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Why Do Shih Tzus Snort: (When It’s a Bad Sign)

Something that often leaves Shih Tzu owners puzzled is their snorting. If you’ve ever wondered why your Shih Tzu snorts, you’re in the right place.

In this comprehensive article, I will cover everything you need to know about this behavior, including the reasons behind it and any potential health implications.

In this article:

  1. Understanding the Shih Tzu’s Anatomy
  2. Common Reasons for Snorting
  3. When it Could Indicate Something Bad
  4. How to Help Your Snorting Shih Tzu
  5. When to Seek Veterinary Help

Understanding the Shih Tzu’s Anatomy

Before we delve into the reasons for snorting, it’s essential to understand the Shih Tzu’s unique anatomy.

As a brachycephalic breed, Shih Tzus have a shorter and flatter facial structure compared to other dogs. This physical trait affects their nasal passages, making them more prone to snorting.

The Shih Tzu’s nasal passages are shorter and narrower, which can cause airflow resistance and create snorting sounds. Additionally, their elongated soft palate may partially block the airway, contributing to the snorting noise.

4 Common Reasons for Snorting

While snorting may seem concerning at first, it’s typically a normal behavior for Shih Tzus. Here are some common reasons your furry friend might snort:

A. Reverse Sneezing

Reverse sneezing is a common phenomenon among Shih Tzus and other brachycephalic breeds. It occurs when the dog rapidly inhales air through the nose, creating a snorting or honking sound. This can be triggered by various factors, such as excitement, allergies, or irritants like dust and pollen.

B. Playfulness and Excitement

Shih Tzus are an energetic and playful breed. When they get excited or engage in play, they may snort due to rapid breathing or panting. This is typically harmless and just a sign that your dog is having fun.

C. Sniffing and Exploration

Dogs use their noses to explore their environment, and Shih Tzus are no exception. When your dog is sniffing around, they may inhale more air than usual, leading to a snorting sound. This behavior is entirely normal and part of your dog’s natural curiosity.

D. Stress or Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can cause some dogs to snort as a way of coping. If you notice your Shih Tzu snorting more frequently in stressful situations, it might be their way of expressing discomfort.

Here’s an interest video about canine reverse sneezing

When Snorting Could Mean Something Worse

While snorting is generally harmless, there are some health implications associated with this behavior in Shih Tzus. These include:

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

As previously mentioned, Shih Tzus’ facial structure can make them more susceptible to airway issues. Brachycephalic airway syndrome is a group of conditions that affect the upper airways, including stenotic nares (narrow nostrils), elongated soft palate, and everted laryngeal saccules. These issues can cause snorting and may require veterinary intervention.


Allergies can also cause snorting in Shih Tzus. Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to various environmental factors, including pollen, mold, dust, and certain foods. If your dog’s snorting is accompanied by other symptoms like itching, red eyes, or sneezing, allergies could be the culprit.

Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections, such as kennel cough or canine influenza, can lead to snorting, coughing, and other respiratory symptoms. If your Shih Tzu’s snorting is accompanied by a fever, lethargy, or loss of appetite, it’s crucial to consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

How to Help Your Snorting Shih Tzu

If your Shih Tzu’s snorting is causing concern, there are several things you can do to help:

A. Keep Their Environment Clean

Minimize exposure to allergens and irritants by regularly cleaning your home, using air purifiers, and avoiding strong scents, such as air fresheners or candles. Make sure your Shih Tzu’s bedding is clean and free of dust or allergens.

B. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Obesity can exacerbate snorting and respiratory issues in Shih Tzus. Ensure your dog maintains a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.

C. Manage Stress and Anxiety

If your Shih Tzu’s snorting is stress-related, try to identify and minimize the triggers. This may include providing a safe space for your dog to retreat to during stressful events, using calming supplements, or consulting a professional dog trainer for guidance on managing anxiety.

D. Use a Harness Instead of a Collar

Collars can put pressure on your Shih Tzu’s trachea and exacerbate snorting. Opt for a harness instead to distribute the pressure evenly across their body and reduce the risk of respiratory issues.

When to Seek Veterinary Help

While snorting is generally normal for Shih Tzus, it’s essential to monitor your dog’s behavior and seek veterinary help when necessary. Here are some signs that it’s time to consult a veterinarian:

  • Persistent or excessive snorting
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Coughing, wheezing, or gagging
  • Bluish gums or tongue
  • Fever, lethargy, or loss of appetite

Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose any underlying health issues and recommend the appropriate treatment to ensure your Shih Tzu’s well-being.


In summary, snorting is a common behavior among Shih Tzus due to their unique facial structure and anatomy.

While it’s typically harmless, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your dog’s overall health and seek veterinary help if you notice any concerning symptoms.

With proper care, your snorting Shih Tzu can lead a happy, healthy life by your side.


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.