When getting a new dog, people often wonder how much time they will have with the newest addition to the family. Losing a dog can be like losing a family member, they are part of us. Thankfully, a lot of dog breeds tend to live long, full lives, including the Shih Tzu Maltese mix!
The Shih Tzu Maltese Mix, also called the “Mal-Shi ” is a mixed breed with a lifespan typically between 13–16 years although some of these mixed dogs do live longer!
Many different factors determine how long a Mal-Shi will live. Keep reading if you are interested to know more about how you can help your Mal-Shi live a long and happy life!
What is the life expectancy of a Shih Tzu Maltese Mix?
Since the Shih Tzu Maltese mix is a combination of both the Shih Tzu and Maltese breeds, they are known to live longer than most other breeds because both parents’ breeds are known for living long lives too!
There are also many other reasons why Mal-Shi tend to live longer lives than other breeds, some reasons include size, health, diet, genetics, etc.
One of the main reasons these dogs live longer is because of their size. Their bodies are not strained by growing as well as carrying around a lot of weight that could cause issues such as hip problems.
Note: These smaller dogs are great for people who live in apartments because they don’t require as much space!
Some people wonder how long this mixed breed will live in human years. Below is a breakdown of the age of a Mal-Shi in dog years vs. human years — based on a smaller dog around 5–20 pounds:
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It is easier to see why dogs don’t live as long as humans, they are aging at a way faster rate than us!
What influences the lifespan of a Mal-Shi?
Many factors can determine whether or not a Mal-Shi will live to be the oldest age they can be.
Some of the main influences on Mal-Shi’s lifespan include the environment they are raised in, genetics, and health conditions.
Here are some of the most important aspects of a Mal-Shi’s life that can influence whether or not they will live longer lives than some other breeds.
The conditions in which a Mal-Shi is raised or that they live in can greatly influence their lifespan. If they are unhappy, unsocialized, or don’t receive enough exercise, nutrition, or grooming, their lifespans could risk being cut short.
Mal-Shi who are in a comfortable, safe environment with no exposure to dangerous or stressful situations are known to live longer.
TIP: Spending time with your puppy by playing, taking walks, etc. can make a world of difference in making your dog happy in their environment!
Being a smaller dog is beneficial to the Mal-Shi, small dogs are known for having longer lifespans because their bodies aren’t put under as much stress as larger dogs are by growing.
Even if your Mal-Shi is small, It unfortunately still runs the same risk of developing any of the genetic issues from both Shih Tzu and Maltese breeds.
NOTE: Unless your Mal-Shi develops a health condition, your dog will still likely live a long life. Even if it is a bigger Shih Tzu Maltese mix, there’s no need to worry!
Diet/Nutrition and weight
Small size can also be a downfall if a Mal-Shi is overweight. Carrying around a lot of extra weight can put a strain on their bodies and legs, causing issues such as hip problems. Diet and nutrition can eliminate a Mal-Shi’s risk of gaining too much weight, while also keeping them happy and healthy!
TIP: Since Mal-Shi run the risk of having low blood sugar, it is often recommended to feed your puppy a few smaller meals throughout the day! Be sure to talk with your vet to see what is best for your dog in particular!
Owners & Vets recommend these foods for their Mal-Shi.
- Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy
- Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult, for Small Breed Dogs
- Ollie Fresh Food Easy Delivery (%50 off your first box)
Shih Tzus specifically require a lot of exercise, so it is no surprise that their mixes require the same. Having enough exercise increases a Mal-Shi’s health which can influence their lifespans. Not only does exercise help them become healthier dogs, but it can also help their temperament, so they don’t become bored and destructive!
TIP: A Mal-Shi who is exposed to exercise also gains more muscles, A key factor in preventing them from having weak hips or even hip dislocation!
Healthcare is one of the most important factors in keeping a Mal-Shi healthy for a long time. It is best to have your Mal-Shi checked over by a vet at least once a year, more if they show signs of any health issues or concerns.
Be sure to keep your Mal-Shi up to date with its necessary vaccinations. This can play a major role in preventing them from gaining any unwanted illness or disease (like kennel cough, rabies, or distemper!)
Not only is overall grooming important for a Mal-Shi, especially if they inherit the curlier hair of the Maltese breed, but also focusing on grooming other parts of the body is important!
Both Shih Tzu and Maltese have been known to develop dental issues, by taking extra care of their teeth and gums, a Mal-Shi will not be as likely to get an infection or other issues such as gum disease.
TIP: Since Shih Tzu and Maltese mouths are so small, be sure to provide them with the correct toys, if they are playing with toys too big for their mouths, they could risk being injured or hurting their teeth!
Lifespan can be influenced heavily by genetics. Depending on if a Shih Tzu Maltese Mix gains more genetics from the Shih Tzu side, or the Maltese side can determine what type of health they will have and if they will be likely to develop any health issues that may influence their lifespans.
TIP: Be sure when looking for a Shih Tzu Maltese mix that you find a trustworthy, experienced breeder! A breeder that does genetic or health testing is best.
Do Shih Tzu Maltese Mixes have health issues?
Shih Tzu and Maltese have both been known to develop different health issues. However, both breeds are usually in good health most of the time!
Since mixed breeds are more likely to develop health issues compared to pure-bred dogs, the Mal-Shi has been known to develop health issues from either the Shih Tzu, Maltese or both sides.
Shih Tzus are more likely to have health problems caused by physical characteristics. Because of their long bodies, they oftentimes suffer from back and neck issues, they can also develop problems because of the shape of their flat faces. Their flattened nose can cause issues with breathing and their tiny mouth can cause teeth to come in unaligned, or even missing.
Seeing as Mal-Shi’s are a mix of both of these athletic-driven dogs, they also require a lot of activity and exercise so that they will not get bored! Mal-Shi’s are great family dogs because they are so loving and loyal.
Shih Tzus are known to develop several health issues specifically in their eyes and mouths, here are a few of the most common health issues that Shih Tzu are known to have:
- Back Problems
- Tracheal collapse & breathing problems (Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome)
- Dental problems
- Luxating Patella
- Liver disease (this is why it is important to keep your pup on a good diet!)
- Retinal dysplasia (Abnormal eye development)
- Cherry Eye (red eye)
TIP: A good diet Is key in preventing your pup from developing a lot of health conditions such as diabetes and dental problems!
While Maltese share a lot of the same health conditions as Shih Tzu, they are also known to have more severe health issues than the Shih Tzu. Here are some of the most common health issues that Maltese are known to have:
- Hip dysplasia
- Retinal atrophy
- Heart problems
- Cancer (lymphoma)
- Tumors and growths
A Mal-Shi can develop any of the health problems listed above and from either one of the parent breeds. However, the most common health problems found in Shih Tzu Maltese mixes are:
- Overactive tear ducts
- Loose kneecaps
- Eye problems (glaucoma and cataracts)
- Dry skin (especially dry ears)
- Skin allergies
- Cancer (dogs over the age of 10 are the most likely to develop cancer.)
TIP: It is important to have consistent visits with a vet for you to ensure that your dog’s health is good and that they are happy and healthy!
How do I know if my Maltese Shih Tzu has health problems?
A lot of dog owners often worry that their pup has a health problem, but they are not seeing any signs or symptoms that their dog is sick.
A lot of times a Mal-Shi will show symptoms of having health issues. Many signs can point to different problems such as breathing issues, heart problems, eye issues, cancers, and many others.
Here are the symptoms of some of the most common health problems in Mal-Shis, and some tips on what to do if they develop these issues:
Overactive tear ducts:
How to tell:
- Excessive watering of the eyes
- Reddish-colored staining of the face from tears
What to do:
- There are many different medications and eye drops that are made for this issue
- Healthy diet
- Eye protection
- Cleaning (using a clean cloth and warm water)
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
How to tell:
- Breathing difficulty
- Trouble eating
- Coughing & snorting
What to do:
- Keep their temperature regulated (don’t let them overheat)
- Use a harness instead of a collar
- Keep moisture in the air (use a humidifier)
- Keep them from getting over excited
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How to tell:
- Stiffness, soreness, and swelling of the knee
- Skipping while walking and running
What to do:
- Regular exercise
- Good diet (nutrients and supplements)
- Maintain good weight
Eye problems (glaucoma and cataracts):
How to tell:
- Eye looks cloudy
- Eye looks enlarged
- Bloodshot or red eyes
- Your pup is not seeing as well, or maybe even running into objects in front of them
What to do:
- Visit the vet
- Make sure your pup is in a stress-free environment
How to tell:
- Abdominal swelling/enlarged stomach
- Bleeding from the mouth or nose
- Lumps, bumps, or tumors on the body
- Inflamed lymph nodes
- Any wounds your pup gets are taking a long time to heal
- Fluid on the body
- Bad breath
- Loss of appetite
- Irregular bowel movements
- Whining from pain
- Sudden weight loss
- Excessive urination
What to do:
- Visit the vet (typically the pup will be provided medication, chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery)
- Change diet
- Keep your dog comfortable
NOTE: Since cancer is one of the more serious health issues that this mixed breed can have, it is best to have them visit a vet before making any changes to their lifestyle. A vet will be able to provide the proper treatment and tips for comforting your dog in particular!
What Is the leading cause of death for Maltese Shih Tzu Mixes?
When looking into getting a new dog, especially a mixed one, a lot of owners wonder what the leading cause of death is for the specific breed they are interested in getting.
The leading cause of death for Shih Tzu Maltese mixes is old age; however, it is very common that a Mal-Shi will develop a health issue from one or the other of its parent breeds.
Both Shih Tzu and Maltese have different leading causes of death. The leading cause of death for Shih Tzu is cancer, while for Maltese it is heart failure.
A Mal-Shi could die from either one of these issues, but they could also die from having one of the many health conditions listed above instead.
Cancer is the leading cause of death for all dog breeds. Mal-Shi are more likely to develop cancer since they do live to an older age. Dogs who live longer tend to get cancer because as they get older, the risk of cancer grows higher.
1 in 4 dogs will develop cancer sometime in their life, and 50% of dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer.-American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
Seeing as Shih Tzu Maltese mixes lifespans range above 10 years, their chance of developing cancer is higher than other breeds.
TIP: It is best to take the necessary precautions and try to keep your pup the happiest and healthiest it can be to avoid any health problems.
While we strive to give the most accurate and helpful information about your pet’s health that we can, this article is meant to be informational only and not medical advice. Never disregard, avoid or delay in obtaining medical advice from your veterinarian or other qualified veterinary health care provider regardless of what you have read on this site or elsewhere.