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Fo Tzu (Toy Fox Terrier & Shih Tzu Mix)

Quincy Miller

July 14, 2021
Height: 10 – 15 inches
Weight: 8 – 15 pounds
Lifespan: 12 – 16 years
Colors: White, black, sable, brown, cream, pied
Suitable for: Elderly owners, those with experience training small dogs
Temperament: Intelligent, stubborn, lazy, loyal, aggressive

When many people think of the stereotypical lapdog, they picture a high-maintenance animal that expects to be treated like royalty and isn’t afraid to lash out if your treatment doesn’t meet their standards.

That’s a pretty good description of the Fo Tzu.

These hybrid pups — a mix of the Shih Tzu and Toy Fox Terrier — love nothing more than to spend all day lounging in their owner’s laps, being waited on hand and foot. They tend to believe that they’re entitled to all their owner’s time and attention and may get snappy if they don’t get it.

That’s not to say that Fo Tzus are bad dogs, of course. However, they can be a bit of a handful, and you should educate yourself on the needs of the breed before adopting one. This guide will help you do just that.

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Fo Tzu Puppies — Before You Buy

Energy
Shedding
Health
Lifespan
Sociability

Fo Tzus are not easy dogs to own, and that’s something you should be well aware of before you bring one home. In fact, we strongly urge inexperienced owners against adopting one of these pups because the challenges they can pose may be too much for first-time pet parents.

You could always enlist the help of a professional trainer if you have your heart set on the breed, of course. However, don’t neglect the importance of training and socialization, even if you have to pay someone else to handle it for you.

Many people ignore teaching toy breeds proper manners, and some even think that it’s cute when they lash out or turn aggressive. After all, how much damage can a 10-pound dog do?

While it’s unlikely they’ll maul anyone to death (although there have been numerous instances of small dogs killing infants), that doesn’t mean it’s safe to ignore their bad behavior. They can still seriously injure someone, especially a small child, and even a relatively harmless bite could expose you to all sorts of legal liability.

Even if your dog never hurts anyone, aggressive behavior could end up alienating you from friends and family, or it could lead to your dog getting banned from your favorite places (including your apartment). If left completely unchecked, it could lead to you having to rehome or even euthanize your pup, so please train and socialize your Fo Tzu.

What’s the Price of Fo Tzu Puppies?

The Fo Tzu is a new designer breed, and they’re rare enough that there aren’t many dedicated breeders out there. As a result, you may have a hard time tracking one down.

Given the lack of breeders, it’s also hard to pin down an “average” price. Both Shih Tzus and Toy Fox Terriers sell for somewhere between $500 and $1,500, but a Fo Tzu could be much less or much more than that, depending on the breeder.

Ultimately, it will depend on how they’re marketed. If they’re just a mutt, then you shouldn’t pay more than a few hundred bucks, if that. In fact, if the litter was “accidental,” so to speak, you may be able to get the dog for a pittance.

On the other hand, if the breeder is trying to market them as the next big thing in hybrid dog breeds, you could end up paying a pretty penny. The advantage to this is that a high-end breeder is more likely to take better care of the puppies than someone who allowed their unspayed dog to get pregnant.

Your other option is to scour pounds and rescues. It may take time, but you can probably find a Toy Fox Terrier-Shih Tzu mix (although you may have to deal with other DNA in the mix as well). Not only will this save you money, but it will also give you the comfort that comes with saving a life.

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3 Little-Known Facts About Fo Tzu

1. Little Is Known About the Breed

This is a new breed, and that means there’s not much information out there about these dogs. This is another thing that can work against inexperienced owners.

With any new hybrid breed, there will likely be some dogs that take after one parent breed more than the others, as well as a few that are an equal mix. The problem is that you can’t tell which is which in advance, so it’s always a bit of a surprise.

As the breed becomes more established and more generations are produced, many of these unexpected kinks will iron themselves out. Until then, though, you won’t have a great idea of what kind of dog you’ll be adopting until you bring them home.

2. They’re Notorious for Being Difficult to Housetrain

This problem is so bad, in fact, that many owners just give up trying, choosing instead to spread pee pads all over the home to contain the mess. This isn’t necessarily a bad option, as these tiny dogs don’t make much waste, but if you want your pup to use the bathroom outside, expect to have a fight on your hands.

The issue isn’t that these dogs are dumb — far from it. They’re terrifically intelligent, in fact, but they’re also stubborn. They may just refuse to do what you ask simply because you’re asking.

That’s not to say that housetraining them is impossible. It just takes a dedicated and experienced hand — something that first-time owners may not be equipped to provide.

3. They Run Hot and Cold in Terms of Activity Level

These dogs can be lazy by nature, and they’re perfectly content to spend all day curled up on the couch next to you. That’s usually not advisable, though, as they need exercise to keep them healthy and prevent them from becoming overweight.

Once you get them up and moving, though, they can be energetic dogs. They love to run and chase things (that’s the Fox Terrier in them), so games of fetch can be fun for both of you.

Toy Fox Terrier and Shih Tzu
Parents of Fo Tzu: Left – Toy Fox Terrier (everydoghasastory, Shutterstock); Right – Shih Tzu (Yarnawee Nipatarangkoon, Shutterstock)

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Fo Tzu

These dogs have a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde temperament; with their owners, they can be sweet and loving, but they can be standoffish and aggressive toward newcomers (especially if they haven’t been properly socialized).

That disparity in temperament can be even more pronounced if they spend the bulk of their time with a single person. They may become possessive of that person and react poorly if anyone so much as approaches them, much less tries to sit next to or hug them.

As a result, it’s extremely important that your Fo Tzu spends time with all members of the family and that you provide them with plenty of socialization from a young age.

In terms of intelligence, these are wickedly smart dogs. However, they’ll often use their considerable brainpower to manipulate you or try to figure out ways of getting out of whatever it is that you want them to do. You must be firm and consistent in training them, or else they’ll walk all over you.

Their smarts make them excellent prospects for things like agility training and other involved obedience work, but that’s only if you can get the upper hand during training. Otherwise, they’ll just stare blankly at you while you try to convince them to navigate poles and beams.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Fo Tzus can be good dogs for families with older kids, but those with younger children should choose a different breed. Even under the best of conditions, these dogs can be quite snappy, and they don’t appreciate the sudden and unpredictable movements that little ones often make.

It’s unlikely that a Fo Tzu could kill anyone, but infants and toddlers could be seriously hurt by one of their chomps. It’s best not to take the chance at all.

They’re best-suited for older owners who like having someone to curl up with or apartment dwellers who want a dog that doesn’t require a ton of exercise.

They’ll likely be happier in a home without much commotion and activity, as they prefer spending their time in peace and quiet.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

This will ultimately depend on how well the dog is socialized.

If socialized properly and consistently, they often adore other dogs. In fact, having another pooch around may be just what your Fo Tzu needs to be motivated to get off the couch and exercise.

However, don’t expect to just be able to throw them in with a new dog without any prep work. There needs to be a significant amount of socialization work done, and the dogs should be slowly introduced to one another, preferably in a neutral location.

They may accept cats if they’re raised with them, but it can be a dicey proposition. There’s a good chance that they’ll want to chase the cat, and even if the harassment doesn’t go any further than that, your cat certainly won’t appreciate the stress.

Gerbils, hamsters, and other small pets shouldn’t be kept in the same house as a Fo Tzu. Remember, half of the breed’s DNA is rat terrier, so chasing down and eliminating small rodents is what they were bred to do.

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Things to Know When Owning a Fo Tzu

The Fo Tzu is an interesting mix of high- and low-maintenance behaviors. While they don’t require much in the way of stimulation, they do need someone with specialized experience when it comes to training them and dealing with their occasionally bad behavior.

Ultimately, though, this breed is just like any other dog, with most of the same needs and requirements. The following sections will help you determine how much specialized care these dogs need and enable you to decide if they’d be a good fit for your household.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Fo Tzus should be fed a diet that’s high in protein and low in carbs, with a good mix of fiber thrown in. This will likely mean investing in higher quality (read: more expensive) food, but luckily, these dogs don’t eat much, so a single bag can stretch out to last quite a while.

At least, these dogs shouldn’t eat that much — if you’re overfeeding them, you’re doing a grave disservice to their health. An obese dog is much more likely to suffer from various health issues, and being overweight can shorten their lifespan significantly.

Be careful to give them food with healthy ingredients. It should mostly be made of high-quality meat, so avoid animal by-products, as those are made from cuts that you probably don’t want your dog to eat.

You should also avoid serving them anything that’s loaded with wheat, corn, soy, or artificial colors and flavors. These are all included to “dress up” low-quality food, but they add little in the way of nutrition and can significantly expand your dog’s waistline.

With any lapdog, there’s the risk that the owner will give them too many treats. They don’t need much food outside their regular meals, so try not to give them any treats at all (including table scraps).

Exercise 🐕

It’s essential that your Fo Tzu gets plenty of exercise (usually 45-60 minutes per day), but doing so can be a bit of a chore.

These dogs are often quite comfy on the couch, and they see little need to get up and run around. You’ll have to force them, at least at first. Once they discover how much fun it is to chase a ball around outside, they should be happy to accompany you outdoors.

They’re natural hunters, so anything that bounces is likely to attract their attention. They also enjoy sniffing out their prey, so games like hiding a treat under cups should keep them occupied for a while.

Given how smart they are, they need just as much mental stimulation as physical. Much of this should come from socialization and obedience work, but you can also buy them puzzle toys or introduce them to agility training.

If you don’t give your Fo Tzu enough stimulation, it will exacerbate any behavioral issues that you’re experiencing. It may also cause them to become destructive because they’ll take all that excess energy out on your shoes or couch.

Training 🎾

Training is absolutely mandatory with these dogs. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that it’s cute or acceptable for them to be aggressive or reactionary, as no one likes being around an unruly dog.

However, training a Fo Tzu can be an adventure, to say the least. They’re smart, so they should be able to pick up on new commands quickly — if they feel like cooperating, that is. Many times, they’ll simply ignore you rather than give in to your authority.

While this can be extremely frustrating, you should never use punishment or similar training methods with these dogs, as that will only cause them to resent you and dig in their heels further. Instead, rely on positive reinforcement (and a great deal of time and repetition) to achieve your goals.

New dog owners may not have the chops to train these dogs effectively, so you might want to start with something more agreeable, like a Labrador.

If you’re bound and determined to get a Fo Tzu, though, don’t be afraid to enlist the services of a professional trainer. It’s much smarter to call for help than to allow your dog to remain a holy terror.

Grooming ✂️

Fo Tzus have long, silky hair rather than fur, so shedding is less of an issue than with other breeds. However, that hair requires a fair amount of upkeep.

You’ll need to brush your Fo Tzu nearly every day to keep their hair manageable. Not only does this prevent tangles, but it also redistributes the hair’s natural oils, ensuring that it doesn’t become dry or brittle.

While brushing them, you should inspect their skin as well. The breed is prone to serious skin conditions, so you need to keep an eye on things. Don’t bathe them too frequently because this will dry out their skin. Given the dog’s lazy nature, they shouldn’t need a bath often, anyway.

Their ears need to be cleaned out at least once a week. To do this, you can simply take a damp cotton ball and rub it around the inside of the ear. You should also inspect their ears for buildup and redness at this time because they’re prone to ear infections and other issues.

Beyond that, it’s simply a matter of brushing their teeth regularly and trimming their nails as needed.

Health and Conditions 🏥

One of the great things about hybrid breeds is that by mixing the DNA of two different breeds, you can often smooth out health issues that one or the other often experiences.

That’s the case with the Fo Tzu, as they tend to be healthier than either of their parent breeds. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have their own medical issues to deal with, however.

Keep in mind that any health conditions can be improved or exacerbated by your dog’s overall health. If your pup is overweight and leads a sedentary lifestyle, they’ll be prone to more medical issues and have a worse recovery outlook for each of them. If, on the other hand, they’re lean and healthy, you might save yourself a fortune in vet costs over the life of your dog.

These lists are not exhaustive; your pup could easily have one or more conditions not listed. However, the ones shown here are those believed to be most common for this breed. However, this breed is so new that there isn’t much in the way of “definitive” information on their health, so take all of this with a grain of salt.

Minor Conditions
  • Exposure keratopathy syndrome
  • Entropion
  • Ectropion
  • Ear infections
  • Cataracts
  • Otitis interna and media
Serious Conditions
  • Brachycephalic syndrome
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Urolithiasis

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Male vs. Female

Males and females of the breed are generally the same size and have similar temperaments. As with so many other things about these dogs, though, it’s too early to tell with any confidence whether there are any appreciable differences between the two sexes.

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Final Thoughts

The Fo Tzu is a new designer breed that is both adorable and loyal, and lapdog enthusiasts may find them to be the perfect companion. However, the breed has many issues that make them difficult for first-time owners, so they’d do best in a home guided by a steady and experienced hand.

These dogs don’t require much in the way of activity, making them an excellent choice for older owners or those who prefer a laidback lifestyle. They’re happy to sit through endless Netflix marathons with you — and they won’t be shy about expressing their displeasure if you pick the wrong show to binge-watch.

Looking to browse more crossbreeds? Take a look at our list of Shih Tzu Mixes!


Featured Image Credit: Left – Rosa Jay, Shutterstock; Right – 12122, Pixabay

Quincy Miller

Quincy has been around mutts his entire life and has been writing about them for the past nine years. His experience with dogs started with commanding working dogs on the farm in west Texas where he grew up, and now consists of sharing a house with three spoiled pups who couldn’t hold down a job to save their lives. His years of doggy experience have left him well-acquainted with a variety of training styles and exotic medical diagnoses.