Lifespan Of A Shih-Tzu Dog: How Many Years Will They Live?

Shih Tzus are a prime example of the perfect family dog thanks to their gentle nature and small stature. They’re also exceptionally loveable and highly intelligent, too.

That being said, you may be curious about just how many years these adorable canines can live. A Shih Tzu will live for approximately 13 years.

However, other factors may affect the life expectancy of this adorable breed.

If you are a proud Shih Tzu owner or are thinking of bringing one into your life, and you want to know more about their lifespan, we’ve got you covered.

In this article you will find out more general information about Shih Tzus, their most common health problems, and lots of additional relevant information that can impact their overall lifespan.

Interesting Facts About the Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a loveable dog breed that is characterized by a squashed face, floppy ears, and perky temperaments.

Lifespan Of A Shih-Tzu Dog How Many Years Will They Live

But what else is there that makes these dogs stand out?

  • These dogs mature faster when compared against other dog breeds. And by 10 months of age, they are considered to be an adult.
  • The average lifespan can be anywhere from 12-16 years. But they become “old dogs” at around 10 years old.
  • They are also known by various nicknames including “teddy bear dog” and “toy dog.”
  • Shih Tzus are not only cute and lovable, but they’re also known to be very smart dogs. They love learning and are great in obedience classes.
  • Shih Tzus have an average height range of anywhere between 8-11 inches.
  • This dog breed has a typical weight range between 10–18 lb (4.5–8 kg). The adult dog is also of small size, and hence, their weight does not increase as much as other breeds.

Are They Good For Family Life?

Shih Tzus are outgoing, highly affectionate, loyal to a fault, and make for excellent family companions.

It is highly recommended for Shih Tzu owners to spend a lot of time in their home and socializing with their animals.

This is because they tend to thrive most when placed in comfortable social settings, or sat directly at your side.

Shih Tzus are thought of as being positive, intelligent, and friendly dogs with a very prominent sense of humor. They’re also very energetic which can be both a good and bad thing.

You should watch your dogs if they are playing with younger children as the breed doesn’t generally take kindly to roughhousing.

Though it’s rare to find a nasty or snappy Shih Tzu, they are very quick to express their emotions which can be a bit intimidating in the heat of the moment.

Shih Tzu puppies require large amounts of socialization as they are typically very distrustful of strangers. Instead, they prefer to face exposure to new people on their own terms.

Common Health Issues

If you’re a Shih Tzu owner then you’re probably aware that there are several key health complications that may influence the life expectancy of your dog.

Therefore, it’s vital that you look out for the signs to ensure that your dog is in good health.

Lifespan Of A Shih-Tzu Dog

Though not every single Shih Tzu dog will be diagnosed with these health issues in their lifetime, it is still in your best interest to know and remember that they could actually occur.

We have listed some of the most common illnesses below.

  • Canine Hip Dysplasia: One of the most common concerns associated with the Shih Tzu is canine hip dysplasia which occurs when a dog’s hip socket doesn’t develop properly. If your Shih Tzu dog does get this issue with their mobility, they might then experience arthritis and increased levels of pain and discomfort as a follow-up.
  • Hyperthyroidism: Your Shih Tzu may experience hypothyroidism which happens when your dog’s thyroid isn’t producing enough hormones. This can have a big effect on the metabolism of your dog and, more importantly, might also directly impact their organ functions.
  • Eye Diseases: Shih Tzu’s frequently develop eye diseases which can become detrimental to their health. For instance, they may have cataracts or develop dry eyes. In the worst case scenario, this may result in ulcers. However, as this issue continues to progress, your Shih Tzu may also end up losing their vision.
  • Conformational Defects: The shape of a dog’s body can become a distinct cause of health problems or conformational defects. Put simply, this occurs when at least one or more of the particular breed’s features are too large or too small. It then results in extreme and potentially life threatening complications. Some of these are very serious, as seen in the case of the Shih Tzu.

We’ll be taking a closer look into these conditions and complications below, along with some ways to increase the life expectancy of a Shih Tzu.

Most Common Causes Of Death

Health and genetics play a massive part in how many years your Shih Tzu will live for.

There are also more serious health problems you will need to be aware of, that typically account for more deaths in this breed than other breeds.

Some of the most common causes of death in this particular dog breed are:

  • Natural causes such (specifically old age)
  • Problems with the heart
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver Disease

It is unfortunate that a large majority of the dogs that contract the above diseases or health complications will likely die from them.

But if your dog is diagnosed with any of these conditions, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will definitely pass away.

Ways To Increase Your Shih-Tzu’s Lifespan

It may seem impossible but there are several steps you can take as a Shih Tzu owner to increase their overall lifespan.

Lifespan Of A Shih-Tzu Dog (1)

Find A Responsible Breeder

The most important thing that you can do is ensure you are purchasing a Shih Tzu from a responsible and respectable breeder, or adopting from a good rescue center.

A good breeder will have had both of the parents tested for any genetic health issues, and will then disclose the results to their prospective buyers.

The same thing applies to a good rescue practice; they should provide the relevant information if they are privy to it.

Take Them To The Vet

You should also regularly take your Shih Tzu to see the vet and get all the necessary vaccinations.

And, if you ever notice that your dog is exhibiting negative behaviors, then you should take them to get the opinion of a professional. This will increase the chances of getting treatment.

Limited Heat Exposure

It is also essential that your Shih Tzu dog is not exposed to extreme heat for long periods.

This is purely because this breed can be easily overheated which could result in extreme health issues and a loss of breath.

Meeting Daily Needs

Keeping up to date with your dog’s daily needs is also another great idea.

Taking your dog on frequent walks, giving them lots of love and attention, and providing them with a healthy and balanced lifestyle are also simple steps you can take to increase the lifespan of your Shih Tzu dog.

A Healthy Diet

A diet of dry food is best if you are looking to remove any build up of plaque. This can lead to tartar and other severe dental problems.

You will also need to regulate the food that your Shih Tzu consumes so that you can stop them from becoming overweight. To combat this, you need to put them on a consistent diet of measured food each day.

It’s best to completely avoid dog food that contains any of the following: corn, soy, and wheat. These can cause severe allergic reactions in some dog breeds and are generally quite difficult to digest.

It’s important for Shih Tzus as they are quite prone to developing food allergies.

Spay Or Neuter

Having your Shih Tzu spayed or neutered should be sorted out with a trusted veterinarian.

Surgery can be postponed if the female has weight or size issues until she is at least a year old, although it should realistically be completed as soon as possible.

Male Shih Tzus should be neutered at around the same age to prevent unhealthy habits from forming.

If you successfully do these things then you can comfortably expect your dog to have a longer lifespan with you and your family.

So, How Long Do Shih Tzus Live?

Shih Tzus have an average life span of 13 years.

There are some cases of Shih Tzus living for a much longer time period than this (up to 23 years in one famous case) and there are also others who have lived for much shorter periods of time.

Shih Tzus are very independent dogs that tend to thrive in a large variety of environments. However, because of their independent natures, they aren’t considered to be one of the most obedient dog breeds.

They also require a lot of time and attention to thrive and live a long, happy, and healthy life.


On average, Shih Tzus have a surprisingly longer life expectancy than some larger dog breeds. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be prone to health complications which could reduce their lifespan by a significant amount.

As Shih Tzu owners, it’s probably in your pet’s best interest to have adequate pet insurance for your beloved canine in case anything goes wrong. It’s also very important to ensure that your dog gets enough exercise each day.

They are generally quite small dogs and won’t require a lot of exercise time, but they still need to be kept active and put on a healthy diet to live longer.

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