What is the Lifespan of a Shih Tzu Breed: Puppy and Adult Life Expectancy.

Life span of Shih Tzu

There is good news and bad news when it comes to the lifespan of a Shih Tzu. The good news is that, on average, Shih Tzus live 14-18 years. The bad news is that many things can shorten their life expectancy, from health problems to accidents. This article will look at all aspects of the Shih Tzu lifespan – from how long they typically live as puppies and adults to what causes them to have a short life and how you can keep them healthy.

shih tzu grooming1 1

What is the lifespan of a Shih Tzu breed?

The Shih Tzu is a dog with a 14 to 18 years lifespan. They are considered a toy breed and typically weigh between 9 and 16 pounds.

Update: I conducted a Facebook survey on one of my Shih Tzu groups. Because there were only 500 participants, this isn’t really representative of the Shih Tzu breed as a whole. But here’s what I discovered:

  • The oldest living Shih Tzu in the group was 21 years old.
  • There were three nineteen-year-olds.
  • The average age of Shih Tzus in that group was 16 years.

My 13-year-old Shih Tzu is in excellent health and weighs 14 pounds. He still has a lot of energy. I walk him twice, sometimes three times a day. However, I’ve noticed that he’s growing weary on long walks lately, so I’ll limit it to two short strolls each day.

While many factors can affect the lifespan of any individual dog, several things can impact the life expectancy of a Shih Tzu dog specifically.

The Shih Tzu life span is relatively long compared to other small dog breeds. The average lifespan of a toy dog breed is 11 years, while that of large dog breeds is around 13 years.

Shih Tzu old hair

What are the leading causes of death for puppy Shih Tzus and adults?

One leading cause of death for Shih Tzus is cancer. Cancerous tumors can develop in any part of the body, but lymphoma is the most common type of cancer found in Shih Tzus.

Lymphoma is cancer that forms in the lymph nodes and can spread to other organs. Symptoms of lymphoma in dogs include weight loss, lethargy, and swollen lymph nodes.

Another leading cause of death for Shih Tzus is heart disease. Heart disease can be congenital, which is present at birth or acquired later in life.

The most common type of congenital heart disease found in Shih Tzus is pulmonic stenosis, narrowing the pulmonic valve. This condition can be detected with a heart murmur and often requires surgery to correct.

Acquired heart disease is most often caused by high blood pressure, leading to congestive heart failure. Signs of congestive heart failure include coughing, weakness, and difficulty breathing.

Shih Tzu outdoor2

Shih Tzu puppy

Puppy Shih Tzus can die from various causes, but the most common is cancer. Cancerous tumors can develop in any part of the body, but the most common type of cancer in Shih Tzus is lymphoma and bone cancer. Another leading cause of death for Shih Tzus is heart disease. Heart disease can be congenital, which is present at birth or acquired later in life.

Older Shih Tzu

Heart disease is one of the most common causes of death in adult Shih Tzus. High blood pressure and congestive heart failure are examples of factors that can trigger it. Heart disease is a severe condition that can be fatal if not treated, so it is vital to be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Another leading cause of death for Shih Tzus is cancer. Cancer can develop in any part of the body, but lymphoma is the most common type of cancer found in Shih Tzus. Lymphoma is a serious type of cancer that can spread to other organs and cause death if not treated.

As your Shih Tzu ages, it is crucial to keep an eye on any health issues they might develop and be aware of any changes. If you notice any of the signs or symptoms mentioned above, be sure to get the proper treatment with your vet ASAP.

shih Tzu old

What are some signs that your dog is dying?

One of the most challenging things about losing a pet is knowing when to say goodbye.

When a dog is nearing the end of its life, there are several signs that owners can look for. One of the most common signs is a loss of appetite.

As dogs age, they often lose interest in food and may stop eating altogether. Another common sign is higher lethargy. Older dogs usually sleep more than they did when they were younger and may struggle to get up or move around.

In addition, many dying dogs experience changes in their bathroom habits. They may start urinating or defecating inside the house, even if they are house-trained.

How can you keep your Shih Tzu dog healthy?

There are several things that owners can do to help their Shih Tzu live a healthy life:

1- Feeding them a high-quality diet: A healthy diet is vital for all dogs, but it is significant for Shih Tzus. They are prone to developing obesity, so it is important to avoid foods high in fat and calories. Carrying excess weight can lead to additional problems, especially joint and back pain, or exacerbate already present conditions.

Instead, feed them a diet rich in protein and low in fat. Many commercially available diets are designed explicitly for Shih Tzus.

In addition, make sure to give them plenty of fresh water to drink.

Shih Tzu in bed

2- Brushing their teeth regularly: Good oral hygiene is important for all dogs, but it is crucial for Shih Tzus. They are prone to dental problems, so you must brush their teeth regularly.

There are many commercially available toothpaste and brushes specifically designed for dogs.

In addition, you can give them dental chews and treats to help keep their teeth clean.

3- Cleaning their ears regularly: Shih Tzus are also prone to developing ear infections. Many commercially available ear cleaners are specifically designed for dogs.

In addition, you can use a cotton ball soaked in warm water to gently clean the inside of your Shih Tzu ears.

4- Taking them on regular walks or runs: Exercise is essential for all dogs, but it is especially important for Shih Tzu’s health. They are prone to becoming overweight; help them maintain a healthy weight.

One way to do this is by taking them on regular walks or runs. Or you can invest in a dog treadmill.

In addition, you can give them toys and play with them to help them stay active.

5- Getting them annual checkups and vaccinations: Take your Shih Tzu to the vet for an annual checkup. Regular vet visits will ensure they are healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations.

6-Regular grooming: Shih Tzus require regular grooming to maintain their health and appearance. They should be brushed daily and bathed as needed.

In addition, you should get them spayed or neutered if you have not already done so. This will help to prevent them from developing certain health problems.

What health problems does Shih Tzus have?

We’ve had our sweet Shih Tzu for almost 13 years now. We have never had any significant health issues with him, thankfully. He’s been a healthy dog. The only problem is that he has been vomiting more frequently lately.

Shih Tzus’ most frequent health issues, based on our regular vet visits and talking with other Shih Tzu parents, include:


Shih Tzus are prone to allergies, affecting their quality of life. Symptoms include sneezing, itchy skin, and ear infections. You can treat allergies with medication or a special diet.

Related read: Best dog shampoo for Shih Tzus with allergies.

Ear infections

Ear infections are a common problem for Shih Tzus. They can be caused by allergies, excessive earwax, or a foreign object in the ear canal.

Respiratory problems

Shih Tzus are prone to respiratory problems, which can be caused by allergies, excessive hair in the nose and throat, or a foreign object in the airway. Symptoms of respiratory problems include coughing, wheezing, and labored breathing.

Older Shih Tzus can have trouble breathing and tire easily, so keep an eye on them while walking or jogging.

Dental issues

Dental problems are also common in Shih Tzus. They can be caused by bacteria, tartar build-up, or a lack of tooth enamel. Symptoms of dental problems include bad breath, drooling, and reluctance to eat hard food. You can treat dental problems with a special diet, dental cleaning solution, or antibiotics.

Shih Tzu outdoor
Dental problems are common in Shih Tzus.

Eye problems

A Shih Tzu’s eyes are often very expressive. What you see in their eyes reflects what they are feeling and thinking. However, Shih Tzus are also prone to eye diseases and disorders, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and progressive retinal atrophy. Symptoms of eye problems include redness, tearing, and swelling.

Shih Tzu old eyes

Shih Tzus can also suffer from more severe health conditions such as:

Congenital heart defects

Liver shunts

Kidney stones

Hip dysplasia

Luxating patellas

Intervertebral disc disease

While many of these health problems can be controlled or managed with proper care, they can still shorten your Shih Tzu’s lifespan. That’s why keeping your Shih Tzu dog healthy throughout life is essential.

What traits does Shih Tzus have that affect their lifespan?

There are several traits that Shih Tzus have that can affect their lifespan. These include:

  • Their small size: Smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger dogs. They generally don’t have as many health problems and therefore don’t require as much medical care.
  • Their long life expectancy: The average lifespan of a Shih Tzu is 12-16 years. This is longer than the average lifespan of most other dog breeds.
  • Their happy and loving nature: Shih Tzus are known for its content and caring nature. They are often very attached to their owners and enjoy being around people. This can help them to live a long and happy life.
  • Their high intelligence: Shih Tzus are one of the most intelligent dog breeds, meaning they can learn new skills quickly. This means they may keep their minds busy and sharp, allowing them to live longer.
  • Lastly, their need for exercise: Shih Tzus need to get plenty of activities, to keep them healthy and prevent them from becoming overweight or obese.
Shih Tzu old bottom


The Shih Tzu is a small breed with an average life expectancy of 12-16 years, making them one of the longest living breeds. What can shorten their lifespan are health problems such as allergies and respiratory issues or more serious conditions like congenital heart defects, liver shunts, kidney stones, hip dysplasia, and luxating patellas.

To help your Shih Tzu live a long and healthy life, take them to the vet for regular check-ups, keep them up to date on their vaccinations, and give them plenty of exercise. Proper care and attention will go a long way in ensuring that your Shih Tzu lives a long and happy life.

What steps do you take to ensure your Shih Tzu will live a long and healthy life? Let us know in the comments below!

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