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A Guide to Shichon Dog Care: What You Must Know About Shichons

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Breed Introduction

The Shichon breed dog is an energetic little dog, perfect for families living in tiny homes or apartments. The dog is one of many brachycephalic dogs. Brachycephalic dogs are dogs born with a short snout and flat face, bred to look cute with flat features. Bichon Shih Tzu mix dogs are unique because of their cute and petite look as they stand a foot tall — barely. Shichon puppies have enormous eyes that don’t fit their minor features, adding a comical look.

Because of their short and flat faces, they are susceptible to a lot of health conditions. Since your Bichon Shih Tzu mix’s face is tiny and its snout is short, its airways and ear canals are as well. Shichon puppies’ small features make it difficult for the poor Shichon puppies to breathe clearly and can cause complications when mixed with other conditions. Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix also has a smaller nasal passage because of both its parents, the Shih Tzu and Bichon Frise.

Shichon puppies are a mix between the Shih Tzu and Bichon. However, it is important to note that Shichon puppies don’t always have one parent, strictly a Bichon or a Shih Tzu. Since the exact percentage of each parent differs for each Shichon born, the size, weight, and coat color vary drastically. Your Shichon puppy will probably grow to be between 9-12 inches within the first few years. These dogs are likely to weigh up to 15 pounds, depending on their genetics.

Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix has an average lifespan of 12-16 years. If raised in a healthy environment, your Bichon Shih Tzu mix can live a longer life. We consider them part of the ‘small’ breed of dogs. Shichon puppies are great for families that have dog allergies. They shed infrequently and minimally, making clean-up fairly easy. Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is likely considered hypoallergenic. However, hypoallergenic is not definite. A Bichon Shih Tzu mix considered hypoallergenic still sheds and causes allergic reactions in some people; it is limited and unlikely. We know little, however, about Shichon puppies because they are a fairly new mixed breed.

The Bichon Shih Tzu mix is a high-energy dog and yet only needs a medium level of exercise. They do well in small spaces because they do not need to walk or play as frequently as larger dogs. Shichon puppies are affectionate and want to be around people. Shichon puppies do not do well alone and are the perfect pet for a family with children and a small space. Something funny to note is your Shichon dog is also less likely to drool as they pant. The likeliness of drooling, of course, depends on the exact percentage of Shih Tzu and Bichon in your Shichon.

Your Shichon puppy is likely to be a lovable lap dog happiest around humans and other animals. They are unique dogs because of their gorgeous coats that vary in color, pattern, and length. Shichon puppies typically have medium curly hair, but Bichon Shih Tzu mix dogs have straight and rather long hair, much like a Shih Tzu. The colors of your Bichon Shih Tzu mix coats are black, red, blue, beige, white, golden yellow, brown, rust, chocolate, and gray.

Most Shichon puppies are born with a bi-color or tri-color coat. While their colors are extravagant and unique, so are the patterns. Bi-color coats are coats mixed with two colors, while tri-color coats are coats mixed with three colors. If you look at your Shichon puppy, you will likely notice different shades of colors and tones that shine in the sunlight.

Not only does your Bichon Shih Tzu mix come in a variety of colors, but it also has unique markings. Some Shichon puppies have a pattern that resembles a mask. Shichon puppies’ eyes are darker colors brought out by the light colors of their coat. While some Shichon dogs are black, the dominant coat color is white or beige. Shichon puppies have not only a funny ‘mask’ coat pattern but also their ears are different colors. For example, a common pattern in your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is a primarily white coat with a gray and brown ‘mask’ and ears.

Shichon puppies require a lot of maintenance on their coats and are primarily known for the diverse grooming cuts they can have. Shichon puppies are diverse and unique because their owners can choose the style in which they wish to groom their dogs. For example, your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is bi-color but has short curly hair, as opposed to tri-color and straight hair.

History of the Dog Breed

The history of your Shichon puppy is hard to trace. However, this particular mixed dog breed is relatively new to the U.S. Its parents have been around for centuries and have a long and extensive global history. Currently, the Bichon Shih Tzu mix has only been around for 20-30 years in the U.S. It is likely that Shichon puppies, however, have been around for hundreds of years undocumented.

For instance, the history of Shih Tzus dates back to over 1000 years ago. These lovable and long-haired dogs are believed to have originated in Tibet. The origins of Shih Tzus are why your Bichon Shih Tzu mix now has such long and thick locks to keep themselves warm as they work alongside their owners in the snowy mountains of Tibet.

Strangely enough, while Shih Tzu dogs started as working dogs, they soon became a status symbol worldwide. Shih Tzu dogs now represent wealth and prosperity. Traveling foreigners and peasants gave Chinese emperors Shih Tzu dogs as a gift. How did they find themselves in Europe and the U.S.? Shih Tzus were so well-loved by U.S. soldiers that quite a few of them brought them home and continued to breed them in the U.S. Like its parent, Shichon puppies are popular and loved for their symbol and affection, to where they are on all continents.

The Bichon Frise, the second parent of the Bichon Shih Tzu mix, was considered at first a Mediterranean luxury. In Egyptian art and European paintings and artifacts, some dogs look strikingly similar to the Bichon Frise. While this is the case, they are likely to have old ancestors in that region instead of a direct lineage. Bichon Frise dogs are nonsporting dogs and have fluffy coats to keep them warm. However, the first official count came during the 13th century in Italy or the Canary Islands.

The Bichon Frise dog’s purpose was to be sailing dogs but afterward were brought to France from Spain, where pet owners loved them for their beauty and ‘lion cut’ mane. Now, Bichon Frise dogs are commonly owned and seen all over the world. We know the Bichon Frise dog breed as show dogs because they compete in shows. Interestingly, even with their long and rich history, they were not recognized as an official breed until 1972.

Shichon puppies are a Bichon Shih Tzu mix, most likely bred to stay small and with their adorable and comical features emphasized. Both the Bichon Frise dog and the Shih Tzu dog have large eyes and flat faces, features chosen on purpose. Either way, pet owners love the Shichon dog’s unique and small features.

shichon dog sitting on couch looking

Breed Intelligence

Shichon puppies are highly intelligent. They inherit their trainability and intelligence through their Bichon Frise family member that helped sailors hundreds of years ago. They communicate well, and the Bichon Frise breed frequently takes part in competitions and shows. Your Shichon dog is likely easy to train and enjoy because they can do something active and with their loved ones. Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix picks up on new tricks and commands with ease and patience.

Research has shown positive rewards work for training both the Bichon Frise and the Shih Tzu dog breeds. Rewards include longer walks, playdates with other dogs, and treats after learning something new. You should start training your Shichon puppy early in age and consistently. A lot of the information about your Bichon Shih Tzu mix comes from the parent’s background because of how new the Bichon Shih Tzu mix breed is in the world.

However, from what historians know about your Bichon Shih Tzu mix, socialization can help your mixed-breed dog’s cognitive ability. If you socialize your Shichon puppy young, they have an easier time adjusting to new changes, like family members and other pets. Because Shichon dogs are so intelligent, the training is easy. You can train Shichon puppies to do tricks and to understand gestures and commands. For families looking to adopt a dog that is active, small, hypoallergenic, and trainable, a Shichon puppy is a great fit!

Psychological Health

Cognitive Health

The cognitive health of your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is relatively strong and healthy. While this is the case, they are more at risk for certain conditions like Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome because of your dog’s parents.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome is similar to Alzheimer’s, where dogs forget their memories and become actively confused. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome is a hereditary condition that your Shichon puppy inherits from their Shih Tzu parent, which is more likely to develop the disease. Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is at risk for developing Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome as they age. Shih Tzus require being around people as they are companions and family dogs. Shih Tzus, like Shichon dogs, are lap dogs bred to be companions for families with energy and time.

Shichons at-risk are older dogs past eight to nine years old. Your Shichon puppy will probably develop this condition as an adult. It is important, however, to look for the signs before the condition of your dog worsens. Some common symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome include looking around in a disoriented fashion, anxiety, restlessness in what used to be comfortable situations, excessive licking of their paws, consistent whining and confusion.

As your Shichon puppy ages, its brain goes through atrophy, and the cells die. The only time a younger dog, like a Shichon puppy, can develop this condition is through minor strokes that further kill brain cells. Shichon dog owners need to know the only way to diagnosis this condition is through a veterinarian. Owners can watch out for signs and test early as their friendly fur animals age.

Dogs with this condition have a shorter life expectancy. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome occurs as the brain deteriorates. There are no ways to prevent or treat this condition, as it is just a part of aging and a sign that your dog is dying.

As sad as that is, there are ways to help treat the symptoms and bring comfort to your Bichon Shih Tzu mix facing Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. Your dog may feel confused and unable to hold in their urine. Having a potty pad in a location that is central can give them a comfortable space. Managing this condition includes buying materials like night lights to shine the way to their bed and food, as well as investing in potty pads.

Some veterinarians will advise on treating this condition with behavioral therapy, but it does not always work. Instead, you can follow a special diet to prevent or slow it down, including vitamins and minerals like glucosamine, chondroitin, and/or omega fatty acids. In dogs, first starting with this condition, both physical exercise and mental exercise can help slow down the rate of deterioration. However, Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome is not reversible and is typically a sign of old age and mental decline in your Shichon puppy.

Stress

Too much stress can cause problems like anxiety and depressive disorders in Shichon dogs. Shichon dogs need to be around people; they are lap and family dogs that do not enjoy being alone. Don’t adopt a Shichon puppy if you are away for long hours, as they can become stressed and depressed alone.

General Stress

There are obvious symptoms of stress that are often in Shichon dogs. These symptoms include tucked ears, lip licking, whining, barking and growling. While these symptoms may not appear to be harmful, it is a sign that something is wrong if it is constantly occurring. It is likely that if your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is acting abnormally; they are trying to let you know they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. You can trace any out-of-normal behaviors to symptoms of different conditions. Before assuming your Shichon puppy is feeling stressed, take them to a professional for diagnosis. The symptoms of stress strikingly resemble symptoms of worse conditions. Stress in Shichons is not only psychological but physical as well.

Stress can cause a lot of other problems and conditions for Shichon puppies. Anxiety, stress, and the stomach are undeniably connected. Shichon puppies that often feel stress may develop indigestion and stomach issues. Shichon puppies are already prone to digestive problems, and stress only triggers them more. Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix suffering from stress may throw up or lose their appetite, which can worsen their emotional state. Stress can also cause your Bichon Shih Tzu mix to behave differently, like destroying furniture or constant barking, even when you are home.

If you notice your Bichon Shih Tzu mix feels stressed, there are ways to comfort and manage the symptoms. Stress is not a condition or feeling in Shichon puppies that can cause a change in life expectancy but can alter their quality of life. The first thing you must do is look for what is the stressor. Stressors can be a variety of things, including fireworks, car rides, or potent smells. Once you have found the stressor, simply take it away from your Bichon Shih Tzu mix. Stress is fixable with a few lifestyle changes. You need to make these changes, however, as Shichon puppies need additional help.

Cushing’s Disease

Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism) occurs when the adrenal gland secretes too much stress hormone cortisol. The development of cortisol allows for tumors to develop, which can be cancerous or non-cancerous. The Bichon Frise breed, a parent of Shichon puppies, is likely to develop this condition through genetics, which is why Shichon puppies are also at risk for this disease. It is deadly and can become fatal quickly. When your dog shows or displays symptoms, talk to your local vet immediately, as there are no cures or treatments at home or over the counter. Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix can suffer and die without proper treatment.

The most common symptoms experienced by a Bichon Shih Tzu mix for this condition are thirst, increased urination, increased appetite, hair loss or poor regrowth and various skin infections.
If Bichon Shih Tzu mix owners don’t take precautions, even worse conditions can occur because of Cushing’s disease. When not treated, the disease causes high blood pressure. As it gets worse, your Shichon puppy can develop diabetes or fatal blood clots called pulmonary thromboembolism.

Pet owners can only diagnose this condition through blood work and a veterinarian professional. There are no treatments outside of veterinarian care. Nothing can prevent it as it is a genetic condition passed from one parent to the child since both Shih Tzus and Bichon Frise dogs are at risk for these conditions, which makes the Bichon Shih Tzu mix just as likely to get Cushing’s disease.

You can’t cure it, but you can manage and treat his condition. Sadly, the life expectancy of a Bichon Shih Tzu mix with this condition is two to two and a half years if the tumor is pituitary. However, if the tumor is adrenal and cancerous, the prognosis is negative, approximately one year with treatment, even less without treatment. If the tumor is non-cancerous, depending on the size, surgery can fix it. The only way of knowing the condition of your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is to consult with a veterinarian and find out through a biopsy.

two shichon dogs in coats on grass

Anxiety

Because of breeding, anxiety and stress are common in the Bichon Shih Tzu mix. Shichon puppies often experience anxiety and stress because, as companion dogs, they need to be surrounded by other people or animals.

Generalized Dog Anxiety

What is a Generalized Anxiety Disorder? Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a cognitive health issue where a dog’s stress causes anxiety attacks and negative responses. Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is at risk for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. An overabundance of stress causes this disorder, stressors not being treated/avoided, or hormonal imbalances. Another cause is fear through aging. As dogs age, their memory and cognitive functions decrease, causing them stress and anxiety.

Since your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is likely to develop a generalized anxiety disorder, it is important to become familiar with the symptoms. The most common symptoms include panting and pacing, abnormal behavior, defecating in the home without control, barking, growling, excessive scratching, and crying or whining without reason.

The effects of untreated Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Shichon puppies are serious. Suppose you do not seek treatment or help for your Bichon Shih Tzu mix suffering from anxiety; their physical condition can worsen. In that case, it can easily turn to indigestion problems, trust issues, aggressive behaviors, and the inability to be around specific people out of fear. Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix may also suffer from an anxiety disorder because of trauma. Since adopted dogs do not always have an extensive background or history, it is unknown in what conditions their past owners raised them.

There are, thankfully, many things you can do with your Shichon puppy to treat anxiety. For instance, you can train your dog not to be afraid of the stressor that gives them anxiety. Every time they don’t react to the stressor, give them a treat and ignore them once they react. For example, if your Bichon Shih Tzu mix reacts negatively to the loudness of a vacuum, ignore the sound and your puppy’s reaction. Ignoring your Bichon Shih Tzu mix will soothe them and let them know, over time, there is nothing to fear.

It is also possible to prevent Generalized Anxiety Disorder in your Shichon dog by creating a calm environment and space where they can go to relax. This space could be a corner or crate with their favorite toys or blanket. It is also important not to pamper or hover around your Bichon Shih Tzu mix when they feel anxious, as it influences them to continue acting that way.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder does not affect the life expectancy of Shichon puppies, but can alter their quality of life. Anxiety is not a pleasant feeling, but your Shichon puppy can feel relief with your help easily.

Separation Anxiety

Another common condition that is hereditary in Shichon puppies is separation anxiety. Separation anxiety in your Bichon Shih Tzu mix only occurs when something separates them from their owner or loved ones. Shichon puppies are more likely to develop this condition because of their parents. Shih Tzus are social animals that need to be around people. The Bichon Shih Tzu mix can inherit this trait from their Shih Tzu parent. Some experts believe that there is a genetic link with separation anxiety in dog breeds.

Many things can cause separation anxiety like being left alone for the first time, unexplained change of ownership, moving from a shelter to a new home, changing family routine or schedule and losing a family member. Dogs, like humans, feel different emotions and will react in any way they can to feel relief.

Some signs that your Bichon Shih Tzu mix may suffer from separation anxiety is if they howl, bark, or whine excessively, have indoor “accidents” despite being housebroken, chew on things, dig holes, scratch at windows and doors, drool, pant, or salivate way more than usual and pace in an obsessive pattern.

Owners can do a lot at home to manage their Shichon puppy’s separation anxiety. For instance, you can give your Bichon Shih Tzu mix a special treat each time you leave (like a puzzle toy stuffed with peanut butter). Only give them this treat before departing, and take it away when you get home.

When returning home after many hours, professionals recommend pet owners ignore Shichon puppies and only pet them after a minimum of 10 minutes. Ignoring your Bichon Shih Tzu mix may seem hurtful, but it helps them understand nothing is wrong with staying alone. Veterinarians also recommend using supplements like essential oils. Using lavender oil, however, must be safe. Lavender calms down Shichon puppies that are anxious or stressed. Adding lavender to a Shichon puppy’s favorite toy as a scent could calm your dog down. Keep in mind, lavender is toxic to ingest. Only a few drops of lavender essential oil will do the job.

Physical Health

Allergies

Shichon puppies are funny; they are hypoallergenic but have allergies of their own. Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is a sensitive dog that can develop allergies without warning. There are various types of allergies, including contact, environmental, and food allergies.

Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix has sensitive skin and is likely to develop allergies to chemicals like soap, laundry detergent, and lotions. Manufacturers often create products with harsh chemicals that do more harm than good. If your dog is going through an allergic reaction, you may see these physical symptoms, red, itchy, bumpy, or blistery skin, sudden loss of hair and intense scratching, biting, or licking on the belly and paws.

Allergies are not life-threatening, but very uncomfortable. Shichon puppies should receive treatment for allergic reactions right away, as the reactions can become worse with time. Contact allergies from products can cause infections from bacteria. Your dog may harm themselves while scratching and biting to feel relief. These open cuts and wounds may seem small but are open to bacteria. Infections spread quickly, which is why you should be alert to any changes in your Bichon Shih Tzu mix.

Truthfully, the best way to prevent skin allergies in your Shichon puppy is to prevent them from happening at all. A preventative technique includes buying allergy-friendly soaps that use natural ingredients that soothe skin, like oatmeal and honey.

Airborne Allergies (Seasonal Allergies)

Airborne allergies are allergies to things in the environment like skin, dirt, dust, fur, pollen, and even human skin. Your Shichon puppy can be allergic to you, but it is not deadly and typically without symptoms.

Shichon dogs can react to airborne allergies similarly to contact allergies by licking, scratching, and excessively biting skin or grooming their paws, bellies and legs. It is impossible to determine the allergen in your Bichon Shih Tzu mix without a trip to the vet’s office. You can test allergies at a veterinarian through an allergen test. Testing allergies is necessary, as allergic reactions are dangerous if consistent.

Shichon puppies may have trouble breathing. Respiratory problems are already common in the Bichon Shih Tzu mix because they have such short airways due to their ‘flat’ faces. Not only can airborne allergies cause respiratory problems, but also ear infections and watery eyes.

Both the treatment and prevention of this condition are similar. You should bathe your Bichon Shih Tzu mix at least once a week with a mild shampoo that is not harsh, especially if the Shichon puppy has dandruff from a skin allergy.

Another beneficial management technique is buying and using an air purifier if your Shichon puppy reacts to allergens like dust and debris in the air. Air purifiers get the debris and dust out of the air easily, helping your Bichon Shih Tzu mix breathe better. If you notice an allergic reaction, you should also immediately wash bedding, clothes and blankets on high heat to eliminate any allergens lingering on the cloth.

Allergies are uncomfortable for your Bichon Shih Tzu mix, but not deadly. With just a few slight changes, you can easily treat them at home. Your Shichon puppy can still live a long and quality life with allergies.

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Gut Health

The overall gut health of Shichon dogs is poor. These dogs are likely to be born with various conditions that harm the stomach because of their parents. Both Shih Tzu dogs and Bichon Frise dogs suffer from indigestion.

Sensitive Stomachs

Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is likely to have a sensitive stomach because of its short esophagus. These dogs are brachycephalic and cannot digest food quickly. Their short food pipes sometimes allow for food to come back up, which is not only uncomfortable but can cause damage to the esophagus and stomach lining.

Shichon puppies feeling an upset or sensitive stomach may display one of the following symptoms: diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite and dehydration. The symptoms are a problem because diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration, which is especially troublesome for Shichons as they have trouble cooling down their bodies. The long thick hair of a Bichon Shih Tzu mix and his flat face make it difficult to cool its body through panting. If your Shichon puppy suffers from dehydration alone, they can go into heatstroke and die.

Sensitive stomachs are not life-threatening but can cause discomfort and unhappiness. Your puppy should eat nutritious dog food filled with vitamins and nutrients, like fresh meat and fruits. It is important not to feed your Bichon Shih Tzu mix dog food from the table. Human food, being heavily processed, dyed, and filled with saturated fats, is undigestible by Shichon puppies. Pet owners can prevent sensitive stomachs by feeding dogs probiotic supplements, which introduce good bacteria that aid in digesting foods.

Antral Pyloric Hypertrophy

Shichon puppies genetically inherit Antral Pyloric Hypertrophy because of their Shih Tzu parent. Male dogs typically are the ones who have the condition. What is Antral Pyloric Hypertrophy and how does it affect Shichon puppies? With this condition, there is a narrowing of the structure required for passing partially digested food from the stomach into the small intestine (the pylorus, a stomach valve of sorts). There is something physically obstructing the path in Shichon puppies.

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The symptoms are hard to watch but comprise intermittent vomiting and regurgitation, respiratory problems, rapid weight loss, the inability to eat, abnormal whining and licking the floor. The only way to diagnose this condition is through a veterinarian’s office. Your local vet can perform an endoscopy to see what is happening inside your Bichon Shih Tzu mix. Sadly, you can only treat this condition through surgery; you can, however, manage it at home after surgery is complete.

This condition can exist from birth, but Shichon dogs typically develop it as they age and are exposed to conditions like cancer, stress, ulcer, and chronic gastritis. The best way to protect your Shichon puppy from this condition is to feed them a highly digestible but low-fat diet. Dietary changes can manage your Bichon Shih Tzu mix condition and quality of life, but cannot cure antral pyloric hypertrophy. The life expectancy can decrease depending on the severity and cause of this condition. For instance, if the cause is cancer, cancer may be too aggressive to cure or treat while maintaining a high life expectancy.

Acid Reflux (GERD)

Your Shichon puppy may also suffer from acid reflux, also known as Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). What is acid reflux (GERD)? Gastroesophageal reflux is a condition where dogs have an uncontrollable reverse flow of acid and fluid into the tube connecting the throat and the stomach. GERD typically occurs because the sphincter (a muscle opening at the base of the neck) relaxes and opens.

Acid reflux is especially common in Shichon puppies as they grow and develop their esophagus and sphincter. However, while common in puppies, it can also develop into adulthood. This issue is common and hereditary in Shichon dogs because of their short and flat faces. Since their faces are naturally flat, their esophagus is short. The short length allows for food and stomach acid to travel back up, causing many issues.

The best way to tell if your Bichon Shih Tzu mix suffers from GERD is to look for the symptoms. The most common symptoms of GERD are throwing up without reason, loss of appetite, rapid loss of weight, unexplained burping, and excessive licking of the floor, amongst other symptoms.

Acid reflux does not go away on its own or with veterinarian treatment, and you can only manage it. Thankfully, since you can manage it, there is a lot you can do at home. For instance, you can reduce GERD symptoms with a diet that limits fat and protein, as these two things are hard to digest in Shichon puppies. You may also give your Bichon Shih Tzu mix supplements with probiotics as they offer relief and good bacteria that aid in digestion.

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Eye Health

Shichon puppies are known for their outlandish and large features on their small heads. They have gigantic eyes that protrude out of their head. Shichon puppies’ hair makes it harder for them to protect their eyes from coming into contact with debris and trauma. Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix can scratch their eyes easily because they protrude out, causing infections, among other conditions.

Canine Cataracts

Shichon dogs are at a high risk of contracting cataracts as they age because of both the parents. Both Shih Tzu and Bichon dogs are likely to develop cataracts, which influences how at-risk Shichon dogs are in developing cataracts.

What are Canine Cataracts? Cataracts are when a blue-grey film covers the eye of a Bichon Shih Tzu mix. The cloudy blue lens covers the lens of the eye and undergoes four stages. It is easy to diagnose and one of the most common eye conditions in Shichon puppies. It can occur rapidly because of conditions like diabetes or over time with age. While it is not a condition that is especially dangerous, it can develop blindness. Not only do cataracts cause blindness but also infections that can drastically worsen overnight, leading to your Shichon puppy losing its eyesight. You can replace the cloudy film through surgery, but it can be dangerous for your Bichon Shih Tzu mix as the demographic for cataract development in elderly dogs. The Bichon Shih Tzu mix is more susceptible to this condition, but it can occur to any dog as they get older.

As described earlier, diabetes rapidly increases the chances of developing cataracts. While older Shichon puppies are the target demographic for cataracts, Shichon puppies with diabetes can also develop cataracts. Preventing diabetes is easy through the limitation of sugary processed foods.

No need to worry, though. There are plenty of ways to help your Bichon Shih Tzu mix manage its life with cataracts. Their life expectancy does not alter or change because of cataracts. Many Shichon puppies that develop cataracts do so over time and become accustomed to their new life with limited sight. To give your Shichon the best chance of quality life, it is important to make some changes. These changes include buying toys that make noise or have a powerful scent. This way, even with their limited sight, your Bichon Shih Tzu mix dog can still exercise and play. It is also a good practice to keep furniture out of open spaces in your home. This way, your Bichon Shih Tzu mix avoids bumping into hard surfaces as they lose their eyesight.

Also, the recommendation is to keep your Bichon Shih Tzu mix food in the same location; this way, they can easily make their way to their dog food without help. If they are struggling, guide your Shichon dog to their food for a few days. They will begin remembering the way. Thankfully, dogs use their senses well, and although they may become blind with cataracts, they still have their amazing nose and ears!

Exposure Keratopathy Syndrome

Another eye condition your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is likely to develop is Exposure Keratopathy Syndrome. During Exposure Keratopathy Syndrome, there is damage to the cornea. Damage to the cornea can occur in your Bichon Shih Tzu mix because their eyes are susceptible to damage as they bulge out and protrude from their heads. The cause of this condition is dryness. Since your Shichon puppy is likely to have dry eyes, it may not be possible for them to close their eyes fully.

If your Bichon Shih Tzu mix suffers from Exposure Keratopathy Syndrome, they are even likely to develop infections. The development of infections is extremely dangerous, as infections can spread quickly if not treated properly. The infection leads to worse problems like fever, dehydration, and death in extreme cases. Treatment or management of eye infections at home is impossible. If you see any signs your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is suffering from damage to their eye, take them to veterinarian care as soon as possible. The condition is genetic and is truly unpreventable, only managed after development. Not all Shichon puppies, however, will establish this condition in their lifetime.

During this eye condition, scar tissue forms around the eye’s blood vessels, causing browning. Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix may not feel pain during this condition, but it can still lead to blindness and worse infections. If your Shichon dog’s eye becomes severe and infected or inflamed, not only can your dog lose their vision, but it can also become severely sick and risk the loss of life. It is important to watch over your dog and its health.

shichon dog white staring

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Ear Health

You may notice your Shichon dog has fluffy, floppy, and long ears. While all Shichon puppies are different, as they are a Bichon Shih Tzu mix and most Shichon puppies have lots of hair in their ears. This cute feature of your Bichon Shih Tzu mix does come with health problems, though.

Shichon puppies with long and fluffy ears are prone to ear infections. These happen because their ear canals are short, and bacteria can easily travel up the ear. Ear infections are painful and can be life-threatening to your Shichon puppy if not taken care of quickly. Although this is the case, only a minority of ear infections develop to be fatal.

Either way, look for these particular symptoms in your Bichon Shih Tzu mix that shows they have an ear infection: the buildup of earwax, crusting or scabbing in the ears, redness, dark discharge, head shaking and foul odor.

Causes of Ear Infections

The ear canal in your Shichon dog is vertical, allowing for bacteria, bugs, and debris to become stuck in the ear canal. It is impossible to remove the debris naturally when ear wax builds up, which inflames the inside of your Bichon Shih Tzu mix dog’s ear. It is painful, but it is also preventable.

Allergies also cause ear infections. The primary cause of an ear infection is moisture, which can create a prime growing environment for bacteria and yeast, often found in allergens. Allergies lead to ear disease in about 30 percent of dogs with an allergic skin disease and 80 percent of dogs with food sensitivities. You may find your Bichon Shih Tzu mix scratching their ears intensely; when they do this because of allergies, they bleed. The opening from the scratches gives bacteria a clear entrance.

Another cause is foreign items lodged in your Shichon dog’s ear. These foreign objects could be dirt, bugs, toys, or sticks. This cause is especially common and likely if your Bichon Shih Tzu mix enjoys being in the water or running. For example, if your Shichon dog goes for a swim, their ears may flop over, opening them to the dirt and debris in the water. If anything were to get stuck in their ear canal, it would cause pain and infection.

Treatments and Preventative Care

The best way to treat ear infections in Shichon puppies is through veterinary care. A professional can tell you the severity of your Bichon Shih Tzu mix’s ear infection. Once known, you can take the best course of action. If your dog’s ear infection is not severe, it goes away on its own within a few weeks. As it goes away on its own, the recommendation is to buy an ear cleaner to use at home for your Bichon Shih Tzu mix. Ear cleaner is a solution made specifically to clean your Shichon puppy’s ear. The solution is water-based and mild and works by diluting the ear wax built up during ear infections.

Sometimes ear infections get worse, and your dog’s eardrum bursts. There is nothing you can do when your Shichon puppy’s eardrums burst, except for emergency care. Your veterinarian may also recommend surgery for severe cases as infections that spread and get worse may lead to deafness, among other worse conditions. This, however, is a minority of ear infection cases and is nothing to worry about as ear infections are preventable.

You can prevent ear infections easily at home. Since Shichon dogs are long and fluffy, they harbor the best environments to grow and develop bacteria. Therefore, clean your dog’s ears weekly. Pet owners should clean their ears with water and soap. Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix may shake the water out, but it is safe and not painful.

To clean your Bichon Shih Tzu mix’s ears thoroughly, always do so with a microfiber towel. Veterinarians will never recommend the use of a Q-Tip or fabric made from cotton. You should not use the fabric because these fabrics are likely to fall apart, and the cotton can get stuck inside your Shichon puppy’s ears. Using a Q-Tip, you risk pushing more ear wax and debris deeper in the ear canal, damaging the eardrum. If done with too much pressure, you can likely harm your Bichon Shih Tzu mix instead of helping them.

It is important to clean and dry your Shichon dog’s ears. Any moisture or water left behind in your Shichon puppy’s ear can cause a bacterial infection. It is necessary to always dry the Shichon puppy’s ears both inside and outside.

Another preventative measure to avert ear infections in long-haired Shichon puppies is to groom them frequently. As the hair on their ears grows too long, it causes dirt, debris, and foreign objects to get tangled into their coat. If you properly groom your Bichon Shih Tzu mix, it is unlikely they will develop an ear infection, as the bacteria and germs on their fur won’t make it inside their ears.

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Immune Health

Shichon puppies are likely to develop various immune health problems. While this is the case, the risk is minimal and slim. One condition your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is likely to develop because of their genetics is Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia, but there are preventative measures and treatments to take.

Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia in Dogs

What is Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia? Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia is a condition that affects humans, just like dogs. In the Bichon Shih Tzu mix, this condition is an immune system disease where the body senses a foreign threat and instead attacks its red blood cells. Red blood cells get attacked once they circulate through the body. It is currently unknown why Shichon puppies are likely to develop this autoimmune condition. The likely answer is because of breeding since both Bichon and Shih Tzu dogs are also at risk for Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia.

In the condition of Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia, not only are there fewer red blood cells but fewer that are functioning properly and for long periods. Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix may develop one of two types: primary and secondary. In the primary type, the autoimmune system is not working. The autoimmune system not working could result from trauma, a viral infection, or being born with a serious condition. Three-quarters of all dogs with AIHA suffer from the primary type.

The second type is not as likely, but can still occur. The secondary type is when the surface of the red blood cells becomes altered by an underlying disease process or a toxin. These underlying diseases in Shichon puppies can be cancer, rapid infection or blood parasites.

Shichon puppies may suffer from a multitude of symptoms if they have this immune system condition. The most common symptoms in Shichon dogs with this condition are anemia, pale gums, constant exhaustion, frequent vomiting, extreme weight loss and respiratory problems. If any of these symptoms are present in your Bichon Shih Tzu mix, it is time to take them to a veterinarian. This condition can worsen and cause further issues if not treated. Also, the symptoms alone are quite dangerous if not treated, especially in Shichon puppies.

Respiratory problems are especially dangerous in Shichon puppies because these dogs already have a hard time breathing properly due to the shape of their short and squished faces. Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix cannot breathe properly and normally under average conditions; with compromised lungs, it worsens and can lead to death.

Treatment and Management

The only treatment for Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia in Dogs is veterinarian care. There are no non-medical treatments as this can be severe and life-threatening. While it is not possible to treat your Bichon Shih Tzu mix at home, the prognosis for Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia in dogs is good. You can manage this condition with the help of a veterinarian and a few necessary life changes that owners can make for their Bichon Shih Tzu mix.

However, before you can make any changes and decisions, a proper diagnosis needs to be made. Blood tests showing red blood cell counts can determine Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia in your Bichon Shih Tzu mix. This way, the professional can know the exact type of condition and the cause.

Shichon puppies that lose weight and throw up need extra water. Pet owners can manage the condition of their Bichon Shih Tzu mix by making lifestyle changes for their dogs. You should provide your furry Bichon Shih Tzu mix with lots of water and electrolytes in common areas they can easily find. Another thing you can do to help your Shichon puppy is to ease the other symptoms as much as possible. If your dog is suffering from exhaustion, buying an orthopedic bed to bring relief to their body can help your Bichon Shih Tzu mix build the energy to heal.

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Joint Health

There are two primary joint health problems to watch out for in Shichon puppies. The Bichon Shih Tzu mix is short and can harm itself when jumping from tall surfaces onto hard floors. Shichon puppies love to play but can hurt themselves.

Trauma to the Joints

Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is a small dog with short legs and delicate spines. It is easy for your Bichon Shih Tzu mix to harm their joints as they are so short. Trauma to the joints can happen by jumping and landing with too much weight, jumping from tall areas, or falling from tall spaces and landing on their backs or joints. Harm to the joints can cause the development of ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears and osteoarthritis.

Symptoms of trauma to the joints in Shichon puppies include fear of walking or jumping from high surfaces, whining and crying when moving, a lack of mobility, barking loudly while outside and not running as fast as they used to run. Joint pain can be quite severe, causing your Bichon Shih Tzu mix to move slowly or simply not move at all. Since your Bichon Shih Tzu mix dog cannot talk, it is up to you to look for the signs of this condition.

Treatments for joint trauma depend on the severity. Diagnosing occurs through a veterinarian with tests like X-rays and CT scans that work by taking images of your Shichon dog’s joints and bones. Trauma can cause fractures, broken bones, and tears that the scans can determine.

Your Shichon puppy, as it ages, is more likely to harm its joints than Shichon puppies. Although this is the case, Shichon puppies can still have trauma to their joints as they are such small dogs that any harm is dangerous. Joint trauma is more likely in Shichon dogs that are obese as the extra weight crushes their joints and bones.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is the most common condition in Shichons. The condition of hip dysplasia is when the ball and socket do not fit or develop properly, and they rub and grind instead of sliding smoothly. The grinding results in deterioration over time and an eventual loss of function of the joint itself. It is painful and can cause discomfort to Shichon puppies.

Since hip dysplasia is so likely in your Bichon Shih Tzu mix, it is important to look for signs such as limping, frequent whining in pain, and loss of thigh muscle. Sometimes, Shichon puppies may lose weight drastically.

The cause of hip dysplasia truthfully depends on many factors. Some Shichon puppies are born with a too-large ball or a socket that is too small. When they don’t develop properly, this can lead to pain as the two parts grind and rub against each other with movement. If not caught soon, this condition can develop into a nasty one that prevents your Bichon Shih Tzu mix from living a happy life with full mobility. While this condition is common in Shichon puppies because it is a genetic predisposition, some factors can increase the risk and worsen the condition. The factors include stress, obesity, and exercise.

For instance, if your Shichon puppy is under stress, they may wear themselves out by running and jumping. If the Shichon puppy’s joints do not develop correctly, the excess movement and constant pacing could tear and grind the bones and joints more. In overweight Shichon dogs, the extra weight pushes more weight onto the hip, which results in faster deterioration. It also becomes harder for the dog to move around and function properly through the pain.

A surgical procedure for hip dysplasia, where the veterinary surgeon makes the two pieces fit, is the only true treatment for this condition. The exact way depends on the condition of both the ball and socket. The recovery phase is long, but the pain is no longer present if the veterinarian completes the surgery correctly. Not all dogs, however, can undergo surgery when they have hip dysplasia. There are ways to maintain and give your dog a healthy and happy life with this condition.

Some things to do for your Shichon puppy are giving them massages, using hot water bottles for relief, and having an orthopedic foam bed for comfort. The orthopedic foam allows comfort and relief as your Bichon Shih Tzu mix lays in bed and rests.

Weight reduction can also help through diet and light exercise, like swimming, although pet owners should supervise their Bichon Shih Tzu mix at all times. Swimming can help your Shichon puppy feel weightless while also providing the exercise necessary for your dog to live a quality life. Another way to manage hip dysplasia in Shichon puppies is through joint supplements with ingredients like glucosamine, Chrondotric, and Green-Lipped Mussel (GLM). These ingredients are natural and safe. Glucosamine aids in pain relief for the joints by reducing inflammation. Chrondotric stimulates cartilage repair, and GLM helps preserve joint function while reducing inflammation that causes pain.

puppy shichon dog looking up

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Skin and Coat

Shichon puppies have a unique coat that dog owners love because of their fluffiness. Shichon puppies typically have long and curly fur that needs care and grooming frequently. Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix is at risk for both dry skin and an unruly coat, if not maintained or managed properly.

Dry Skin

Dry skin is especially seen in Shichon dogs as their skin is delicate and can dry out quickly. The two major ways your Bichon Shih Tzu mix may acquire dry skin is through skin allergies from the content or fleas.

Skin allergies that develop from the content are chemicals or outdoor allergens. Some dogs, like Shichon puppies, may be allergic to the harsh and acidic chemicals often found in dog shampoos. Harsh chemicals can cause Shichon puppy’s skin to dry out as natural oils from their skin are removed. Skin allergies from fleas present in similar ways, but they are solely a reaction to fleas instead of outdoor allergens. Shichon puppies with long coats are likely to catch fleas as they have plenty of fur and hair for them to hide. Fleas can cause allergic reactions in Shichon puppies and spread diseases and bacteria that enter open wounds.

This inherited condition is specifically from Shih Tzus, known for having and developing dry skin as they age. This breed cannot handle being wet as their coats take a long time to dry, and the skin dehydrates, causing symptoms like cracking, bleeding, breaking, dandruff and spots of missing fur.

It is possible to treat your Bichon Shih Tzu mix at home for skin allergies. You can buy a shampoo that both relieves itching and kills the fleas that are feeding on your Shichon dog and living on them. After applying the shampoo, there is a recommendation to clean it with hot water. For instance, wash couches, towels, beds, comforters and blankets with hot water to eliminate extra fleas. This way, fleas are less likely to make a home in the coat of your Bichon Shih Tzu mix.

Coat Health

Shichon dogs have beautiful coats that are both soft and long. To preserve the health and softness of their coat, pet owners need to groom and brush them frequently. Pet owners should comb the hair of their Shichon puppies at least twice a week, as knots can be uncomfortable and cause an overabundance of heat. If their coats are too thick and long, Shichon puppies may overheat, leading to stroke and dehydration, especially in Shichon puppies, as they have short snouts and small breathing passageways.

Shichon puppies’ hair needs clipped because their eyes are also prone to infection, and the hair covering their eyes can easily scratch them. Once the clipping is completed, the hair no longer interferes with the puppies’ eyes. If not, your Bichon Shih Tzu mix’s hair can scratch the eye and, over time, become infected.

Your Bichon Shih Tzu mix does not tolerate heat well or swim as the bulk of their hair, when not groomed, can bring them down and cause overheating. So you should groom your Bichon Shih Tzu mix’s hair constantly, whether at a professional groomer or at home.

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To prevent problems with your Shichon puppy’s skin and coat, arrange frequent cuts and grooms, especially around hot months like summers. You should keep your Bichon Shih Tzu mix indoors as they were bred as house pets, not for long-lasting outdoor play exposed to hot temperatures.
It is also important to note that coat and skin allergies are not life-threatening but uncomfortable to live with and hard to clean up. It is best to either prevent or manage them if your Shichon puppy has a coat condition.

All in all, Shichon puppies are a delight to have as family pets in small spaces. While your dog may have conditions genetically likely to develop, it is not always a certainty.