Last Updated on February 4, 2023 by The Puppy Mag
For the last decade, the world has been breeding hybrid ‘designer dogs’ and any combination of pedigrees is possible.
A less common crossing is the intelligent and hard-working Border Collie with the loyal and calm Shih Tzu. This mix creates a medium-sized, active dog who enjoys spending time outdoors.
‘Buyer beware’ as this is a difficult crossing to predict and we can’t always know what we are getting with each breeding. This applies to all areas including the pup’s personality, appearance, and trainability.
Breed Insight: Border Collie
The Border Collie will usually be the female in the crossing, to prevent dystocia (a difficult birth).
Border Collies are best known for their work herding sheep, their intelligence and their abundant energy levels.
Most experts would agree, this is not a breed for the novice owner as Border Collies can be full on. They are prone to behavioral issues, especially if under-stimulated or under-exercised.
When it comes to their exercise requirements, this is a dog that will not be content with an hour-long walk a day. For years they have worked with farmers, herding sheep from dusk until dawn.
These dogs need several hours of exercise, including training sessions, scenting activities, mental stimulation activities, and games like fetch and Frisbee.
Leaving Collie dogs in the house for too long with nothing to do is a recipe for disaster.
Breed Insight: Shih Tzu
An ancient Tibetan dog, the Shih Tzu has long been revered for their noble appearance and confident nature for many centuries.
Breed fanciers appreciate their unwavering loyalty and the fact that they will dedicate themselves to one person, showing them an immense amount of affection.
Given their size and temperament, this is not a breed that needs a great deal of space or exercise. Indeed, they are usually content with a couple of 20-30 minute walks around the block each day.
They can be housed in an apartment or small home, as long as they do have some outdoor access.
Health-wise, as this is a dwarf breed and a brachycephalic, the Shih Tzu can be prone to a range of medical issues.
This includes joint problems like IVDD and respiratory issues due to their face conformation. For this reason, it is especially important to use a reputable breeder that health screens their stock when purchasing a Shih Tzu.
The History of the Border Collie Shih Tzu Mix
This hybrid dog is neither popular nor well-known, and it is unclear when the first individuals were bred.
Like with many other hybrids, the first mating likely occurred in the 1980’s or 1990’s, when there was a boom within the designer dog world.
As the parent breeds are not physically similar, there will inevitably be a wide range of appearances within the puppies, even within the same litter.
For some breeders, the ‘lottery’ aspect of breeding provides an added layer of excitement to each mating.
However, not all prospective owners appreciate this as many like to know exactly what they’re getting when paying a large amount of money for a dog.
As with the physical appearance of this mix, the temperament will vary greatly depending on the genes inherited.
- Owners have reported their Border Collie cross Shih Tzu tends to be quite active, independent and loyal.
They should make good family pets, and most are tolerant of children as long as they have been well socialized with them from an early age.
Similarly, they should be able to get along well with other animals and to live alongside other dogs and cats. However, some breed members may enjoy chasing cats, which needs to be discouraged for the sake of the cat.
Most dogs are not shy and will enjoy spending time with people. They are confident in their social interactions and are adaptable to new places. It is accepted that these dogs do not like to be left alone and there is a chance that they could become destructive, chewing furniture, digging or scratching at doors.
Given that the Shih Tzu measures about 30-35cm when fully grown and an adult Border Collie reaches heights of around 60cm, we can expect their offspring to measure somewhere in the middle.
- The average Shih Tzu cross Border collie should measure around 40cm at the withers.
Weight-wise, these dogs are well-muscled if a little stocky. We can expect them to weigh between 12kg and 20kg. As with other breeds, the males will generally weigh a little more than the females.
Though the Shih Tzu parent is a chondrodystrophic breed, most of these dogs will not retain the ‘dwarf-like’ features thank to the genes of the slender-limbed Border Collie being added to the mix.
Coat & Grooming
The coat of this mixed breed will be variable, with some dogs having much longer fur than others. The color too, won’t be the same for each pup.
Though the Border Collie parent has a distinctive black and white coat, Shih Tzus come in a range of colors, including apricot, cream, brown, and gray.
A crossbreed puppy can come in any of their parents colors, though black and white would seem to be the most popular coat colors we find.
The coat needs to be brushed several times a week to prevent matting and to spread the natural oils. Infrequent grooming can result in mats forming in the more densely furred areas, including the ears, armpits and back of the legs.
Many of these dogs will have mustaches and beards which require extra care. They should be washed and teased after each meal, to prevent food sticking to them. Some owners will work around this by keeping the facial fur trimmed short.
As dogs usually have ears that flop downwards, they can be prone to infections. To help prevent this, wax should be cleaned out a few times a month. It is also sensible to thoroughly dry the ear canals with cotton wool after each bath or swim.
Older dogs tend to need their claws trimmed every few weeks. This is because their claws grow thicker with age and may not wear down easily on pavement like they would have in the past. Overly long claws can easily split and may cause mobility issues.
As the two parent breeds in this case have very different exercise requirements, it is tricky to know how much exercise each pup will require. As a rule of thumb, we are looking at no less than an hour of activity every day.
These dogs enjoy time spent in the fresh air and love to be given tasks to complete. Not only this, they relish having access to a range of different activities rather than being brought on the same walking route day in and day out. For a dog, the aim is not to get from A to B, rather to explore and sniff the great outdoors.
Owners should aim to provide a good mixture of mental and physical stimulation both inside and outside of the home. This can include some agility, scenting games and mini training sessions. The Border Collie Shih Tzu mix will easily learn a new game and will be delighted to participate as soon as they understand the rules.
The Shih Tzu cross Border Collie is a smart dog who loves to “get it right” and please their master. They can be taught a range of commands and are even known for being good ‘doggy dancers’.
These dogs do best with positive reward-based training, meaning they get treats and praise when they do the right thing.
Once we teach them what we want from them, they are quick learners. It is important not to punish these dogs for bad behavior; this can lead to anxiety and a dislike of the training session. Rather, help the dog make good choices by rewarding them when they do well.
Border Collie Shih Tzu Health
While it is usually the case that hybrid dogs enjoy better health than their parent breeds, some pups will go on to inherit the health problems of their parents. Inherited diseases we need to consider in this mix include:
1. Hip Dysplasia
This debilitating joint disease causes chronic pain and mobility issues that worsen with age. Ideally, all parents should be checked for this condition before breeding, and only those with good hips should be allowed to mate.
Those with bad hips should be neutered to prevent them from passing on the genes to their offspring. There are both surgical and medical managements for this condition, with treatment options depending on the dog’s age as well as the extent of their issues.
2. Patellar Luxation
When the kneecap does not sit in place as it should, it can dislocate. For some dogs, the kneecap clicks in and out randomly. For others, it clicks out and remains out. Signs can include a hopping lameness and a reluctance to exercise.
Those with a minor luxation can be managed with weight loss, exercise restriction and medication. However, more severe dislocations require surgical intervention.
A reduced level of circulating thyroid hormone causes a range of signs, including sluggish behavior, weight gain and heat-seeking behavior. We can diagnose hypothyroidism with a straightforward blood test.
Treatment typically consists of daily medication and most dogs are managed well in this way. Owners need to bring their dog in for regular check ups and blood tests, to ensure the medicine dose does not need to be changed.
4. Dental Disease
While any dog can suffer with periodontal disease, if there is dental overcrowding, the risk increases. Signs can include drooling, red gums, bad breath and a reduced appetite. We can help prevent dental disease by brushing teeth daily and offering kibble rather than wet food.
Once the disease has established, dogs will need a dental cleaning under anesthetic and may even require dental extractions.
Many diseases can cause seizures. When a dog suffers seizures but the cause cannot be found after several tests, we usually deal with epilepsy. Dogs tend to develop this disease between the ages of one and five.
Treatment aims to control seizures, ensuring they do not occur too frequently and do not last too long. The majority of epileptic canines are managed with daily anti-seizure medicine.
The Border Collie cross Shih Tzu is an interesting mix that can make an excellent family pet. They do require a good deal of exercise and can be trained to a high level when in the hands of an experienced owner.
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