If your family wants a furry friend that’s loving, sweet-natured, apartment-friendly, and looks exactly like your kids’ favorite cuddly Teddy, the Habibi Bear is a perfect choice.
They are smart, eager to please, easy to train, and love being around people and kids. You’ll love the cute good looks, amiable nature, and lively, fun-loving personality of this unique breed that’s a happy blend of the playful Bichon Frise and the cute Shih Tzu.
This tiny “designer” hybrid is one of the newest in the breeding sector, having joined the canine world in 2000. Initially designed to be therapy dogs for persons with special needs, seniors, and children, this breed is great for allergies.
Many Habibi Bear breeders prefer to create small litters and make them available only to select family homes. Some breeders get into an arrangement known as “Guardian Homes” with owners, allowing them to retain breeding rights to get the best puppies in the litter.
Why Mixed Breeds Are Becoming More Popular
The American Veterinary Association estimates that nearly 53% of dogs living in households are mixed breeds. When we use the term “mixed breed,” we refer to dogs that belong to no recognized breed.
The exact ancestry is difficult to trace in true mixed breeds and may belong to no fixed breed. However, they could also be deliberately bred by breeders.
While purebred dogs command better prices and have more snob value for owners who care about such things, mixed breeds, hybrids, and designer dogs are racing ahead on the popularity charts.
There’s much to be said for purebreds:
- classic characteristics, lineage, and pedigree
- they have the essential documentation to be shown in events and competitions
- their puppies could command a higher price
- the breeder can tell you exactly what your puppy will grow up to look like, its temperament and trainability aspects.
On the other hand, they’re also much less hardy and disease-resistant than mixed breeds. They can inherit genetic diseases and undesirable physical and temperamental conditions from their parents. They may require special food, grooming, and expensive care.
There’s much less likelihood of predicting what they will grow up to be like with mixed breeds. This is because many of them are a result of an accidental mating. It is only the designer dog category that is a result of the careful choice of both parents.
If the parents are strikingly dissimilar, it’s a toss-up on what genes the puppies will inherit. They seldom display the problems that go with excessive interbreeding.
Many pet parents report that their mixed breeds are much more intelligent, have better temperaments, and have fewer health problems.
Pet parents are often looking for a companion to join their family, accompany them on hikes and holidays, be a friend to the kids, and protect the home and people. In such cases, mixed breeds tick all the right boxes.
They may be less expensive to purchase, although certain designer dogs do command top dollar. Most mixes that you find in shelters and rescue homes may have a parent with a reputation for being aggressive or attack-dog, such as pit bull (though this is not true), so it’s difficult to find a good home for them.
The reputation is undeserved, and much of it is a media creation because they make loyal, affectionate, and caring companions.
If we are talking about designer dogs, many vets have found that birthing difficulties are present if the parents are of different sizes.
What Are Habibi Bears?
Habibi Bears are truly genetically diverse global citizens. Consisting of part Bichon Friese and part Shih Tzu genes, several other DNA aspects could make up this breed.
They are also known as Shichon, Zuchon, or Teddy Bear dogs. You can call them melting pots or salad bowls, and both terms fit equally well.
They have been bred to get the best of the two ancestral breeds: To replicate the small size of the Shih Tzu and the sweet disposition of the Bichon Frise, resulting in a happy blend of inside-outside niceness.
These dogs had ancestors who came originally from the Mediterranean, where Arabic is one of the spoken languages, and that accounts for the term “Habibi,” which means beloved in Arabic.
“Bear” obviously refers to their toy-doggy, adorable looks. Being a designer breed, these dogs can be expensive.
However, you may even get lucky and find your “beloved” in a shelter or rescue home. There are several different combinations and genetic mixes. So, do your research before you choose your own Teddy Bear dog.
It’s good to know more about the lineage of the Habibi Bear and the two great breeds that together make up this hybrid: The Bichon Frise and the Shih Tzu.
All About The Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise is originally a Mediterranean breed of small, white dogs from the clan of Barbichon dogs that include the Maltese, Havanese, and Bolognese terriers.
They have descended from the European water-dog or Barbichon and were first brought to France by sailors who found them in Tenerife.
They were very popular with European royalty and aristocracy in the Renaissance, right up to the French Revolution in the 18th century. King Henry III of England had a host of them and was so attached to them that he carried them wherever he went, in a special basket slung around his neck.
Spanish artists such as Goya portrayed Bichons in many of his works. Following the French Revolution, these pampered, perfumed lapdogs lost their privileges when their owners lost their heads to the guillotine.
Many were turned out on the streets, where circus artists adopted them because they were cute, easy to train, and smart. They were first brought to the US in 1956.
Main Characteristics :
- Coat always white (puppies may initially have cream/pale yellow fur)
- Black eyes and nose
- Arched neck with proud, confident looks
- Tail curved over the back
- Very attractive
- Not classified as toy breed in AKC, but as a non-sporting dog
- Hypoallergenic coat, suitable for pet owners who have allergies
- Companion dog
- Height: 9-11 inches
- Weight: 7-12 lbs
- Lives up to 12 years
- Small, lively, cheerful, and mischievous
- Loves attention and play
- Intelligent and quick learner
- Happy, affectionate, and gentle with kids
- Don’t like being alone
- Great family dog
- Highly trainable, ideal for shows and competitions
- Great therapy dogs for nursing homes and hospitals
- Good watchdog and will alert you when strangers come to the door
- Can be cunning, so obedience training essential
- Can become spoilt and shy with over-protective parents
All About the Shih Tzu
This incredibly cute breed has its origins in Tibet and Ancient China. The name means “little lion” in Mandarin, but this little doggy is far from being the terror of the forest.
But small though it is, it manages to carry itself regally, trailing its long and silky coat and tail. As the preferred pet of royal Chinese families during the Ming dynasty years, the Shih Tzu was a staple feature in noble homes, with its head hair tied in an elegant topknot, reclining on silk cushions.
It was also known as the Chrysanthemum Dog because of the distinctive way the hair grows outwards on the face.
Legends exist across thousands of years about how it once saved the Buddha’s life when robbers set upon him. The little lion transformed itself into a real one, chased away the miscreants, and then changed back into its tiny avatar.
The Buddha was so pleased that he kissed it on the top of its head, which accounts for the distinctive white spot on the head. The guardian dogs depicted in sculptures on Buddhist shrines are thought to be the Shih Tzu.
Bred exclusively as a companion dog, this breed doesn’t hunt, work, or guard! Being so tiny, they’re easy to trample on, so avoid rowdy play, rough-housing, and crowded places.
They welcome strangers and familiar people equally and love making new friends. They enjoy family time and soon become cherished group members, with special attention paid by kids and seniors.
- Companion Dog
- Small size, height: 9-10 inches
- Weight: 9-16 lbs
- Lives between 10 and 16 years
- Big, dark eyes placed in front of the face
- Flat face, floppy ears
- Long, silky, lush, double, fast-growing, hypoallergenic coat
- Colors may be white, black, brindle, liver, liver and white, light and dark brown, black and white, gold
- Long, curved and furry tail curved across the back
- Characteristic under-bite
- The popularity of the breed has led to haphazard breeding
- Moderate shedding and needs thorough, regular grooming
- Tends to be lazy and put on weight
- Can be a trip hazard to children and seniors
- Tends to eat feces
- Playful needs moderate to minimum exercise
- Low energy level
- Prone to barking
- Ideally suited for apartment living
- Highly intelligent and moderately easy to train
- May be difficult to potty-train
- Good with kids
All About The Habibi Bear Breed
With such a wonderfully interesting heritage, the Habibi Bear is truly a well-designed hybrid. This designer dog can’t be matched for looks, temperament, and ease of maintenance.
Beautiful, non-shedding, hypoallergenic, and available in a range of attractive colors, this little tyke will steal your heart at first glance.
You can get them in either the Mini or Standard size, and they are bred with what is known as “mindful hybridization.” This means that the genetic mix has been carefully evaluated and deliberately created for the best effects.
They are adaptable and love being around people. Their temperament makes them ideal companions for seniors and persons with special needs.
The small size and minimum requirement for exercise make them ideal pets for people who live in apartments or small houses with limited yard space.
What makes them different from other small dog breeds is that they are rarely yappy and noisy, aren’t prone to nipping and biting, hyperactive, or excessively attention-seeking.
The Habibi Bear has a calmer and more mellow nature, and they remain small in size right through. They are also affectionate and intelligent and are good with kids and other pets you may have at home.
They will follow you around the house because they are not very fond of being on their own, and that’s given them the label “Velcro dogs.” They are naturally curious, interested in new things, toys, and fun games.
There are several variations on the theme in breeding Habibi Bears. Some breeders offer what are called Teacup or Miniature.
Main Characteristics of the Habibi Bear
- Belongs to Mixed Breed Category
- Height: between 9 and 12 inches
- Weight: between 9 and 15 lbs
- Tail carried over the back
- Rectangular shaped body, with slightly convex spine
- Shorter front legs
- Floppy drop ears
- Eyes large, round and typically dark brown, though green and light brown eyes may be seen
- Teeth are either scissor or underbite
- Run with a cute hop that distinguishes them from other breeds
- Can live up to between 12 and 18 years with the right care
- Available in a variety of colors such as cream, gold, silver, black and white, brown and white, chocolate, and a mix of these colors as well
- The coat carries the fading gene, which means that the colors change or fade into lighter shades as they grow
- May have plush or fleece type of coat
- Good choice for apartment dwellers
- Good choice for people with allergies
- Non-shedding, short, silky coat
- Usually have high energy levels at a certain fixed point in the day when they play and run around a lot
- Agile and quick
The temperament of Habibi Bear
- Intelligent, intuitive, and quick learners
- Happy temperament with great charm
- Non-quarrelsome breed
- Affectionate, loyal
- Great with kids
- Not frequent barkers, but can develop the habit if they’re left alone for long periods
- Love to perform and entertain
- Willing to please
- Gentle and loving with kids and seniors
- Friendly with other dogs and animals, especially cats
- Good watchdogs and will alert you when strangers arrive
- Enjoy traveling and are comfortable in cars
- Playful and active, quickly learn games such as “fetch” or “hide and seek”
- Good lapdogs with a calming influence on people with disabilities or seniors
- Excel in sports and agility training
- Enjoy the water and often run through lawn sprinklers or water from hose-pipes
- Can resort to destructive behavior when lonely
Training of Habibi Bear
Being very intelligent, they respond well to training, especially when started early. They are very sensitive and don’t like being yelled at or aggressively handled.
They may become difficult or start acting out if you handle them roughly, reacting with fear or aggression in response. The best way to train the Habibi Bear is through gentle, positive reinforcement and consistent commands.
Habibi Bear As Therapy Dog
Therapy dogs are a special category of dogs that have been specifically identified as suitable for assisting with emotional therapy.
People in nursing homes or retirement communities, children with serious illnesses, persons with physical and intellectual disabilities can benefit from dog therapy.
These dogs go with their owners to hospitals, hospices, retirement communities, nursing homes, schools, disaster areas, and learning centers for children with learning disabilities or autism.
Unlike service dogs trained to perform certain tasks that will assist the person with a disability, therapy dogs are a combination of companion and friend who provides some respite and joy.
Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs don’t enjoy special privileges in restaurants, planes, or access to other private spaces.
Some therapy dogs are known as “visitation dogs,” They offer therapeutic companionship and their owners who also visit hospitals, detention, or rehab facilities.
People in such places may have pets they miss, and having a regular doggy visitor gives them pleasure and relief.
“Animal-assisted therapy” dogs are trained to help occupational and physical therapists. They help with specific exercise and therapy programs in recovering physical skills and range of movement after a stroke or accident.
Another category of therapy dogs includes the “Facility therapy dog,” These dogs are owned by nursing homes to provide in-house help and protect patients with memory issues, Alzheimer’s, or other types of mental illnesses.
Staff members at the nursing home are specially trained along with the therapy dog to offer such assistance.
Therapy dogs are specially selected for their temperament. They are usually:
- Even-tempered and calm nature
- With a non-shedding and hypoallergenic coat
- Exposed to different types of social settings and environments
- Eager to please and make others happy
The Habibi Bear ticks all these boxes, and that’s what makes this breed the perfect one for therapeutic assistance.
Health Issues of Habibi Bear
These dogs are generally quite healthy and enjoy a long life. Many of the genetic diseases that purebred ancestors on both sides have been eliminated in the hybrid. However, some of them can suffer from diseases and conditions such as:
- Skin allergies
- Sensitive skin
- Gum disease
- Dry eyes
- Tear staining
- Patellar damage
- Cataract in the eyes
- Ear infections
- Cushings Disease
Being so small, the Habibi Bear is likely to get trampled upon during rough games with kids. They can also get underfoot when seniors are walking. They also tend to be brittle-boned and can easily develop fractures.
That is why they must play with smaller children only under adult supervision. Rough play is not to be encouraged, even though the dog seems to enjoy it.
Feeding The Habibi Bear
Talk to your vet and the breeder about correct feeding. In general, the ideal diet would be that which suits a small breed with high energy levels.
Remember that your Habibi Bear can get greedy and because they’re so cute, and it’s hard to resist those melting eyes, it’s easy to over-feed them.
That will result in obesity and other health issues. So stick to a regular schedule and be hard-hearted about limiting the treats.
Older Habibis may require different schedules and variations in diet. Your vet can advise you about supplements too.
Care of The Habibi Bear
Ensure that you get all the necessary information from the breeder or the people at the rescue. This will alert you to any potential health issues that you need to watch out for.
Regular visits to the vet are a must to keep the dog in peak health.
Since this little dog has high energy levels, make sure they get lots of playtime with the kids, a regular walk, and some games. This will keep obesity at bay and also help to provide mental and emotional stimulation.
Since the coat can get long and matted if not brushed regularly, grooming is important. Small dogs are usually sensitive to temperature changes, and they feel the cold and heat swiftly.
Ensure that the coat is kept trimmed in summer and that your Habibi has a nice warm jacket for outings in winter.
Since they have a short snout and respiratory tract, they are particularly vulnerable to respiratory distress in the cold season.
Small dogs can develop dental problems, and the characteristic underbite causes its own issues. Brush your Habibi’s teeth regularly and give them a healthy diet.
Remember that this little one has little or no prey drive, and that’s why they will happily co-exist with other pets you have in the house.
You may have to protect your Habibi against aggressive pets. Be careful while introducing them to larger and more aggressive animals.
Cost of The Habibi Bear
This exotic hybrid can cost you anywhere between $450-1500. However, keep a lookout in shelters and rescue homes, where you may find a pup or an older dog that needs a warm and loving family.
You will have to pay for the vaccination and spaying costs. If possible, try to get the health history too. This will help you to deal with future problems if any.
If you’re looking for a cute, lovable, loyal, and clever little furry companion, the Habibi Bear is a perfect choice. The Habibi is a great option for apartment dwellers, a happy blend of the “little lion” Shih Tzu and the adorably agile Bichon Frise. It is also a wonderful therapy dog, spreading joy, peace, and calm wherever it goes.