Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
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The Papastzu is a hybrid dog breed, the result of breeding a Papillon with a Shih Tzu. The Papastzu is a small dog with a generous nature and playful personality. Despite their small size, they require twice daily walks and plenty of play in-between times. With this in mind, they are a great choice for moderately active people seeking a pint-sized canine companion.

The prospective Papastzu owner must be prepared for daily grooming sessions, and realise their pet is not overly robust. Therefore, they are not the best match for a home with young children. In addition, they can be prone to health problems, such as luxating patellas (wobbly kneecaps), brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome, and heart disease.

About & History

The idea is a new one, of crossing a Papillon with a Shih Tzu to create the Papastzu. Therefore, the breed has a relatively short history and their heritage is best explained by looking at the parent breeds.

The Papillon

The distinctive Papillon is named in their native France for those wonderful ‘butterfly’ ears. It is charming to note that in the early years of the breed, they also went by the name of ‘Squirrel spaniels’ because of the plush curly tail carried high on their back, much in the manner of a squirrel.

The Papillon were a widely recognised breed by the 17th century, although they were thought to be around as early as the 1500s. The breed was created as a charming lapdog, a role in which they excelled and quickly became firm favourites with European royalty. Such was their popularity amongst aristocrats, that these small dogs were portrayed in paintings of their mistresses by artists, such as Rembrandt, Titian and Fragonard.

The Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is another charming canine companion, whose destiny was to be cherished as a lapdog. They are an ancient dog breed with roots in ancient Tibet and China. One explanation as to their looks is that lions were not indigenous to China and so they bred the Shih Tzu to appear as lion-like as possible with plush necks ruffs and a hirsute appearance.

However, it wasn’t always plain sailing for the Shih Tzu. During the Communist Revolution, the majority of breed were destroyed and only a few survived. Fortunately, some surviving dogs were exported to England. Once there, some Pekingese blood was introduced to broaden the gene pool, and happily breed numbers stabilised sometime after the 1930s.


On a cute-scale of 1-10, the Papastzu score a solid 11. These dogs are seriously sweet, both in nature and appearance. As a hybrid, there is no guarantee as to an individual pup’s looks, because they can lean toward either parent. However the Papastzu has an ace up their sleeve in that both parents are cuties in their own rite, so they can’t go far wrong.

The Papastzu is classed as a small dog as they usually weigh less than 10kg. A typical Papastzu is often slightly longer than they are tall (a Shih Tzu trait), with a long tail festooned in fur that is carried high over the back. They have a long soft coat, and plenty of it. The most common coat colour is white with black or brown highlights.

They have a round face but with delicate features, such as a small, fine snout (the result of the Shih Tzu’s flat face and the moderate sized muzzle of the Papillon). They are prone a slight misalignment of the lower jaw with the upper, which leads to a tendency for their lower incisors to be on show. Their most distinctive feature is amazing ears, which are usually pricked up and gaily decked with long feathering (aka the Papillon).

Character & Temperament

A dog’s temperament is shaped by inherited characteristics alongside their experiences in early life. As with any canine, there is never a guarantee that the individual example conforms to what’s typical of the breed, however, with good socialisation as a puppy there is an excellent probability that a Papastzu will be a loving, happy companion.

The Papastzu has a reputation for being sweet-natured, affectionate, playful, and loving. On the downside, they can be a little territorial, which may mean they are wary of strangers and prone to bark at visitors. However, with correct handling from an early age, this behaviour can be discouraged.

There is no doubt, for the right person the Papastzu makes for an ideal canine companion. They are well-suited to a moderately active person with plenty of time and attention to lavish on their dog. The Papastzu would also make a good family dog, but isn’t suited to a household with very young children as the dog’s small size makes them vulnerable to injury. Also, if the Papastzu feels threatened, then they will likely nip in order to protect themselves.


The Papastzu is an intelligent dog but with a laidback streak. This means they are perfectly capable of understanding what’s being asked of them, but don’t always choose to play along.

The way to overcome this is to use reward-based training methods, which make learning into a game rather than a lesson. However, don’t expect the message to drop straight away. The wise owner perseveres with regular training sessions in order to achieve a well-trained dog.


As a hybrid dog, there is little data concerning health problems specific to the Papastzu. However, there are a few conditions that are well-recognised in the parent breeds, and therefore more likely to show up in their offspring.

Patellar Luxation (Wobbly Kneecaps)

Both parent breeds are prone to lax kneecaps that can slip to one side of the knee when the dog takes a step. Mild cases occasionally skip a step with the affected back leg, whilst the worst cases are likely to develop early arthritis in the knees.

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)

This condition is caused by a mismatch in size between soft tissue structures, such as the tongue and soft palate, and the size of the skull. This is like trying to fit a size 9 shoe into a size 4 shoebox, where the two simply aren’t compatible. Physical signs of BOAS include loud snoring, heavy panting, and breathing difficulties, especially in hot weather.

Mitral Valve Disease (Heart Disease)

The mitral valve is located in the left side of the heart, and prevents blood flowing in the wrong direction. The parent breeds are prone to the mitral valve growing stiff which age, which prevents it sealing shut properly and cause turbulent blood flow that is heard as a murmur

Whilst there is no cure for mitral valve disease, there is a medication which is scientifically proven to markedly extend life expectancy. The vet can assess each individual dog, via a heart scan, to see if they would benefit from this treatment.

Dental Disease

Small dogs, such as the Papastzu, often have a normal number of teeth but squashed into a smaller space. This crowding provides plenty of nooks and crannies for tartar to form, which can then lead to gum disease and tooth root infections.

An effective way of reducing the risk of dental disease is to brush the pup’s teeth from an early age. This removes the sticky plaque before it can harden into tartar, and slows up the progression of tooth problems.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Papastzu is an active fellow and requires two 15 to 20 minute walks a day. Plus, be ready to play with them in between times to prevent boredom. However, be aware that their small size and short legs means they do tire easily.


Grooming the long coat of the Papastzu is a daily commitment. Their hair should be regularly checked for tangles, and a quick comb through once a day helps to keep knots at bay. Brushing with a soft brush helps spread the natural conditioning oils over the hair for a soft gleam. Bathing is best kept to a minimum as it risks stripping out the natural oils, and not done more than once a month.

Ideally, train your Papastzu puppy to accept having their teeth brushed from an early age. This goes a long way to reducing tartar formation, and promoting good dental health. Likewise, regularly walk the Papastzu on pavement (as well as grass) to wear their nails down and reduce the need for clipping.

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