How Long Shih Tzu Lives? From Puppy to Senior Years

Wondering how long your cuddly Shih Tzu will stay by your side? Here’s a fact, the average lifespan of Shih Tzus ranges between 10 and 16 years. In this article, we’ll delve into their life stages: from playful pup to sage senior, guiding you through common health concerns and ways to boost their longevity. How long shih tzu lives?

Hold on tight, it’s going to be an enlightening journey for every Shih Tzu owner out there!

how long shih tzu lives

Key Takeaways

  • The average lifespan of a Shih Tzu is between 10 and 16 years, making them one of the long-lived small dog breeds.
  • Common health concerns for Shih Tzus include eye problems, ear infections, joint issues, skin allergies, and breathing difficulties.
  • To increase a Shih Tzu’s life expectancy, provide filtered water, avoid harmful food additives, ensure regular exercise, spay/neuter them, prioritize dental care, schedule regular vet checks, supervise in the yard,and proof the house for potential hazards.

Shih Tzu Lifespan: How Long Do They Live?

Shih Tzus have an average lifespan of 10-16 years, which is comparable to other small dog breeds.

Comparison to other dogs and animals

Shih Tzus live longer than many dogs. Their lifespan is 10 to 16 years on average, but some can live into their early 20s. This makes them one of the long-lived small dog breeds. Many large dog breeds live for only seven to ten years.

Cats often have a similar lifespan to Shih Tzus and can also live into their early 20s.

Leading causes of death

Shih Tzus, like any other dogs, can face certain health challenges that may affect their lifespan. Some common causes of death in Shih Tzus include heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, and respiratory problems.

Shih Tzus are also prone to dental issues such as gum disease and tooth loss, which can impact their overall health. Regular vet check-ups and early detection of any health concerns can help mitigate these risks and potentially extend your Shih Tzu’s lifespan.

It is important to provide them with a balanced diet suited for their age and breed, along with regular exercise to keep them healthy and strong.

Impact of history on lifespan

The lifespan of Shih Tzus can be influenced by their history. Shih Tzus have been bred for many years, and this breeding has played a role in their overall health and longevity. Breeders have worked to improve the breed’s health over time, which has led to longer lifespans for Shih Tzus.

Additionally, genetics play a part in determining how long a Shih Tzu will live. By focusing on breeding healthy dogs with good genetic backgrounds, breeders can help increase the lifespan of future generations of Shih Tzus.

So, thanks to careful breeding practices and attention to genetics, Shih Tzus now have the potential to live longer lives than they did in the past.

how long shih tzu lives

Health Concerns for Shih Tzus

Shih Tzus are prone to eye problems, ear infections, joint issues, skin allergies, and breathing difficulties.

Eye problems

Shih Tzus are prone to certain eye problems that can affect their vision. One common issue is called progressive retinal atrophy, where the retina deteriorates over time, eventually leading to blindness.

Another problem is dry eye, which occurs when there isn’t enough tear production. Shih Tzus are also susceptible to cataracts, which cloud the lens of the eye and can cause vision loss.

Regular check-ups with a veterinarian are important for catching and addressing these issues early on. Keep an eye out for any signs of redness, discharge, or squinting in your Shih Tzu’s eyes, as these could indicate a problem that needs attention.

Ear infections

Ear infections are a common health concern for Shih Tzus. They have floppy ears that can trap moisture, making them more prone to infections. Signs of an ear infection include scratching or rubbing the ears, shaking the head, redness or swelling in the ear canal, and a foul odor coming from the ears.

It’s important to address ear infections promptly as they can be uncomfortable for your dog and lead to more serious complications if left untreated. Regular cleaning and drying of your Shih Tzu’s ears can help prevent infections.

If you notice any signs of an ear infection, it’s best to take your dog to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Joint problems

Shih Tzus, like many small dog breeds, can experience joint problems as they get older. This is because their small size puts extra stress on their joints. Common joint issues in Shih Tzus include hip dysplasia and luxating patella (kneecap dislocation).

These problems can cause pain, lameness, and difficulty moving around. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent or manage these joint problems.

Additionally, providing comfortable bedding and stairs to help them access higher places without jumping can also reduce the strain on their joints. It’s important to be aware of any signs of joint discomfort in your Shih Tzu and consult with your vet for appropriate treatment options to ensure they stay happy and mobile throughout their lifespan.

Skin allergies

Skin allergies are a common concern for Shih Tzus. These small dogs often have sensitive skin that can react to certain allergens, such as pollen or certain ingredients in their food.

Symptoms of skin allergies may include itching, redness, rashes, and hair loss. To help manage and prevent skin allergies in your Shih Tzu, it’s important to provide a balanced diet with high-quality ingredients, avoid potential allergens, keep their living space clean and dust-free, and regularly groom them to maintain healthy skin and coat.

If you notice any signs of skin allergies in your Shih Tzu, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment options.

Breathing problems

Breathing problems can be a concern for Shih Tzus. Due to their short snouts and flat faces, they are prone to respiratory issues like snoring, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. These problems can worsen with age or weight gain.

It’s important to keep your Shih Tzu at a healthy weight and avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures or strenuous exercise. Regular visits to the vet can help monitor their breathing and address any concerns early on.

how long shih tzu lives

Ways to Help Increase Shih Tzu’s Life Expectancy

To increase a Shih Tzu’s life expectancy, it is important to supervise them in the yard, provide filtered water, avoid harmful food additives, ensure regular exercise, spay/neuter them, prioritize dental care, schedule regular vet checks, and proof the house for potential hazards.

Supervising in the yard

When your Shih Tzu is in the yard, it’s important to supervise them to ensure their safety. Small dogs like Shih Tzus can be prone to accidents or injuries if left unsupervised. Keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t wander off or get into any potentially dangerous situations.

This includes checking for any hazards such as sharp objects, toxic plants, or open gates that they could escape through. By supervising your Shih Tzu in the yard, you can help prevent accidents and keep them safe during playtime outdoors.

Providing filtered water

To help increase the lifespan of your Shih Tzu, it’s important to provide them with filtered water. This ensures that they are drinking clean and safe water, free from impurities and contaminants.

By giving your Shih Tzu access to filtered water, you can help prevent any potential health issues that may arise from consuming unfiltered tap water. It’s a simple yet effective way to support their overall health and well-being throughout their life stages.

Avoiding harmful food additives

To help increase your Shih Tzu’s life expectancy, it’s important to avoid harmful food additives. Some additives found in commercial dog food can be detrimental to their health. Look for natural and high-quality dog food that is free from artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors.

Avoid ingredients like BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin as they have been linked to health issues. Instead, opt for food with wholesome ingredients such as lean meats, vegetables, and grains that provide the necessary nutrients for your Shih Tzu’s overall well-being.

By choosing the right food for your furry friend, you can contribute to their longevity and ensure they live a healthy life.

Regular exercise

Regular exercise is essential for maintaining the health and well-being of your Shih Tzu. It helps them stay fit, maintain a healthy weight, and prevents certain health problems. Engaging in daily physical activities can keep their muscles strong, improve their cardiovascular system, and boost their overall energy levels.

Taking them for short walks or playing games like fetch will not only provide mental stimulation but also help prevent obesity. Remember to tailor the exercise routine to your dog’s age and fitness level to avoid overexertion or injury.

By incorporating regular exercise into your Shih Tzu’s routine, you can promote a longer and healthier life for your furry friend.


Spaying or neutering your Shih Tzu is an important step in helping them live a longer, healthier life. This procedure helps to prevent certain health issues and reduces the risk of certain cancers.

By spaying or neutering your Shih Tzu, you can also help reduce behavioral problems, such as aggression and marking territory. It’s best to have this procedure done when your Shih Tzu is still young, around 6 months old.

Talk to your vet about the benefits of spaying or neutering and how it can contribute to your dog’s overall well-being.

Dental care

Proper dental care is essential for maintaining your Shih Tzu’s overall health and increasing their life expectancy. Just like humans, dogs can develop dental problems, such as tartar buildup, gum disease, and tooth decay.

Regular brushing of your Shih Tzu’s teeth with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste can help prevent these issues. Additionally, providing them with safe chew toys or dental treats can also help remove plaque and keep their teeth clean.

Neglecting their dental hygiene can lead to pain, infection, and even more serious health complications down the line. So don’t forget to take care of your furry friend’s pearly whites!

Regular vet checks

Regular vet checks are an important part of keeping your Shih Tzu healthy and ensuring a longer lifespan. By taking your Shih Tzu to the vet on a regular basis, you can catch any potential health issues early and prevent them from becoming more serious.

The vet will perform routine check-ups, vaccinations, and screenings to monitor your dog’s overall health. It is recommended to schedule these visits at least once a year or more frequently as your dog gets older.

Proofing the house

To keep your Shih Tzu safe and healthy, it’s important to proof your house. This means making sure there are no hazards or dangers that could harm them. Keep small objects, toxic plants, and chemicals out of reach from your curious pup.

Also, secure electrical cords and put up baby gates to prevent access to dangerous areas. Regularly check for any potential hazards in your home to create a safe environment for your furry friend.

how long shih tzu lives


To ensure your Shih Tzu has a long and healthy life, there are several ways you can help increase their lifespan. Make sure to supervise them in the yard, provide filtered water, avoid harmful additives in their food, give them regular exercise, spay or neuter them, take care of their dental health, schedule regular vet checks, and proof your house for any hazards.


1. What is the average lifespan of a Shih Tzu dog?

The lifespan of a Shih Tzu can vary, but on average, this small or toy dog breed lives for many years.

2. What are some signs of aging in a Shih Tzu?

Signs of aging dogs like an older Shih Tzu may include lack of energy, changes in appetite and health concerns that need special care.

3. How can I help my senior Shih Tzu stay healthy?

Senior dog care includes feeding your aging pet with nutritious senior dog diet, regular exercise and looking out for any health concerns.

4. Do all small dogs have long lifespans?

While it’s true that many small breeds like the Shih Tzu enjoy long life expectancy compared to larger breeds, there are variations even among small dogs due to factors such as genetics and lifestyle.

5. Can the way I care for my young puppy impact its lifespan?

Yes! Proper grooming, nutrition suitable for puppies’ needs at different life stages from puppyhood through senior years can contribute to longevity in your young shih tzu.

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