The Life Span of the Shih Tzu Dog Breed

Shih Tzus are generally hardy and healthy dogs. Under ideal circumstances, they have a long life span. However, this breed is susceptible to a number of genetic health conditions. They can also be harmed by toxins and hazards in their environment.

  1. History

    • Their earliest documented appearance of the Shih Tzu was in China in 1650. Shih Tzus were favored by the Ming Dynasty of China. During the Communist Revolution, the breed nearly became extinct. At one point there were only seven males and seven females left, according to the Breeder Retriever website. Several of these dogs were exported to England in 1930, where they quickly gained popularity. The Shih Tzu Club of England was founded in 1935. In 1969 the American Kennel Club recognized the Shih Tzu as a distinct breed.


    • Shih Tzus are small dogs. They weigh between 9 and 16 pounds fully grown and are between 8 and 11 inches tall at the shoulder, according to the American Kennel Club. They come in many different colors such as gold and white, red and white, black and white, silver and white, and blue and white, as well as in solid colors such as red and black. These dogs have hair instead of fur. They shed less dander than many other breeds, so some people who are allergic to other types of dogs can tolerate a Shih Tzu in the home.

    Health Concerns

    • Shih Tzus are prone to a variety of health problems. They can develop respiratory issues because their breathing is obstructed by a blockage in their short noses or by their narrow nostrils. They may also have problems with kidney function as well as knee or back problems such as patellar luxation, a disorder that is characterized by a dislocation of the kneecap, and intervertebral disk disease, which is a degenerative disease of the back that can cause pain and paralysis.

    Heat Stroke

    • Shih Tzus are susceptible to heat stroke because of their long, heavy coats. Symptoms of heat stroke are dizziness and loss of consciousness. This can happen if the dog becomes overexerted on a hot day, if the inside of the car becomes too hot, or if the dog is deprived of water for long periods of time.

    Household Hazards

    • Shih Tzus can be harmed by household objects. They can electrocute themselves by chewing on electrical cords, and they can be poisoned by eating house plants or certain human foods such as chocolate, raisins or onions. The All Shih Tzu website recommends keeping hazardous substances out of your dog's reach.

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  • Photo Credit shih tzu dans la neige image by Jeff LEONARD from

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