Choosing your next "best friend" comes with plenty of excitement. But it can also be fraught with uncertainties and indecision. For one, how do you find the right dog breed for your unique situation?
A great place to start is the American Kennel Club's dog breed selector. It allows you to compare dog breeds to gain a better sense of the perfect furry friend for your household.
That said, if you know you want an adorable pooch that can fit in just as well inside your purse or an apartment as it does out in the backyard playing with the kiddos, then give the shorkie a closer look.
If you've never heard of the breed, you're not alone. Keep reading to find out more about a fantastic all-around pet for a variety of living situations.
What Is a Shorkie?
Shih Tzus are members of the Toy Group and weigh between 9 and 16 lbs. They're about 9 to 10.5 inches tall and are known for their outgoing personalities, affectionate natures, and playfulness. Mischievous dogs with sweet expressions, they're always sure to be the center of attention, winning hearts while inspiring plenty of laughter.
Yorkshire terriers or Yorkies are also members of the Toy Group. They weigh on average 7 lbs and grow 7 to 8 inches tall. They have markings like those of Chewbacca from Star Wars.
In terms of their personalities, they're renowned for being tomboyish, energetic, and very affectionate. The lapdogs of Victorian ladies, they're perfectly happy curled up in your purse, too.
As you've probably already figured out, when you mix the two breeds, creating the shorkie, you've got a serious "cuteness factor" on your hands. But the appeal of this relatively new breed doesn't stop there.
Let's take a closer look at their personalities and their optimal living situations.
The shorkie comes with the ultimate "Napoleon complex." This tiny package of dynamite is filled with boundless energy and a huge heart. It boasts all of the attitude of a giant breed in a spunky little body.
Because of the two breeds from which they've emerged, they take loyalty to the next level. As a result, you'll be hard-pressed to find a pooch that's more loving or dedicated to its owners.
But the captivating personality qualities don't stop there.
This designer breed also displays lots of adaptability and does well in a variety of living arrangements, from apartments to large homes.
They do well with singles, seniors, and even families with children. Kids will appreciate their unendingly playful personalities.
In terms of their physical characteristics, they generally weigh between 7 and 15 lbs, and their height averages between 6 and 14 inches.
They live on average 12 to 15 years.
The Origins of the Shorkie
Like other dog breeds, shorkies originated through selective breeding. They represent one of many designer dog breeds. Other designer dog breeds of note include:
- Labradoodles, a mix between labs and poodles
- Pitweilers, a Rottweiler and pitbull hybrid
- Golden Shepherds, a German Shepherd and Golden Retriever mix
- Goldendoodles, golden retriever poodle mixes that come in miniature sizes, too!
An incredibly rare and sought after breed, shorkies remain new to many American families. But this status doesn't make them any less of a great addition to the household!
Of course, all of this begs the question. Why did breeders start crossing Shih Tzus and Yorkies in the first place? They did so in an effort to create a dog breed that's both intelligent and friendly.
Dog breeders also wanted to create a pet that would look darling. And they hoped to avoid some of the genetic issues that currently plague both Shih Tzus and Yorkies.
Over time, the shorkie will fit all of these bills and then some.
Of course, because of the newness of the breed, it remains in its developmental stages. Since it's only been around for about 10 to 15 years as a designer breed, the work continues.
In other words, don't plan on showing a shorkie at Westminster Kennel Club anytime soon. That said, the agility championship is up for grabs, even for mixed breeds.
The Future of the Shorkie
At this point, you may be asking, "What'll it take for the shorkie to get recognized as a bona fide breed?"
In the future, the first generation of shorkies will be bred together. Over time, this breeding program will lead to actual purebred canines.
This type of breeding program requires at least seven generations before recognition in prestigious breed registries. As shorkies produce offspring with other shorkies, identifiable traits or a set of breed standards will emerge.
Since breed standards are what dog shows, such as Westminster, use to distinguish "best in show" stars, this represents yet another step towards recognition of the breed.
Besides developing a clear set of breed standards, puppies will become more uniform, both in terms of temperament and appearance. At this point, however, second-generation shorkies prove extremely rare. In other words, most puppies for sale are the offspring of a Shih Tzu and Yorkshire Terrier.
If, by chance, you meet a breeder who claims their puppies are "purebred" shorkies, think again. Research the breeder carefully. Chances are, they're making false claims. That said, as shorkie breeding programs continue, finding purebred puppies will become less of a problem.
How to Care for Your Shorkie
What should you feed a shorkie dog? Like other canines, they need a high-quality, well-balanced diet. Dry kibble is an excellent basis for this diet, and you should look for one formulated explicitly for very active little dogs.
What should you look for in the kibble you feed your new best friend? Make sure that it contains all of the nutrients your puppy needs to grow. Avoid brand-less dog food that's cheap and filled with too many carbs.
You should also feed your dog an age-specific kibble. That way, you ensure they get the right combination of nutrients at the right time.
What if you can't decide on a brand of food? Then, consult with your veterinarian. They'll be able to steer you towards the most nutritious kibble for your specific pup's needs.
You should also bathe and comb your shorkie regularly. Because of their long-ish fur, it's essential to keep a shorkie's coat free of knots and dirt.
Common Health Problems Among Shorkies
While shorkies are relatively robust dogs from a health standpoint, there are a few basic things you need to watch out for. Fortunately, these problems can be remedied with a healthy diet. They include dental and weight issues.
Teeth Problems Shorkies Can Face
If you'd prefer to feed your shorkie soft food instead of dry kibble, think again. It could lead to a variety of health issues.
These include gum disease, tooth loss, and tooth decay. Fortunately, these problems can largely be avoided with a healthy dry kibble.
When coupled with regular doggie toothbrushing, your dog will enjoy excellent oral hygiene. Their smile will stay sparkly, their breath pleasant, and their teeth cavity-free.
Weight Problems in Shorkies
You also need to avoid overfeeding your dog, or this could lead to obesity. Small breeds prove particularly susceptible to this.
Why? Because of the simple fact, their frames don't handle extra weight well. That extra fluff can lead to joint problems, diabetes, and more. Of course, it can be hard to tell how much your shorkie should weigh.
Because Shih Tzus and Yorkies encompass a wide weight range, your puppy might end up anywhere between 7 and 15 lbs. This variation is due to the unpredictability of cross-breeding, at least during its initial stages.
It's hard to know which way your dog will run size-wise. So, you should consult with your veterinarian on the right weight for your pooch.
Avoiding an Overweight Pet
How can you prevent this food-related issue? By following the manufacturer's instructions when it comes to portion size. (This will also lead to savings, which is a great side-benefit!)
Most companies recommend feeding your small dog no more than a cup to a cup and a half of kibble daily. This serving size should be divided into two separate meals. That way, your dog will avoid bloat and issues related to eating too fast.
Keeping track of portion size and how often you feed your shorkie is critical to their longevity and well-being. After all, shorkies will inhale their food if you let them.
So, do your best to keep portion sizes under control and meals spread out.
Health Problems Associated with Designer Breeds
While cross-breeding should lead to more robust puppies over the long haul, this requires multiple generations of purebred puppies.
As for the shorkie you get from a breeder? It could be healthier than both of its parents. Or, it could end up with genetic disorders from one or both parents.
Besides a risk of dental issues and obesity, shorkies can also develop:
- Kidney stones
- Liver diseases
- Progressive retinal apathy
- Patellar luxation
- Collapsed trachea
Of course, you can minimize the likelihood of the conditions mentioned above by working with a responsible, reputable breeder.
The best breeders work hard and remain dedicated to developing the healthiest, most robust animals possible. You can't expect this same dedication and knowledge from a backyard breeder.
Separation Anxiety and Crate Training
Shorkies are a very loyal and dedicated breed, and these are fabulous traits in a dog. They've earned the reputation for being "velcro dogs" because they want to stay glued to their owners at all times.
While this can appear cute at first, it's not a trait that all dog owners enjoy over the long haul. And even if you appreciate it for years to come, your lifestyle and work schedule simply might not accommodate this level of constant attention.
That means you need to avoid letting your dog get overly attached, especially during the puppy stage. Otherwise, separation anxiety could lead to dysfunctional and destructive behavior.
When shorkies are separated from their owners, they feel anxious, agitated, and depressed. The result? Separation anxiety can lead them to destroy the house. It can also motivate incessant barking.
Their tendency towards separation anxiety can make training a bit tricky. While you'll want to bond with your dog as soon as you get it, remain conscious of training the dog to be able to handle time away from you, too.
It's also essential to understand the role of crate training in all of this. If you begin crating your dog from a very young age, this can have a positive impact on separation anxiety.
It can also teach them a healthy level of independence. But these observations only prove true if you crate train your puppy on time.
Otherwise, crating a dog with separation anxiety can come with disastrous results. These include scratching and clawing at the crate to get out and find you and the broken nails and bloody paws that come with that.
Training Your Shorkie
Although shorkies are among the most adorable dogs on the planet, a cross between a Star Wars Ewok and Gizmo from Gremlins, they can be stubborn when it comes to training.
Considering they're half terrier, this shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
As you work on obedience, remain patient and take your time. Approach these sessions in an upbeat and calm way. Plenty of treats help the process along, too!
Keep training sessions no longer than 15 minutes at a time. And remember to focus on one command. Start with potty training before moving on to other basic commands such as "sit" and "stay."
Before you know it, you'll have a well-mannered, devoted companion who'll inspire lots of love and plenty of smiles.
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