Maltese Shih Tzu: A Complete Guide To This Adorable Mix Breed

Maltese Shih Tzus are one of the more popular designer dog breeds around. And with their cute outward appearance and friendly, outgoing personalities, it isn’t hard to see why anyone will fall in love with these sweet little pooches.

Firstly, what exactly is a Maltese Shih Tzu? A Maltese Shih Tzu (Malshi, in short) is a hybrid of the popular Maltese and Shih Tzu dog breeds that was bred to eliminate problems of shedding typical with other dog breeds. And while the Malshi isn’t officially recognized as a Toy Dog, its parent breeds are classified as Toy Dogs by the American Kennel Club.

Small, loving and full of energy, the Maltese Shih Tzu is also capable of adapting to different home conditions. And today’s article contains info on how to feed a Malshi, exercise requirements, grooming tips to maintain the pooch’s lustrous fur, and ways of keeping your furry friend happy. But before we proceed, let’s see what a typical Malshi looks like.

What Does A Malshi Look Like?

Maltese Shih Tzu doggies are a mix of both the Maltese and Shih Tzu dog breeds; Hence, the appearance of any Malshi pooch isn’t set in stone, and it depends largely on what the parent breeds look like.

However, you can expect a Malshi pooch to have a round, flat face with short. forward ears and a short, black nose. And while the Malshi typically has black, almond-shaped eyes, it is also not uncommon to come across a Shih Tzu Maltese mix with big, non-protruding eyes that are hazel or amber in color.


The Shih Tzu Maltese mix has a long, soft coat that is silky to the touch. And the Mal Shi’s coat usually comes in color variations of either pure white, black, brown or any combination of the aforementioned colors.

Image from Instagram:@sylvistellasquad


Maltese Shih Tzus are classified as Toy Dogs, and this is because they can only grow to heights ranging from between 6 to 10 inches tall.

And to further reinforce its Toy Dog status, a fully grown male or female Malshi weighs only between 6 to 10 lbs.

How To Tell A Shih Tzu Apart From A Maltese?

Malshis owe their existence to both the Shih Tzu and Maltese dog breeds, and there are differences between both canine breeds for those looking to differentiate between both.

For one, Shih Tzu doggies weigh between 9 to 16 lbs when fully grown, in contrast to the size of an adult Maltese, which is usually between 6 to 8 lbs.

Additionally, Maltese dogs usually appear in bright white fur, while the Shih Tzu pooches typically boast brown and white hair.

How Long Does A Maltese Shih Tzu Live? What Health Problems Does A Malshi Have?

Lifespan of A Malshi

The average life expectancy for a Maltese Shih Tzu falls between 12 to 14 years old.

Common Health Issues

Maltese Shih Tzus are generally healthy dogs, and a Malshi may not require special medical attention during the course of its life.

However, poor feeding, bad hygiene, unfavorable environmental conditions, and mishandling means the Malshi is predisposed to health conditions prevalent among its parent breeds. And some of these health issues include:

Image from Instagram:@konaboy_the_malshi
  • White Shaker Syndrome

The White Shaker Syndrome is a medical condition that causes head and body tremors in Malshis and other small, white-coated dogs.

As of the time of writing this article, the cause of the White Shaker Syndrome in Maltese Shih Tzus is yet to be identified. However, Malshis suffering from this condition typically exhibit rapid eye movements, full-body tremors, and low body temperature.

Treatment of the White Shaker Syndrome in Malshis typically involves the administration of steroids to suppress the inflammatory response. And affected Malshis usually recover after one to two weeks of treatment.

Patella Luxation

Maltese Shih Tzus, being small-sized dogs, are predisposed to random, occasional dislocation of the kneecap (or patella) from its natural position atop the thigh bone; This condition is what is referred to as the Patella Luxation.

A luxating patella in Malshis is typically caused by trauma from a previous accident or a genetic defect. And Malshis suffering from this condition often exhibit abnormal walking behavior such as skipping, and occasional lameness.

Most times, a kneecap that slides out of position will often return to its natural place on the femur without treatment. But in advanced cases, surgery may be needed to correct the body structures affected by a luxating patella in Malshis.

Brachycephalic Syndrome

The Brachycephalic Syndrome is a condition of the respiratory system, and is common among dogs, like the Maltese Shih Tzu, with a pushed-in face. Malshis with the Brachycephalic Syndrome typically suffer from airflow obstruction due to either an elongated soft palate, narrowing of the nostrils, or a collapse of the larynx.

Signs that a Maltese Shih Tzu is suffering from the Brachycephalic syndrome include snoring, nasal discharge, breathing difficulties, blue-colored tongue and gums and vomiting.

Treatment of this syndrome in Malshis includes the reduction of your pooch’s exposure to heat and humidity, and calming training. Surgery is usually prescribed if symptoms of the Brachycephalic Syndrome in Malshis worsens over time.

Cushing’s Disease

Cushing’s syndrome in Malshis refers to a health condition in which the doggie’s body produces too much or too little of the stress-fighting hormone, Cortisol.

Malshis suffering from this syndrome typically experience excessive thirst, increased hunger, loss of hair, lethargy and skin infections.

Treatment of the Cushing’s syndrome in Malshis is largely dependent on the primary cause, but common forms include surgery and medication such as trilostane.

Other Health Problems

Apart from the health challenges listed above, Malshis are also prone to conditions such as:

How Do You Take Care Of A Maltese Shih Tzu?

Diet Requirements

Malshis typically don’t need much food, and an adult pooch needs just 45 calories per pound of body weight per day. In simpler terms, half a cup of high-quality dog food like the Pet Plate, divided into two meals per day, will meet an adult Malshi’s nutritional requirements.

The Pet Plate diet is made with healthy, natural ingredients that Malshi dogs typically love eating. And the option to share your Malshi’s physical characteristics with Pet Plate formulators means you can get a specialised diet to help your pooch stay healthy.

Malshi puppies need more food than the adults, and you should strive to feed your pup, at least, three times per day, for the first six months of its life.

You should ensure to stick to a strict diet plan with the Malshi, as this breed is particularly prone to becoming overweight when overfed.

Also, the importance of water in a pooch’s diet can’t be overstated, and you should ensure your Malshi always has access to clean, fresh water.

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Exercise Needs

Maltese Shih Tzus require minimal exercising, thereby making them an ideal pooch for those living in small apartments. Regardless, it won’t hurt to take your Malshi on short, 15-minute walks per day or engage your pooch in physical games such as fetch or chase.

You can also teach your Malshi new tricks once in a while, and engage it in a sufficient amount of mentally stimulating action to prevent stress and depression.

If you have a Malshi suffering from the Brachycephalic syndrome, you may need to cut down on exercising and playtime. And this is because Malshis suffering from this syndrome typically have a lower tolerance for physical exertion of any form, and will take longer to recover from exercising.

Temperaments Of A Maltese Shih Tzu

The Maltese Shih Tzu is typically boisterous and quite friendly, but you will occasionally come across Malshis that have taken a laid-back approach to life. Ultimately, the Malshi’s personality is greatly influenced by the environment in the household.

Regardless, Malshis are very confident, and will walk towards friends and strangers without fear. Additionally, these cute little Shih Tzu Maltese mixes are quite cuddly, and are always ready to snuggle in your laps.

Family time is extremely important to the Malshi, and you should be prepared to devote a substantial amount of care and attention to your Maltese Shih Tzu mix; Failure to do this can make a Malshi bored and depressed, thereby leading to the development of undesirable behaviors.

Malshis are also friendly with children, and will generally get along well with other pets in the home.


Maltese Shih Tzu mixes are by no means dumb dogs, and this isn’t unrelated to the high level of intelligence present in the parent Maltese and Shih Tzu breeds.

Also, Malshis are quite curious and fond of snooping around; Hence, you have to constantly keep an eye on your furry friend to ensure it doesn’t stick its snout in the wrong places.


Intelligence isn’t the only trait inherited by Malshis from their parent breeds though. And the tendency of Malshis to bark a lot stems from the fact that both the Maltese and Shih Tzu dogs are quite noisy.

This tendency to let out a loud yip, coupled with high levels of alertness, perception and intelligence will make the Malshi a good watchdog. However, the physical limitations of this pooch means it’s not the best candidate for this purpose.


While the Malshi is trainable, it isn’t unusual for the parent Shih Tzu’s stubbornness to sometimes shine through, thereby making the training process a bit more difficult. However, with a certain level of discipline, consistency and positive reinforcement in the form of praises and treats, you can successfully train a Malshi.

The Malshi can be potty trained, and it also responds well to crate training. Additionally, proper socialization from an early age is important to develop your Malshi’s friendly personality.

Do Malshi Dogs Shed? Grooming Tips Of A Maltese Shih Tzu

The Malshi was intentionally bred to minimize fur shedding, which makes it perfect for those seeking a hypoallergenic dog. Regardless, it is impossible for a dog breed not to shed fur, and, however minimal, the Malshi will occasionally leave bits of hair around the house.


The Malshi’s fine silk coat requires frequent brushing to keep it from becoming tangled and matted. And no thanks to the Malshi’s long hair, you can get a unique haircut for your pooch.

Additionally, light brushing twice a week with the FURminator Deshedding Tool is recommended to get rid of excess fur and dander.

The FURminator brushing tool is useful for reaching through the topcoat to remove loose hair and give the Malshi’s coat an even look.

FURminator Deshedding Tool


It is recommended that you bath your Malshi with a high-quality shampoo and conditioner, at least, once every two weeks to keep its coat shiny and smooth. And one of the best dog shampoos to bath your Malshi with is the Paws & Pals 5-In-1 Oatmeal Dog Shampoo.

The Paws and Pals shampoo’s all-natural composition is safe to use on your Malshi, and your pooch will be grateful for the shampoo’s soothing effect on its skin.

Paws & Pals 5-In-1 Oatmeal Dog Shampoo

Additional Grooming Tips

  • Regularly brush your Malshi’s teeth to prevent plaque build-up – twice or thrice a week is okay.
  • Check your Malshi’s ear from time to time for signs of infections.
  • The Malshi is prone to tear staining; hence, you should strive to always keep the area around your pooch’s eyes clean.

You can occasionally trim your Malshi’s nails to prevent broken nails and self-injury.

Related Questions

How Much Is A Malshi? Maltese Shi Tzus, like other toy dogs, are fairly expensive, and it’ll cost you anything from between $400 to $800 to acquire a Malshi pup. Ultimately, the amount you’ll spend to purchase a Malshi depends on the breeder, size and age of the pooch.

Do Malshi Puppies Change Color? Yes, it is possible for Malshi puppies to change coat color as they grow. Color changes in Malshi puppies can be as a result of overexposure to UV rays which causes either lightening or darkening of the coat or due to genetics. It is also worth noting that there’s nothing that can be done to stop a Malshi puppy changing color.

How Can You Tell If A Maltese Is Purebred? You can tell if a Maltese is purebred by comparing the physical appearance of the pooch to the acceptable breed standard. However, this method is not entirely reliable, and to be certain of your Maltese’s bloodline, we recommend that you carry out a DNA test using any of the best DNA test kits.

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