pets.
To make sure your doggo stays as healthy as possible it’s important to:
- Check the ears for dirt, odor, or redness once a week. If these signs are present, it could mean there is an ear infection in which case you can gently clean the ears with a cotton swab and some ear cleaner.
- Brush the dog’s teeth around once a week.
- Wipe down the face with a warm cloth every few days and especially after messy meals.
Auss Tzus can also have respiratory problems that they inherit from the squashed noses typically seen in Shih Tzus. To prevent your dog from having these issues, try and choose a puppy that has a longer snout if possible.
How to Take Care of an Auss Tzu Puppy
For Auss Tzu puppies, the most important things to focus on are socialization and training. Auss Tzus often are a little headstrong and stubborn like their Shih Tzu ancestors and can be difficult to deal with if not trained or socialized early.
During training is when an Auss Tzu owner is likely to see the most headstrong behavior. Because of this, it’s important to start training early and always use positive reinforcement.
Because Auss Tzus are small dogs that can develop joint issues, it is very important to make sure they are handled carefully, especially by children.
When to Spay/Neuter an Auss Tzu
Spaying or neutering your Auss Tzu is an important part of taking care of your pup and will help them live long and healthy lives. If you have a male, neutering will help prevent aggressive and territorial behaviors. Spaying and neutering are also known to prevent many types of cancers and reproductive-related diseases.
When you should spay or neuter your Auss Tzu may vary and it’s important to ask your vet for their opinion about the timing. Many recommend that male dogs aren’t desexed until after puberty which takes place around 2 years old. Female dogs are often spayed before puberty around the ages of four to nine months.
Feeding and Dietary Requirements
Each Auss Tzu will be different and will likely have slightly different dietary requirements as far as the amount of food they should be consuming every day. In general, the best food for this breed is a nutrient-rich mix that has a high-fat content and possibly contains fish oil. A good diet can help prevent future joint issues.
Auss Tzu Temperament and Personality
Because Auss Tzus are a mixed breed dog, they can end up with a combination of any of the personality traits of their parent breeds. In this case, you can expect your Auss Tzu to be at least a little bit stubborn while also being energetic, loyal, and friendly.
Most Auss Tzus are bred to closely resemble Shih Tzus while getting the majority of their personality from Australian Shepherds, although this may not happen in every pup.
A good way to guess at what personality traits you might see in your dog is to have an in-depth conversation with your breeder. Most Auss Tzus are not 50% Shih Tzu and 50% Australian Shepherd but have more DNA from one side or the other.
What is the Most Likely Auss Tzu Temperament?
This dog breed is typically very smart, loyal, and friendly. Auss Tzus are often high energy dogs and need to be regularly exercised to be well-behaved. They often love to play and get along well with children and other animals.
If they get more of the Shih Tzu personality, Auss Tzus may be a little aloof, stubborn, and impatient but that is normally outshone by the happy-go-lucky hard-working nature of the shepherd.
Auss Tzus are not very good guard dogs because of their small size and friendly nature.
How good are Auss-Tzus with Children and other Pets?
Auss Tzus are well-known for being good around children and other pets. Their energetic and friendly nature makes them the perfect playmates and they are always excited to meet new people and dogs.
Because of this, Auss Tzus are a great family dog. They are also friendly towards strangers and people in general.
Even though they have a friendly nature, it’s still important to socialize all dogs at an early age. This will get them comfortable with other pets and people and make sure that they are well-mannered around them.
Type of Person Best for an Auss Tzu
Almost any person can be a good owner for an Auss Tzu. The most important factor for these dogs is that their owners have plenty of time to spend with them. If an Auss Tzu is left alone for long periods of time, they may become anxious and destructive.
These dogs are not super noisy or messy and can do well in apartments as long as they are exercised every day. The best living situation is always a house with a yard, but it is not required.
They are considered to be medium to high-maintenance dogs so owners must have plenty of time to spend with them to maintain their grooming, health, and exercise needs.
Why are Auss Tzu’s Good Companions?
Because of their high energy, these dogs are also great for people who enjoy long walks, jogging, or hiking.
How easy are Auss Tzus to Train?
Although they are very intelligent, Auss Tzus are not the easiest dog to train. The Australian Shepherd side of them makes them loyal and eager to please, but the Shih Tzu side can make them headstrong and impatient.
Training an Auss Tzu often takes quite a bit of commitment and time from the owners. It will be very important to remain consistent with training and use plenty of positive reinforcement in the form of treats or praise. If given enough leeway, these dogs have the intelligence to take advantage of their owners and get their way.
But with the right amount of effort (or possibly a professional trainer), these pups do well at tricks, agility activities, and games.
It is also best to start training as early as possible before the stubbornness of old ways starts to set in. The training process will likely be slow and gradual.
Though small, Auss Tzus get their high energy and hard-working attitude from Australian Shepherds and often require daily exercise. For these dogs, an hour-long walk every day is usually recommended along with a few visits to the dog park every week.
These dogs also do well with hikes and running although they will not be able to cover as much distance as a larger dog. Besides daily exercise, they will also need interactive playtime every day.
The Auss Tzu Grooming Basics
Type of Coat
How similar the dog’s fur is to a Shepherd or Shih Tzu will determine the grooming necessary for that particular pup. Coat types can vary greatly within the breed and even within a litter.
For most Auss Tzus, bathing one or two times a month should be enough to keep them clean and happy. It’s important not to bathe them too much as dry skin can cause more tangles.
Auss Tzu Grooming Requirements
Because of their long and Shih Tzu-like fur, Auss Tzus require daily brushing. If this dog breed is not brushed daily, matting and tangles may become uncomfortable and eventually damage the skin.
Dogs with fur that is long and wavy like the Shih Tzu may require weekly baths, although those who have fur that is closer in texture to an Australian Shepherd may only need to be bathed once a month or so.
If grooming your pup becomes overwhelming, taking them to a professional groomer is always an option. Groomers can brush out all the tangles and will do it in a way that is most comfortable for the animal.
Do Auss Tzus Shed or are they Hypoallergenic?
Depending on coat type, some Auss Tzus may shed more than others. These dogs are not hypoallergenic but definitely won’t shed as much as an Australian Shepherd. Shih Tzus are a hypoallergenic breed, so choosing an Auss Tzu that has a fur type closer to that of its ancient Chinese ancestors will likely get you a pup that sheds much less.
How to Minimize Shedding
If you Auss Tzu does shed more than you were expecting, you can minimize it by daily brushing and weekly baths.
Other than brushing, another important need for all dogs in nail clipping. Although Auss Tzus should get plenty of exercise to keep their nails healthy, most owners will need to clip them around once a month.
Top Tips for Finding an Auss Tzu
If you are looking to buy an Auss Tzu from a breeder, it is extremely important to pick a quality breeder and avoid unethical puppy mills.
Adopting from a Rescue or Shelter
As we all know, the best way to get your new companion is by going through an animal rescue or shelter. However, if you are specifically looking for an Auss Tzu you will likely experience difficulties finding this dog in a shelter as the breed is comparatively uncommon.
How to Carefully Choose a Breeder
The easiest way to find a Miniature Australian Shepherd Shih Tzu mix is by finding a breeder that specializes in this type of dog. When looking for a breeder, it is very important to do your due diligence and plenty of research to make sure that their practices are ethical.
A good way to find the best breeders is by getting recommendations from the breed club. Auss Tzu clubs should have contact numbers listed online which you can call to get more information about finding a reputable seller.
Because designer dogs have become so popular in recent years, they are often mass-produced in puppy mills. Puppies who come from puppy mills not only come from parents who are treated terribly for their whole lives, but are also much more likely to suffer from health problems in the future.
Typical Puppy Costs
Costs can vary greatly depending on the breeder, but the average Australian Shepherd Shih Tzu mix pup costs anywhere from $500 to $1000.
Pros and Cons of Getting an Australian Shepherd Shih Tzu Mix
Now that you know more about this wonderful dog breed, let’s take a look at the summarized pros and cons of owning an Auss Tzu.
- Crossbred dogs are less likely to have health problems.
- Auss Tzus often combine the best traits of Shih Tzus and Australian Shepherds with their friendly and loyal personality but small and adorable appearance.
- Get along well with children, family, other animals, and strangers.
- Each Auss Tzu is unique in appearance and personality allowing you to pick the one that suits you best.
- Don’t shed very much.
- Are good in any type of climate and are good apartment dogs as long as they get enough exercise.
- Not good pets for busy owners because when often left alone they can get anxious and destructive.
- They are medium to high-maintenance dogs and require daily grooming.
- They are not hypoallergenic, but close.
- Stubbornness from the Shih Tzu side can make them harder to train and more of a time commitment is necessary.
- High energy dogs that require an hour-long walk every day.
- Prone to ear infections, eye problems, and teeth problems. Some also have joint issues later in life.
Other Similar Small and Medium Dog Breeds
If you are interested in Auss Tzus, there are many other similar dog breeds that mix the personality of a bigger dog with the small size and cute factor of a Shih Tzu. Some other dog breeds to check out include:
- Shorkie (Shih Tzu Yorkie)-an adorable combination that is one of the most popular Shih Tzu mixes. These pups are loyal and fierce and can also be found more easily in animal shelters because of their popularity.
- Shih Tzu Chihuahua Mix– Chihuahuas often get a bad rap for being super aggressive and angry dogs, but combined with the Shih Tzu you get a calmer pup with short fur.
- Zuchon (Bichon Shih Tzu)– This is a great dog if you are looking for the ultimate fluff ball in a small package.
- Shih Tzu Terrier Mix– Look into this breed if you are looking for a pet with plenty of energy. Terriers are hunting dogs and are full of fun and speed. Combining a terrier with a Shih Tzu will give you a slightly calmer and smaller terrier that might have a stubborn side.