Acquired: Other (stray, given dog by friend etc.)
Missouri, United States
Posted October 5, 2015
Sheldon was given to me by a friend. He was the first Designer Breed I had ever seen in person. He was what they call a "Shorkie", an intended mix of a Shih Tzu and a Yorkshire Terrier. People normally would pay a lot of money for his breed, but this dirty little guy was abandon by his old owner, and had been in the care of someone who really didn't know what to do with him.
When I got Sheldon, he was very thin and covered in fleas and ticks. I had to very carefully bathe him, and painstakingly pull every tick off. He was absolutely terrified of the bath water. 1 bath took over an hour. I cooked him up some egg whites, cut them up, put the pieces in a bowl, and sat that bowl on the bath tub rim. Every time he would start to whine, I would pet him slowly from head to tail, and give him an egg white piece. Each bath went this way for about a month before he was okay with baths.
Very quickly I could tell he had been through some kind of trauma. He was shy and scared of everyone. I spent every day slowly coaxing his full personality out of his scared, furry little shell. I gave him lots of eggs, and high protein food, pretty quickly he started looking more muscular and healthy. After about 2 months, I had a wonderful little dog on my hands. He very quickly responded to training. He learned the basics in about 1 week, which was impressive as he was only around 5 months old according to his veterinarian. After awhile I had to teach him some fancier tricks to keep him from getting bored. The cutest trick was probably "Dance", where he would stand up on his hind legs and wave his paws in the air.
Socialization was hard for this little puppy. He was very anxious around other dogs and people. After some research, I found out this was normal behavior for Shih Tzus, and Shih Tzu mixes. They were bred to be watch dogs and body guards for the Chinese emperors, so the dislike of strange people and dogs was completely normal for his breed.
Shortly after adopting Sheldon, I found a stray cat I decided to keep. Due to similar temperament between the cat and the dog, they instantly became good friends, and were inseparable. They played together, slept together, and ate together. Sheldon also warmed up to neighbor dogs after a few weeks of socialization.
Sheldon was an extremely affectionate dog. He slept at my feet, and was extremely clingy. Owning him was like owning a living stuffed animal. His size was fantastic for my life at the time; I was living in a small apartment, and he was a very small dog. However, his exercise requirements were that of a Husky, he could walk for miles, and play for hours and never run out of steam.
Due to his breed mix, he had very fine, human-hair-like fur that needed lots of brushing. I had to brush him every other day at least to keep the fur from matting.
The biggest con in owning Sheldon, was that he would bark enthusiastically at every passerby who walked by my apartment. I absolutely could not train this behavior out of him. After some more research, I found this behavior was normal for Shih Tzu mixes as well.
The biggest pro, was that his breed was very eager to please. He was always at my side, looking for ways to keep me happy. After some training, I could even was with him off leash, and he would stay at my side no problem.
From what I gather from my experiences with a Shorkie, they make perfect dogs for beginners. They're very intelligent, adaptable, and easy to train! However, due to their small bodies, I would recommend at least 2 walks a day. Even house-broken Shorkies will have accidents if they aren't given enough scheduled bathroom visits outside.
Contrary to popular belief, I would not recommend Shih Tzus, or Shih Tzu mixes to those who live in apartments. The Shih Tzu was bred for thousands of years to be a loud watch dog, and will take every opportunity to demonstrate that to their very own "Emperor".
A common Shih Tzu trademark is fine, human-hair-like fur with no undercoat. I big pro of that fur-type is virtually no shedding! A common trademark of the Yorkshire Terrier is digging, and getting into small, dirty places. What you get with the Shorkie is a dog that will most likely need lots of baths and grooming. I would bathe mine once a week. For most dogs, every 2 weeks is better due to sensitive skin. Brushing every day, or every other day at least will keep your Shorkie's fur clean and un-matted. How often you take your Shorkie to the groomer will depend entirely on your individual dog's coat. Designer Breeds always have inconsistent coat textures, so you may get a Shorkie that needs to be groomed less than normal. I would take my Shorkie to get groomed every 6 months, and I hear that frequency was fairly normal.
Shorkies get along great with other animals! However introduce other dogs to your Shorkie carefully and slowly. Also, I would not recommend leaving a Shorkie alone with small rodents. Yorkshire Terriers were bred accidentally to be very efficient ratters.
Which leads me to a massive pro of owning this breed! You will never have a mouse or insect problem around a Shorkie. They make great pest control, however be careful and watch for tapeworm infection, which can result from eating mice intestines, or the fleas on mice.
Shorkies are very creative breeds, with a big personalities! They love getting into small places, much like a cat, and will keep you endlessly entertained by their hysterical, clownish shenanigans. My Shorkie would love to crawl inside the couch, wait for company to sit down, and then pop out from in between the couch cushions like a canned snake, surprising everyone in the room!
Shorkies are Designer Breeds, meaning due to gene diversity, you will most likely have a very healthy dog on your hands! The most common medical problem with Shorkies is yeast bacterial build up in the fur around the eyes. Every other day along with brushing, take a sock that's been soaked in warm water, and clean around your Shorkie's tear-ducts. This routine should keep your Shorkie's eyes healthy!
This breed has the potential to be very demanding when it comes to exercise. Shorkies seem to never run out of energy, this makes them great companions to active individuals, and children of all ages. However, with all dogs, consistency from the whole family is essential. Train your Shorkie as you would any dog, and supervise with very young children if you suspect for any reason either the child or dog could be harmed.
Owning a Shorkie is like owning a living stuffed bear. They're extremely affectionate, love to lay with you and cuddle, and go with you everywhere. It is entirely possible, and very easy to train your Shorkie to walk with you without a leash! (However, I would not recommend of-leash walking in heavily populated areas.) Shorkies take loyalty to the next level. This macho little breed will actually grow very attached to you and your family, and think of themselves as your personal body guard! This results in the Shorkie being very apprehensive of strangers. If you have company over a lot, crate training and socialization is probably essential.
You will never need an alarm system with a Shorkie. They will be sure to let you know if someone is at the door or trying to break in. Be careful, if they think someone is a threat, they may try to attack. The Shorkie cannot do much harm due to their size, but it's still not good if your yap-dog is frantically gnawing on the ankle of the pizza man. This protective behavior is common, and could very well be impossible to train out. Again, crate training may be essential if you decide to own this breed.
Shorkies love to chew and are very curious, and intuitive breeds. Be sure to give them lots of durable toys and slow chews to keep them entertained when you can't play with them, so they don't go looking for trouble.
Ultimately, Shorkies are amazing little dogs with big personalities. They're a breeze to train, and define loyalty! They do however need lots of brushing, exercise, and socialization. They may also always be over protective of you. Treat this dog well, be consistent in training, and be a responsible owner, and this dog will make you feel just like a Chinese Emperor!