Shih Tzu

With its happy, outgoing and affectionate disposition, the Shih Tzu gets along well with children, other animals and strangers. Shih Tzus are responsive to gentle obedience training and enjoy daily walks. Their small size and huggable nature makes them ideal lapdog companions and well suited to apartment lifestyles.

Breed-related concerns

Every dog breed carries a distinct set of genetic advantages and health risk factors. The following are the most common diseases found in the Shih Tzu breed. Hopefully, your Shih Tzu will not face these problems. However, early detection and preventive healthcare can make all the difference in helping your dog live a longer, happier life (see breed-related disease descriptions below).

Puppy (birth to 1 year)*

  • Tear staining
  • Renal dysplasia
  • Brachycephalic airway disease
  • Portosystemic shunt

Adult (1 to 6 years)*

  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Bladder stones
  • Corneal disease

Senior (7 years and older)*

  • None listed

Breed-related disease descriptions

Listed in alphabetical order. *Please note that these common diseases can occur earlier or later in the dog’s life.

Bladder stones. May be due to bladder infection or abnormal excretion of minerals by the kidneys. Signs may include increased frequency of urination, straining or inability to urinate, and blood in the urine.

Brachycephalic airway disease. Common in dog breeds with short noses. Abnormalities include narrow nostril openings, an abnormally long soft palate, an abnormal voice box (larynx) and a small trachea (windpipe). Signs include noisy and difficult breathing, snoring, reluctance or inability to exercise, blue membranes and collapsing episodes.

Corneal disease. The cornea is the front, clear window of the eye. A variety of diseases can affect the clearness of the cornea and also cause eye pain. This breed is more predisposed because they have “bug eyes” that stick out more than other breeds. Signs may include squinting or frequent blinking, rubbing eyes, excessive tearing or discharge from the eyes or bloodshot eye.

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). Slipping of the discs in between the bones of the spine. Signs include back or neck pain with or without weakness and wobbliness, and sometimes paralysis of the back legs or both the front and back legs.

Portosystemic shunt. A disease caused by abnormal blood flow to the liver. The blood bypasses the liver, which leads to the build-up of toxins in the blood. Signs include changes in behavior after eating, blindness, deafness, seizures, failure to thrive, excessive drinking and urinating, drooling, vomiting and diarrhea, and signs due to formation of bladder stones.

Renal dysplasia. Inherited abnormal kidney development leading to kidney failure. Signs may include increased thirst and urination, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and stunted growth.

Tear staining. Wetness and discoloration of facial hair from tear overflow (epiphora). Most commonly seen in the corner of the eye near the nose.

Help your dog live a longer, healthier life. Ask your veterinarian about a breed-related preventive health plan.

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