Designer breeds such as Goldendoodles, Cockapoos, and Pomskies seem to be all the rage these days. Combining two purebred dogs, each with desirable personality traits and beautiful features produces puppies that are a perfect blend of their parents with lots of variety in terms of markings, colors, and sizes.
Yorkshire Terriers and Shih Tzus are well-established breeds that have been popular companion dogs for a long time now. When bred together, the result is the adorable Shih Tzu Yorkie mix, otherwise known as a Shorkie. A cute name to fit a cute dog.
Curious to learn more about this trending mixed breed? You’ve come to the right place. Let’s get started.
A Brief History
Though it’s unclear exactly when the first litter of Shorkies was born, it is clear that these precious little dogs are a big hit. Both of the parent breeds, the Yorkie and the Shih Tzu have interesting histories, and since they are part of the Shorkie’s genetic make-up, their histories are the Shorkie’s as well.
Let’s take a quick peek at both.
Many years ago, the story goes, Scottish weavers migrated to England along with their beloved dogs. Those dogs are not believed to be the Scottish Terriers we know today, but rather a blend of Skye Terriers, Dandie Dinmont Terriers, Waterside Terriers, a few now-extinct breeds, and perhaps some Maltese.
During much of the Victorian era, these tough little dogs, then known as Broken-Haired Scotch Terriers, were frequently “employed” in factories as exterminators. Over the years, breeders worked to develop the breed and refine some of the features.
The result was a much-improved dog, so much so that the name was changed to Yorkshire Terriers as a reference to how much the dog had changed for the better since its arrival in Yorkshire, England.
Because Shih Tzus resided exclusively in the palaces of Chinese emperors for so long, their history is somewhat obscure. It is thought that breeders in Tibet used Lhasa Apsos and Pekingese to develop the breed to purposely resemble a lion, an integral feature in Buddhist mythology.
These little “lion dogs” were given as gifts to Chinese emperors, and working with and selectively breeding Shih Tzus, as they came to be called, quickly became a favorite pastime for those in the royal palace.
Shih Tzus remained virtually unknown until after the death of one of the key developers of the breed, Dowager Empress Cixi, in 1908. Apparently, after her passing, her famous kennels were dispersed and the number of these royal dogs began to dwindle.
The turning point for the breed occurred in 1930 when the first breeding pair reached England. In the following years, members of the military brought the little lion dogs back to the United States and began intense breeding programs.
The Shih Tzu soon became wildly popular and was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1969.
Shorkies are loyal, playful, affectionate companions who are generally well behaved and calm when raised correctly. These little guys love being the center of attention and don’t mind acting cute or silly to remain in the spotlight.
Though they can be a bit wary of strangers at first, they are social and friendly and tend to make friends quickly. Their initial wariness and alert natures can work in your favor as they won’t hesitate to sound the alarm when they sense something amiss.
A Shorkie, though sometimes stubborn, delights in pleasing his owners and loves to be right by their side as much as possible; so much so that separation anxiety can become an issue if he is frequently left alone for long periods.
Are They Easy to Train?
Shorkies are intelligent and can be trained to obey basic commands as well as a variety of tricks if you’re willing to put forth the effort. However, because both Shih Tzus and Yorkies can be rather stubborn and difficult to house train, Shorkies often present the same challenges.
Obedience classes will help “independent thinkers” master the basics and teach the owner techniques that get results.
Are Shorkies Good Family Dogs?
Shorkies can be a loving, entertaining addition to singles, couples, and families with older children. They are people-pleasers and will readily form strong bonds with everyone in the home.
Typically eager to please and always seeking attention, they’ll have no trouble securing their place in the family.
Are Shorkies Good With Children?
Shorkies usually get along very well with well-behaved older children and will join them in both outdoor and indoor fun. However, a Shorkie may not be the best choice for families with little ones.
Unintentional injury to the dog from rough play or being dropped is a very real possibility with young children. Of course, some Shorkies are more tolerant than others and would never consider snapping or growling at a child, especially if they’ve been raised together.
Other Shorkies may not have the patience to always be gentle and may nip or bite when roughly handled.
It is possible for a Shorkie to noticeably resemble either of the parent breeds, but most Shorkies will be a lovely blend of the two, unique in every way. A wide range of coat colors is possible, and the coats are usually soft and silky and can grow long when left untrimmed.
Many Shorkies will inherit a double coat from the Shih Tzu side of the family, but others may have a single coat like a Yorkie.
Size can vary quite a bit, but most full-grown Shorkies will be between 7 – 15 pounds and less than 11 inches tall. The average lifespan is 11 -16 years.
Do Shorkies Shed?
You can expect a few hairs to be lost occasionally as the coat replenishes itself, but overall, Shorkies are considered to be very low shedding.
Caring For a Shorkie
Welcoming a dog into your life is a serious commitment, and you alone will be responsible for his health and well being. Like children, dogs require more than just food and water. Let’s see what a Shorkie will need in order to thrive.
The process of acclimating a dog to the world around him is known as socialization. Introducing your Shorkie to lots of new people; a variety of animals; different sounds, sights, odors, and experiences in a positive manner will give your pup confidence when facing new situations and meeting new friends and is critical to raising a well-rounded dog who can be trusted to behave appropriately.
Do Shorkies Need to Be Groomed?
A Shorkie’s beautiful, silky coat will need to be brushed daily to prevent tangles and mats. To make this job a bit less time consuming, most owners choose to have their Shorkie’s hair trimmed every 6 -8 weeks. The most popular styles are the adorable teddy bear cut and the equally cute puppy cut.
If you’re a few weeks late getting your Shorkie into the groomer’s, you may need to pull back the long hair above the eyes and secure with a rubber band or bow. Trimming (with a steady hand and decent grooming sheers) around the mouth with a pair of blunt-end scissors will make mealtimes easier and less messy for your dog.
The coat is not the only part of their body that will need routine care. Once a month or so, clip your Shorkie’s nails (don’t forget the dew claws) and inspect the ears for dirt, wax accumulation, and bad odors.
Small breeds like Shorkies are especially prone to dental trouble, so establishing a teeth brushing routine early on is extra important. Brush at least 2 -3 times a week with a dog-friendly toothpaste.
How Often Should You Bathe a Shorkie?
A bath no more than once per month should be sufficient. Most Shorkies will receive a bath prior to their trim when they visit their groomer every 6-8 weeks, and really, no other bathing is necessary unless your little guy decides to dig a hole in the mud or roll around in something even more disgusting.
Bathing too frequently will strip the skin of protective oils leaving your dog itchy, flaky, and prone to skin infections. When it is time for a bath, be sure to only use a gentle shampoo for dogs, not one for people (no matter how good it smells). A high-quality detangling conditioner is recommended as well, especially for Shorkies left untrimmed.
How Much Exercise Do Shorkies Need?
Shorkie energy levels can vary depending on which parent the dog takes after. Those who have more of a Yorkie temperament may run and play for quite a while before tiring, but those who are more like Shih Tzus may be content to spend the majority of their time lounging around like royalty.
Regardless of your Shorkie’s energy levels, some form of daily exercise is mandatory to prevent obesity and keep him fit and strong. Two 10 – 20 minute walks or vigorous play sessions per day should do the trick.
A large backyard isn’t a requirement for these small dogs. Indoor games such as fetch can provide a sufficient workout. Remember that their legs are much shorter than yours are, and they’ll log a lot of steps every day just following you throughout the house.
Regular mental workouts are just as important as physical ones, especially for highly intelligent dogs like Shorkies. Not sure how to encourage his mental prowess? Try the following tips:
- Provide a treat-filled puzzle ball occasionally.
- Take him for a walk in an unfamiliar neighborhood and let him sniff to his heart’s content.
- Play hide-and-seek with him.
- Offer challenging puzzle boards for dogs.
- Hide treats throughout the house or make a trail of kibble in the yard for him to follow.
Food and Nutrition
A well balanced, high quality, dry kibble for small breeds will provide the correct daily nutrients a Shorkie needs to stay healthy and strong. Some occasional canned food is okay but should not be fed exclusively as it will not help to scrub away plaque and tartar from the teeth the way crunchy dry food will.
A puppy has different nutritional needs than an adult dog and should be fed the best small breed puppy food that you can afford. Food formulated specifically for puppies typically contains higher protein, fat, and carbohydrates than adult-formulated food does and has optimal levels of calcium, phosphorous, and DHA to support growth and development.
Home-cooked meals and special diets such as BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones And Raw Food) have become increasingly popular lately and can be an excellent alternative to commercial diets, but small breeds may have a hard time chewing bones with their little teeth and it can be tricky to consistently meet daily nutrient requirements.
If you are interested in going this route, speak with your veterinarian about the pros and cons of homemade food and work out an appropriate dietary plan for your little Shorkie.
All dog breeds have certain genetic health conditions that tend to appear more frequently within the breed than others. With a cross-bred dog, commonly seen disorders, conditions, and diseases of either parent breed may affect the offspring.
On the other hand, mixed-breed dogs often seem to enjoy robust health and fewer serious health issues compared to purebred dogs in a phenomenon referred to as hybrid vigor. Of course, not all cross-bred dogs will go through life without any health troubles, but those showing hybrid vigor are thought to have inherited only the very best genes from each parent and are winners, so to speak, of the genetic lottery.
Do Shorkies Have Health Issues?
Overall, Shorkies tend to be very healthy, but as we’ve mentioned, they can be troubled with any of the conditions that the parent breeds are prone to.
Both Shih Tzus and Yorkshire Terriers may suffer from dental issues such as overcrowding or gum disease; ear infections; eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, or progressive retinal atrophy (PRA); problems with the liver or kidneys; portosystemic shunt; lens luxation; hip dysplasia; patella luxation; and tracheal collapse.
Shih Tzus are what is known as a brachycephalic breed, meaning that they have very short noses and upper jaws which compress the internal soft tissue of the nose and throat. This compression and narrowing of the airways will not only cause some dogs to have a very difficult time breathing particularly during exercise or play but also interferes with normal sleep and makes the dogs much more prone to heatstroke.
Thanks to the unpredictability of genetics at work, a Shorkie may inherit any of the above conditions from his parents. Please understand that Shorkies tend to be quite healthy, and while the possibility exists to inherit genetic conditions, the probability is fairly low.
Are There Tests Available to Identify Genetic Health Problems?
Yes, and responsible breeders will make sure that both of the parent dogs have been tested prior to breeding to ensure that the puppies are as healthy as possible. Recommended tests for Yorshire Terriers include an Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) evaluation for the eyes, patellar luxation, Legg-Calve-Perthes, hip dysplasia, and autoimmune thyroiditis.
The test results should be available to the public on OFA and Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) databases.
While Shih Tzus do not currently participate in the CHIC program, they should nonetheless undergo testing before being used in any breeding program. Ideally, they should be evaluated for patellar luxation, eye health, spinal disc disease, and disorders of the kidneys and liver.
Purchasing a Shorkie from a breeder that is committed to health screenings for all dogs being bred will increase your odds of enjoying a perfectly healthy dog for years to come.
Roles- What Are Shorkies Best Suited For?
The overwhelming majority of Shorkies are companion dogs, happily following their owners around all day and warming their laps during downtime. These loyal little dogs, while perhaps a bit stubborn at times, are people pleasers at heart and are most content when surrounded by their loving family.
The sweet, adorable face and friendly personality of a Shorkie bring smiles to people wherever he goes, and many owners wonder if their cute four-legged buddy might bring joy to places like nursing homes and retirement centers.
The answer is yes. Although Shorkies are too small to perform all the tasks that service dogs are required to do, such as pulling a wheelchair, any dog, regardless of size, is eligible to become a therapy dog provided they have a gentle, outgoing temperament, receive proper training and socialization, and pass certain tests.
Visit the Alliance of Therapy Dogs to learn more and to see if your Shorkie might be suitable for this type of work.
How Much Do Shorkies Cost?
The price of a Shorkie can vary greatly and is based upon factors such as the reputation and experience of the breeder, the pedigree of the puppies, litter size, the puppies’ ages, and the location of the breeder.
Prices are sometimes as low as $300 but can be more than $1,500. The average price of a Shorkie tends to be around $800.
Can I Adopt a Shorkie?
The best places to find Shorkies in need of a good home, other than your local animal shelter, are rescue groups for the parent breeds as they often accept mixes as well as purebreds. Try the Yorkshire Terrier National Rescue, Yorkshire Rescue of America, Shih Tzu Rescue, and Shih Tzu Action Rescue.
Websites like Adopt-a-Pet.com and Petfinder are worth checking out too.