Do you know you love small dogs but can't decide on the right one for you? Why not consider a hybrid of two of the most beloved types of small dogs around and get the best of both worlds? Shichons, sometimes known as zuchons, are dogs made up of Shih Tzu and Bichon Frise breeds and are becoming more popular in recent years thanks to their "designer" status. These small dogs are well known for their adorable looks, small stature, and fluffy coats, and will make a great addition for pet owners with a low-key lifestyle in any sized dwelling.
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Shichons are considered to be small dogs, generally averaging around or just under one foot in height, and ranging between 10 to 15 pounds in weight, depending on their age and sex. Their coats are not quite long and straight like a Shih Tzu's, and also not dense and curly like a Bichon, but somewhere in the middle, creating a coat that's short, wavy, and somewhat thick in texture. In fact, many people refer to Shicons as "teddy bear dogs," for their small, round eyes, black button noses, and soft, fluffy manes. They are generally low-energy, low-maintenance dogs, but do require a commitment to daily exercise and grooming.
It should be stated, however, that because the Shichon is a mix of two pure breeds, there is no guarantee that every puppy in a litter will exhibit the same traits. In fact, most litters are made up of puppies with varying degrees of specific characteristics from either parent — some with more Shih Tzu tendencies, and others who may look more like a Bichon. This is part of what makes a "designer" dog special, so take care to not get too caught up in the usual breed standard specifics when seeking out one of your own.
Shichon Temperament & Training
A dog's breed is not a reliable indicator of personality, however, certain breeds are more well known for exhibiting certain temperament traits than others, and Shichons are no exception. Similar to their parent breeds, Shichon can be considered lapdogs for their affectionate nature and tendencies to prefer being near people. Like most dogs, Shichons are smart but can be a bit stubborn when it comes to potty training, which is a somewhat common struggle among some small dogs.
Regardless of your dog's personality, or the generally assumed temperament of their breed, every dog guardian should make training and socialization a priority in their dog's life. Finding a qualified dog trainer in your area who can show you how to implement positive reinforcement training methods will go a long way in ensuring that the health and wellness of your dog, and the quality of your own lives together, is set up to be successful. Regular socialization, both in puppyhood and as adult dogs, is an incredibly important part of keeping a dog physically and mentally stimulated.
A Shichon's coat is a mix between a Shih Tzu's and a Bichon's, which makes it wavy and thick. Regular combing and brushing is especially important in order to prevent hair matting and staining and should be done at least every couple of days. Staining on light-colored coats can be prevented by wiping down the paws and face. It is recommended that you bathe a Shichon every two weeks with a gentle or diluted dog shampoo before blow-drying them so that their soft, silky hair may achieve their signature fluffy coat. Shichons don't shed all that much, but their nails should be trimmed regularly to prevent curling, as with any other dog.
Shichon Exercise & Health
Shicons are not regarded as an active breed of dog, but like any living thing, will require regular physical exercise, mental stimulation, and attention and nurturing in order to live a well-rounded and full life. Because of their small size, they will generally not require long outings on a regular basis, although young dogs will have more energy and do enjoy their playtime with other dogs and people. The average Shichon's lifespan will range from about 15 to 18 years, and aren't overly known for their susceptibility to health problems, but can be prone to the same ones that their parent breeds are. Common ailments among these breeds include hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, respiratory issues and cataracts, among others.
Shichon puppies are unbelievably adorable dogs and can be a lot of fun to be around. Both Bichons and Shih Tzus are usually around two pounds in weight at about the eight-week mark, so you can expect a Shichon puppy's weight to rest right around there as well. Like many small breed dogs, puppies will likely reach their adult size at around six to eight months old.