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Shichon- Is This Designer Dog Right For You?

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How Do You Know If A Shichon Designer Dog Is Right For You?

Shichon puppies are sometimes called “teddy bear dogs” or “Zuchons”. They are a cross between the Shitzu and Bichon Frise breeds. They are small, usually 10-18 lbs, and have super fluffy coats which make them look bigger than they actually are.

  • Best Suited For: Families with children, singles and seniors, apartments, houses with small yards or without yards
  • Temperament: Loyal, affectionate, friendly, outgoing

In this post I will help you explore the different characteristics that make the Shichon breed unique.

First off, what is a designer dog? A designer dog is a cross between two pure breeds. The Shichon is a cross between the Shih Tzu and Bichon Frise breeds.

Designer breeds combine the best of both breeds. Registered, pure dog breeds are “mixed” on purpose to create designer breeds. Intentional mixing of breeds is done to optimize the best characteristics of each parent. Sometimes the dog may have more than two pure breeds in his bloodline, but unlike a mutt, the parent’s lineage can be identified.

“Why would anyone want to crossbreed dogs?” you might ask.

As it turns out, most AKC registered breeds of today come from cross-breeding in years past. When crossing two breeds, breeders look for the strong qualities in the two breeds that they are looking to cross. Crossbreeding is often an attempt to reduce the incidence of certain hereditary problems found in the purebred breeds while retaining the more appealing traits of the two breeds being used.

Wikipedia says;

“The purpose of creating designer crossbreeds is usually one or more of the following reasons:

  • to breed animals with heterosis, commonly known as “hybrid vigor” explained as the tendency of a crossbred dog to show qualities superior to those of both parents.
  • to create animals with more predictable characteristics than mixed breed or mongrel breeding,
  • to avoid certain undesirable recessive traits that lead to genetic diseases that plague many purebred animals,
  • to develop an animal that combines what are viewed as the best traits of two or more breeds,
  • as the preliminary steps toward developing a new animal breed.”

The Shichon gives you the small size of the Shih Tzu and the friendly disposition of the Bichon Frise. Why choose between two wonderful dog breeds when you can have the best of both in one lovable pup? You don’t need to choose between your favorite breeds anymore. You can have it all in one! That’s the main appeal of designer dog breeds, and the Shichon is a perfect representative as the cross truly gives you a perfect mix of two popular breeds.

Regardless of your opinion on this matter, selecting a highly reputable breeder who carries out a range of appropriate health checks while providing high-quality care for puppies and parent dogs should always be a priority when adopting your next furry friend.

The History Of Shih Tzus

Did you know that when you own a Shih Tzu you own a little piece of Chinese history? Imperial breeders in the palace of the Chinese emperor developed the Shih Tzu (meaning “lion dog”) hundreds of years ago from Tibetan breeding stock. This breed is most likely the product of crosses of two even older breeds, the Sino-Tibetan breeds, the Lhaso Apso and the Pekingese. 

For centuries the Shih Tzu dogs lived the life of royal lap warmers. This is interesting because the Shichon dog enjoys the opportunity to curl up and warm laps still today! So when your Shichon puppy curls up on your lap, you can consider yourself being treated as royalty!

The Shih Tzu breed remained hidden behind palace walls, virtually unknown to the rest of the world until the 1930’s. Breed clubs formed in Peking and later on England further refined the breed. But not without much debate among breed fanciers as to proper type. The Shih Tzu was entered into the AKC Stud Book in 1969.

The History Of Bichon Frise

Bichons are a member of the clan of little white dogs formally known as Barbichon types. (These include the Bolognese, Havanese and Maltese breeds.) It is thought that these ancient breeds began their modern-day development on Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. One of these breeds became so popular with the island’s sailors that it was known as the Bichon Tenerife, named in part after the island. The Bichon Tenerife is the primary ancestor of today’s Bichon Frise.

Again, this breed’s association with royalty is interesting! They began their close association with European nobles sometime in the 13’th century. Most notably they endeared themselves to the royal courts of Spain, Italy and France. 

Unfortunately, with the advent of of the French Revolution in 1789, the pampered and perfumed lapdog days were over for the Bichon. One by one the breed’s benefactors were trotted of to prison and the guillotine and there Bichons lost there privileged positions. Many were turned out in the streets to fend for themselves. Street entertainers took in the bright, agile dogs, and trained them to perform as circus performers and they were soon earning their keep with their skills! Trainable, impossibly cute and always at there best when in the spotlight, Bichons were excellent in showbiz! 

In the 20th century Bichons again faced hard times because of the two world wars. And again many Bichons ended up out in the cold. Thanks to a few fanciers who gathered them off the streets of France and Belgium, the breed survived. And was recognized in France under the auspices of the Societé Centrale Canine in1933 as the Bichon a Poil Frisé—the “Bichon of the curly hair.” Hence the name Bichon Frise.

The Bichon Frise Club of America was founded in San Diego in 1964. The American Kennel Club accepted the Bichon into the Miscellaneous class in 1971, and full breed recognition in the Non-Sporting Group came in 1972.

So we can see from this info that even the Shih Tzu and the Bichon Frise have not been recognized as pure breeds for even 100 years yet! So there is no need to be worried that this is something new to cross-breed different dogs to create a new breed that carries the higher quality traits of the parent breeds.

Shichon Puppy laying on a sofa.

What To Expect When You Buy A Shichon…

The Shichon has not been around for long yet, but they have quickly developed a reputation as small dogs that are well suited to family life. They usually like children and are quite playful which can be harder to find in smaller dog breeds. They do bark occasionally which is pretty common in smaller breeds like this.

One of their names, Teddy Bear puppy refers to their round face which resembles a toy teddy bear. Although, not all Shichon puppies will end up with the Teddy Bear look. So it’s important to do your research and look at the ShiChon puppies parent’s features before selecting a puppy based on its own looks alone.

Bringing Home Your Shichon Puppy

Shichons are sweet, friendly, happy, and fun to play or snuggle with. Looking at the parent breeds character traits, the Shichon generally will be friendly and outgoing with children and other pets. Despite the somewhat laid-back demeanor of the Shih Tzu side, they can also be playful and quite affectionate coming from the Bichon Frise side. They will enjoy short periods of intense activity, so agility and obedience training will suit these intelligent dogs quite well! All in all they will require a medium amount of exercise.

Items To Have Before Bringing Your Shichon Home

Here are a few common items to have on hand when adopting a puppy. (This list is not all-inclusive.)

It would also be a great idea to have a conversation with your puppy’s health provider and/or groomer before adopting. You should ask them for specific details of what to have on hand to care for your specific breed.

  • Crate
  • Crate Pad
  • Exercise Pen
  • Food & Water Dishes
  • Indestructible Chew Toys
  • Collars & Leashes
  • Name Tags
  • Grooming Tools
    1. Combs
    2. Nail Clippers
    3. Small Scissors
    4. Shampoo & Conditioners
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste
  • Food

Being prepared will go a long way in making the adoption process go smoothly for puppy and family both!

Is A Shichon Puppy Right For You?

While the Shichon is undeniably cute, its characteristics and personality will be more important in the long run. 

Large amounts of exercise or keeping up with larger dogs will not suit the Shichon well. Curling up on your lap and taking a nap after a short run outside is probably what you will see more of.

These dogs are best suited to a family life where they will not be left to themselves for long periods of time. They enjoy interacting with young family members and training classes by older folks as well. Both Shih Tzu and Bichon Frise are intelligent dogs that learn very quickly! So you can expect your Shichon to learn & adapt well to regulated home life!

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