Maltese Shih Tzu (Malshi) | Surprising Things About Malshi

Maltese Shih Tzu is a mix of a Maltese and a Shih Tzu and dates back to the 1990s. Malshi is a small, stable dog with a round head, a short muzzle, and soft, medium-length, thick coat.

The breeds were mixed with the hope of getting a breed that is small and good-natured, doesn’t shed a lot and has an outgoing temperament.

Since it is a mix breed, no kennel club in the world recognizes it, and it doesn’t have any official breed standard. Each Maltese Shih Tzu can have a slightly different appearance.

Still, none will have the stubby nose and bulging eyes of a Shih Tzu and long hair of a Maltese. You can find it in many different colors and markings, with a height of 20 to 30 cm and a weight of 3 to 6 kg on average.

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maltese shih tzu dog

Origin of Maltese Shih Tzu Mix

The Maltese dogs were first found in Europe in 500 BCE. It is believed that it’s an even older breed that originated from Asia. The breed was prevalent among the European nobles throughout the Middle Age and was presented as a lapdog in royal courts. The Maltese is still famous in Europe and is known as a show dog today.

The Shih Tzu is among the oldest breeds of pet dogs and is known to originate from Tibet. It is known as a companion animal since 1000 BCE. It was particularly famous with Chinese royalty and nobles. Traders introduced this breed in the United States after the Second World War and to Europe in the 1930s.

Even though the Maltese Shih Tzu was bred to get a toy breed with less shedding, it still sheds. However, the mixed breed still sheds a lot less than the original ones.

This has made the Maltese Shih Tzu very famous in recent years. It is gaining quick fame in the United States and is among the most popular breeds in Australia. Americans usually know it as the ‘Mal-Shi.’

Maltese Shih Tzu Mix Appearance

When you look at a Mal-Shi, it will appear like a pom-pom. It is small in size, but its body and head are entirely proportionate. There is a possibility that it will have significant, bulging eyes in amber or hazel color.

When it comes to coats, it has a long wavy or straight coat. One of its unique characteristics is having no undercoat. This is why it sheds far less than most other breeds, making it safe for people who are allergic to pets.

The Mal-Shi is present in various colors. Its coat can be white, black, brown or a combination of the three.

It also has markings on it, which are unique to each Mal-Shi and lets you recognize your dog from others.

Maltese Shih Tzu Mix Temperament

The Maltese Shih Tzu has many of its parents’ characteristics, including their temperaments. He is usually more tolerant and even-tempered and better-natured than the Maltese, so it is known as a ‘friendly toy.’


It is very confident and often described as ‘gutsy’ by its owners. Malshi is known to be very tolerant around kids of any age and play happily with them to please its human.

Its balanced temperament makes it a perfect companion pet for families. He is good with children and is loyal to its family. It loves people and requires much human attention to stay happy. He enjoys communicating with people and likes to play games, go for a walk or help with chores.

Behavioral problems can arise with the Maltese Shih Tzu mix when it becomes spoilt or is left on its own for an extended period.

In such cases, they may develop separation anxiety or a lack of interest. Indoor destruction and immense disobedience can also develop and become a habit.

Never spoil a Maltese Shih Tzu to the extent that it considers itself as your master. It needs to be led by a determined and robust pack leader. You need to train it and instill discipline from an early age if you want it to behave.

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The breed is usually good-natured and cheerful and likes to leave peacefully with everyone in the house, including other pets. However, it’s best to socialize it as a puppy so that it does not become timid. This will also curb aggression that may arise when introduced to new people or animals if it is not socialized correctly.

  • The Lifespan of a Maltese Shih Tzu Mix

A happy and healthy Maltese Shih Tzu lives for around 12 to 14 years. Females tend to live a little longer than the males.

  • Size of a Maltese Shih Tzu Mix

Both genders of this breed have the same size. A puppy of 2 months has a height of 7 inches, while a fully grown dog at 12 months has a height of 10 inches.


How to Take Care of a Maltese Shih Tzu Mix

Caring for a Maltese Shih Tzu is easy. You have to give it a proper diet, take it on walks and train it properly. Let’s look at this in detail.

Diet Requirements
With a small size, the Maltese Shih Tzu mix does not require much food. Even so, it loves to eat treats. Hence, it would be best if you were careful about the amount of food you feed it.
The calories required by the Maltese Shih Tzu are as follows:

  • Puppy – 55 calories per pound of body weight
  • Adult – 45 calories per pound of body weight

The puppy requires more food since it’s growing and needs more energy. In contrast, an adult usually requires only half a bowl of dry dog food.

Care should be taken to buy only high-quality dog food for your ‘Mal-Shi.’ A great option is to serve it kibble which is specially made for a toy or small dog breeds.

It’s best to divide its food into two servings, once in the day and once at night. This way, it will remain satisfied throughout the day, and you will not have to worry about feeding it all day.

A great thing about this breed is that you will never find it getting fat or obese. Still, it would be best if you kept an eye on its food. Your dog needs a healthy diet full of essential nutrients to meet its daily requirements. A healthy diet will ensure that it remains healthy and will stay by your side for a long time.

Don’t forget to update your Maltese Shih Tzu’s diet according to its size, age, and activity level.

Maltese Shih Tzu Mix Grooming

When it comes to grooming, the Mal-Shi needs light brushing to clear off any excess dander or fur. You can brush it daily or a minimum of twice a week.

Most Mal-Shi owners usually prefer to get their pet a haircut, especially in the summers, which makes grooming much more manageable. If you want your pet to have silky, smooth hair, you will have to bath it twice a year.

Clipping nails regularly help too. Not to forget, its eyes also require regular care or else they become quite gunky! If their eyes don’t get proper cleaning, it can lead to stained tears.

Exercise Requirements

The Maltese Shih Tzu is a known sufferer of respiratory problems. It can have breathing problems if it exerts too much or does harsh exercises. However, this doesn’t mean that it can’t run outside or indoors. It needs a 15- to 30-minute brisk walk daily.


It would be best if you tied it to a leash when taking it for a walk or to a new place. This is because the Maltese Shih Tzu loves exploring new surroundings and can get lost in the process.

Apart from a walk, it needs mentally stimulating games to keep it entertained without exerting too much.

Exercising and playing games with a Mal-Shi will keep it healthy and will give it your company and attention, which is what it needs the most.

Read More about: Teacup Maltese

Malshi Training Requirements

The Mal-Shi is an intelligent breed which is easy to train. Like the other breeds, it responds well to positive reinforcement training.

Remember not to spoil it, however. This can make your pet anxious in unfavorable circumstances and result in dangerous behavior such as barking and destruction of property.

It can sometimes feel shy around strangers, but this can be due to a lack of socialization. Some of the best socialization activities can be walks in the neighborhood, in dog parks, and even on pet-friendly beaches.

If you are out of ideas, search for dog-friendly places in your area on Google. You will find plenty of them to take your dog to.

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A Mal-Shi needs a display of love as well. A simple hug or a cuddle will tell it that you love and care for it. This is enough to keep it happy throughout the day.

You will find it quite energetic while playing, which is good for its mental development. Games like ‘fetch’ and ‘hide-and-seek’ are great for keeping it active and healthy.

To play a game like hide-and-seek, hide in a place and call your pet by its name to see if it can find you. To have more fun, try hiding in different places every time and call its name. Then, enjoy seeing it run all over the place to find you.

Does Maltese Shih Tzu Mix Shed?

As mentioned earlier, the Maltese Shih Tzu mix does shed but very less as compared to many other breeds. Even so, it needs to be brushed and groomed daily to keep its coat safe from mats. You will also need to trim its hair every 6 to 8 weeks.


Is the Maltese Shih Tzu Mix Hypoallergenic?

Yes, the Mal-Shi is a hypoallergenic mix breed. Both its parents are hypoallergenic, so it gets this trait from both. This makes it suitable for those who are allergic to pets.

Common Health Diseases and Conditions

  • Hypothyroidism

Common in all dog breeds, it is also found in the Maltese-Shih Tzu mix. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland fails to produce an adequate quantity of the thyroid hormones due to inflammation. Symptoms include dry skin, hair loss, weight gain, lethargy, and ear infections.

  • Intervertebral Disc Disease

This is when the spine has a damaged disc between its vertebrae. This condition causes swelling and leakage. Its symptoms are lethargy, inactivity, shivering, limping, and being unable to bend to eat. If you observe these symptoms, please consult your vet.

  • Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

The symptoms of the brachycephalic airway syndrome are found in all breeds but are particularly common in smaller breeds such as the Mal-Shi. The chances of contracting this disease increase in the hot Australian weather, resulting in severe respiratory distress.

This occurs when the hip fails to form correctly, resulting in possible lameness in the Mal-Shi.

  • Portosystemic Shunt

This occurs when the portal vein or any of its offshoots connect abnormally with another vein, resulting in the blood to ‘shunt’ or bypass the liver. This is usually a congenital disability, which leads to stunted growth or poor muscle development. Another symptom is disorientation.

  • White Shaker Syndrome

This disease occurs in many small breeds. It causes the Mal-Shi to shake unexpectedly which is a result of an idiopathic inflammation inside the brain. Sometimes, owners mistake the shakes a result of a cold, but if they persist, you should call your vet.

  • Patellar Luxationmal

This one is related to orthopedics. It occurs in many dogs and can lead to your dog having a dislocated knee. It commonly occurs in a toy or small breeds and can lead to surgery if it persists.

How Much Does a Maltese Shih Tzu Mix Cost?

A Maltese Shih Tzu puppy usually costs between $500 to $700. The adult costs are slightly less. Price varies depending on the breeder you get the Maltese Shih Tzu from.

Adopting the Dog from a Maltese Shih Tzu Mix Rescue or Shelter

You can adopt a Maltese Shih Tzu from a rescue or shelter as well. It usually costs around $300, which is much more affordable than buying it from a breeder. This cost is for the expenses of the dog incurred before you adopted it.


People tend to have many questions before they adopt a dog from a rescue or shelter. They have concerns regarding how to take care of the adopted MalShi and whether the dog will be able to adapt to their lifestyle. The answers differ for every Maltese Shih Tzu , depending on its condition and past experiences.

Each Mal-Shi in the rescue or shelter has a different story. Some have been found in their owner’s backyard where they were kept in cages and never saw sunlight or stepped on grass. Owners could have abandoned others for being expensive or just something they can’t take care of. This case usually occurs when the Mal-Shi’s owner is old.

There are different stories for every Mal-Shi in the shelter. The common thing is that they are less fortunate than the ones who are well-kept, well-fed, well-trained and well-groomed.

How to Care for a Rescued or Adopted MalShi

When you adopt a Mal-Shi, care needs to be taken according to their personality and needs. Dog that has been adopted from a rescue or shelter will have different needs to one with a great upbringing.

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These rescue dogs can have the following issues:

  • A Lack of Coat

Most rescue and shelters shave off the Mal-Shi’s coat since they cannot take too much care of them. A MalShi’s coat tends to get tangled, mainly due to a lack of brushing and grooming. Some knots are even close to the roots and have to be shaved off.

Mal-Shi with less hair need much care, especially in the cold. Make sure you arrange some warm covering for it until it grows back its coat.

  • Malnourished

Some Mal-Shi dogs will be malnourished when you first see them. They need to be adequately fed with a healthy and nutrient-rich diet so that they can overcome these symptoms. Make sure that they gain weight slowly, as a healthy weight gain tends to be slow.

  • Vaccinations

Sometimes, you won’t know if the adopted MalShi has been vaccinated or not. The rescue centers and shelter might not be able to find the records. In such a case, it’s best to vaccinate your Mal-Shi. The vaccination includes shots for rabies, parvo, and distemper.

While over-vaccinating is a possibility, it’s still better than no vaccination at all.

  • Spaying and Neutering

Some Mal-Shi dogs will have gone through spaying or neutering at the rescue or shelter. Some are due to get it done. In the latter case, the owner has to get it done through their vet.

  • Skin Issues

Some MalShi dogs develop sore spots after they have been shaved or detangled, as the hair is tied up in the roots.

They can also develop sore paws from resting uncomfortably and lying on surfaces for months and years.

Some sores can be treated with a topical application, but some can be infections which would need additional treatment.

  • Additional Care

Rescued Mal-Shi dogs are usually de-wormed, micro-chipped, treated for fleas and tested for heartworms. It would be best if you took extra care for this.

What Behavior to Expect from an Adopted MalShi?


The past experiences of all MalShi dogs will be different, but they all must have suffered from a lack of love if they are in the shelter. Most of them must have gone through some emotional trauma.

Hence, many will take some time before understanding that you want to care for them and look after them. This is why most adopted Mal-Shi dogs will show one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Nervousness

When a MalShi arrives at a new place, it may be shy or anxious. This could be due to the mental trauma it has gone through. It might believe its time with you will not last and may be reluctant to trust its new owner.

However, this can be overcome by gradually walking it, grooming it, cuddling with it and taking care of it.

  • Clingy Behavior

After being taken care of for some time, the rescued Mal-Shi may become too clingy and try to follow you everywhere. This can be a problem if the owner is away for a long time.

To deal with it, take extra measures, such as hiring a walker for the dog and buying calming collars and specialized toys for the pet’s comfort.

  • Fear

Depending on its past life, the rescue might have specific fears. It might be afraid of other pets, people or sounds. Some rescues may not have gone outside in a long time and might even be afraid of the grass on the ground.

If you find the above traits in your rescued Mal-Shi, you need to take extra care. It’s better to observe your MalShi’s behavior for some time and adjust accordingly. Try to give it time until it overcomes its fears.

Slightly expose it to its fears in the beginning and increase the intensity gradually until it is comfortable with them.

However, please don’t spoil it too much or else it will try to influence your decisions.

Buying or adopting a small dog like the Maltese Shi Tzu mix isn’t that expensive. To keep it healthy, you need to make sure it participates in healthy activities, gets a nutritious diet and receives love and care.

It is a perfect companion for any family, regardless of their lifestyle. Just give enough love, care and time to your Mal-Shi, and it will come out healthy, happy and beaming with life.

7 thoughts on “Maltese Shih Tzu (Malshi) | Surprising Things About Malshi”

  1. We Love our Malshi ZOEY she is 11& 1/2 mos old. Was a little timid when we brought her home, but PATIENCE, Love, and Affection with her has been the key to her now, comming. Relaxing & playing like any other pup. ????????????????????‍♀️ ???????? XOXOXO.

    • Hi Patricia, need help just adopted a brother and sister Maltese shihtzu will bring them home in one week . If someone asks what is the breed what do you answer. Were they easy to train. Tks for your help

  2. I was sold my puppy as a Maltese however it might be malti-shin because she is not pure white Her ears are light blond. I love her to pieces. She is very loving very smart and trains easily. I don’t feel it is a good dog for children. They are too small and can be hurt easily. Mine is 5 lbs. My other is a poodle and is 20 lbs. Much more suitable for the kids to play with. Your article was helpful thank you

  3. We have two,a brother & sister they are going to be 12 yrs. old.Bailey weighs 15 lbs & his sister Brandi weighs 8 lbs. they are from the same litter. Love my fur babies ❤️


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