Designer Breed Icon
  • Activity Level: moderate
  • Grooming Level: high
  • Trainability: high
  • Adaptability: high
  • Kid/Pet Friendly: often
  • Prey Drive: moderate
  • Watchdog: very alert
  • Average Size: Small
  • Average Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Registered?: other

Mal-Shi Dog Breed Information





Owner Experience


Activity Level


Life Span

Did You Know?

The Mal-Shi is a designer dog breed that is a cross between a Maltese and a Shih-Tzu. They are also sometimes called a Malshi, Maltzu, or Malti-zu. This designer breed was developed in the 1990s with the goal of creating a small, low-shedding companion breed. It is one of the most popular designer breeds in Australia and is becoming more and more popular in the United States and other countries.

Although the Mal-Shi is not recognized by the purebred kennel clubs, the breed is recognized by the American Canine Hybrid Club, Designer Breed Registry, Designer Dogs Kennel Club, and more. Mal-Shis are known for having an outgoing, playful personality and a sweet disposition. Due to their gentle nature and social personality, they make great companions as well as therapy dogs.

A Mal-Shi tends to be bold and outgoing with an open and friendly personality. They tend to be interested in making friends with everyone, especially if that means they get some love, attention, and playtime. This means that they tend to get along well with other pets, dogs, strangers, and children. Due to their small size, the Mal-Shi can be easily injured by accidental falls or rough play, so any playtime with younger children should be closely supervised.

Mal-Shis are wonderful family dogs. They are naturally affectionate, loving, and devoted to their owner. They are alert, which makes them excellent watchdogs. They also tend to be open and friendly, so although they may alert you to someone or something coming to the house, they will be more interested in making friends than being a guard dog.

This is a highly adaptable dog breed. Mal-Shis are a good fit for apartment living as well as larger homes. They also do well in most climates. You will have to keep an eye on them in warmer weather as they can easily overexert themselves. In colder weather, you will likely need to add some layers to help your Mal-Shi stay warm. This dog is a true companion animal and loves to be with their family; this means they do not like to be alone for long periods and can be prone to separation anxiety.

Since the Mal-Shi is a mixed breed, it can inherit health issues common to one or both of the parent breeds. It can also “win the genetic lottery” and not be prone to developing any of them. Some common health issues to be aware of in your Mal-Shi include respiratory problems, White Shaker Syndrome, and patellar luxation. Asking the breeder about the genetic history of the parents and to see any relevant health clearances can help allay potential health concerns.

This dog breed is intelligent and happy to be with their owners, which also makes them eager to please. They are a highly trainable dog breed that is a good fit for owners of every experience level. Mal-Shis will tend to pick up on basic commands relatively easily and will enjoy learning more advanced tricks in ongoing training.

However, they can have a stubborn streak, but consistent training will help. Because of their outgoing and social personality, the Mal-Shi also tends to have a sensitive soul. Harsh scolding or tones will hurt their feelings and could make them withdrawn or more stubborn. They respond best to ongoing training that is interesting, consistent, and positive.

Housetraining can be difficult with this small dog breed, so you will want to introduce crate training early. Also, small dogs have small bladders, so your Mal-Shi will need to take more trips outside, especially as a puppy. Crate training and consistent routines can help with housetraining.

It’s also important to note that it is easy to spoil a Mal-Shi. Because they are so small, it can be tempting to baby your Mal-Shi. Of course, you want to treat your dog well and reward them for good behavior, but too much babying can result in your Mal-Shi acting more like a spoiled brat than the attentive, loving, and affectionate dog they usually are.

A Mal-Shi’s coat is usually long with a wavy appearance and a soft and silky texture. Common coat colors vary and can be any combination of white, black, brown, or tan. Although a Mal-Shi is often low-shedding, you will still need to brush their coat every day to remove tangles and prevent matting. If you choose to keep their coat clipped short, you can likely get away with brushing every couple of days. Professional grooming will need to be done several times a year, unless you’re able to do it at home, to keep your Mal-Shi comfortable and their coat maintained.

In addition to coat care, your Mal-Shi will have plenty of other grooming needs as would any dog. Trimming their nails monthly, or sooner if needed, keeps their nails from growing too long and affecting their ability to move around comfortably. Checking their ears regularly and cleaning them carefully as needed can help prevent ear infections caused by trapped moisture, dirt, or debris. Good dental care for dogs, like brushing teeth, using enzyme toothpaste, or dental chews daily, can help prevent the tartar buildup that causes gum disease and tooth decay. It’s usually a good idea to get your puppy used to having their teeth brushed and paws and ears handled early on to help make grooming easier as they grow.

The Mal-Shi is a dog breed with a moderate activity level. A few walks a day plus some playtime will keep this dog breed happy and healthy. They also tend to love the outdoors and will match their energy level to yours. So, if you want to be more relaxed, your Mal-Shi will relax with you, especially if it means more cuddles and time with you. If you want to be more active, your Mal-Shi will keep up and will be more than happy to be with you. Because of their small size, they can get tired quickly and may overexert themselves trying to keep up with you. So, keep an eye on them and take a break or go home if you see them start to pant heavily or struggle.

Fully-grown Mal-Shis usually stand about 10 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 6 and 12 pounds.

A Mal-Shi will typically live 12 – 14 years.

Because Poodle or Doodle hybrids are so popular, the Mal-Shi is one of the few designer breeds whose parentage does not include a Poodle.