Shih Tzu Lifespan

Shih Tzu Life Span

The shih tzu lifespan is like most other small dogs. Typically, a shih tzu will live from 12 to 16 years of age with the average being around 14. The oldest shih tzu who ever lived was a dog named Smokey who managed to reach the age of 23. A shih tzu will become a senior dog when they reach ten years old, sometimes a little earlier depending on how long their parents and grandparents lived. 

However, there is no exact number as their lifespan will depend on several factors. If you are thinking about getting a shih tzu, especially one that is getting up there in years, then you will need to factor their age into your consideration.

Health Issues

Shih tzus are healthy dogs for the most part with no more issues that most other breeds. However, they do have some inherent problems that must be addressed early if you want them to live a full, happy life. If these problems develop, it will affect the quality and their lifespan


Not surprising since back issues are the most common ailment in humans. A shih tzu is more vulnerable to back issues compared to many other breeds because of their short legs and long spine. One of the more trouble conditions is when a disc in the back slips and presses against the spinal column. This is known as Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVD)

IVD may be mild, causing some irritation and muscle spasms. But it may also be severe, causing paralysis in some cases that requires surgery.


Because some shih tzus are born with small nasal passages, they may have some issues with breathing properly, especially after playing or walking. A more serious issue is if their trachea collapses which may press against their windpipe.

Excessive snoring is a big sign that something is wrong. Breathing issues can be spotted quickly and should be addressed by a trip to the vet.


Because many shih tzus have shallow eye sockets, they are more prone to eye issues that may lead to blindness. The eyeball coming out of the eye socket can occur, which will require an emergency visit to the vet to fix.

Since many eye issues start off rather subtle, you should take notice right away and get your pooch to the vet.


The two most common joint issues for shih tzus are patellar luxation, where the kneecap may pop out of place. And hip dysplasia, where the thigh bone moves out of the pelvis. Such conditions often develop in their early years when they jump higher or land harder than they should.

If the case is not severe, then the dog may get around with a limp and only need pain medication. However, in more severe cases surgery may be required.

Teeth & Ears:

Both dental and hearing issues are common with all dog breeds. You will need to clean their ears and check their teeth regularly. Because shih tzus are low to the ground, they tend to pick up more dust and dirt compared to taller breeds of dogs. So, you should clean their ears once per week if they play outdoors. Or, check their ears regularly if they are indoors.

Hard dog food goes a long way towards keep their teeth and gums healthy. But they still may need brushing to ensure that gum disease does not develop. Keep in mind that poor gum health may lead to serious complications as diseases can enter their bloodstream. Check their teeth regularly and brush when needed to avoid gum disease.

Shih Tzu life expectancy

How Your Shih Tzu Can Live Longer

There are things you can do to ensure that your shih tzu lives a long, healthy life. The first step is to take your dog to the vet for a check-up. Just like humans, shih tzus need to be looked over to ensure that they are not facing any health issues before you start them on a new diet or exercise routine.

  • Walk your dog daily
  • Play with your dog daily
  • Include your dog in family activities
  • Create a special place for your dog
  • Call your vet if you spot any issues with your shih tzu

Remember that not every health issue requires checking with your vet, only the ones that have a pattern that lasts for more than a few days. By doing these things, you can help ensure that your shih tzu lives as long as they can while being as happy as possible.

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