BY MOLLY | EVERYTHINGSHIHTZU.COM
I often hear the question, how long do Shih Tzu live? While it's a valid question, it is sad to think about our beloved pets someday leaving us.
Shih Tzu have a lifespan that ranges from approximately 12 to 16 years old, with the average age being 14 years. Most Shih Tzu will live into their early teen years and are considered a senior dog between 9 and 10 years old.
Whether you’re thinking about getting a Shih Tzu or already sharing your life with one of these lovable companions, it’s only natural that you would want your best friend to be around for as long as possible.
The oldest Shih Tzu on record was named Smokey, in St. Petersburg, FL. Smokey lived to be 23 years old!
Of course there are things that can impact how long your Shih Tzu will live like genetics or a sudden accident, but the good news is there are things you can do now that will help keep them healthy and happy for years to come.
Overall, Shih Tzu are pretty healthy. This small breed enjoys one of the longest lifespans in the dog world.
Like many dogs, though, Shih Tzu do have certain health problems that are common to their breed.
It’s important to know about what these issues are so you can keep an eye out for any symptoms. The earlier you can detect a problem, the more likely that it can be fixed or treated quickly.
If left unchecked or gone unnoticed, these are conditions that can definitely shorten dogs’ lifespans, or at the very least reduce their quality of life.
Some of the issues that Shih Tzu can have include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, collapsed trachea, breathing problems, and eye, ear, and teeth issues.
This might sound like a lot, but it’s important to remember that these are health problems that are common to many tiny dogs and doesn’t mean that all Shih Tzu will get these conditions.
When it comes to things that can affect your dog’s lifespan, health conditions aren’t the only thing to think about.
It’s important to know what traits your dogs breed possesses because certain activities, like jogging, might not be a good idea for them.
Shih Tzu, in general, are not very good swimmers, for example, so although they might enjoy a quick dip in the family pool with you, anything more than a few minutes is probably not a good idea.
It’s best to let them enjoy other activities that don’t involve having to constantly do the doggie paddle.
This breed also doesn’t tolerate heat very well, so they don’t make good outdoor pets, nor do they want to spend the day having fun in the sun.
If for some reason you need to have your Shih Tzu outside for an extended period of time, make sure they have plenty of shade and water.
Some dogs in this breed can also easily become overweight.
Carrying around excess weight can cause other problems, especially joint and back issues, or make conditions that are already present worse.
To help your Shih Tzu live towards the top end of his roughly 16-year lifespan, there are several things you will want to do.
Knowing the different traits and health issues that can affect this breed is a great first step. When you know what to look for, then you know how to properly care for your dog.
Some things to consider are using a harness when you walk your Shih Tzu, and never using a leash and collar. This will help prevent the collapsed trachea problem, or at least keep it from getting worse.
Obviously, regular vet visits are a must to keep your pet in tip-top shape, and if you notice anything out of the ordinary with your furry friend give the vet a call right away.
Keep up to date on any necessary vaccinations and regularly cleaning your dogs eyes and ears to stay ahead of any possible problems.
A good diet and exercise regimen are important, just like they are with people.
Make sure your dog doesn’t overeat, limit treats and provide opportunities for exercise. Luckily, this small pup doesn’t require much - just short daily walks will often do the trick. (If only we could all be so lucky!)
Maybe you haven’t even thought about this one, but make sure to brush your dog’s teeth.
Regular dental care is important to a dog’s overall health, just like it is in people. Schedule yearly dental cleanings and check-ups for your pet pal, too.
According the American Kennel Club, "there may be long term health benefits to spaying or neutering dogs after they have passed through puberty." If you have a Shih Tzu puppy that is not already spayed or neutered, make it a priority to discuss with your Veterinarian the best time to get it done.
Regular grooming can also affect your dog’s health, believe it or not, not to mention it just makes them feel better.
Think about it, how would you feel if you never got a haircut or a bath?
When you get a new Shih Tzu, make sure to check it’s history. Proper breeding can help reduce the chances of a lot of health issues since breeders screen for these conditions.
If you’re a dog lover, then your canine companion is more than a pet, she’s part of the family.
And if your Shih Tzu has made her way into your heart, then, of course, you want to do everything you can to make sure she’ll live a long and healthy life.
Knowing what to look for and how to take care of your dog will help her enjoy her days with you, whether it be the average of 14 years or more.
Maybe your Shih Tzu will set a new record and pass up Smokey’s 23-year lifespan!