Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Chi-Poo

Developed about 50 years ago, the Chi-Poo has had more time than other designer dogs to make a name for itself and is certainly a popular cross-breed all over the world. Small and compact, these dogs comprised of the Poodle and the Chihuahua, make excellent companions but would not be suited to any type of work. Affectionate with its family, the Chi-Poo will form close bonds with those it loves and knows how to play gently with children.

The slight waves in the soft coat of the Chi-Poo give it the appearance of a child’s teddy bear, and their sparkling eyes and shiny nose only add to the effect. Most will have a solid coat colour of white or cream, but some are bi-colour and others have light or white patches of fur.

About & History

One of the original designer dogs, the Chi-Poo is the quintessential hybrid: small, sociable and with a coat that sheds minimally. While the Poodle is one of the most popular breeds used within the designer dog world, the Chihuahua offers a minute size that is preferred by those in the city.

Originally developed within the 1970s, the Chi-Poo is also known as the Poochi, Wapoo, Choodle and em>Chipoodle. While many of the original hybrid dogs were first created within America, experts are unsure as to the country of origin of the Chi-Poo. With limited information regarding the history of this relatively recent breed, we must look to their parents to get a deeper understanding of their past.

The Chihuahua

The Chihuahua is believed to have existed over one thousand years ago within ancient civilizations of South America. Of course, they have close links with Mexico and it is within this country that they were popularised in the 1800s. The name ‘Chihuahua’ comes from the Mexican region with which they have the closest ties. Across the border in Texas, many dogs were being exported through the years and it was within Southern America that the breed was standardised.

Bred as companion animals, the small stature and delicate bone structure of the Chihuahua would make them inadequate working dogs. Preferred by those living in small homes in urban areas, the Chihuahua is a very popular breed of pet dog today.

The Poodle

Though the Poodle may be associated with France where it was beloved by the high society for many years, it is most likely to have originated within Germany. A working dog, this breed was traditionally used to retrieve fowl from water during hunts.

The UKC recognises the Poodle within their utility group and this intelligent dog is currently a big competitor in a number of canine disciplines, including agility and canine dancing. As they have a hypoallergenic coat and are available in three sizes (toy, miniature and standard), many breeders like to use Poodles within their out-crosses.


Chi-Poo Large Photo
Carissa Bonham /

Small, dainty dogs with short to medium-length wavy coats, these sweet cross-breeds are decidedly cute! As with most cross-breeds, there is a good degree of variation when it comes to the appearance of breed members and even those from the same litter (particularly F1 litters) can look dramatically different to one another.

While some dogs will have the ‘foxy’ pointed muzzle of the Chihuahua, others will inherit a muzzle that is more square in shape and less prominent. The ears of the Chi-Poo are highly variable and may stand erect like the Chihuahua or can hang down flat, framing their face. Their eyes are a deep brown colour and are both attentive and playful. Their body is small and refined, supported by delicate, straight limbs. While their elegant tail may hang down, many will have a tail that curls over their back, coated with an adorable plume of fur.

As the fur of Chihuahuas can be short or long, there is quite a lot of variation when it comes to the coat of the Chi-Poo. Many will have a medium, wavy coat that can be a multitude of colours, including white, fawn, cream, brown, red and black. White patches of fur are relatively common and are frequently seen on the chest.

The Chi-Poo can measure anything from 12cm to 32cm and typically weighs from 2.5kg to 9kg. While most Chihuahuas are crossed with Miniature Poodles, Toy Poodle crosses are not unusual.

Character & Temperament

A breed that takes a lot of the stress out of being a pet owner, not only is the Chi-Poo content in its own company, it is also a dog that does not require a huge amount of exercise. This easygoing canine is well-suited to those that cannot be home 24-7 and may not have the time to bring their pet on long, daily hikes. Similarly, their small size makes them a good choice for those living in small homes without access to a garden. Not surprisingly, many owners appreciate just how low maintenance the Chi-Poo can be.

Confident and sociable, the Chi-Poo can make friends with other dogs easily, especially if exposed to them from a young age. They are equally at ease when around people, though will often bond more with one or two of their masters than with anyone else. Some individuals can be distrustful of people outside of their immediate circle and may act aloof in their company. Very playful with the children of the household, it is important to monitor interactions, as it is not unheard of for these delicate dogs to be accidentally injured during an innocent game.

A very apt watch dog, the Chi-Poo will know long before you will if there is someone new arriving at the house. Their sharp yap will rouse you out of the deepest sleep and, in busy households, may become irritating.


Smart, quick to learn and curious when it comes to exploring the world around them, the Chi-Poo will happily participate in their training sessions, reveling in the opportunity to be taught something new. At times, their intelligence can be a disadvantage, as they may use it to manipulate situations in order to get what they want and can be stubbornly independent when they wish.

The Chi-Poo is one of the breeds that can be prone to developing ‘small dog syndrome’, a preventable behavioural issue that is most commonly seen in under-sized dogs. Those affected will be unpredictable, possessive and can be both vocal and aggressive. This is a behaviour that is easier to prevent than to treat and owners should be conscious of how they treat their dog, avoiding the urge to mollycoddle or spoil them.


While it is true that small dogs typically enjoy impressive longevity, there are certain health conditions that we see more commonly in the Chi-Poo than in other breeds. These include:

Patellar Luxation

It would seem that the smaller the dog, the more prone they are to developing patellar luxation and the Chi-Poo is no exception. A vet will usually be able to diagnose the issue after performing an orthopaedic exam and will feel the kneecap popping in and out of place. Over time, this unnatural movement will lead to local arthritis and chronic inflammation, which can cause discomfort and mobility issues.

Periodontal Disease

Many dogs with small mouths are prone to periodontal disease, and Poodles and Poodle crosses seem to be over-represented. Luckily, owners can reduce the risk of periodontal disease by brushing teeth daily and feeding dry kibble, as well as through the use of plaque reducing products that can be added to food and water.

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD)

An incompetency of the mitral valve leads to improper blood flow within the heart that reduces its pumping efficacy. Heart murmurs can be detected in the early stages of the disease and imaging studies, such as echocardiograms and thoracic X-rays, can confirm the diagnosis. Though there is no cure for MVD, medication can slow its progress dramatically.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Quite active and a dog that likes to keep busy, owners should not assume that the small stature of the Chi-Poo should mean that they are not exercised regularly. Short 20-30 minutes walks are normally sufficient and owners should also encourage lots of game play.

This is a smart cookie that enjoys being challenged and will quickly bore if their routine is unchanged. Introducing them to a range of activities should help to keep their minds active and prevent any nuisance behaviours from developing.


Thanks to their Poodle genes, the Chi-Poo does not shed much at all. They should be brushed a few times a week, focusing on those areas with longer fur, such as the tail. Tooth brushing is essential and would ideally be carried out on a daily basis, though even brushing their teeth every two to three days can dramatically help to reduce calculus accumulation.

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