How Long Do Shih Tzus Live? Pragmatic Puppy Facts You Should Know! | Kidadl


How Long Do Shih Tzus Live? Pragmatic Puppy Facts You Should Know!

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Shih Tzus are famous for their large eyes and short snouts.

With their floppy ears, short posture, and ever-growing coats, many people find the Shih Tzu dog very cute. However, the average lifespan of this breed is considered slightly shorter compared to that of other small dogs.

This puppy makes a wonderful pet because of its docile personality. Regular exercise, a good diet, and frequent check ups with the vet are usually enough to keep your Shih Tzu happy, in good health and to live longer. Shih Tzus tend to get along well with the other animals, including other dogs. Shih Tzus are prone to barking, and will often do so when strangers or anyone is visiting, insisting they pet them! To keep your dog's growing coat beautiful, regular grooming is required.

Shih Tzus are known to have problems with their teeth. So, it is advisable for dog owners to practice good dental care and brush their dog's teeth three times a week. Although these tiny puppies are independent dogs, they can be stubborn to train. Male Shih Tzus are considered more affectionate than female Shih Tzus.

After reading all about the Shih Tzu lifespan, do check how do you know when your dog is about to give birth and how fast can a dog run?

How long does Shih Tzus live on average?

Shih Tzu dogs are known as loyal little dogs, and tend to be very fond of human beings. If you have a pet Shih Tzu, it is natural to think about how long do Shih Tzus live or worry about the life expectancy of the Shih Tzu breed.

A Shih Tzu's lifespan ranges from 10 - 16 years, with an average life span of 13 years. In regard to canines, a 13-year lifespan is considered fairly average, especially when you realize that 13 dog years is equal to 67 human years. Generally, dogs live for 12.67 years on average without any exceptional circumstances. Female dogs are considered to live 1.5 years longer than male dogs. Although many factors can affect the longevity of the Shih Tzu lifespan, it can still live up to 16 years. Many Shih Tzus are known to live until their early to mid-teenage years, but Smokey is the name of a Shih Tzu who lived for 23 years.

What do Shih Tzus usually die from?

One of the major causes of death in puppies is infection, as dogs are more vulnerable to infections in the early stages of life. Diseases such as leptospirosis and Parvovirus are common, but can usually be avoided by frequent vet treatments and proper vaccinations.

Puppies also suffer from trauma, which can sometimes be fatal. Trauma can include an injury during birth or throughout infancy, or any body injury. Other accidental trauma like abuse, being dropped or falling from stairs, and being stepped on can lead to severe mental conditions. The causes of death in adult Shih Tzus generally aren’t due to trauma but to incurable diseases, which can be fairly common in old age.

One of the biggest causes of death in Shih Tzus is cancer. Shih Tzus, and about 15.1% of all dog breeds, die of cancers such as cell tumors, soft tissue sarcomas, gland tumors, and bone cancer. Although cancer can be fatal, around 50% of the cancers that are identified in the early stages of a dog's life can be treated. On average, 13.9% of Shih Tzus die due to urogenital diseases, such as infection of the bladder or prostate, or kidney stones. Shih Tzus are one of the 12 dog breeds that die due to urogenital diseases.

Other causes of death include untreatable infections like fungal infections, infections caused by certain protozoa, and other bacterial infections caused from injuries, like infections around wounds and bone fractures. Such infections are the cause of death for more than 7.9% of Shih Tzus.

Health Issues That Can Reduce Lifespan

The Shih Tzu is traditionally known as a healthy dog breed, but it can be prone to certain health conditions. Below are some of the health issues dog owners need to be aware of, along with their symptoms.

Hip Dysplasia

Generally, hip dysplasia is fairly common among all dogs. Although they are noticed mostly in larger dogs, they can also affect smaller canines like Shih Tzus. When Shih Tzus are young, they love to jump around, which can lead to hip dysplasia. This can cause pain, as the dog's hip joint is affected. It can also cause difficulty in walking.


Proptosis is commonly seen in Shih Tzus and is caused by the shape of the skull, due to selective inbreeding by humans. Shih Tzus have a skull that is different from a regular canine skull. As a result of their oddly shaped skulls, the eyes of the Shih Tzu breed may protrude outwards if the facial skin is pulled. This can cause extreme trauma for the Shih Tzu and inflammation near the sinus. Surgery is required to treat this, or the dog could completely lose its vision.

Collapsing Trachea

Some dog breeds, including Shi Tzus, can suffer from a tracheal collapse, another condition caused by the unusual shape of the breed. A tracheal collapse causes breathing difficulties, which can sometimes cause death. The dog will usually gag, cough and vomit, although it can also wheeze. Although surgery can be carried out to prevent the condition from worsening, it cannot be completely cured.

Ear Infection

Ear infections are often noticed, as a Shih Tzu's ears are prone to them. The structure of the ears can attract lots of bacteria. For such conditions, antibiotics are prescribed by the veterinarian.

How long do Shih Tzus live with conformational defects?

A healthy Shih Tzu can live well up to 15 years of age or even longer, but may face various health problems throughout its life. Some Shih Tzus are not able to even make it out of infancy. This is because puppy Shih Tzus suffer more from infections or other trauma, which can be fatal and should be handled by giving proper care and timely vaccinations.

If a Shi Tzu is suffering from cancer or other diseases, it can have a shorter lifespan but that doesn't mean it's untreatable. As mentioned above, around half of this breed's cancer cases can be treated successfully if they are identified early. Frequent visits to the vet, along with a good pedigree diet and regular exercise, can help increase the lifespan of the Shi Tzu.

On-time treatment for any disease that can affect the health of the family pet is a must.

The Traits Affecting A Shih Tzu's Lifespan

Purebred Shih Tzus are relatively healthier than other smaller dog breeds, and they can have a longer lifespan than some bigger dogs. Even though they have less chance of becoming ill due to diseases, there are some illnesses that all Shih Tzus are prone to. Recognizing the symptoms of these diseases and treating them accordingly at an early stage in your dog's life will help it live a longer and better life. Some of the traits that can influence a Shih Tzu's lifespan are the following.

Health Problems

Shih Tzus can suffer from serious kidney and liver diseases. Sometimes, they can get itchy skin allergies, knee problems, and infections. If you notice changes in your pet's normal behavior, make sure to visit a vet as soon as possible.


Small dog breeds like Shih Tzus have small bladders, and it takes a long time to develop them. That's why Shih Tzu puppies can have more housebreaking accidents when they are young, as they can't hold their wee in for very long.

Separation Anxiety

Shih Tzus, like many small breed dogs, make great companions, but the downside is that they can be prone to separation anxiety. If you separate Shih Tzu dogs from their owners, some disorders could start appearing. These can include inappropriate urination, chewing, defection, and excessive vocalization. Some of the treatments for such disorders include dedicated training, desensitization exercises, and behavior modification. For extreme cases, medications can be prescribed by the veterinarian, but generally this should be the last resort.

Ways To Increase Your Shih Tzu's Lifespan

Overall, a Shih Tzu's life expectancy is 13 years, and many pet owners believe that the senior years of a Shih Tzu's life are the ones that the dog enjoys in good health. Owners need to take good care of their dogs. Some things like the type of food, safety precautions, and level of exercise provided should be taken care of by the owners. Here are some ways that can help a Shih Tzu dog live a healthy and long life.

Always know the contents of your Shih Tzu's food bowl. To help your dog live as long as possible, offer all-natural and wholesome food items with no chemicals. To keep your dog satisfied, you can treat them with chewy moist food, as their diet mainly consists of rice and oatmeal.

Pet owners should always supervise their Shih Tzu dog in the yard, to help avoid a serious or fatal injury happening while they are playing, or from being attacked by other dogs while out in the yard. Some other dangers include insect bites or heat stress under the sun. Trauma is known as the second leading cause of death in all dogs, so it's wise to keep your pet dog inside the fence.

Maintenance of health conditions is an important factor in taking care of your Shih Tzu. Taking your pet for regular vet checkups is necessary, as a health condition or disease is easier to tackle if treated early. If any illness like canine diabetes, kidney issues, or blood disorders occur, seek diagnosis quickly, as they might prove fatal otherwise. Treatments like routine testing and screening are performed by a professional veterinarian.

What is the longest-living Shih Tzu?

The oldest-living Shih Tzu was a dog named Smokey and belonged to a couple in St. Petersburg, Florida. Smokey was born on January 18, 1986. Smokey’s birth was verified by the St. Petersburg Animal Hospital and he was named the oldest living dog at age 23. Even during his older years, Smokey was in very good shape, as he was active and had regular walks. Sadly, he died soon after his 23rd birthday.

The oldest dog ever is believed to be a 29-year-old dog that died in 1939. It was recorded as the dog with the longest lifespan by The Guinness Book of World Records.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for how long do Shih Tzus live then why not take a look at Shih Tzu facts or how often do dogs have periods?

Written By
Supriya Jain

<p>As a skilled member of the Kidadl team, Shruti brings extensive experience and expertise in professional content writing. With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Punjab University and an MBA in Business Administration from IMT Nagpur, Shruti has worked in diverse roles such as sales intern, content writer, executive trainee, and business development consultant. Her exceptional writing skills cover a wide range of areas, including SOP, SEO, B2B/B2C, and academic content.</p>

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