Shih Tzu Chihuahua dogs are probably as cute as a crossbreed can get. They are tiny dogs with huge personalities. They are a great choice for people living in smaller places, or for folks that don’t have the time to exercise with their pets for two hours every day. It’s no wonder that these Chihuahua mixes are so popular! Thanks to the personality traits of their Shih Tzu parents, they are calmer than the average Chi, but they can still have a stubborn streak. We have already talked about the personality of this breed, and what you have to know before adopting a ShiChi. But what is the lifespan of a Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix, and what are the possible health issues that this small breed could experience?
Before getting yourself a dog, lifespan and potential health issues are two things that you have to seriously consider. First of all, you have to be aware of the potential disorders that your dog could develop so that you can recognize the symptoms and help your dog get an early diagnosis. But lifespan is important too. After all, you want to get a general idea about how long your dog may stay by your side. So if you are considering adopting one of these adorable puppies, and you want to prepare yourself for all the potential things that could happen to your dog, then keep on reading.
What is the lifespan of a Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix?
Because both parent dog breeds, the Chihuahua and the Shih Tzu, have long lifespans, their mixed breed will too. On average, the ShiChi dog lives from 12 to 15 years. Pretty impressive, right? In case you are a newbie in the canine world, and you aren’t aware of it, smaller dog breeds usually live longer than larger ones. That’s because large dog breeds “age faster”, and therefore die younger. However, the lifespan of your dog depends on so many more things than their breed. So let’s see what plays a role in how long your dog lives, and if there is anything that you can do as a dog owner to help them live longer.
What affects the lifespan of a dog?
As we have already explained, there is a lot that has a say in how long your dog lives. The first one, that you don’t have any control over, is your dog’s DNA. The second one is your dog’s lifestyle. Both of these factors are important and can have a huge effect on how long your dog stays by your side. Of course, there are also other factors that determine their lifespan, like accidents. But we will not go over that in this article.
No matter how much we want to deny that, our genes control a huge part of our lives. And it’s not too different for our dogs as well. If your dog inherits a hereditary illness, chances are that he will live shorter. While there isn’t a way to control that with your existing dogs, we would highly encourage all future dog owners to always buy their puppies from a reputable breeder. Reputable breeders will do the much-needed health testings, and ensure that their dogs are as healthy as possible. Sure, they do charge more than a puppy mill or backyard breeders, but that extra money will be so well worth it in the end!
Now, let’s talk a bit about lifestyle. You have the privilege to decide what your lifestyle will be like. What you are going to eat, how much you will exercise, basically how you are spending your days. But our dogs completely rely on us. You have to be a responsible dog owner and make sure that all of your dog’s needs are met. Is he getting all the nutrients that he needs? Is he going on daily walks? How about his water intake, do you always have fresh water for him out? These little things have a huge impact on your dog’s health and therefore his life expectancy.
Things you can do to prolong the lifespan of your pet
There are so many things that you as a dog owner can to do ensure your dog lives as long as possible. While we are the ones who are responsible for our own lifestyle, our precious pets completely depend on us. When adopting any animal, you have to be aware of the responsibilities that come with it. Those include making sure your dog eats healthy, gets enough activity, but also visits the vet regularly. Those are just the basic needs that every dog has, but let’s not forget about the additional grooming, training, and mental stimulation that every dog needs.
One incredibly important thing that every dog owner has to do is take his dog to the vet on a regular basis. In order to successfully treat the health problems that these dogs are prone to, the issues have to be diagnosed on time. The only way to do that is by taking your dog to the vet regularly. So even if your dog does end up with an illness, there will be different treatment options available. There isn’t one condition where an early diagnosis wouldn’t be beneficial. So make sure you take those annual vet visits seriously.
What are the most common health issues in this breed?
Do you know what hybrid vigor is? It’s a fancy scientific term that basically describes how outbreeding can improve the genes of different living organisms, dogs included. That would mean that crossbreed dogs are healthier than their purebred parent breeds. And often, that really is the case. Chihuahuas and Shih Tzus are already known as two very healthy breeds, so it’s no surprise that their offspring is too. However, that doesn’t mean that ShiChi dogs can’t get sick at all. In fact, these pups are prone to a number of different health problems. Here are the most common ones.
Patellar luxation is one of the most common orthopedic health problems in dogs. The patella, or kneecap, is one of the bones that form the knee joint. It’s especially common in bow-legged dogs, however, it can happen in any breed. It is a hereditary condition, which underlines how important it is to buy from reputable breeders who screen their dogs and puppies. However, it can also happen as a result of injury to the knee, but that is much less common.
Symptoms of this condition include limping, pain, swelling, and loss of mobility. Patellar luxation comes in 4 grades, with the third and fourth grades being considered severe PL, and needing surgical treatment. The first and second grades, or mild PL, can be treated with exercise or physical therapy. If you notice any of the listed symptoms in your dog, make sure you make an appointment with the veterinarian as soon as possible.
The ShiChi dog is a small canine, being less than 10 inches tall. Ideally, they shouldn’t weigh more than 12 lbs. However, many owners have a tendency to overfeed their dogs. That causes weight gain, and eventually, obesity. Obesity can cause a number of other health problems, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and joint problems. Remember that because of their small size, it’s especially easy for these dogs to gain weight.
We know that it’s hard to say no to your dog, especially when he looks at you with those adorable puppy eyes. However, our dogs don’t know what is best for them. We are the ones who are supposed to take care of our pets. So make sure you don’t give your dog more food than he actually needs, especially when you own a breed that doesn’t need that much exercise, like the ShiChi.
While the eye problems that these dogs are prone to won’t shorten their lifespan, they can have a huge impact on the quality of your dog’s life. How so? Well, it will be much more difficult for your dog to move around the house, and walking through the part will be a lot more challenging as well. However, that doesn’t mean that a blind dog can’t live a happy and fulfilling life. The most common one is keratoconjunctivitis sicca, commonly known as dry eye. The eyes of your dog produce less fluid than normal, causing discomfort and itching. Others include corneal ulcers and eye infections.
This is a condition that ShiChi dogs inherit from their Shih Tzu parents. Shih Tzus are a brachycephalic dog breed, which means that their snouts are shorter than normal. That makes it difficult for them to breathe, and causes respiratory problems. These problems are especially prevalent when dogs are found in a hot climate, or when they are doing exercise. However, not every dog will suffer from this condition. For example, if your dog takes more after his Chihuahua parent, his breathing will be fine. This will depend on the physical traits of your toy dog, so make sure you take note when buying a puppy.
Hypoglycemia, commonly known as low blood sugar, is a common condition in small dog breeds, such as the Chihuahua or Shih Tzu. So it’s no surprise that the ShiChi is prone to this disorder as well. Hypoglycemia can occur after heavy exercise, excitement, or if your puppy misses a meal. Symptoms include lethargy, weakness, seizures, twitching, or even coma. Dogs with hypoglycemia should be given sugar water or an oral concentrated solution of glucose. This is a medical emergency, and you should act right away.
There are ways to prevent this condition. Because of their low body mass, the blood sugar of these dogs can drop very quickly. To avoid that, you have to make sure that your dog eats small but frequent meals. As we have already explained, it’s important not to overfeed your dog. But giving your dogs more frequent meals throughout the day will make it easier for their petite bodies to control their blood sugar.
How to prevent these health conditions
Some of the listed conditions are easily preventable. Like hypoglycemia and obesity. All you have to do is take care of your dog’s diet and nutrition. Most dogs are huge foodies and they love to eat, however, we have to be responsible and make sure that they only eat the amount that they really need, and that their diet is healthy and nutritious. Other conditions can’t be prevented, but they can be treated successfully, especially when diagnosed early on.
Dry eye can be treated with simple medications, but you have to take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice any changes in his eyes. Patellar luxation is a hereditary condition, and if your dog is carrying this gene, it’s also important that the condition is diagnosed as early as possible. In its early stages, PL can be treated with exercise. However, severe cases require surgery. When it comes to breathing issues, it’s a bit tricky and depends on your dog’s physical characteristics. But even if your dog does end up with a short snout, it will be manageable with keeping him in a cool place and avoiding excessive exercise.
Conclusion: Are Shih Tzu Chihuahua mixes healthy dogs?
In conclusion, the Shih Tzu Chihuahua mix is in fact a healthy dog. But that doesn’t mean that he will be the right dog for you. As we have already explained, in order to keep these canines healthy, you have to provide them with a healthy lifestyle and proper care. Even though they don’t have the high exercise needs like larger breeds, don’t fool yourself into thinking that he is a low-maintenance breed. They still need a little bit of activity every day, in the form of two short walks. As we have already explained, they don’t need too much food, but they need healthy and nutritious food. They also need regular training sessions filled with positive reinforcement, early socialization, and regular grooming.
Don’t forget that these tiny dogs are also very gentle, so if you have small children at home they probably wouldn’t be the best choice. Rough play just isn’t something that they enjoy. Young children often don’t understand how to handle the small size of these canines, and they see them more as toys than actual animals. But other than that, the Chihuahua Shih Tzu breed would make a great companion for many different families that are on the lookout for a very small dog. They make great apartment dogs as well, and thanks to their average lifespan, there is a high possibility that these adorable creatures will be by your side for a long time.