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Shih Tzu Life Span: How Long Do They Live?

Shih Tzu Life Span: How Long Do They Live?

Are you wondering what a Shih Tzu life span is? If you own or want to call a little Shih Tzu your own, you are lucky, because the playful four-legged friend has a life expectancy of 10-16 years. So these dogs are among the longer living dog breeds. But this is just the average Shih Tzu life span. Some live longer and some, sadly, much shorter.

There are even some breed representatives who have been loyal to their owners for up to 18 years. That’s almost two decades!

Shih Tzu life span — How long do they live?

Smaller dogs usually live much longer than the large or particularly heavy conspecifics of other breeds. However, the ratio of height and weight should not be ignored.

Because an obese dog will rarely reach an old age.

The difference in the lifespan of the different breeds is often explained by physical and psychological development. A Shih Tzu, which is just 25-27 cm tall, quickly reaches its final size and mental maturity.

Due to the rapid growth of the large dogs, the aging process begins earlier. In addition, a study has shown that smaller breeds have a special gene called IGF 1. This gene can positively influence the aging process and lead to higher life expectancy.

Life expectancy of a Shih Tzu

As a holder, you have a significant influence on a long, healthy and species-appropriate life of your four-legged friend.
As can be seen from the quite wide range of 10-16 years. But there are big differences in the actual life expectancy of the Shih Tzus. As a holder, you have a significant influence on a long, healthy and species-appropriate life of your four-legged friend.

Breeders can also influence the life expectancy of this breed and should pay special attention to breeding selection.

That’s why reputable kennels only mate healthy parents without genetic hereditary diseases and attach more importance to health than to a flawless appearance.

So a good reason to avoid multipliers and only acquire a Shih Tzu from responsible breeders.

How can I positively influence the Shih Tzu life span?


In addition to the mandatory walks, you should offer the Shih Tzu daily opportunities to romp and play. This keeps the little dog fit and makes it less susceptible to diseases. Adjust the degree of movement to the age of the dog.

A young Shih Tzu needs more employment than a little senior who likes it more cozy and slower. Nevertheless, exercise is still an absolute must in old age to stay fit.

Because many seniors suffer from unwillingness to move, which is often accompanied by obesity, which can make each other worse. Although the urge to run and play generally decreases a little in old age, senior Shih Tzu still likes to eat a lot, which leads to obesity. A fat dog, on the other hand, loses the fun of movement.

In addition to sufficient physical activity, mental stress is also beneficial for well-being and has a positive effect on well-being and health.


When buying food in the pet shop, attentive owners already see differences in the needs of the different age groups. There you will find special food for puppies, young dogs, adult dogs and seniors. From this, it can be deduced that the energy demand changes with age and feed composition also plays an important role.

When feeding, also pay attention to the individual needs of your Shih Tzus. With the above-mentioned unwillingness to exercise but a good appetite, you should provide low-calorie food.

If, on the other hand, the dog eats less than usual, but still likes to move a lot, you should resort to a particularly high-quality product that contains few to no fillers and provides sufficient energy.

Medical care

Take the vaccination appointments and protect your darling from dangerous and often fatal diseases.

Castration of the bitch before or after the first heat can significantly reduce the risk of mammalian tumors and uterine diseases. Both sexes also live on average 1-2 years longer than uncastrated conspecifics after castration. However, this statement is not sufficiently substantiated.
As soon as your dog reaches senior age, you should not only visit the veterinary practice in case of abnormalities, but also go to annual preventive examinations. The veterinarian can treat diseases faster and more specifically with early detection and the chances of recovery or a complete recovery are quite good even with breed-typical diseases. Even signs of aging of the Shih Tzu can often be mitigated or at least treated by the veterinarian and ensure a longer and above all pleasant and symptom-free life.

Even various cancers can be combated more successfully if they are diagnosed in good time and at the initial stage.

Check the mouth of the Shih Tzus regularly for inflammation and especially tartar. Discarded by many as a trifle, however, this not only causes problems or even pain in food intake, but in the worst case can even lead to liver damage, kidney failure or even cardiovascular problems. That’s why the Shih Tzu care is so important!

How do I know that my Shih Tzu is ageing?

The aging process is often slow and creeping and many signs of aging do not occur together, but a little delayed. But what are the signs that the Shih Tzu is getting old so slowly?

Reduced efficiency

This is often one of the first indications that the dog is slowly getting old. Its performance and concentration is waning and little Shih Tzu is exhausted faster than before. Although he still likes to walk and play, the workload should be adapted to the aging Shih Tzu to avoid overexertion.

Longer rest periods

The Shih Tzu is no longer as active as it used to be and prefers its warm place in the basket or on the sofa. In addition to extended rest periods, the dog now sleeps longer and you may now have to wake him up for a morning walk, although it used to be more the other way around.

The senses are getting worse

Senior Shih Tzu sometimes hears worse and is therefore easily frightened when he is touched unexpectedly. Therefore, draw his attention to yourself before you take him up or want to deal with him. Eyesight can also decrease and some dogs go blind even in old age.

Adaptability subsides

Long car trips, strange environments, animals and people, loud noises, climate changes: All this and more, the dog no longer puts away so well in old age. He can no longer adapt to new situations as well and easily as he used to be and may be irritated or overwhelmed faster. Older dogs are also often more impatient and also react more sensitively to health to changes.

Fur changes

In old age, the hair dress often becomes shaggy and dull. This is perfectly normal and does not have to worry you as a holder.


Diseases and age-related aches and pains may now occur. These include stiff joints, lameness, already decreased hearing, eye problems, hereditary diseases, etc. Incontinence should also be mentioned here, as some dogs suffer from it in old age. Go out more often (but shorter) with the Shih Tzu to counteract the problem, create a place to solve in the house (newspaper, puppy documents, litter box, shower) or use special dog diapers from the specialist shop.
If my Shih Tzu has to cross the rainbow bridge

What happens when my dog dies?

At some point, unfortunately, your Shih Tzu also has to cross the rainbow bridge!

Farewell is always difficult. For many, the Shih Tzu is a full family member and the death of the beloved animal is a serious blow.

Since only a few four-legged friends are allowed to die naturally and, for example, fall asleep forever in the basket, many owners have to take the difficult walk to the veterinary practice.

In addition, some owners do not even know what should or can happen to the small dog after death. Dog owners have the following options:

The dog remains in practice and is later picked up by the carcass disposal. The animals that died in practice are then usually burned for disease protection reasons.

Especially in larger veterinary clinics, it is sometimes asked whether the dead dog can be used as a practice object for research purposes or for students.

For many dog owners, the first two variants are out of the question and the beloved four-legged friend is taken home and buried in the home garden. Since the Shih Tzu is a small dog, this is easily possible. Important prerequisite for burial at home: The property must not be located in a water conservation area. For most owners, this is the most dignified and personal way to say goodbye.
If you don’t have a garden, you can also have your dog buried in an animal cemetery. There is usually the choice between an urn grave (after cremation) or a normal grave with coffin. If you like, you can also take your dog’s ashes home or sprinkle them in a beautiful place.

My name is Katy and I am 27. I love to travel and you would be surprised how good I am at karaoke. 🙂 Passionate dog lover and a "mother" to a beautiful toy puddle named Zara. I work as a volunteer in a local shelter and I am a veterinary assistant helping our four-legged friends every day.