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Do Shih Tzus Have Trouble Giving Birth

With Shih Tzus being so small, do they have trouble giving birth more so than other dogs?

We spoke to our resident vet and got in contact with many Shih Tzu breeders to explain the intracacies of Shih Tzus birthing.

Let’s get into it.

Do Shih Tzus Have Trouble Giving Birth?

Shih Tzus, like many other small dog breeds, can have difficulty giving birth.

They are known for what’s called “dystocia,” a term that simply means difficult labor or childbirth.

This issue is common in breeds with smaller bodies and larger heads like the Shih Tzu, resulting in potential difficulties during natural delivery.

For more in-depth information on dystocia, the American Veterinary Medical Association has a great resource.

According to Dr. Alice Weaver, a small breed expert and veterinarian, “Shih Tzus are more prone to birth difficulties because of their brachycephalic (short-nosed) and small size. Their puppies often have larger heads compared to the mother’s pelvic size, leading to potential complications during birth.”

➡️ Trending: What Age Can Shih Tzus Safely Have Puppies?

Can Shih Tzus Give Birth Alone?

It’s crucial to understand that your Shih Tzu should never be left alone during the birthing process.

Even if it seems like she’s handling things just fine, things can change rapidly, and she may suddenly need help.

The RSPCA advises having an experienced person present during the process who can recognize signs of distress and get veterinary help if needed.

What are the Common Issues and Complications?

Shih Tzus can face a variety of issues when giving birth. Let’s break down some of the most common ones:

➡️ 1. Dystocia

As we’ve discussed, dystocia is a significant issue for Shih Tzus due to their physical characteristics. Signs of dystocia include prolonged labor, visible discomfort, or more than an hour between puppies. If you notice any of these signs, it’s critical to get your Shih Tzu to the vet immediately.

➡️ 2. Inadequate Contractions

Sometimes, a Shih Tzu’s contractions can be too weak to push the puppies out. According to PetMD, this can be caused by a variety of factors such as a large litter, old age, or poor health.

➡️ 3. Retained Placenta

If the placenta isn’t expelled after each puppy, it can lead to serious infection. Always count the number of placentas. If you’re unsure, a quick trip to the vet is in order.

➡️ 4. Eclampsia

Eclampsia, or milk fever, is a dangerous condition caused by low blood calcium levels in the mother. It typically occurs after the puppies are born and start nursing. Symptoms include restlessness, panting, and muscle tremors. If you observe these symptoms, contact your vet immediately.

➡️ Related: Shih Tzu Pregnancy: A Complete Guide

What Can You Do to Help Your Shih Tzu?

Helping your Shih Tzu during birth starts long before labor. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Pre-Birth Vet Checkups: Regular checkups during pregnancy can help identify potential problems early.
  2. Nutrition: A balanced diet is crucial for a pregnant Shih Tzu. Make sure she’s getting the right nutrients for herself and her puppies.
  3. Know What’s Normal: Educate yourself on the typical birthing process. Knowing what’s normal will help you identify when something isn’t right.
  1. Prepare a Whelping Box: A comfortable, quiet space for your Shih Tzu to give birth can help make the process smoother. Include soft bedding and keep it in a warm area.
  2. Stay Calm: Your Shih Tzu will pick up on your energy. Stay calm and provide gentle reassurance throughout the process.
  3. Know Your Vet’s Emergency Number: In case of complications, have your vet’s emergency number handy. Quick action can save lives.

What Should You Do if Your Shih Tzu is Having Trouble Giving Birth?

If your Shih Tzu is having trouble giving birth, get her to the vet immediately.

It’s better to be safe than sorry. Even if it’s a false alarm, your vet will understand. Better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health of your Shih Tzu and her puppies.

VCA Hospitals offers a comprehensive guide on emergency situations, including signs that your dog may be in distress during birth. Some of these signs include prolonged labor, excessive bleeding, or a puppy that seems stuck.

The Role of C-Sections in Shih Tzu Births

Sometimes, a caesarean section, or C-section, may be the safest option for your Shih Tzu.

According to Dr. Weaver, “Shih Tzus are one of the breeds where elective C-sections are often considered due to their higher risk of birthing complications.”

A vet may recommend a C-section if they believe the puppies are too large to be delivered naturally, if the mother is in distress, or if labor isn’t progressing as it should.

While it is a major surgery, it can potentially save both the mother and her puppies.


While our beloved Shih Tzus can face challenges during childbirth, being well-prepared and vigilant can make a world of difference.

Remember, the safety and health of your Shih Tzu and her puppies is paramount. Don’t hesitate to seek veterinary help if you’re at all concerned.

Being part of the miracle of birth can be an incredible experience. It’s a privilege to help bring new life into the world and see your Shih Tzu become a mother. And remember, when it comes to Shih Tzus, a little extra care and attention go a long way!



Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.