As with humans who have an ideal weight range, so too do dogs. The shih tzu is no exception as they have an ideal weight range for their size. By keeping your shih tzu within that range, you help them live longer and happier lives.
An adult shih tzu should weigh from eight to twenty pounds. This can vary depending on the overall height and size of the dog, but for the most part staying within a twelve pound range offers the right balance. It should be noted that per the American Kennel Club breed standards is from nine to sixteen pounds, but that is concerning shih tzus in conformation events.
Keep in mind that the range may be adjusted depending on the overall height and the ability of your dog to carry weight. Just like humans, what may be overweight for one dog might be well within the healthy range for another.
How Shih Tzus Grow
As with the toy breeds, small breeds like the shih tzus tend to become fully grown within the first year. For most shih tzus, the height and weight they reach by the time they are ten months old is about how big they will grow. There are exceptions in which some will add a slight amount of weight or height at the twelve or even the fifteen month stage.
Although there is no ideal weight chart that applies to all shih tzus, it can be stated that by the end of four weeks a shih tzu puppy will be at 10% of their adult weight. This is a good time to weigh your shih tzu to get a rough estimate of what they will weigh when fully grown. Because they are small dogs, they will achieve their full size faster compared to larger breeds.
The most essential part of the variations is found in the genes. So, if the previous four or five generations the average weight was ten pounds for a male adult shih tzu, then current member of that generation should be within a pound or so of that ideal weight. The variations in the weight of a shih tzu will fall under these factors.
- Activity Level
- Consumption of Food
- Calorie Density of the Food
- Feeding Times
Breeding: The effects of breeding on the weight of the shih tzu is controlled by the breeders. If the market for smaller shih tzus becomes popular, then the attempt is made to breed smaller dogs until they are produced. However, breeding larger shih tzus is generally performed when they need to be healthier and stronger.
Of note is the toy or “Imperial” shih tzu. Despite the name Imperial, this does not denote a singular bloodline. Instead, it is simply a term applied to a shih tzu which is below normal height and weight such as seven to six pounds for example. This means that they will grow quickly to their full height and weight but may encounter some health issues because of their small size.
Activity Level: A shih tzu that sits all day is more vulnerable to carrying extra weight compared to one that is running around and using energy. This is true for humans as well as shih tzus. Once they have passed the puppy stage, their activity level will start to drop over time. In addition, any health-related issue such as arthritis may also decrease their activity level.
You should schedule a walk, playtime, or both with your shih tzu to ensure that they food they consume does not turn into unwanted fat.
Food Consumption: On average, a typical adult shih tzu will consume from 400 to 500 calories per day. This is based on consuming 40 to 50 calories per one pound of body weight. For example, a ten-pound shih tzu that consumes 500 calories a day will maintain their weight.
The more a shih tzu eats, the more likely they are to put on extra weight. However, this does depend on their activity level. Again, just like humans a shih tzu that is quite active may consume more food and yet remain at a health weight if they get plenty of exercise.
Calorie Density: This is an often-overlooked aspect for many dog owners. It is why checking the food for its calorie content is so important. Most dog food will state how many calories per cup that it contains. Use that to base your measurements of how much to feed them every day.
Plus, if you feed your shih tzu treats or scraps from the table, that adds to their calorie consumption as well. Be sure to include that in your calculations.
If your shih tzu is either losing or gaining weight despite eating the recommended amount, you should schedule a trip to the vet.
What Causes Higher Weights in Shih Tzus?
There is a difference between being over-sized and overweight. The old saying that a person is not fat, but “big-boned” does apply to dogs such as the shih tzu. A shih tzu with a larger bone structure can carry more weight without being obese or overweight. The key to telling the difference is in the ribs of the shih tzu.
If you can easily feel the ribs of your shih tzu, that means they are carrying little to no extra fat. So, even if they weigh towards the higher end of the scale, they are not overweight. However, if it is difficult to feel the ribs because of the fat present, then they are overweight. You should check with your vet to confirm if they are overweight and what can be done to correct this issue.
For those who own shih tzus, the primary concern for their general health should be keeping their weight within normal limits. Keep an eye on their food intact and activity level to ensure that they do not become overweight. Plus, check with your veterinarian to ensure that any potential health issues relating to their weight are properly addressed.