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The Malshi is one of the smaller designer crossbreeds originating in the US, and while still not common in the UK, is growing in popularity. The breeds that make up the Malshi are the Maltese and the Shih Tzu.

The Malshi come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colours and coat types, but in all cases this is a small companion dog. This crossbreed can be a first cross (with one Maltese and one Shih Tzu parent), they can be bred back to one of the original breeds, or be two Malshis bred together.


  • Dog suitable for non-experienced owners
  • Basic training required
  • Enjoys gentle walks
  • Enjoys walking half an hour a day
  • Little toy dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming daily
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Not a guard dog
  • Great with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Key Facts

Height: The usual height of a Malshi can vary between 25– 28cm
Maltese: not exceeding 25cm
Shih Tzu: under 27cm
Colours: The colours of a Malshi depend on the parents’ coats, but can be any of the following colours, with or without white markings
Maltese: Pure white but slight lemon markings are permissible
Shih Tzu: All colours permissible apart from merle
White blaze on forehead and white tip highly desirable in particolours
UK Kennel Club Groups: Toy (Maltese) and Utility (Shih Tzu)


Family-friendly: 4/5
Exercise needs: 3/5
Easy to train: 4/5
Tolerates being alone: 3/5
Likes other pets: 3/5
Energy level: 3/5
Grooming needs: 2/5
Shedding: 1/5
Malshi walking on the street


Like most crossbreeds, the personality of a Malshi depends on the parents and how they have been bred and reared, but both parents are affectionate companion dogs who bond closely to their owners.

The Maltese

Despite their small size the Maltese is a comparatively robust little dog who as long as they are well-bred and socialised, are active, friendly, trusting and alert. They bond very closely to their owners and will want to go everywhere with them.

The Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is an extroverted, confident, affectionate dog who can be quite independent and aloof with strangers. And while intelligent, sometimes the impression is that they think training is beneath them!

The Malshi is a small companion dog who will enjoy games - but will mostly enjoy being with their owner. The personality of a Malshi seems to be more consistent when they are first crosses (F1). As a line is successively bred, they can be either bred back to one of the original breeds (and so strengthen either the Maltese or the Shih Tzu personalities) or else be bred to another Malshi - in which case there is less predictability in temperament (and in-breeding becomes more of a potential issue).

Responsible breeders should be prioritising behaviour as highly as health and so it is important to find a good breeder. A well-bred Malshi should be outgoing and confident, not nervous, shy or fearful.

History and Origins

Like many of the designer crossbreeds, the Malshi originated in the United States in a quest to find a small companion dog that would fit into any family’s lifestyle no matter how small their home and garden.

The two breeds that go into the formation of the Malshi are the Maltese and the Shih Tzu.


Country of Origin: Malta

This is one of the earliest of the small companion dog breeds and they may well have existed in Malta for hundreds of years although the earliest records are from the early 1800s where they became known as lapdogs of the nobility and were frequently seen in paintings of the time. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries they became increasingly popular both in Malta and wider afield, and thanks to both their appearance and their temperament they quickly found fans around the world, first appearing as a show dog in England in 1859.

Shih Tzu

Country of Origin: China

The Shih Tzu we know and love today is itself an ancient crossbreed having been created within the walls of the Forbidden City in the 17th century from crossing the Lhasa Apso from the monasteries of Tibet with an early form of the Pekinese.

The resulting dogs, called Lhasa Lion Dogs, remained hidden away from the eyes of the West until the 20th century when the Peking Kennel Club was formed and the Lhasa Lion Dogs were shown for the first time alongside the Lhasa Apso.

It wasn’t until the 1930s that these dogs found their way to England but it was clear they were quite different from Lhasa Apso. The types that had the rounder skull and short muzzle became known as the Shih Tzu and a breed in their own right.

The Malshi can have any combination of the two breeds in their appearance, behaviour and temperament.

Ideal Owner

The Malshi would suit an owner who lives on their own, or a family with older sensible children who may have a smaller property and who want an affectionate dog who doesn’t need a great deal of exercise. They do not like to be left alone and so would need an owner who is either at home most of the time or can take their dog with them wherever they go.

Health and Common Issues

One aim with crossbreeds is to dilute or eliminate any inherited health issues that may exist within one or other of the breeds. This dilution or elimination is only likely if only one parent is the carrier of any particular condition, and where this is a first cross (F1). As this can’t always be guaranteed, all parents should be health tested prior to breeding:

  • Maltese: there are no required health tests but eye testing should be considered and like many small breeds can be prone to luxating patellas.
  • Shih Tzu: they are also prone to luxating patellas, and are prone to dental problems and eye conditions. They also are a brachycephalic breed and so can have the health problems and breathing difficulties associated with a shortened skull and flattened face.

Information on health tests for both breeds can be found on the Kennel Club’s website or find out more about brachycephalic breeds here.

Exercise Needs

As long as they have plenty of owner interaction, the Malshi will be happy with half an hour to an hour’s walking each day.

Potential Issues
Space Requirements

This is a small dog who can live in a flat or a smaller property as long as they have access to the outdoors for toileting and walks.

Nutrition and Feeding

Toy dogs have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn energy at a high rate. Because of their small stomachs, that they must eat little and often. Small-breed foods are specifically designed with appropriate levels of key nutrients and smaller kibble sizes to suit smaller mouths. This also encourages chewing and improves digestion.

Your dog's diet needs to have the right balance of all the main nutrient groups including a constant supply of fresh water. It's important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed him at least twice daily and in accordance with the dog feeding guidelines of his particular food.

Grooming Malshi

Malshi coats are likely to be long and silky and can mat. They are unlikely to shed much and if they do, it will most likely be in clumps of long hair. But they will require daily brushing and coat care.

Find a good local groomer who can either look after your Malshi’s coat or teach you how to do it yourself as their coat develops.

Training Malshi

The Malshi is far cleverer than many people think (or than they will let on!) and they will enjoy learning tricks and games. They should be trained to walk on a lead and harness as well as come back when called.

This is a breed that needs early and ongoing dog socialisation so they gain confidence with people and other dogs.

Family Friendly Dog Breeds

The Malshi makes a fun, affectionate companion but as they are small and rather delicate, they suit families with older sensible children. They are often happier with one person.

did you know?

Did You Know?

Thanks to their low shedding, the Malshi are a popular breed for people with allergies.

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