Breeds Shih Tzus

Shih Tzu Lifespan: How Long do Shih Tzus live?

Welcome back to where dogs are out favorite pets! Last week, you have already seen that Labrador can live up to around 14 years. Whereas a smaller breed such as Pomeranians and French Bulldogs can live up to around 12 years. Today, let’s move to the next breed call Shih Tzu, where you will learn on how long they will live for and what you need to take care of them to even increase their lifespan even longer.

What Is A Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzu means “little lion” because they belonged to Tibetan Buddhist. Shih Tzus are loving, happy and outgoing house dogs that like to follow people from room to room. In the West, shih tzu is pronounced as ‘sheed-zoo’ or ‘sheet-su’. In Chinese, shih tzu is pronounced as ‘Xīshī quǎn’ (西施犬). Shih Tzu are kind to children and a friendly dog. They are family pets and easily get attached to other animals.

Shih Tzus are also known as “Chrysanthemum-Faced Dogs” because of the hair that grows around their faces. They are popular dogs and many celebrities including Bill Gates, Mariah Carey, Nicole Richie and Beyoncé have owned them.

u runs in the backyard
My Shih Tzu runs in the backyard.

How Long Do Shih Tzus Live?

Shih Tzus are small family dogs and you may be wondering how long they can live. So, Shih Tzus have the lifespan from 12 to 16 years (like a Yorkie lifespan). But there are some factors that can affect the Shih Tzu’s lifespan. These factors include genes and also care that they receive.

The oldest Shih Tzu to ever live was Smokey who reached the age of 23 years.


Common Health Problems That Reduce Shih Tzu Lifespan

There are a lot of things that affect Shih Tzu’s lifespan. Their small size also causes many problems. They can also face many respiratory diseases due to their small size. These health problems also reduce Shih Tzu’s life expectancy and therefore as a dog owner, you should beware and take action to improve their lifespan.

Eye problems:

Shih Tzus are prone to many eye diseases. Dry eye is a common eye disease in which a dog’s eyes are not producing enough tears. Shih Tzu with dry eyes may develop ulcers or become blind. A veterinarian suggests eye drop to treat this disease.

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Distichiasis is another skin disease in which they have an extra set of eyelashes. It can be very irritating and harmful. Corneal ulcers are also common that can cause blindness.

Hip dysplasia:

Hip dysplasia is also common in Shih Tzu in which hip sockets do not develop properly. If your dog is suffering from hip dysplasia, it can experience arthritis and pain. Hip dysplasia can badly affect your dog’s life expectancy.

Breathing problems:

Due to their small size, Shih Tzus are suffering from many respiratory diseases. In some cases, Shih Tzus are born with small nostrils that can make it difficult to breathe. If they are not getting proper oxygen, they can experience different health problems.

Collapsing trachea is another respiratory problem in which a weakened windpipe can cause difficulty in breathing.

Ear infections:

Ear infections also reduce your Shih Tzu’s lifespan. They experience allergies, accumulation of earwax and bacterial growth in ear infections. To prevent ear infections, it is important to clean Shih Tzu’s ears once a week. Cleaning of the ear will help to stop bacterial growth and remove dirt from their ears.

Dental problems:

Since Shih Tzus have smaller mouths, they have serious dental issues. A common dental disease is periodontal disease which is also known as ‘gum disease’. Periodontal disease is infection of gums but it can also affect kidneys, brain and heart.

Usually, it starts with tartar build-up on their teeth. It then progress to the roots of the teeth causing their gum to swell. If left untreated, your shih tzu can lose his or her teeth or worse could affect his or her kidneys in a bad way. Some authors even state that your buddy’s lifespan could be reduced by up to 3 years due to dental issue. So see your vet and take good dental care of your pet.

Tips To Help Your Shih Tzu Live Longer

As you know of these dog lifespan series, I do not like to leave the post at just sharing with you the age but also tips that you can do to ensure that your dog lives a healthy life.

Regular exercise:

Shih Tzus do not need a lot of exercise to keep them healthy. Simple exercise is helpful to maintain their health. They require a walk of 30 minutes a day. Playtime with your dog helps to reduce his/her stress and tension. It makes your dog healthy and important for longevity of lifespan.

It is essential to know that Shih Tzu needs a break for rest and water after halfway during an exercise. If they are suffering from excessive drooling, panting and acting lethargic then you should give them rest and cut the activity.  

Proper diet:

Diet plays an important role in Shih Tzu’s development. Proper nutrition is important for your dog’s healthy bones and muscles. So, it is necessary to ensure that your Shih Tzu gets good quality food. Good diet prevents them from many diseases and helps to increase their lifespan. These days dog’s food is made with expert guidelines that can help in the growth and development of dogs.

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Dry Dog Food
  • Ideal for purebred Shih Tzus 10 months and older
  • Good for small breed’s short muzzle and underbite
  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, and biotin
  • Helps reduce amount of stools and stool odor
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Purina Pro Plan Small Breed
  • Formulated high in protein to meet the needs of highly active small dogs
  • High protein formula, with real chicken as the first ingredient
  • Vitamin A and linoleic acid—an omega-6 fatty acid—to help promote your dog’s healthy skin and coat.
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Mini Bites Vegan by V-Dog
  • Plant-powered nutrition helps our earth and care for your small dog
  • Reduce allergic reactions, improved oral hygiene, healthier skin and coat
  • Fully supplemented with everything your petite pup needs
  • Sourced, produced and packaged in California by a vegan-owned and operated family business
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Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food for Small Dogs
  • Support bone and muscle strength thanks to calcium content
  • Omega-6 fatty acids nourish you dog’s skin
  • Made with natural ingredients and in USA
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Hill Science’s small breed dog canned food
  • Include chicken, pork liver, whole grain corn and cracked pearled barley
  • Help encourage lean muscles
  • Highly-digestible recipe helps your dogs absorb the nutrients needed to grow healthily
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Vet visit:

Regular visits to the veterinarian help to examine and early diagnosis of many diseases. These diseases can be treated if caught earlier. Routine testing will check for Shih Tzu’s diabetes, kidney problems, heart problems, hormone deficiencies and cancer.  

You should also notice your dog’s changing behavior because it is also due to health problems. Poper vaccination is also essential for your dog’s good health.

Avoid unfiltered tap water:

Shih Tzu life expectancy can be increased by avoiding the tap water. It is due to tap water contain toxins and carcinogenic ingredients that can cause serious health issues in them. So, your Shih Tzu lives longer if you avoid unfiltered tap water. You should give them filtered water that can keep them healthy. You have three main choices for this purpose: offered filtered water, spring water or use filtering device to clean the water.

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Dental care:

Dental care is very important because it can prevent them from infections that spread all over the body. For this purpose, you should use a normal size brush and canine paste to clean the dog’s teeth.

You can also apply dental spray to your Shih Tzu’s teeth instead of brushing. But it is not as effective as brushing. Moreover, dental chews are also used to remove plaques from the teeth.

Final Words on Shih Tzu Life Expectancy:

Shih Tzu is a toy breed which is popular due to their ever-growing coat. They are friendly and love to sit on everyone’s lap. Shih Tzus are very loyal to their owners. The average lifespan is from 12 to 16 years. Due to their short size and short face, there is a risk of many diseases that can cause early death. Shih Tzus are small dogs and need good care to live a healthy life. You can increase life expectancy by giving them proper attention and care.

How long do shih tzu lives? Shih Tzu lifespan
How long do Xīshī quǎn’ (西施犬) live? Shih Tzu lifespan

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Last update on 2024-07-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About the author

Mariana Perez

My name is Mariana, and I'm a huge Terrier lover, I like to contribute to pet blogs to share my own experience and knowledge on caring for dogs as man's best friends. I hope you enjoy my article and if you do, Like and Share to FB or Pinterest is always appreciated.


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