Facts About Teddy Bear Dogs

By Jane Meggitt

If you've always longed for a dog that looks like a teddy bear, a bichon frise and Shi Tzu cross may fill the bill. Although there's no real breed called the teddy bear, this hybrid dog is often referred to by that name, and is also known as the zuchon. Both of these breeds are bred to serve as companion dogs, as befits a canine named the teddy bear, a "stuffed animal" come to life.

Teddy Bear Size

At maturity, the Shi Tzu stands between 8 and 11 inches tall at the shoulder, weighing between 9 and 16 pounds. The bichon frise is similarly sized, ranging from 9 to 12 inches in height. While the breed standard doesn't specify a weight, it should be proportionate to height. No matter which parent your puppy particularly takes after, he will stand between 8 and 12 inches when fully grown, an ideal size for a cuddly canine.

Coat and Colors

The bichon frise's coat is tight, curly and nonshedding. The Shih Tzu's double coated crowning glory is long, thick and floating -- and doesn't shed. If your teddy bear inherits the Shih Tzu's flowing locks, don't worry too much about coat maintenance. The long coat kept on Shih Tzu show dogs isn't necessary for a house pet. You can keep your dog in a short "puppy" clip. He will require a good brushing a few times a week to prevent mats. If his coat is more bichonlike, he'll need daily brushing.

The bichon frise is always white, while the Shih Tzu may appear in any color. If your teddy bear takes after his bichon parent, his coat will be predominately white, but the shades of these pups run the gamut. Most of them will have large areas of white on the body.

Teddy Bear Temperament

The American Kennel Club describes the Shih Tzu as "affectionate, outgoing, playful and charming," while the bichon frise is "curious, peppy" and playful. Your teddy bear has only one desire in life, and that's staying by your side. Although your dog needs plenty of attention, his exercise needs are modest and a few daily walks should suffice. He gets along with cats and other dogs, and is fine with older kids.

Because the teddy bear is a companion dog, he's not a good choice if he's left alone for most of the day. The bichon, especially, can suffer separation anxiety.

Teddy Bear Health

Your teddy bear dog is susceptible to hereditary issues plaguing both parent breeds. These include:

  • Dental disease
  • Orthopedic problems, including slipped kneecaps and hip dysplasia
  • Eye conditions, including progressive retinal atrophy or cataracts
  • Kidney ailments

With luck and good care, your teddy bear should share your life for 15 years or more.