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How Long Do Shih Tzus Live: Complete Lifespan Guide

As a proud Shih Tzu owner, I understand that we all want our furry friends to live long, happy, and healthy lives.

This comprehensive guide will provide you with everything you need to know about the lifespan of a Shih Tzu.

From understanding their average lifespan to factors that affect it, and tips for ensuring their longevity, this article covers it all.

What below:

  • Average Lifespan of a Shih Tzu
  • Factors Affecting Shih Tzu Lifespan
  • Tips for Longevity
  • Recognizing the Signs of Aging
  • Common Health Issues in Shih Tzus
  • Caring for an Aging Shih Tzu
  • In Conclusion
shih tzu lifespan

Average Lifespan of a Shih Tzu

The average lifespan of a Shih Tzu is between 10 and 18 years, with many living well into their teens.

This lifespan is relatively long compared to other dog breeds, and with proper care, your Shih Tzu can enjoy a long, healthy life.

Of course, individual lifespans can vary due to various factors, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Factors Affecting Shih Tzu Lifespan

There are several factors that can impact the lifespan of your Shih Tzu. Some of these factors are within your control, while others are not.

Understanding these factors can help you take better care of your furry friend and potentially extend their life.

  1. Genetics: Just like humans, dogs have inherited traits that can affect their health and lifespan. Shih Tzus from healthy, reputable breeders will generally have fewer genetic health issues, increasing their chances of living a longer life.
  2. Diet and exercise: A balanced diet and regular exercise are essential for maintaining your Shih Tzu’s health. Overweight or underweight dogs can face various health problems, which may shorten their lifespan.
  3. Preventive healthcare: Regular veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, and dental care can help catch health issues early and prevent them from becoming serious problems.
  4. Environment and lifestyle: A clean, safe environment and a low-stress lifestyle can positively impact your Shih Tzu’s overall health and potentially extend their life.
  5. Spaying and neutering: Spayed and neutered Shih Tzus tend to live longer due to a reduced risk of certain health issues like cancer.

Interesting: What Are Karashishi Shih Tzus: (Fully Explained)

Tips for Longevity

To give your Shih Tzu the best chance of living a long, healthy life, consider the following tips:

  • Choose a reputable breeder: A responsible breeder will prioritize the health and well-being of their dogs, ensuring they have fewer genetic health issues. The American Kennel Club (AKC) can help you find a reputable breeder.
  • Provide a balanced diet: Feed your Shih Tzu high-quality dog food that meets their nutritional needs. Consult with your veterinarian for recommendations and portion sizes.
  • Ensure regular exercise: Shih Tzus require daily exercise to maintain their health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as walking or playing fetch.
  • Stay up-to-date with vaccinations and preventive care: Schedule regular vet visits, vaccinations, and dental cleanings to catch and prevent potential health issues.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Monitor your Shih Tzu’s weight and adjust their diet and exercise accordingly to prevent obesity-related health problems.
  • Spay or neuter your Shih Tzu: Spaying or neutering your dog can help prevent certain health issues and increase their lifespan. Consult with your veterinarian about the appropriate age for this procedure.
  • Keep their environment clean and safe: Ensure your Shih Tzu’s living space is clean, hazard-free, and comfortable, providing them with a secure and stress-free environment.
  • Socialize and train your Shih Tzu: A well-socialized and well-trained dog will be happier, more confident, and better equipped to cope with stress, potentially contributing to a longer lifespan.
  • Monitor for signs of aging and health issues: Be vigilant in watching for signs of aging or potential health problems, and consult your veterinarian if you have concerns.

Recognizing the Signs of Aging

As your Shih Tzu gets older, they will inevitably start showing signs of aging. Some of the common signs include:

  • Decreased energy levels and activity
  • Graying of the fur, particularly around the muzzle
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Slower reflexes and mobility
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Cloudy eyes or reduced vision
  • Hearing loss

Being aware of these signs can help you adapt your care routine and address any potential health issues early on.

Common Health Issues in Shih Tzus

While Shih Tzus are generally a healthy breed, they can be prone to certain health issues. Some of the most common include:

  • Brachycephalic syndrome: Shih Tzus have a flat face and short nose, which can lead to breathing difficulties, particularly during exercise or hot weather.
  • Hip dysplasia: This genetic condition affects the hip joint and can cause pain and arthritis in severe cases.
  • Patellar luxation: This condition occurs when the kneecap slides out of its normal position, causing discomfort or pain.
  • Eye issues: Shih Tzus are prone to various eye problems, such as dry eye, progressive retinal atrophy, and cataracts.
  • Dental issues: Due to their small mouths, Shih Tzus can experience overcrowding of teeth, leading to dental problems like gum disease and tooth decay.

Regular veterinary check-ups can help catch these issues early and minimize their impact on your Shih Tzu’s health and lifespan. The PetMD website provides additional information about these common health issues.

Caring for an Aging Shih Tzu

As your Shih Tzu ages, their needs may change, and it’s essential to adapt their care routine accordingly. Consider the following tips for caring for an aging Shih Tzu:

  • Adjust their diet: Older dogs may require a diet with different nutritional content to meet their changing needs. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations on senior dog food.
  • Modify their exercise routine: Older Shih Tzus may have reduced energy levels or mobility issues, requiring a gentler exercise routine. Shorter, less strenuous walks or playtime may be more suitable.
  • Provide joint support: Aging Shih Tzus may develop arthritis or joint pain. Provide them with a comfortable bed and consider adding joint supplements to their diet.
  • Monitor their dental health: Regular dental cleanings and at-home dental care become even more critical as your Shih Tzu ages, as they may be more prone to dental issues.
  • Schedule more frequent veterinary check-ups: Older dogs may need more frequent vet visits to monitor their health and address any age-related health issues.

In Conclusion

The lifespan of a Shih Tzu can vary, but with proper care, they can live long, healthy lives. By understanding the factors that affect their lifespan and following the tips provided in this guide, you can help ensure your Shih Tzu enjoys the best possible quality of life. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adapting your care routine as your dog ages will go a long way in supporting their overall health and well-being.

Remember to monitor your Shih Tzu for signs of aging and common health issues, and consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns. By being proactive in caring for your Shih Tzu, you can help them live a longer, happier life by your side.

For further information on Shih Tzus and their health, consider visiting reputable pet websites like AKC, PetMD, and VCA Hospitals. These resources can provide additional insights from pet experts and can help you make informed decisions about your Shih Tzu’s care.


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.