Who can resist the charms of a Shichon? With their adorable looks, affectionate natures, and tiny statures, there’s never been a breed more deserving of the nickname ‘teddy bear’. But what are they, and where did their story start? In the 1990s, a new craze hit the US: cross-breeding designer dogs. The new obsession gave us 101 different breeds to fawn over, one of which was the Shichon. Despite being relatively new to the world, this cute little mix-breed has achieved remarkable popularity already, not to mention official recognition from the likes of the American Canine Hybrid Club and the Designer Dogs Kennel Club. So, what else do you need to know about the Shichon? For a start, these 20 little known facts…
1. They’ve inherited the best from both sides of their family tree
What do you get when you cross a Shih Tzu with a Bichon Frise? You guessed it – a Shichon. These cute-as-a-button little creatures are actually a mix of two distinct breeds, and like a lot of crossbreeds, they’ve managed to inherit the best of both sides of the family tree. From their Shih Tzu side, they get their tiny statures and cutie-pie good looks. From their Bichon Frise side, they’ve inherited their friendly natures and affectionate personalities. When you put the two together, you’re looking at a dynamite combination.
2. They’ve got nicknames galore
As with many different breeds, the Shichon goes by a number of different names… most of which make perfect sense when you get a load of their Disney-worthy faces and super-sweet personalities. Along with the more obvious names of Zuchon and Shih Tzu-Bichon Mix, they also go by the name Teddy Bear… a more perfect name than which you’d struggle to come up with.
3. They’re prone to Hypothyroidism
When you combine two breeds like the Shih Tzu and the Bichon Frise, you’re left with an undeniably adorable dog. What you’re also left with, more’s the pity, is a pup that’s managed to inherit the same common health problems that blight both sides of the family tree. As wagwalking.com points out, the Shichon is susceptible to several genetic problems, including Patellar Luxation, Hip Dysplasia, Hypothyroidism, Portosystemic Shunt, and Respiratory Problems. As they can also develop cataracts in their old age, they need to be taken for regular check-ups with a vet to keep them in peak condition.
4. They come in a range of colors
As with most cross-breeds, the Shichon comes in a vast array of colors. While we’d never suggest choosing your dog according to what matches your décor best, you’ll have no shortage of choice: coat colors come in black, cream, apricot, silver, gray, red, and brown; some Shichon’s even have a mix of all 7. Eyes tend to be uniformly brown, while noses are the standard black.
5. They need a moderate amount of maintenance
Don’t for a second think the easy-going nature of the Shichon is reflective of how much work you need to put into keeping them in tip-top shape. With a long, wavy coat of medium density, regular grooming is a must if you want to keep your pup in pristine condition. As a general rule of thumb, aim to give them a thorough brushing at least once a week. Their teeth should be brushed between two and three times a week to prevent any plaque build-up, and their claws should be trimmed every 2 weeks.
6. They’re hard to housebreak
Shichon’s are incredibly intelligent little dogs that are typically eager to train and responsive to new ideas. All except when it comes to housebreaking. For whatever reason, Shichon pups don’t take kindly to being asked to poop outside; if you’re bringing a new one into the fold, be prepared for lots of little accidents. As with all training, perseverance, patience, and consistency are the key to success. Reward every effort and achievement with plenty of positive encouragement. It might take some time, but eventually, they’ll get the message.
7. They need plenty of exercise
A Shichon might be small in stature, but their energy levels are more than a match for a dog twice the size. As well as needing plenty of short walks throughout the day, they also benefit from plenty of supervised playtime: if you have an enclosed yard, give them the freedom to come and go as they please. As they’re very people-orientated little things, they’ll also enjoy plenty of playtime with their owner. And remember: mental stimulation is just as important as physical stimulation. Keep their minds active with plenty of puzzles and games that challenge their little grey cells.
8. They’re friendly by nature
As you’d expect of a direct descendant of the incredibly friendly Bichon Frise, Shichon’s are about as affectionate and sociable as can be. As good with children as they are with adults, they make great family pets, and will love nothing more than being part of a big brood. They’re also great with other pets, be they cat, dog, or anything in between.
9. They’re suitable for apartment living
If you thought you had to have a large, single-family home with a backyard and a garden to own a pet, then take heart. The Shichon copes remarkably well in most living arrangements, including apartments. Thanks to their small size, even a studio is suitable – providing, of course, you make sure to give them plenty of daily walks in the park and a few games of frisbee when you can.
10. They’re tiny
You wouldn’t expect the child of a Shih Tzu and a Bichon Frise to be big, and on that score, the Shichon lives up to expectations. Weighing in at a tiny fifteen pounds (at most) and growing to a maximum height of a foot tall, they fulfill the brief of a lapdog perfectly… as anyone who’s had the pleasure of having one curl up in their lap will know.
11. They’re hypoallergenic
While their long, wavy hair might make them seem a no-no for allergy sufferers, Shichon’s actually make a great pet for people who start sneezing at the first sight of a dog. As well as rarely shedding, their coats are hypoallergenic, meaning they won’t trigger any allergies if you’re around them. According to pets.webmd.com, other dogs that cause the least bother to allergy sufferers include the Afghan Hound, the American Hairless Terrier, the Bedlington Terrier, the Bichon Fries, the Chinese Crested, the Coton De Tulear, Schnauzers, the Irish Water Spaniel, the Kerry Blue Terrier, the Lagotto Romagnolo, the Maltese, the Poodle, the Portuguese Water Dog, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, the Spanish Water Dog, and the Xoloitzcuintli.
12. They live a long time
A puppy isn’t just for Christmas. When you buy a dog, you’re committing to the long haul. In the case of the Shichon, the long haul is exactly that. Although they have a tendency towards certain inherited conditions, the breed is remarkably healthy… and long-lived. As petguide.com notes, you can expect your little Shichon to live for anything between 15 to 18 years.
13. Their color can change as they age
If you buy a Shichon pup thinking it’s going to look much the same in 10 years as it does to today (save for a few inches of growth in both directions), prepare to be surprised. Unlike most breeds who retain a pretty steady coloration throughout their life (buy a Golden Cocker Spaniel, and you can be confident that, bar the odd grey hair, it’s going to be as golden tomorrow as it is today), a Shichon’s coat can take on different hues as it ages. What’s apricot today could be red tomorrow… pretty neat, we think you’ll agree.
14. They grow excess hair around their eyes
If you’ve ever seen the amount of hair a Poodle can produce from its ears and eyes, the hirsuteness of the Shichon shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. If you haven’t, then prepare for a shock… and an altogether different approach to grooming than you may be used to. As animalso.com points out, Shichon’s have a tendency toward excess hair around their eyes and ears. Left untamed, it can cause all manner of issues. Stop the problems before they start by paying particular attention to the area during your grooming routine.
15. They make great therapy dogs
Thanks to their sunny disposition and affectionate characters, Shichon’s make great therapy dogs. They adapt well to a host of different situations and will quickly ingratiate themselves with people (if ever a dog lived up to the term ‘people pleaser’, the Shichon is it). They also provide exactly the kind of support, affection, and loyalty every good therapy dog should do.
16. They’re great guard dogs
Now, bear with us on this next point. The idea of a guard dog that stands just a foot tool and weighs little more than a feather (alright, TWO feathers) might be hard to get your head around. But don’t discount the theory offhand. Shichon’s bark. A lot. While this can be a tad annoying (ok, a lot annoying), it also serves a purpose. After all, how else can you expect your dog to alert you to any possible intruders unless they announce their presence in the most vocal of terms? Sure, a burglar is unlikely to be intimated enough by a Shichon to make a run for it, but you can bet that your pet will let you know about them, either way.
17. They’re expensive
If ever you needed proof that pedigree isn’t everything, just look at the price an average Shichon commands. While most crossbreeds can be had for little more than a song, the Shichon is special… so special in fact, that you can expect to pay anything between $800 and $1200 for the privilege of owning one.
18. They’re prone to obesity
Like many small dogs, Shichon’s are prone to obesity. A lot of owners don’t realize that small tums = small energy requirements, with the result that the average Shichon’s food bowl tends to be filled a little more than necessary. Most Shichon’s don’t need more than 1 cup of premium kibble per day. As their tiny tummies can only handle so much food at once, aim to spread the load over several small meals a day, rather than overloading their digestive systems with just one or two large meals. If you’re ever concerned about just how much your pet should be eating (or what kinds of things they should (and shouldn’t) be chowing down on), speak to your vet.
19. They have big litters
Planning on breeding your Shichon? Then be prepared to feed quite a few more hungry mouths at lunchtime than you are at the moment. Like most small breeds, Shichon’s tend to have sizeable litters. Once the gestation period is over, you can expect to welcome between 3 to 6 new little Shichon’s into the fold.
20. Charlie and Bella are the most common names
Wondering what to call your new Shichon pup? Then wonder no more. According to dogbreedslist.info, owners of Shichon’s have certain preferences when it comes to names. In descending order, the most popular boy’s names are: Charlie, Oscar, Rocky, Teddy, Oliver, Milo, Zeus, Buster, and Louie. Over on the girl’s side, the most popular names include Bella, Zoey, Lucy, Nala, Molly, Coco, Bailey, Emma, Piper, and Abbie.