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When you’re talking about small dogs, it doesn’t get much more adorable than a Shorkie. A mix between a Shih Tzu and a Yorkshire terrier (or Yorkie), the Shorkie is a little designer dog with a big personality.
If you’re thinking about bringing a Shorkie dog into your family—or if you’ve recently brought one home—here’s everything you need to know about this tiny but mighty breed.
- Origin: United States
- Size: very small
- Lifespan: 12-15 years
- Energy Level: high
- Breed Group: toy dog/designer dog
Since the Shorkie is a mixed breed dog, it’s not always possible to predict exactly what it will look like—a Shorkie pup can take on the looks of either of its parent breeds and may favor one breed more than the other.
Since both the Shih Tzu and the Yorkshire terrier both have soft, long coats, you can expect the Shorkie to have this type of coat, as well. The hair is not coarse, and more like human hair, so Shorkies (and both of their parent breeds) are considered to be hypoallergenic. Because the Shih Tzu comes in many colors and has no standard color of coat, the Shorkie doesn’t either.
Both Yorkies and Shih Tzus are very small dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, Yorkies grow to about seven or eight inches tall and weigh an average of about seven pounds. Shih Tzus are a bit taller, usually growing to be between nine and 10.5 inches tall. Where Shih Tzus really vary, though, is their weight—falling anywhere between nine and 16 pounds. You can expect Shorkies to fall somewhere between their parent breeds in size, giving them a wide range as far as both height and weight.
As far as grooming goes, Shorkies require a lot. They need to be brushed daily to avoid knots and tangles in their coats, though that can be reduced if their hair is kept short. Since Shorkies have naturally long hair, it needs to be trimmed about every six weeks, and they should be bathed every two to four weeks.
Fortunately, their small size makes Shorkies fairly easy to handle during bath time, so this is one chore that doesn’t necessarily need to be hired out. You may rely on a groomer, however, to help with regular haircuts.
Don’t let their small size fool you—Shorkie dogs are known for having big personalities and sharp minds. They have high amounts of energy, and love to play—their best days ever are often spent playing fetch. Thankfully for Shorkie owners with busy schedules, they can also be appeased with squeaky toys. Since they’re dogs with high intellects, Shorkies can also be occupied with interactive toys.
Shorkies are also fiercely loyal and love to spend their time by their owners’ side, or better yet, on their lap. They’re most happy at the side of their favorite person and tend to follow their people around wherever they go. If you’re not down with a doggy shadow, this may not be the breed for you. But if you’re looking for a loyal companion who will love with their whole heart, you’ve found your match.
If you’re not a fan of noise, beware the Shorkie. This is a dog that loves to bark. They make excellent watchdogs, alerting you of any passing people, animals…or even blowing leaves. You may not ever have a quiet morning with a Shorkie in the house, but you’ll always know when the mail has been delivered.
Since Shorkie dogs are small, they can get most of the exercise they need by following their person around the house and chasing a ball around the living room floor. For this reason, they thrive in small spaces and do fine in an apartment.
If you do have a yard, it’s best that it be fenced in. However, be warned that these smart dogs can find their way out if they really want to, so they should never be left unsupervised.
Shorkies are great with people of all ages and even do well in homes with small children. Shih Tzus are known to be especially loving with children, so there’s a good chance your Shorkie will display this trait as well, and make for a great playmate for any young members of your household.
Because they so fiercely love their families, Shorkies don’t do well left alone for long periods of time. For this reason, they may not be the best match for someone who works long hours away from home or likes to travel frequently.
While they do get most of their exercise at home, Shorkies still need frequent, short walks to help them burn through all of their energy, so someone who is at least moderately active will be a great pet-parent for a Shorkie dog.
Training a Shorkie
One of the best features of a Shorkie—loyalty—also brings about their biggest reason for early training. Since the Shorkie so desires to be with their owner, they tend to suffer from separation anxiety. This severe anxiety at being alone is not only unhealthy for the dog, but also for the state of your home, and is far easier to avoid from the start than to try and cure in an older dog. Teach your Shorkie to be alone from the time it’s a puppy, leaving it at home alone for short periods of time, or even spending time in a different part of your home (checking in on your pup periodically to be sure it’s not causing too much trouble).
As far as house-training and other obedience skills, Shorkies tend to have a strong desire to please, but an attention span that isn’t supportive of your goals. Short training sessions work best for these easily distracted dogs.
Positive reinforcement should be your method of choice for this sensitive breed. They react well to praise and treats and are intimidated (and sometimes hurt) by yelling and rough training methods.
While it’s impossible to predict whether a Shorkie puppy will grow into a healthy adult dog, chances for that are good. According to the Institute of Canine Biology, a recent study has shown that mixed breed dogs are less likely to fall victim to genetic disorders than their purebred counterparts.
While this is good news, it’s important to understand that Shorkie dogs are still at risk for any disease or disorder that’s common in their parent breeds. Shih Tzus may be susceptible to hip dysplasia, though good breeders should screen for this. Both Yorkshire terriers and Shih Tzus are predisposed to dislocated knee caps and a wide range of eye disorders.
History of the Shorkie
The Shorkie itself is a very new breed of dog, only common in the United States for about 10 years. According to PetGuide.com, Americans started crossbreeding the Yorkshire terrier with the Shih Tzu to create a lapdog that was as intelligent as it was happy. But to really understand the history of the Shorkie, you have to understand the origin of its parent breeds.
The Shih Tzu is of Chinese origin, bred for Chinese emperors, probably by crossing the Lhaso Apso and Pekingese. The stayed spoiled in China until the 1930s, when they were further refined by breeders in Peking and England. They were registered by the American Kennel Club in 1969, and have been a favorite toy breed of Americans ever since.
Yorkshire terriers were bred from terriers by weavers in Scotland in the mid-1800s. Because of their small size, they were perfect for hunting rodents in textile factories. Fortunately for Yorkies, they didn’t stay in the working world long. They were recognized by England’s Kennel Club in 1886, and soon became better known as lapdogs. They were often spotted on the laps of English ladies. After this abrupt shift in duties, they were bred smaller and smaller to better suit their new padded perches.
Getting a Shorkie Dog
Anyone who’s ever brought home a new dog (and even most people who haven’t) know that getting a new dog is not a choice to make lightly. It’s important to evaluate your home and lifestyle, and decide not only if you’re ready for a dog, but what kind of dog is the best match for you.
If you’ve decided a Shorkie dog is the breed for you, you have plenty of options. The most popular options are either finding a Shorkie through a rescue organization or purchasing one through a breeder. No matter where you get your Shorkie, make sure you’re dealing with someone reputable. It’s important to meet the breeder or rescue organization in person, as well as the dog before any money is exchanged.
Since Shorkies are a new breed, there may not be a lot of options for finding one through a rescue organization, but it is possible. Diligent internet searching will turn up options for rescued Shorkies, but you may have to travel. If the organization isn’t in your local area, do your research and ask questions to make sure they’re reputable.
There may be drawbacks to adopting a Shorkie through a rescue organization. It’s likely the dog you find will not be a puppy, and you may not be able to learn much about its past. However, its age may also be a plus—there’s a good chance an adult Shorkie will be house-trained, and it will likely have been socialized through the rescue. It will also have been spayed or neutered and will have received all of its required immunizations. All of this greatly reduces the cost of ownership for you—as does the adoption fee, which is usually much cheaper than the price of purchasing a Shorkie from a breeder.
It’s often more difficult to find reputable Shorkie breeders since they are not a breed registered by the AKC, and therefore won’t be listed among their approved breeders. Before you commit to a breeder, ask around about them—your vet or other local breeders may be a good resource. When you visit, be sure to ask about any health issues in the dog’s bloodline, and discuss any genetic tests you might want to run.
More on Shorkies
Want to know more about Shorkies? Rover has you covered on everything from top names to the best beds, leashes, and gifts for this type of dog.
- Shih Tzu Puppies: The Ultimate Guide for New Dog Owners
- Yorkshire Terrier Puppies: Everything You Need to Know
- Top 5 Toys for Shih Tzus
- Shorkie, Morkie, Chorkie: Get Ready for the Irresistible Yorkie Mix Parade
- 12 Best Dog Toys for Yorkies
- 5 Facts That Shih Tzu Lovers Truly Appreciate
Getting a Dog Resources
For more information on what it’s like to buy and care for a dog, here are a few resources to get you started:
- The True Cost of Getting a Dog
- How to Adopt a Dog: Your Complete Guide
- The Best Dog Names for Every Type of Dog
- The Best Dog Toys and Chews