Bea Tzu

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Bea Tzu
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A cute little ‘scruff’, the Bea Tzu is a designer dog with a confident and cheeky personality. Taking more after its Shih Tzu parent than its Beagle parent in the looks department, don’t let this fool you, as Bea Tzus are by no means lap dogs and can be quite energetic and boisterous.

While many Bea Tzus will be brown and white, there are actually a number of potential coat colours that they can display, including grey and cream. They have soulful brown eyes and wide, floppy ears giving them a face that is hard to resist when they are begging for treats!

About & History

A recently developed crossbreed, the Bea Tzu comes from mixing the Shih Tzu – a loyal and placid lap dog – with the Beagle – an energetic and confident hunting dog. In the world of canine hybrids, there are few limitations and while these are two very different breeds, this is a mix that somehow works well.

It is believed that the first Bea Tzu was developed during the late 20th century, a time when breeders were creating a great number of designer dogs in order to establish which crosses would work best.

The Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is one of the most ancient breeds still in existence, having been around for around 3,000 years. They are a Tibetan breed and have close links with the ancient monks who inhabited the area. They have always been highly revered and occupied an important place in society, being seen as companions and friends. Breeds, such as the Lhasa Apso and Pekingese, likely contributed to the Shih Tzu’s genetic make-up and the physical similarities are undeniable to this day.

While Shih Tzus have been popular in Asia for centuries, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that they made their way to Europe. Here, their popularity soon soared as people learned to appreciate their faithfulness and good nature. The Kennel Club have placed the Shih Tzu in their Utility (non-sporting) Group and the first Shih Tzu was shown within England in 1933.

The Beagle

Beagles were more recently developed. While similar dogs are known to have existed as far back as the 1400s, the modern Beagle that we recognise today was first established in the 1800s. Breeders were keen to create an obedient hunting dog with a keen sense of smell that could hunt prey, such as rabbits and foxes. While taller breeds, such as the Foxhound would have been accompanied by huntsmen on horseback, the shorter Beagle was better-suited to those hunting on foot.

The Beagle is a popular breed in both Europe and America and while some continue to work in the field, most are kept as companion animals. A versatile pet, they also excel in other roles and are commonly used as sniffer dogs by police and bomb squads.


The Bea Tzu is not instantly recognisable as the progeny of the Beagle, thanks to their longer, denser fur. However, evidence of the Beagle can be seen in their wide, pendulous ears and round, deep brown eyes. Their muzzle should be longer than that of the Shih Tzu and they are both taller and heavier. Their bodies are quite long and stocky and they have rather short limbs. Their tail is medium in length and may be carried high over their back or even curl up in an elegant plume of fur.

Bea Tzu’s have a medium-length, wiry coat that tends to be longer on the face than the body. Many individuals will be brown and white or black and white but we can also see shades of tan, cream and grey within the breed. Solid coat colours are uncommon and most will be either bi-colour or tri-colour. Their fur does not shed heavily. A small dog, an adult Bea Tzu will measure from 25cm to 38cm at the withers and weighs between 7 and 11kg.

Character & Temperament

A good choice for a family who likes to keep active, Bea Tzus are friendly and lots of fun. They will form strong bonds with all family members and are often especially docile and tolerant when around children. However, as they can be quite energetic, it may be best to wait until very young children are a little older before taking on this breed. As well as being sociable with people, they enjoy the companionship of other dogs and tend to thrive in multi-pet households.

While rarely hostile or aggressive, these dogs are fiercely loyal and will always be on the watch for intruders. They will bark loudly when someone new arrives but should quickly settle down if told to do so.


Most Bea Tzus will gladly participate in training sessions and enjoy making their masters happy. Results are obtained quicker with lots of positive reinforcement and training treats. It is not unheard of for some individuals to possess a stubborn streak and these guys will undoubtedly require more patience. Consistency is key and it is important that all family members participate in the training sessions to avoid any confusion or crossed wires.


It is generally accepted that hybrid dogs enjoy better health than their pedigree ancestors. In spite of this, there will inevitably be some health conditions that they can suffer from and which owners should learn more about.

Intervertebral Disc Disease

Intervertebral Disc Disease, or IVDD, is a disease which typically affects smaller dogs with longer backs. Those that are affected may suffer from back pain, poor mobility and, in the worst cases, paralysis.

When a dog develops IVDD, it is imperative that we determine the extent of the injury. For mild injuries, dogs can go on to make a full recovery with strict rest and medication alone. However, more severe injuries may well require orthopaedic surgery.


A reduced level of circulating thyroid hormone can cause a myriad of symptoms, which are generally vague and non-specific. Dogs may seem sluggish and ‘not quite right’, which many owners put down to aging. It is common for those affected to put on weight and then struggle to lose it.

Many will suffer from chronic infections and it is their skin that is typically affected. A simple blood test can diagnose the condition and it is well-controlled with daily medication, which replaces the thyroid hormone not being produced.


Epilepsy is a condition whereby an animal has seizures. It is important to stress that not every animal that has seizures is epileptic as there are many other potential causes, including low blood sugar levels and brain tumours.

In fact, we can only say that an animal has epilepsy when we have ruled out all of the other reasons for a seizure. Most dogs will receive life-long medication to limit both the frequency and duration of their fits.

Ear Infections

As is true of practically any breed with floppy ears, we frequently see ear infections In the Bea Tzu. The first signs may be subtle, such as the odd head shake or ear scratch, However, as the condition progresses animal become more and more uncomfortable and signs are more obvious.

Owners may notice reddened skin within the ear and a thick, bad-smelling exudate coming from the canal. Dogs may not allow owners to take a close look as they are simply too uncomfortable. Thankfully, most ear infections respond well to a short course of prescription ear drops containing antibiotics, anti-fungals and steroids.

Exercise and Activity Levels

While alert and active, the Bea Tzu will not require hours of hiking and running to keep them satisfied. They love to play and keep fit but most are content to exercise in their back garden and rarely need more than 45 minutes of outdoor exercise each day. As these dogs enjoy being in the company of other canines, they like to visit dog parks and will make friends at every opportunity.

These dogs do not require lots of land and a small yard will provide them with all of the space they need. Similarly, they can be kept in apartments and small homes, as long as their moderate exercise needs are met each day.


The coat of the Bea Tzu should be brushed through every couple of days as it can become matted, particularly on the face and tail. Many owners opt to keep the coat cut short to prevent tangling and minimise grooming requirements. Ears should be checked regularly and those with waxy ears should have them cleaned out around once a week to prevent infection.

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