Written by: Jamie
Updated: March 31, 2020

Curious about the Maltese/Shi-Tzu cross commonly known as the Malshi? We explain all there is to know about this great little dog.

malshi lying down

The Mal-Shi dog breed is a popular designer dog that can adapt to a range of different lifestyles.

This hybrid dog combines a Maltese with a Shih Tzu, and whilst most commonly referred to as a Malshi, this dog may also be called a Maltese Shih Tzu, Shih Tzu/Maltese or Mal-Tzu.

It has many wonderful traits but read on to make sure this is the right breed for you.

Height: approximately 10 inches fully grown
Weight: between 6 – 12 pounds
Lifespan: 12 – 14 years
Pedigree Breed: No, as this is a hybrid dog breed. Mal-Shi dogs are the result of purebred Maltese dogs breeding with purebred Shih Tzus.

Positives and Negatives of the Breed

When it comes to this breed there are many positives for you to look forward to. Check out our list of pros and cons to ensure you are fully up to speed.


  • The Maltese and Shih Tzu mix makes for a very cute pet. Along with their adorable looks, they are also incredibly affectionate and loyal.
  • Due to the low shedding nature of the Malshi dog, they are a great choice for allergy sufferers.
  • They will generally adapt to the amount of exercise you like to have during the day – if you want to go on multiple walks, they will easily keep up with you, but if you prefer one 10-15 minute walk a day, they will be fine with that as well.
  • The Shih Tzu/Maltese is an easy dog to look after, and so is a great breed for a first-time dog owner.


  • Mal Shi dogs form very close bonds with their owners, which can lead to separation anxiety if they are left for extended periods of time.
  • Whilst the Malshi dog is a great family pet; they are better suited to older children. If you have young children, it would be beneficial to wait until they are a bit older before introducing this breed to the family.
  • As a breed, the Maltese Shih Tzu can be quite vocal. If you don’t like barking or you have neighbors close by, this can become a problem.
  • There are a variety of health conditions that may be inherited, however, many of these can be checked for with a responsible breeder before decided to purchase to a puppy.


The Maltese Shih-Tzu mix is a cute, little designer dog that was created to meet the needs of allergy sufferers who wanted to be able to have their own dog.

They are a perfect breed for first-time dog owners and families with children of any ages due to their loyal, affectionate temperament and fairly low maintenance existence. They will generally fit in around your lifestyle but won’t be happy if they are left alone all day.

They will be friendly with all people and animals that you bring into their lives as long as they have been socialized appropriately, and their desire to please will allow you to train them with relative ease.

They are a great breed of dog for anyone who is looking for companionship and loyalty.


The Shih Tzu-Maltese is a relatively modern breed of dog with its origins in the United States during the 1990s. Breeders were trying to find a low shedding dog that could make a perfect companion for an allergy sufferer who wanted to have a dog as a pet.

This small, adorable mixed breed serves that purpose and has become a favorite with allergy sufferers and non-allergy sufferers due to their loyal temperament and ease of looking after.

Whilst they originated in the United States, they are popular in Australia and the United Kingdom as well.

As a modern hybrid breed, they are not recognized by the Kennel Club or any other international breed organization yet. Currently, the Maltese and Shih Tzu mix is usually a first-generation dog being created from purebred Maltese and Shih Tzus.

However, slowly second-generation litters are becoming available. It is important as second-generation puppies come into existence that breeders are responsible and do not breed dogs that are extra-small.

Whilst extra small puppies are often popular with people looking for a cute, designer dog; they can come with health conditions associated with extra small dogs.


Shih-Tzu-Maltese dogs have a loyal and affectionate temperament, but it is essential to ensure they are socialized at a young age so that they develop into mature, manageable dogs.

They develop strong bonds with their owners and the wider family, which can be endearing; however, if you need to leave your pet for any length of time, this bond can cause problems.

The Shih-Tzu Maltese can develop separation anxiety, which can manifest in destructive behavior if they are left alone for too long. If you need to travel often or are out for most of the day and have to leave your pooch behind, then this probably isn’t the right breed of dog for you.

Recommended: The Jug Dog is a popular Jack Russell and a Pug cross. Find out what they’re like in our guide.

What are they like with strangers?

As a breed, the Shih-Tzu Maltese generally like to be around people. Whilst their loyalty will always lie with their family, they love human interaction and will welcome the presence of strangers who will give them attention.

This is only true if the dog has been socialized appropriately, as a Shih-Tzu-Maltese that has not been socialized adequately can be anxious and snappy if they are in situations or around people that they do not feel comfortable in.

They are not natural guard dogs and would not be particularly useful in protecting their family. They would prefer to hang back and alert their owner to the presence of a stranger rather than acting in an aggressive manner.

Maltese Shi Tzu cross

Are they good around other dogs?

They have a temperament that makes them just want to play and be affectionate with everyone, regardless of size or species. This means that they will be absolutely fine within a household with other pets.

They will happily make friends with other dogs, and as long as they are socialized appropriately, they will thrive with a large family of humans and other animals.

Can they be trusted around children?

As these are great family dogs, it is natural that they are also fine to be trusted around children. As with any breed of dog, they should be socialized into the family and not left alone with small children.

Their loyal nature makes them a great companion for older children, and they love to entertain all the family. They can get a little bit boisterous when they get excited and so need to be supervised when playing with younger children, but as a family pet, they are one of the best breeds you can find.


Maltese-Shih-Tzu dogs generally enjoy good health but can inherit health problems associated with either of the parent breeds.

A decent breeder will be happy to show you the health clearances for both of the parents of the puppy to prove that they have been tested for and cleared of any conditions associated with each breed.

Examples of health clearances the breeder should be happy to show are those for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease, hypothyroidism a certificate from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation prove that the eyes are normal.

Conditions that may cause a problem are Patellar Luxation and White Shaker Syndrome.

Next Article: When it comes to owning a Japanese Spitz dog, you can expect to get a small dog with a big heart that will live well with your family.


malshi 2

This Maltese-Shih-Tzu breed is great when it comes to exercise because it will largely adapt to your lifestyle and how active you are. They require moderate exercise, so if you don’t want to get out and be active at all, then this isn’t the right pooch for you.

However, if you like to be energetic and go on numerous walks a day, then the Malshi will happily keep up with you and go with the flow of what you prefer to do.

This makes them a great companion as when you are ready for a walk, so are they.

Their requirement for moderate exercise means that they are fine to adapt to living in an apartment, as long as you can get out at least once a day for a walk or a game of fetch.

They will happily exist on just 10-15 minutes of exercise per day, so if you are short of time, then you know you can still meet the needs of your furry friend.

Recommended: Learn about the beautiful Inuit dog in this article.


malshi 3

It is tempting to treat a little Maltese Shih-Tzu like a baby due to its small size and cuteness.

However, if you adopt the role of a doting parent, then you could end up with a very difficult puppy on your hands.

Their intelligence means they are quick to learn and will develop bad behavior if they are allowed to get away with it. Their desire to please makes them fairly easy to train as long as you make sure they know who is in charge.


The coat of the Maltese Shih Tzu is long and soft, and whilst white or white with tan markings is the most common, they can also come in a variety of color combinations.

Their coat requires brushing daily to ensure they don’t get tangled, and they also require regular to keep their coat silky. They can be clipped every six to nine weeks to make grooming easier, but they would still need to be brushed weekly at the very minimum.

Brushing of teeth should be carried out daily to prevent gum disease, bad breath, and a buildup of tartar, and their nails should be trimmed once or twice a month if your pet doesn’t wear them down naturally by themselves.

Recommended Reading: We explain all about the New Zealand Huntaway in today’s dog breed guide.

Do you own a Maltese Shih Tzu? Or know somebody that does? We’d love to hear what you think about these cute little dogs in the comments section.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Jamie! I've always been around dogs and now writing about them is an absolute joy.
Read more about my story here.
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  1. Hi , have purchased a Malshi , she’s tri Colour , her coat is quite wiry compared to her brother she’s 4 months now . At what age should I get her trimmed she’s about 4 kgs now.
    She is very interesting , plays tricks . Hides bones loves to fretch anything. Loves getting out for walks.
    Just loves attention from visitors
    Great we dog

    1. Hi Heather,

      4 months is old enough for a puppy to be groomed. Some people argue that 10-12 weeks old is ideal as exposing a young dog to new experiences means it can easier become acclimatised to them. For example, a dog exposed to water at a young age will usually take to it better than one that meets a river for the first time as an adult dog.

      Hope that helps!

  2. My Mal-Shi is 4 1/2 now. He’s very loyal and happy so long as he can be with me. He’s the most impractical yard dog being white and fluffy but will sit near me for hours while I do the horses.
    Reliable around the cats, chickens and other dogs but will bark to warn me if anyone is approaching.
    A great companion. Will walk with the family for hours some days but then happy with very little on other days.
    Even as a puppy we didn’t have naughty behaviour. Easy to train. Never pulled on lead and stays close off lead. No furniture destruction.
    Only downside is how attached he is to me, to the extent he ignores the family unless I’ve gone out for hours. Would leave dinner uneaten if I’ve walked out the kitchen!

  3. Fantastic, loyal, affectionate, obedient, adorable dogs. My malshi is 7 yrs old now. Named little miss beyonce. Due to her booty. Great at travelling long distances in cars, trains ferry’s. Enjoys long treks to short walks. Plays gently & cheekily with my 10yr old daughter. You cannot go wrong with this adorable breed. Enjoys being groomed so much we have to close bathroom door or she will jump in bubble bath. Never had any issues with barking. I totally recommend this breed for all types of households. From lone person to family of 5 the Malshi will fit in perfect

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