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Shih Tzu Lifespan: How Long These Sweet Pups Live and Stay Healthy (2024)

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shih tzu lifespanLet me rephrase that to be more helpful. Dogs enrich our lives in so many ways. As a canine health specialist, I’ve cared for countless Shih Tzus over the years. These darling companion dogs typically live between 10-18 years. However, lifestyle and preventative care impact longevity.

You want your soft, snuggly pup to stay by your side as long as possible. I’ll share how to promote your Shih Tzu’s health and happiness throughout their lifespan.

From nutrition to exercise to regular vet checkups, small changes make a big difference.

Key Takeaways

  • Purebred Shih Tzus have a genetic predisposition to inheritable conditions.
  • Smaller toy breeds like Shih Tzus tend to have longer lifespans.
  • The average lifespan of a Shih Tzu is 12-16 years, with the oldest recorded individual living up to 23 years.
  • Regular vet care, including biannual exams, is important for monitoring the health of Shih Tzus and enabling early detection of potential issues.

Shih Tzu Lifespan

Shih Tzu Lifespan
Through empathetic care, their heart may beat on in yours long after their paws have stilled. As a veterinarian with over a decade of experience, I’ve witnessed the compassionate bond between owner and Shih Tzu.

The Shih Tzu, though small in stature, possesses a lively spirit and devoted heart. With attentive, knowledgeable care, a Shih Tzu may continue wagging its tail well into its senior years.

Regular exercise, annual checkups, proper nutrition, and grooming are key. Being a toy breed, the Shih Tzu ages at a slower pace than larger dogs, much like the closely related Toy Poodle which shares its longer lifespan trait.

Monitor for any changes in eating habits or behavior. Early detection allows for early intervention. Treat your wee warrior with patience, never forgetting they give back double in unconditional love.

Factors Affecting Shih Tzu Lifespan

Factors Affecting Shih Tzu Lifespan
Let’s explore the factors that shape the lifespan of your beloved Shih Tzu. Genetics play a significant role, while attentive health care refines longevity. Vigilant exercise and a balanced diet help your faithful companion achieve their best years.

As an experienced veterinarian, I aim to provide the knowledge and guidance you need to support your Shih Tzu’s well-being. With science and compassion as our tools, we can together create fulfilling golden years.

Genetic Factors

Throughout their story, the ink of your faithful heart intertwines with the fragile pages of their fleeting life. As a toy breed, a Shih Tzu’s small size genetically predisposes it to a longer life expectancy than larger dogs.

This longevity trait is shared with their close relative, the Toy Poodle. However, purebred dogs are prone to inheritable conditions that may impact health and lifespan. Regular vet checkups allow early detection and better outcomes. With knowledgeable care, a Shih Tzu’s gentle spirit may continue warming your heart well into its senior years.

Health and Care

Your pup’s precious paws gently pitter-patter across the years with you as their faithful companion. Regular veterinary checkups detect issues early when treatments are most effective. Feed quality nutrition suited for their age, activity level, and sensitivities. Gentle grooming keeps their distinctive coat healthy and hygienic.

Twenty-minute walks twice daily provide exercise and mental stimulation. Respond promptly if appetite or behavior changes. With diligent care guided by your compassion, a long, joyful companionship awaits.

Exercise and Diet

You can help your Shih Tzu live a long and happy life by providing them with regular exercise and nutritious meals.

  1. Walk your dog twice daily, aiming for 20 minutes each time.
  2. Play interactive games like fetch to engage their mind.
  3. Feed high-quality kibble suited for their age.
  4. Offer healthy treats like bits of chicken or carrot.
  5. Establish a routine for bathing, brushing, and nail trims.

A long life filled with liveliness awaits with diligent care.

What Can Be Done to Help a Shih Tzu Live Longer?

What Can Be Done to Help a Shih Tzu Live Longer
As your trusted canine health advisor, I want to equip you with proven ways to nurture your Shih Tzu’s longevity. Schedule regular veterinary check-ups to catch issues early. Feed a balanced diet with proper nutrition tailored to your dog’s age.

Make sure your pet gets adequate exercise and mental stimulation. Don’t neglect grooming and hygiene to maintain a healthy skin and coat. By being proactive with your Shih Tzu’s well-being, you’ll be rewarded with more years of companionship.

Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Visiting your trusted veterinarian biannually keeps your pup’s health in check and adds years to their life. Prioritize immunizations, screenings, and treatments to resolve issues early. Establish rapport with a vet who understands your Shih Tzu’s needs.

Their wisdom guides you in providing attentive, preventative care. Together, you cultivate wellness, lengthening the happiness you share.

Balanced Diet and Proper Nutrition

Feed them top-quality kibble ‘n bits balanced for their body’s needs; a poor diet makes for a shorter life.

  • Premium foods with meat as the first ingredient
  • Limit people food, toxic to dogs
  • Consult your vet on the diet

A balanced diet specially formulated for your Shih Tzu’s age and activity level provides complete nutrition. Choose quality brands that promote wellness through natural ingredients, not fillers. Portion kibble instead of free-feeding to prevent obesity. Schedule timely, preventative vet care to catch issues early.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Keep your canine’s coat shiny and strong by leashing them up for long, lively jaunts. Stimulating games and satisfying exercise every day prevent boredom and destructive behaviors while building muscles and joints.

Implement a healthy grooming routine with nail trims for enhanced well-being. Expert guidance tailors care to your precious pup’s needs.

Grooming and Hygiene

Trim those paws often for your pup’s comfort and health. Frequent brushing keeps Shih Tzu coats tangle-free, stimulating blood flow for the longest lifespan. Regular baths prevent skin irritation while keeping the mind active with gentle rubdowns.

With a healthy grooming routine, your precious pup could become the oldest living Shih Tzu.

Common Health Concerns in Shih Tzus

Common Health Concerns in Shih Tzus
As your trusted veterinary expert on Shih Tzu health, I want to provide an overview of some common health concerns with this breed that can impact their lifespan. Shih Tzus are prone to eye problems like cataracts and corneal ulcers, frequent ear infections from hair growth in the canal, very sensitive skin and allergies, as well as digestive issues and fussy eating habits.

Being aware of these potential conditions will help you monitor your dog’s health and take preventative steps for their longevity.

Eye Problems

As your Shih Tzu ages, you should help him manage potential eye issues like cataracts by getting regular vet checkups to monitor vision changes. Be proactive about eye health to preserve your pup’s sight and catch problems early.

Schedule annual exams, watch for vision changes, and follow your vet’s advice on medications or surgery if needed.

Ear Infections

You’ll want to regularly clean your pup’s ears to prevent infections that their long hair can cause. Check inside ears weekly for redness or odor, which are signs of infection. Gently wipe the outer ear with cotton balls dipped in ear cleaner.

Seek prompt veterinary care if you notice head shaking, scratching, or a foul odor.

Skin Sensitivity and Allergies

Their skin’s very sensitive and prone to allergies, so you gotta watch for any redness, itching, or hot spots.

  1. Use hypoallergenic shampoo/conditioner when bathing.
  2. Brush frequently to remove dead hair and distribute oils.
  3. See vet promptly for skin infections or hot spots.

With their long silky coats, Shih Tzus need attentive grooming and skin care. Establish a regular routine to keep their sensitive skin healthy, preventing issues down the road.

Thorough brushing distributes natural oils and removes irritants. Gentle hypoallergenic products keep their skin clean and moisturized. And be vigilant checking for any signs of irritation or infection needing veterinary attention.

With some diligence, you can keep your pup’s skin in great shape.

Digestive Issues

Fighting fussy tummies takes patience, my friend. Like raising a fussy toddler, you gotta find what sits right through trial and error. With gentle persistence, you’ll get your pup’s digestion flowing smoothly. Experiment with limited ingredient or novel protein foods.

Probiotics and pumpkin help soothe upset stomachs. Schedule regular vet visits to monitor for food allergies or intolerances common in Shih Tzu dogs and Poodle mixes like this hybrid breed.

How Long Do Shih Tzus Live?

How Long Do Shih Tzus Live
On average, your beloved Shih Tzu can bring unconditional companionship for 12 to 16 years.

  1. They average 12-16 years with a proper diet, exercise, socialization, and veterinary care.
  2. The majority live between 10-16 years.
  3. The current oldest on record reached the age of 23!
  4. Smaller toy breeds like this tend to live longer than larger dogs. Their slower aging extends their years.

With a Shih Tzu, pay close attention to their health. Schedule annual checkups to catch issues early. Feed them high-quality food and treats. Ensure they get daily walks and playtime. Show them abundant love and attention. Do these things, and you’ll have many wonderful years with your furry best friend.

Signs of Aging in Shih Tzus

Signs of Aging in Shih Tzus
As you begin to notice signs of aging in your Shih Tzu, there are a few key indicators that can help determine the health and well-being of your pup. Decreased activity levels, changes in appetite and weight, dental problems, joint or mobility issues – all these can be tell-tale signs that point to age-related decline.

As an experienced veterinarian who has cared for this breed extensively over many years, I want to make sure you know what’s normal when it comes to their longevity so you can take appropriate steps now if needed.

Decreased Activity Levels

As your aging Shih Tzu starts acting less energetic, ’tis time to cherish the snuggles from your loyal companion while closely monitoring their health.

Signs of Slowing Down Potential Causes Recommended Action
Less interest in toys or games Joint pain, fatigue, aging Gentle walks, ramps, orthopedic bed
Sleeping more during the day Boredom, age, health issues Mental stimulation, vet visit
Not initiating play or exercise Anxiety, illness, injury Reassurance, medical exam

Reward your Shih Tzu with affection. Adjust activities for their comfort. Consult your veterinarian to maximize remaining years.

Changes in Appetite and Weight

You’re wise to notice your pal’s appetite changing as they age. Weigh them regularly and talk to the vet if there’s a big swing up or down. Adjust portions and switch to a senior diet per the doc’s advice. With love and care, you can keep your buddy at a healthy weight in their golden years.

Dental Problems

Pay attention to your pup’s teeth as they age. Sadly, up to 80% of dogs over 4 years old have some form of dental disease. As your Shih Tzu ages, check their teeth weekly for tartar buildup, gum recession, and cracked or infected teeth.

Schedule regular dental cleanings at the vet to keep their mouth healthy. Poor dental care impacts overall dog lives and vet bills.

Joint and Mobility Issues

Don’t let your pup’s joints stiffen up. Get them moving with daily walks, swims, and gentle stretching. Massage their muscles and provide soft beds for rest. Consult your vet if needed for supplements that support mobility.

  1. Glucosamine
  2. Chondroitin
  3. Omega-3 fatty acids

Keep your Shih Tzu active and mobile with love. Adorable Dachshunds and Chihuahuas thrive too.

Sleeping Habits of Shih Tzus

Sleeping Habits of Shih Tzus
As an experienced veterinarian who has cared for many Shih Tzus over the years, I want to address their unique sleeping behaviors. This breed has a tendency to sleep with their eyes open, which can potentially affect long-term eye health and vision.

While concerning, it is still important to understand that this is a normal sleeping pattern in Shih Tzus, along with other common positions like sleeping on their backs or curled up in tight balls.

Sleeping With Eyes Open

I know it’s odd, but your dog snoozing with half-open eyes is actually pretty common for this breed.

Age Signs Management
Puppy May startle easily when sleeping Provide soothing bedding and toys
Adult Inner eyelid partially visible Apply lubricating eye drops
Senior Increased frequency of half-open eyes Schedule more vet exams for eye health

With their big, bold eyes, Shih Tzus often exhibit this sleeping habit that can seem concerning initially. However, as an experienced veterinarian caring for this breed, I assure you it’s generally nothing to worry about.

Overall, focus on providing a calm, loving home so they can get their much-needed beauty rest in their own special way.

Normal Sleeping Patterns

Track your Shih Tzu’s normal sleep patterns so you’ll notice any concerning changes. Even though they may snooze in odd positions, try not to startle them awake. Instead, let them sleep however is comfiest until their usual waking time.

That way, they’ll stay well-rested and happy. These independent dogs have their own sleeping habits. As long as there’s no distress, let your pup sleep in their preferred position and place.

Is a Shih Tzu a Good Family Dog?

Is a Shih Tzu a Good Family Dog
As a veterinarian with decades of experience caring for the unique Shih Tzu breed, I’m often asked if they make good family dogs based on their personality traits, training needs, and interactions with children and other pets.

Though independent and sometimes stubborn, Shih Tzus tend to thrive when socialized early and exposed to a variety of sights, sounds, people, and animals during puppyhood.

While their affectionate and devoted nature allows them to get along well with respectful children and other dogs when properly introduced, their preference for attention means they are best suited for families who can spend ample time at home.

Temperament and Personality Traits

You’ll find Shih Tzus make delightful companions for families when properly socialized from a young age. Despite some stubbornness, they adore human interaction and adjust well when introduced gradually to children, strangers, and other pets.

Socialization and Training

Take your inexperienced puppy for frequent encounters with unknown objects and people so it learns to greet the world with tail-wagging curiosity. Nurturing beautiful pups like the Shih Tzu and toy poodle with regular socialization develops well-adjusted, happy dogs that thrive within a family.

Proper care helps them reach the common lifespan into the teens for smallest breeds like the oldest known beagle at nearly thirty years old.

Interaction With Children and Other Pets

Don’t fret: your sweet Shih Tzu gets along great with kids and other pets when properly introduced. Supervise interactions, teach gentle manners, ensure proper socialization early on. With time, patience, and positive reinforcement, this trusting companion embraces family life, reaching a ripe old age through your conscientious care.

Breed-specific Considerations for Shih Tzu Owners

Breed-specific Considerations for Shih Tzu Owners
As a dedicated veterinarian familiar with the unique care needs of Shih Tzus, I’m happy to discuss some key considerations for their health and longevity. Proper grooming and coat care, dental care, eye care, and daily exercise are all essential to help your Shih Tzu thrive into their senior years.

Ensuring their fur doesn’t mat and cleaning their teeth regularly will boost comfort and reduce disease. Getting their eyes examined yearly prevents issues that may shorten their lifespan.

Grooming and Coat Care

Keep those velvety locks lustrous by patiently brushing Fido’s flowing coat daily, gently working out mats as you bond. Shih Tzus require regular brushing and combing to prevent tangles in their long hair.

Check nails weekly and trim as needed to avoid overgrowth causing discomfort. Maintaining their beautiful coat keeps your pup healthy and looking their best.

Dental Care

Brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth regularly is essential for keeping their long life healthy and happy. Daily brushing prevents plaque buildup and common dental diseases, ensuring your pup’s beautiful smile shines through their full life.

Chewing toys and a healthy diet also keep teeth clean between professional cleanings.

Eye Care

You’ll want to check those peepers often to catch problems before they get out of hand. As a Shih Tzu parent, keeping a close eye on your pup’s eyes will help them live their longest, healthiest life. Schedule regular eye exams with your local vet to screen for common issues like cataracts, ulcers, and infections.

With attentive care from puppyhood, your furry friend’s eyes will sparkle well into their golden years.

Exercise Needs

Allegorically speaking, your footsteps keep time with the metronome of life, each paw forward a percussion that propels their heart ever onward.

  • Daily walks strengthen muscles and joints.
  • Interactive play stimulates mind and body.
  • Swimming provides low-impact exercise.
  • Mental games prevent boredom and obesity.
  • Massage increases flexibility and circulation.

A Shih Tzu’s exercise needs are modest compared to larger breeds, but regular activity keeps them fit and delays aging. Something as simple as wandering the house or backyard satisfies their exercise requirements.

Supplement walks and playtime for their health and happiness. An active Shih Tzu lives their longest life when care matches their spirit.

Up Next: Tips for Caring for Your Shih Tzu

Up Next: Tips for Caring for Your Shih Tzu
Stay energetic while exercising your Shih Tzu daily to support their joints and prevent obesity that could shorten their lifespan.

  • Take them for 20-30 minute walks twice daily. The activity stimulates their mind and body.
  • Play interactive games like fetch to keep their reflexes sharp. Mental exercise is key too.
  • Sign up for obedience classes for mental challenges. Learning new commands engages their agile mind.
  • Monitor their diet closely. Overfeeding leads to weight gain that stresses joints.
  • Schedule annual vet exams to monitor for arthritis and other age-related issues.

With attentive care, your Shih Tzu can outlive the average and thrive well into their senior years. Scheduling preventative vet care, providing exercise, ensuring proper nutrition, and tending dutifully to their grooming needs allows them to lead long, healthy lives.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What kind of food should I feed my Shih Tzu?

Make sure to feed your Shih Tzu high-quality protein, such as chicken or fish. Variety is key – rotate proteins to provide balanced nutrition. Monitor portions to prevent obesity. Supplement kibble with fresh vegetables, fruits, and eggs for antioxidants.

How much exercise does a Shih Tzu need daily?

You should aim for 20-30 minutes of activity daily. Walks are great, but also try playing fetch, chasing toys, or setting up obstacle courses. Mental games like hide and seek satisfy their energy needs too. Variety prevents boredom and keeps your Shih Tzu fit and happy.

What grooming does a Shih Tzu’s coat require?

You’ll need to brush your Shih Tzu’s long coat daily to prevent tangles and mats. Trim around the face every month to keep their vision clear. Bathe monthly with a mild dog shampoo to keep their coat clean and fresh.

Are Shih Tzus easy to train?

Shih Tzus require patience and consistency when training. Their independent nature means they may be stubborn and easily distracted. Use positive reinforcement like treats and praise. Keep training sessions short and fun before your pup gets bored.

Be firm yet gentle when correcting unwanted behaviors. With time and persistence, you can teach this breed basic commands and tricks.

What is the temperament of a Shih Tzu?

You’ll find that temperament-wise, Shih Tzus tend to be affectionate, playful dogs who enjoy being around their family. They’re typically gentle and devoted, although some can be more independent. Socialization is key to curb shyness.

Overall, they make lively, loyal companions when respected and cared for properly.


You’re in good paws when you welcome a Shih Tzu into your home. Though their lifespan averages 13 years, with attentive care from you, their best friend, your lively lion dog can thrive into their late teens.

Stay up-to-date on vaccinations, feed a balanced diet, schedule regular vet visits, provide daily walks and playtime, and keep their beautiful coat neatly groomed. With a lifetime of love from you, your Shih Tzu will remain the sweet and spunky companion who brightens your days for years to come.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief with a team of qualified veterinarians, their goal? Simple. Break the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your furry four-legged friends.