If you have space in your heart for a dog but barely enough room in your home to swing a cat, hold fire on that goldfish for now. For space-poor canine lovers, small breeds like the Shiranian are heaven-sent. As happy in a tiny one-bedroom apartment as they are in a spacious three-bedroom family house, these adorable little dogs make excellent companions. Loyal, loving, and cute as a button, the Shiranian is a designer crossbreed with a difference. Ready to find out more about your next big obsession? Then hold tight as we take you through 20 things you didn’t know about the Shiranian.
1. They’re a little bit Shih Tzu…
Shiranians are a designer crossbreed. One side of their family tree is taken up by Shih Tzus (we’ll reveal the other half shortly). Shih Tzus are a distinguished breed that ranks among the oldest in the world. It’s believed they were developed from breeding the Lhasa Apso with the Pekingese, although their exact origins are shrouded in the midst of time. Some people think that they were originally bred by Tibetan Monks who used the little dogs as gifts to Chinese royalty. The earliest depictions of the breed can be seen in Chinese literature and art from around 1368. Eventually, the breed managed to make it over to Europe, where they became an instant hit in England and Ireland. Shortly after, they started developing a cult following in the USA. Today, they’re one of the most popular breeds in the world and have become beloved for their amicable, friendly natures.
2. And a little bit Pomeranian
As much as they have the Shih Tzu to thank for their existence, the Shiranian also owes a world of gratitude to the other side of their family tree, the Pomeranian. As wagwalking.com explains, Pomeranians hail from the Pomerania region in Central Europe. During the early years of their development, they looked vastly different from how they do now, with larger bodies weighing up to 30lbs, wedge-shaped heads, and flowing locks. Things changed when Queen Victoria met and fell in love with a tiny 12lb Pomeranian pup: from that point on, breeders did their best to develop the breed along smaller lines. Like the Shih Tzu, the Pomeranian is now known and loved around all four corners of the globe.
3. They take after both their parents
Although no two pups in a litter are the same, Shiranians tend to inherit personality traits from both parents. So what can you expect of a Shiranian puppy? If they take most after the Shih Tzu, they’ll be loyal, lovable, and with a personality just as big as their stubborn streak. If they take after the Pomeranian, they’ll be smart as whips, easy to train, and a bouncing ball of energy.
4. They can be tiny … or small
As you’d expect from the offspring of a Shih Tzu and a Pomeranian, the Shiranian is a small dog. But just how small is something of the luck of the draw. Some Shiranians weigh in at a tiny 4lbs. Others tip the scales at a comparatively hefty 16 pounds. Regardless of where on the spectrum they fall, they tend to have sturdy bodies and strong, muscular legs. Typical heights range from 7 to 10 inches at the shoulder.
5. They were developed in the 1990s
It’s likely that the Shiranian existed naturally at various points in history, but they were first bred intentionally in the 1990s, most likely in the US. It was believed that by crossing Shih Tzus and Pomeranians, breeders could eliminate the genetic health complaints caused by inbreeding and reduce some of the other risks associated with pure breeds. Fortunately, their emergence on the scene happened to coincide nicely with the sudden demand for designer crossbreeds.
6. They have a double-coated fur
While every Shiranian looks a little different depending on which side of the family they take most after, their coats tend to be medium to long in length with a thick double-coated fur. Typically, their fur will be long, silky and straight. Some Shiranians will have a naturally wavy coat like the Pomeranian. In terms of color, expect the rainbow: black, red, chocolate, brindle, sable, and orange are the most common colors, but you’ll often find them in multi-color as well. Other notable features include a short muzzle topped with a small black nose, big black or brown eyes and floppy, extravagantly furred ears. Tails are usually curled over the back.
7. They’ve been officially recognized as a breed
Unless the notoriously exclusive American Kennel Club has a dramatic change of heart, they’re unlikely to recognize a crossbreed like the Shiranian any time soon. But the little pooch needn’t be too upset: plenty of other canine clubs have been more than happy to extend the breed membership. As dogbreedinfo.com reports, so far, the Shiranian has been officially recognized by the American Canine Hybrid Club, the Designer Dogs Kennel Club, the International Designer Canine Registry, the Designer Breed Registry, and the Dog Registry of America Inc.
8. They need to be brushed daily
The Shiranian may be small, but its maintenance needs are mighty. Like the Shih Tzu and the Pomeranian, Shiranians have a long, double-coat that needs plenty of grooming to keep it in tip-top shape and avoid matting. As they shed often, a good daily brush with a pin brush or wide-toothed comb is essential. As small dogs often have sensitive skins, use a special shampoo when you bathe them and be sure to towel dry them gently: avoid blow-drying as it may aggravate their skin. As their hair tends to grow profusely around the eyes, ears and feet, an occasional trim will be needed. Nails should be checked for splitting or cracking every two weeks, and trimmed whenever they start to click on hard surfaces. As the breed is prone to dental issues, brush their teeth twice-weekly (more, if you can) and give them plenty of tooth-friendly chews to maintain good oral health.
9. They’re controversial
You wouldn’t think that such a small dog could cause so many heckles to rise, but make no mistake. The friendly, lovable Shiranian is a source of huge controversy. As, in fact, are all designer crossbreeds. Basically, pure breed enthusiasts don’t like them. It’s not so much that they see them as an abomination (although if push came to shove, you might hear them whisper it), it’s more that they consider them unnecessary, unhealthy, and the result of poor breeding standards. Of course, there’s another side of the story. Ask a crossbreed lover what they think, and they’ll tell you that crossbreeds are healthier, more robust, and less prone to the problems of inbreeding and other dodgy breeding practices than pure breeds. As to which side is right… well, we’ll leave you to decide.
10. They have moderate exercise needs
The Shiranian is small enough to get along nicely in an apartment, but don’t underestimate their need for exercise. A few 20-minute walks around the park a day will be much appreciated, as much for the fresh air and chance to interact with other dogs as anything else. If you can factor in a few games of fetch, they’ll love you for life. As they’re a breed that benefits from lots of socialization, you might want to consider signing them up for an obedience or agility class for good measure.
11. They’re prone to certain health conditions
The Shiranian is generally a healthy, robust breed. That being said, they can, like all mixed breeds, develop the same conditions that commonly afflict their parent breeds. Some of the most common conditions you need to watch out for include Cataracts, Hypoglycemia, Allergies, and Hypothyroidism. Keep a close eye on any warning signs and whisk them to the vet at the first sign of trouble.
12. They don’t like extremes in temperature
if there’s one thing the Shiranian hates, it’s extreme weather. Their coats might be thick, but they’ll get cold easily unless you give them another coat to wear in winter. Summer’s not much better, either: expect to spend most of your days dabbing sunscreen into their sensitive ears and noses, along with any other exposed parts.
13. They can suffer from separation anxiety
Shiranians are loyal, devoted companions. It doesn’t take them long to form a bond with their owner, and once that bond forms, it’s unbreakable. While that makes them excellent pets, it doesn’t come without its problems. Basically, Shiranians want to be with you all the time. And if they can’t, they’re likely to get miserable. If you’re someone who spends long periods away from home, they might not be the ideal pet for you. If you do need to leave them for a few hours, make sure they have enough toys and distractions around to keep them entertained. Left entirely to their own devices, they’re likely to become bored, lonely, and even destructive.
14. They prefer older kids
Shiranians love kids, and make excellent family pets. But like all small breeds, they can become nervous around overly boisterous, easily excitable younger children – which, considering how easily they can be injured with overly enthusiastic handling, is fair enough. Typically, the breed does better with older children who have been taught how to behave appropriately around animals.
15. They like living with other pets
As Shiranians don’t like spending too much time in their own company, they are well-suited to multi-pet households. Just be aware that they can get nervous around larger dogs – to minimize any problems, make sure to introduce them slowly to other pets so they can adjust in their own time.
16. They gain weight easily
Like a lot of small breeds, Shiranians can gain weight easily on even just a few extra calories a day. Stick to a regular feeding schedule and keep a close eye on their weight: if they start to pack on the pounds, limit any treats and snacks and speak to your vet about a calorie-controlled diet. Bear in mind that like all dogs, a Shiranian’s calorie needs will vary depending on their life stage: feeding a senior dog the same amount as a young dog is a one-way ticket to weight-related problems. As needs can vary according to age, health, and activity levels, always consult your vet if you have any concerns about just how much you should be feeding your pet.
17. They’ve got lots of nicknames
Why would you make do with just one name when you could have your choice? Like many crossbreeds, Shiranians go by numerous names depending on who’s calling them and where in the world they are. As dogtime.com notes, the most common alternative names for Shiranians include Pomshi, Shih-Pom, Shih-A-Pom and Pom-Tzu.
18. They have a good life expectancy
Provided you keep a close eye on their health and give them a nutritionally balanced diet and plenty of exercise, you can expect your little Shiranian to live a long, healthy life. Like many crossbreeds, they’re robust and strong, with hearty constitutions and strong immunities. According to petguide.com, a Shiranian will typically live for between 13 and 15 years.
19. They’re expensive
If there’s one thing the Shiranian isn’t, it’s cheap – but then again, what do you expect of a breed descended from royal breeds like the Pomeranian and Shih Tzu? As doggiedesigner.com notes, expect to pay $750- $1500 for a pup from a reputable breeder. Of course, if you’d rather save your money for dog treats and toys, there’s an alternative to shopping around for a pup – adopt one instead. Although the Shiranian is too rare to warrant dedicated shelters, you’re unlikely to have too much trouble in finding one at a shelter for Poms or Shih Tzus.
20. They’re quick to learn
As 101dogbreeds.com notes, Shiranian puppies are bright as buttons. Training should be a simple enough task, although like most small breeds, patience and perseverance will be needed when it comes to housetraining. Aim to start socializing them as soon as possible to get them accustomed to as many different types of pets and people as possible.