Sarah Mouton Dowdy
By Sarah Mouton Dowdy. Reviewed by Veronica Higgs, DVM on Feb. 8, 2024
small shorkie puppy sitting outside

Wirestock/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

In This Article

General Care

The Shorkie is a cross between two pint-size breeds with luxuriously long locks: the Shih Tzu and the Yorkshire Terrier. Sometimes called Shorkie Tzu, Yorkie Tzu or simply a Shih Tzu-Yorkie mix, the Shorkie is a relatively new crossbreed and is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). 

Without a breed standard, there’s no definite guideline to a Shorkie’s temperament and appearance. However, the two parent breeds are well established with the AKC, and their breed standards serve as helpful blueprints for making predictions.

Shih Tzu spent centuries living as royal pets in China. And though their name means “little lion” in Mandarin, they are far from fearsome. Yorkies hail from Yorkshire, England, where 19th-century Scottish immigrant weavers developed the breed to rid the region’s textile mills and mines of rodents.

When these two popular small dog breeds combine, you can generally expect a Yorkie-Shih Tzu mix of minimal height but maximal personality. And while the affectionate Shorkie doesn’t take up a lot of space, grooming their long, silky hair may demand a lot of your time. 

Caring for a Shorkie

Thanks to their small stature, Shorkies can fit into a wide variety of homes, including apartments. However, providing a home that’s the right fit for a Shorkie requires effort.

Shorkies are social dogs. Both parent breeds were bred to spend their days alongside humans, and their offspring will want the same company. Shorkies enjoy companionship with people of all ages and typically get along well with other animals. However, caution is necessary because they’re so tiny. Full-grown Shorkies typically stand just 7–10 inches tall and weigh 7–16 pounds, so young children and larger pets may cause unintended harm.

In addition to your attention, a Shorkie will also need your grooming skills. Their flowing, human-like hair is prone to matting; they need to be brushed daily and bathed at least once a month.

And while your Shorkie will happily play the part of lap dog, you’ll need to provide around 30 minutes of daily exercise to satisfy their need for mental and physical activity.

Shorkie Health Issues

shorkie dog lying down
Photo credit: Adobe Stock/KevinChip Photography

Both Shih Tzu and Yorkshire Terriers are healthy breeds with life expectancies of 10–18 years and 11–15 years, respectively. You can expect your Shorkie’s lifespan to fall within these ranges.

Still, like all dogs, the two breeds are prone to various health conditions that can be passed to their puppies. This highlights the importance of working with a Shorkie breeder who’s committed to health over profit and performs genetic testing before breeding. 

The following conditions are more common in Shih Tzu, Yorkies, or both. 

Patellar Luxation

When the patella (kneecap) moves outside its normal groove within the femur (thigh bone), this is called patellar luxation. The condition is more common in smaller breeds like Shih Tzu and Yorkies. In some dogs it doesn’t cause a problem, but severe cases may require surgery.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a progressive condition where bacteria accumulate in the mouth, leading to damage to the dog’s gums, bones, and other tissues. While the disease is common in all dogs, small and toy breeds are especially prone. 

Mild cases may simply require a professional dental cleaning by your veterinarian, while severely affected teeth must be extracted. Frequent tooth brushing at home (at least three times a week) and regular cleanings are the best way to prevent dental disease. 

Portosystemic Shunts

While portosystemic shunts (also called liver shunts) are relatively uncommon, Shih Tzu and Yorkies are predisposed to the condition.

A liver shunt is an abnormal blood vessel that connects blood from the digestive tract directly to the circulatory system without going through the liver first. This blood—which contains nutrients, hormones, and waste material—therefore skips the vital detoxification process that happens in the liver.

Treatment depends on the severity of the condition. Some dogs are good candidates for surgery, and others require medical management (such as medication and a diet change).

Tracheal Collapse

The trachea (or windpipe) is a tube consisting of C-shaped rings of cartilage covered with a thin membrane that carries air from the mouth and nose to the lungs. If the cartilage weakens or the membrane stretches out, the trachea’s shape flattens. This is called tracheal collapse, and both Shih Tzu and Yorkshire Terriers carry an increased risk of developing this condition.

Dogs with tracheal collapse tend to have a recurring cough that sounds like a goose honk. The cough tends to worsen with exercise; heat and humidity; excitement; stress; and eating and drinking.

Medication is typically enough to help most dogs with tracheal collapse, but some may require surgery. Treatment might not be necessary if symptoms are not persistent or severe. Walking your dog with a harness instead of a collar is typically recommended to keep pressure off the windpipe.

Eye Problems

Shih Tzu are prone to several eye conditions that Shorkie dogs may inherit.

  • Cataracts: Normal, healthy lenses are clear and allow light to easily pass through to the retina. Cataracts cause the lens to become cloudy, obstructing light from reaching the retina and causing vision loss. If you notice cloudiness or signs of vision loss (like clumsiness) in your dog, notify your veterinarian. Cataracts are progressive but can typically be treated with surgery.

  • Dry eye syndrome: Dry eye syndrome occurs when a dog doesn’t produce enough tears to properly lubricate their eyes. Signs of dry eye syndrome include red and inflamed eyes; pain; increased blinking; and a mucus-like discharge. Most cases are treated with a medication that stimulates tear production. 

  • Progressive retinal atrophy: Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is an umbrella term for a family of eye disorders in which the rods and cones of the retina either don’t develop properly in puppies (early-onset PRA) or begin deteriorating in adulthood (late-onset PRA). Signs of disease include reluctance to enter dark spaces, clumsiness, and cataracts. There is no cure for PRA, and the condition eventually leads to blindness.

What To Feed a Shorkie

There’s no overarching recommendation for feeding your Shorkie dog. You’ll need to work with your veterinarian to develop a feeding plan that’s nutritionally complete and balanced for your pup’s age, weight, and health. Even the size of the kibble is important, as small teeth need small kibble. 

How To Feed a Shorkie

Shorkie puppies need frequent meals (three or four a day) to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Adult Shorkie dogs can be fed less frequently, typically two or three times a day. Your vet can help you determine the best feeding schedule for your dog. 

How Much Should You Feed a Shorkie?

The nutrition label on your dog’s food bag includes a feeding guide that gives you a general idea of how much you should feed your Shorkie. This recommendation is based on weight, and your veterinarian can give you more precise guidance. A vet will tailor their recommendation to your dog’s weight, body condition score, lifestyle, and health needs.

Remember to count calories from treats, too—especially in dogs as small as Shorkies, as they can quickly add up. Treats should always be less than 10% of a dog’s daily caloric intake.  

Nutritional Tips for Shorkies

Your Shorkie shouldn’t need any supplementation if they’re eating a complete and balanced diet approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

However, nutritional supplements may be recommended by your veterinarian on a case-by-case basis. Talk to your veterinary team before adding anything new to your dog’s diet, including supplements.

Behavior and Training Tips for Shorkies

Shorkie Personality and Temperament

yorkie-shih tzu mix looking up at the camera
Photo credit: Adobe Stock/jaybanipal

Shih Tzu are loving and friendly dogs, while Yorkies have a reputation for being confident and spirited. Your Shorkie’s temperament will ultimately depend on which parent they favor, but you can count on a dog that wants to be always by your side. Luckily, they’re small enough that this is a real possibility. 

Properly socialized Shorkies are outgoing and friendly with people of all ages and other pets. However, this toy breed can look like an actual toy to very small children and other pets, so closely supervise interactions to avoid accidental injuries.

Shorkie Behavior

Shorkies need 20–30 minutes of exercise every day, such as a neighborhood walk or playtime. They can also become stressed and anxious when left alone for long periods, which can result in unwanted behaviors like barking, house-soiling, and chewing.

Shorkie Training

Shorkie pups need to be socialized from a young age, where they’re exposed to various animals, people, environments, activities, and objects. This will help them become comfortable (as opposed to fearful) in a variety of settings throughout their life.

Properly socialized Shorkies are outgoing and friendly with people of all ages and other pets.

Consistent, positive training that uses rewards instead of punishment is the best way to help Shorkies learn, and it helps build the human-animal bond. The training process is also a great way to provide these dogs with mental and physical exercise. 

Fun Activities for Shorkies

  • Walking

  • Obedience training

  • Skills training

  • Fetch

  • Food puzzles

Shorkie Grooming Guide

The Shorkie’s coat resembles human hair and can grow quite long. They don’t shed much and can be considered hypoallergenic dogs, though there’s really no such thing as an allergen-free pup.

Skin Care

Good coat care is the foundation of good skin care. Matting can trap moisture, debris, and other irritants next to your Shorkie’s skin, so it’s essential to keep their hair free from problems. 

Your Shorkie will need frequent baths, so talk to your veterinarian about determining a schedule. Keep in mind that bathing your pup too often can strip their skin of healthy oils and can lead to dryness and itchiness

Coat Care

Long-haired Shorkies need to be brushed or combed every day to prevent tangles or mats. But if caring for their temperamental hair feels too daunting, you can give your pup a short haircut that’s easier to manage. 

Eye Care

Shorkies are prone to eye issues thanks to their Shih Tzu DNA, so it’s important to watch for signs of a problem, such as cloudiness or inflammation. If your Shorkie has long hair, keep the hair around their eyes trimmed, or pulled up and away from their face with a ponytail holder so it doesn’t irritate their eyes. 

Ear Care

Talk to your veterinarian about how, and how often, you should clean your Shorkie’s ears. If you notice signs of an ear infection such as redness, swelling, pain, or bad odor, call your vet.

Considerations for Pet Parents

Here are some questions to consider before adding a Shorkie to your family:

  • Can I brush or comb a dog’s coat at least once a day? 

  • Can I provide regular baths?

  • Can I brush a dog’s teeth at least three times a week?

  • Am I home enough to give a dog companionship? 

  • Do I have the time to provide a dog with mental and physical exercise every day? 

  • Do I have the skills, patience, and dedication to train a dog using positive reinforcement?

  • Am I financially prepared to provide veterinary care?  

  • Can I provide a dog with a loving home for their lifetime, which could last well into their teens?

If you can answer these questions with an enthusiastic “Yes!” you may be ready to parent a Shorkie. 

Shorkie FAQs

What is a Shorkie’s lifespan?

The Shorkie is a Shih Tzu-Yorkie mix. Shih Tzu have a lifespan of 10–18 years, while Yorkies tend to live 11–15 years. You can reasonably expect a Shorkie’s lifespan to be 10–18 years. 

How big do full-grown Shorkies get?

Shorkies aren’t recognized as an official breed by the American Kennel Club, which means they don’t have a breed standard detailing their ideal size. But you can assume that full-grown Shorkies won’t exceed 10 inches in height or 16 pounds in weight. 

Is the Shorkie a rare breed?

The Shorkie is a relatively new and rare Yorkie mix. They aren’t members of the American Kennel Club, so there isn’t a way for pet parents to register their Shorkies. This makes it difficult to speculate on their population size. 

Sarah Mouton Dowdy


Sarah Mouton Dowdy

Freelance Writer

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?

Get Instant Vet Help Via Chat or Video. Connect with a Vet. Chewy Health