With any beloved pet, we want to ensure that we’ll be enjoying their company for as long as possible.
When it comes to dogs, lifespan can vary depending on their breed. Some dogs are just more genetically inclined to live a longer life with fewer health issues, which may leave you wondering – how long do Shih Tzu live?
In this article, I not only talk about the lifespan of a Shih Tzu, but I also note some of the key health problems associated with the breed, and how you can help your pup enjoy a long, happy, and healthy life.
How long do Shih Tzu Live? On average, the Shih Tzu lifespan is around 13 years. In fact, their lifespan has been shown to range between 10 and 16 years, and the oldest Shih Tzu on record (Smokey from St Petersburg, Florida) lived until 23! However, like with many dogs, their lifespan will also depend on the particular dog’s genetics and the level of care they receive throughout their life.
More About Shih Tzu Dogs
The Shih Tzu is a breed of dog adored for their energetic and lovable nature, as well as a very playful side. Their name comes from the Chinese for ‘little lion‘, so-called for the long, mane-like hair that hangs around their face, and the breed has a long history in Chinese royalty.
Shih Tzu dogs are an incredibly popular companion, and they can be trained for obedience, competitions, and rallies if the owner wishes.
Ways To Help a Shih Tzu Live a Long Life
I’ve put together a list of 3 tips that any dog owner can do to ensure they protect their pup’s safety.
1. Make Sure Your Shih Tzu Has Been Spayed Or Neutered
There are a range of health complications associated with dogs that have not been spayed or neutered, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution and ensure your Shih Tzu has the procedure at an early age.
When it comes to male dogs, neutering can help them live a longer life by limiting their risk of developing certain cancers, tumors, and diseases. It is also a beneficial procedure to lower the chances of your dog running away or displaying territorial behavior.
Spaying will prevent your female dog from being affected by the various cancers and diseases associated with pregnancy. When spaying is performed before the age of 2.5 years old, it significantly reduces the risk of developing mammary tumors, and also significantly reduces the risk of pyometra.
However, do bear in mind that neutering or spaying is not recommended for dogs that have existing health problems, or for dogs already in their senior years.
2. Make Your Home As Dog-Proof As Possible
Our homes are full of items that can be hazardous to our furry friends. Common risks include poisoning by household cleaning products, choking on small plastic objects, internal blockage after swallowing non-edible items, and electrocution after chewing electric cables.
Avoid unexpected accidents by making sure your home is dog-proofed with these precautions:
- Put locks on cabinets containing toxic substances.
- Block staircases with a dog-proof gate to prevent.
- Protect cords with a specialized pet-proof cord protector designed to stop them from chewing!
- Keep your eyes peeled for any hazardous objects on the floor that your pup can unwittingly start gnawing on.
3. Supervise Your Dog Outdoors
Whether you’re walking your Shih Tzu or letting him roam around your yard – it can be very easy for your pet to encounter dangerous and potentially life-threatening scenarios.
These dangers can include bee or wasp stings, eating poisonous items like mushrooms, attack by wildlife such as snakes, coyotes, or hawks, or even attack by other dogs.
The best thing an owner can do to protect their dog to the best of their ability is to supervise them at all times when outside, being on-hand to help immediately in a dangerous situation.
Common Health Problems
Despite the Shih Tzu being a small breed, they are widely regarded as fairly healthy and enjoy one of the longest average lifespans in the dog world.
However, just like many other breeds of dog, there are some health problems that Shih Tzu dogs are especially vulnerable to.
This isn’t something to worry too much about, but it is worth being aware of signs and symptoms so that you know when your pup is in need of special care.
Health issues that can affect a Shih Tzu include:
One problem that can be specific to the Shih Tzu breed is especially small airways in the nose which can make it difficult for them to get enough oxygen, which in turn can lead to problems in the rest of their body.
Shih Tzu dogs also have weak cartilage, which can lead to a flattening of the windpipe and further difficulty breathing. If you notice that your dog is snorting, whether that be during the day or while they sleep – make sure to get them checked out by a vet.
It is common for the Shih Tzu breed to be particularly vulnerable to vision problems, some of which are serious enough to lead to blindness or proptosis.
Proptosis is an emergency scenario when the eyeball detaches from the socket, which will call for an urgent trip to the veterinary ER!
Although many vision problems can be sorted with surgery, it is important that you try your best to get an early diagnosis if you notice changes in your dog’s behavior.
Hip dysplasia is a common condition for many breeds of dog, especially the energetic and playful types that like jumping (sometimes higher than they really should!).
Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip joint migrates from the thigh bone, and when severe it can require surgery. However, in most cases, joint pain can easily be managed with pain medication.
Shih Tzu dogs naturally have a very unique shape, characterized by short legs and a longer back. Yet, this shape also makes them particularly vulnerable to Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVD) – a painful condition similar to a human slipped disk.
In extreme cases IVD can leave your pup paralyzed, so always pay attention to changes in their walk or signs of pain.
Hopefully my article helped answer your question, and also gave you some ideas for how to help your precious pup live as long and healthy a life as possible!
Shih Tzu dogs have one of the longest lifespans in the dog world, so as long as you stay alert to the potential risks facing the Shih Tzu breed you can rest assured that you’ll enjoy your pet’s company for a long time.
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