East meets West with certain canine mixes. The Yorkshire terrier and Shih Tzu cross, known as the shorkie, combines the tiny but feisty British dog with the lovable and sweet pet of Chinese origin. As hybrids, offspring can look like a mix of both parents or resemble one breed more than the other.
Although the Yorkie is the classic purse pooch, that wasn't what weavers in English woolen mills had in mind when they created this breed in the mid-1800s. They needed a small dog to kill rats. For all his portability and tiny size, the modern Yorkshire terrier is still a tough little ratter should the need arise. For American Kennel Club show purposes, a Yorkshire terrier can't weigh more than 7 pounds, although nonshowing Yorkies might weigh an extra pound or two without harm. They mature between 8 and 9 inches tall at the shoulder. The dog's signature, silky blue and tan coat requires regular grooming.
Strictly bred as a companion dog, the Shih Tzu radiates affection. At maturity, these dogs stand between 8 and 11 inches tall at the shoulder, weighing between 9 and 16 pounds. Shih Tzus appear in a variety of colors, either solid or with white. The breed standard permits solid black, liver and red, with white pairings of those shades along with gold, silver, blue and more. For show purposes, Shih Tzus must sport a long, labor-intensive coat, but those who are strictly pets often wear a short, "puppy" clip.
A shorkie can be any color, whether solid colors or a mix. He could have the upright terrier ears or the floppy ears of the Shih Tzu. Expect a dog whose coat requires frequent brushing no matter which breed he most resembles. The Shorkie Club of America has a basic standard, which states that the mix has a weight range of 4 to 12 pounds and a height range of 5 to 9 inches. Keep in mind the shorkie is not a purebred dog.
While your shorkie likely will turn out to be a sweet companion dog, he's probably not the best choice if you have small children. Both breeds are just too small for handling by youngsters, but a shorkie should make a fine friend for older kids. Be patient with housebreaking, as both breeds tend to be hard to train in this area. Shih Tzus get along fine with cats and other dogs, while Yorkies often challenge other canines. Your shorkie doesn't need a lot of exercise, but will want to spend as much time as possible with you. For his size, he's a decent watchdog.
Your shorkie might experience issues common with many small breeds, including teeth issues and slipped kneecaps. Both breeds are prone to eye problems with a high incidence of cataracts in either breed, and progressive retinal atrophy in the Shih Tzu. Older Yorkies often suffer from a collapsed trachea, so use a harness with your shorkie when going for walks, rather than attaching the leash to a collar. Expect a healthy shorkie to live well into his teen years.