Cavapoo Shih Tzu Mix: The Cava Tzu Explained

After a busy day at work, there is no better way to unwind than with the help of a furry friend. Toy dogs are the perfect size for sofa cuddles, and while there are many popular breeds available nowadays, today we will be focusing specifically on the newcomer that is winning the heart of dog lovers all over the world – the Cava Tzu.

The History of the Parent Breeds


Cavapoos are a fairly recent breed of designer dog. Originating from breeding efforts in the 1950s in Australia, the impetus between the design of the Cavapoo was to create a dog that is both small, friendly, and hypoallergenic.

This breed is a result of crossing a Poodle, with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. This combination was landed upon due to the intelligence and friendliness of the Poodle, coupled with the small size of the King Charles Spaniel.

Mixing the sleek and wavy hair of a Spaniel with the dense curls of a Poodle, the Cavapoo is left with a coat that is typically non-shedding and incredibly styleable with an overall thinner head of hair.

Boasting a small stature, friendly demeanor, and low shedding coat (relative to its Poodle parent), Cavapoos quickly rose in popularity thanks to their sheer versatility in a range of different family scenarios.

Whether you are a big family or small, with children, other pets, or little outdoor space, Cavapoos are incredibly malleable and will feel right at home in any situation. The ultimate fluffy companion – it’s no surprise they have captured hearts all over the world.

Shih Tzu

Parent number two of the Cava Tzu is the Shih Tzu. The Shih Tzu breed hails from ancient Chinese dynasties, and their history follows a royal path. Rising to popularity in the Ming dynasty spanning as far back as 1368, these small fluffy dogs were used as bed warmers at the feet of the royals at the time.

These dogs were kept under lock and key through multiple royal families, their facial structure resembling that of a lion as depicted in ancient art. The breed, which many assume to be a Lhasa Apso and Pekingese cross, was one of the first great toy breeds that would stand the test of time over the centuries.

In fact, it was only in 1930 that this breed saw a cross-continental movement. Upon importation to both Norway and England, the Shih Tzu’s unique look and affectionate temperament made them a smash hit through to the present day.

Thanks to their compact size, and unique appearance, Shih Tzus and Cavapoos alike share a very similar demographic of dog owners. Whether they are a recent cross or one of the very first cases of mixing breeds in history, these dogs are as cuddly as they are cute, making them a hit for any small dog lovers looking for a furry friend.

How is the Cavapoo Shih Tzu Cross Achieved?

Since the inception of the first designer dog (the much-loved Cockapoo), cross-breeding has been big business. There are many reasons you may want to mix and match breeds, they offer greater immunity to breed-specific genetic conditions, and doing so allows for the combination of physical and personality traits.

The combination of breeds relies primarily on the reason for the cross. While dogs of similar statures, such as the Shih Tzu and Cavapoo are able to inseminate naturally (i.e., they can physically mate and birth a litter with no potential health issues), a cross of varying sizes may complicate matters somewhat.

With the Cavapoo parentage, the Cava Tzu is ¼ Poodle, making it a Doodle breed. Doodle crosses boast a number of genetic advantages – the most popular factor being their often low shedding coat. To learn more about what it means to have a Poodle if you suffer from allergies, check out our article ‘Can you be Allergic to a Poodle?’.

Shih Tzu’s are such a small breed, natural insemination may run the risk of harming the parents. Therefore, artificial insemination (in which the female is impregnated via syringe) is the safest option should there be a considerable size difference. However, this should then be questioned from an ethical standpoint.

What do you Call the Shih Tzu Cavapoo Cross?

Every new mix needs a new name, and while some mixes get given a wholly unique title, the most typical naming method is to combine the parent names. But the Cavapoo, Shih Tzu mix goes by a few different names depending on who you ask.

The most popular name (and the one we at Know Your Doodles use) is the Cava Tzu. This name is short, snappy, and links clearly to the two parent breeds. However, another popular alternative is the Cavalier Cava-Tzu.

The Pros of the Cava Tzu

One of the biggest benefits of the Cava Tzu is its affectionate and playful nature. Being the hybrid of two already popular companion breeds, this small and personable cross is the perfect companion for dog owners new or old.

Another advantage of this cross is its high intelligence. These dogs are bright and attentive, making them a breeze to train. Their obedience makes them a great option for novice dog owners. They are smart and loving little dogs, meaning they are always eager to please, which helps keep them out of any trouble (for the most part!).

The final advantage of the Cava Tzu comes from its small size. Thanks to such a compact physique, these dogs require little exercise – preferring short walks once or twice a day to keep them fit and healthy.

The Cons of the Cava Tzu

Cava Tzu’s are happy and low-maintenance dogs, however, as with all breeds, there are a few things to consider before you buy. While these dogs are great companions, they are prone to separation anxiety. They are at their happiest when near their owners, and as such, a prolonged period alone may deeply upset them. This may be a deal-breaker for owners that spend most of their day out of the house.

Another problem Cava Tzu pose is their selective diet. It is widely reported by owners online that when it comes to dinner time, Cava Tzus are particularly picky eaters. Because of this, you may find yourself taste testing multiple brands of food before your dog finds one that it favors most – which can be an expensive and cumbersome task.

Is it Ethical to Breed the Cavapoo and the Shih Tzu?

The ethics of crossing is a largely debated topic. Some argue that breeding solely for a certain aesthetic or job without concern for any potential health issues constitutes unethical practice.

Selective breeding is not only prevalent in crossbreeding, it is also used to maintain a purebred line. The practice of breeding closely related dogs is as dangerous to the health of the puppies as crossbreeding incompatible breeds, as the doubling of recessive genes may result in severe ramifications for the health of the offspring.

So, is Cava Tzu breeding ethical? It’s no secret that the impetus for breeding is based on physical and personality traits that make them an ideal companion. While this is contentious, the two breeds selected are widely compatible. Their similar sizing means natural insemination is possible, and their temperaments significantly overlap, meaning that there is no risk of danger for either parents or the resulting puppies.

Why Cava Tzu’s?

Given the popularity of the two parent breeds, it should come as no surprise that Cava Tzu’s are in incredibly high demand. They are friendly and sociable around humans and dogs alike, meaning they are the perfect fit for a variety of family dynamics.

Whether you are a new family looking for a first dog or are after a friend for retirement, the intelligence and motivation for training make Cava Tzu’s incredibly low-maintenance personality-wise. This obedience is another reason these little dogs make the best companions no matter the situation.

All in all, Cava Tzu’s are a delight to be around. Many owners online cannot speak highly enough of their Cava Tzu, with many commenting highly about their sociability at home and out and about, their cuddliness, low maintenance, and happy outlook on life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Height & Weight

Being the hybrid of two small dogs – with Cavapoo sitting at around 9″-14″, and 9lbs-25lbs, and Shih Tzu’s clocking in at 8″-11″, and 9lbs-16lbs – it should come as no surprise that these dogs are on the smaller side.

With a height of 9″ – 18″ fully grown, there is scope for variation between pups. This will be largely determined by which parent they have inherited their physicality from, however, regardless of size, these dogs remain at an easily manageable stature.

Their weight averages out at around 10lbs – 16lbs fully grown. Being a toy breed, they tend to reach full maturity at 10 months, and they pack a portable physicality even fully grown!

Colour & Coat

Cava Tzu’s generally have a dense, medium-length coat, with a fairly straight texture. This gives you the best of both worlds, as they remain short yet styleable, without being burdensome to the dog.

In terms of color, they are most commonly either solid black, brown, or white. That being said, it is possible for a Cava Tzu to boast a pied coat, in which they will have a dominant colored coat, with spots of a secondary color.


Coat maintenance and grooming depend very much on which parent your pup draws its physicality from. For the longer-haired Shih Tzu, you may expect to be visiting the groomer more often than with a shorter Cavapoo coat.

Typically your dog will require a cut every 8 weeks or so, however, in the meantime, it is a good practice to give their coat a brush regularly in order to avoid any nasty matting or tangling that may occur.


Due to their short nose and flat face, Cava Tzu’s are more likely than other breeds to develop Brachycephalic problems. These issues occur due to obstructions in the upper airways, causing breathing issues that may develop into sleep apnoea, overheating, and regurgitation.

To ensure that your Cava Tzu remains healthy, it is important to regularly check for any breathing defects. Symptoms such as fevers, snoring and grunting, and inability to eat may require surgery, in which nose tissue is removed to free up the airways.


As mentioned previously, these dogs have a playful and loving temperament. They are a loyal, intelligent, and curious breed making them easy to train, and a pleasure to spend time with.

They are typically patient with children and are confident and friendly with other dogs. At the end of the day, they are lap dogs through and through and love to be close to their owners.

Exercise and Feeding

With such little legs, Cava Tzu cannot take very long walks. They easily tire from excess exercise and need only walk roughly 1-4 miles per day to burn off their energy and keep in top shape.

They are notoriously fussy eaters, and so finding food may be a long process of trial and error, but given their size and weight, they require only one cup of food a day max.

Final Thoughts

Cava Tzu’s are sweeping the nation as the top pick as a fluffy companion, and after learning a bit more about them it should come as no surprise why. This has been our breakdown of the Cavapoo Shih Tzu cross, filling you in on all you need to know about the breed.

Want to know a bit more about the fantastic world of Doodles, which might be right for you and why? Then look no further than our ‘Epic Guide to Poodle Mixes’ for the full scoop!