What Is The Lifespan Of A Shih Tzu?

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Bred solely for companionship, the Shih Tzus can thrive in various environments. But what is the lifespan of a Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzus are independent dogs and have a pleasant disposition despite their miniature stature. The longevity of these diminutive dogs depends on several things as they thrive in a social setting. It's always wise to spend a lot of time with them, as they love attention.

Shih Tzus are healthy dogs, and therefore they can live long. Their typical lifespan ranges between 10 and 16 years, with an average lifespan of 13 years. Ultimately, Shih Tzus' lifespan depends on their overall health. Healthy dogs are more likely to live longer.

Having your Shih Tzu establish unhealthy habits lowers their longevity. Regular vet visits, proper eating habits, and constant attention are among the things that can help a Shih Tzu to live longer. Also, they will be able to achieve their average longevity of more than ten years.

Shih Tzus are capable of living long and healthy lives. Although their temperament varies from one individual to another, they make loyal and affectionate pets. You should always be ready to keep up with their demands.

In this article

‍How Long Do Shih Tzus Live?

The average lifespan of the Shih Tzu dog breed is 13 years, but most of these dogs have longevity that lasts between 10 to 16 years. The world's oldest Shih Tzu lived in Florida and died at 23. It’s just an approximate range as some Shih Tzus live longer, and unfortunately, others fail to make it into their teens.

Shih Tzu dogs are renowned for their longevity, but as an owner, there are some health issues that you should be wary of as they shorten the lifespan of your Shih Tzu. These health conditions include cancer, urinary tract diseases, and viral and bacterial diseases.

The Shih Tzus' lifespan is neither on the higher or lower end of the dog age spectrum. Several factors play an essential role in extending or shortening these dogs' life expectancy. It all depends on how well you take care of your dog.

Due to their independent nature, Shih Tzus are docile and affectionate hence making them the best canine companions. Introducing these dogs to a good social setting, frequent check-ups, and a proper diet can make them happy and give them a longer life expectancy.

As a Shih Tzu owner, you must understand what works best for your dog. Respecting your puppy's desire gives them a long life with peace and tranquility. Once Shih Tzus grow old enough, they lose their zest for life as a sign that their time has run out.

What Do Shih Tzus Die From?

Unfortunately, Shih Tzus are susceptible to some health conditions that prevent them from reaching their expectancy age.

Even though Shih Tzu is considered a healthy dog breed, the following health conditions are responsible for their death.


Cancer is the major cause of Shih Tzu's death. The disease can take many forms and affect different body parts, with the most common occurrences being: lymphoma, mast cell tumors, soft tissue sarcomas, and bone cancer.

Thankfully, nearly 50% of cancer cases are preventable and treatable if detected early. Cancer can prove to be fatal if not given the proper medical attention.

Eye Infections

Keratitis and Proptosis are the major eye infections affecting Shih Tzus. Keratitis involves acute inflammation of the cornea. If left untreated, this condition damages the cornea and develops into a corneal ulcer. To fix this defect, you can have your Shih Tzu surgically repaired.

On the other hand, Proptosis can result from sinus inflammation, orbit inflammation, or trauma. Emergency surgery is necessary to get the eyeball back in place. These eye infections, if left unattended, cause early Shih Tzu death.

Hip Dysplasia and Patella Luxation

These traumatic injuries to the hip and patella result from frequent hopping. Their symptoms become evident the minute the joints become inflamed and painful. If your Shih Tzu is suffering from these traumatic injuries, you will likely observe:

  • Abnormal gait
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Difficulties in walking
  • Lameness

Although these conditions do not affect the longevity of Shih Tzus, they greatly influence their quality of life. Fixing these traumatic injuries is effective, and treatment is easy.

Stenotic Nares

Difficulties in breathing are the first sign to notice if your Shih Tzu is suffering from stenotic nares. Shih Tzus, born with narrow nostrils, mostly encounter stenotic nares because they have a problem getting enough oxygen in their bodies.

With insufficient oxygen, Shih Tzus' bodies start to fail with time. Failing to treat this health condition causes the death of the dog breed. Vets manage stenotic nares surgically.

Kidney Diseases

Unlike other dog breeds, Shih Tzus are more likely to have urinary tract infections that lead to kidney diseases. To detect this problem in its early stages, you can test their urine periodically.

Bladder and kidney stones cause death if they are left untreated. These stones, however, can be dissolved with the proper medication. You can also opt to remove them surgically.

What are the Signs of a Dying Shih Tzu?

Generally, dogs are stoic animals, and they may not show visible signs of pain even when they are seriously ill. Apart from looking out for signs of pain, there are some behavioral changes that you can observe when your Shih Tzu is in their last days.

These are the signs and behavioral changes you can observe in a dying Shih Tzu.

  • Incontinence
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irregular breathing
  • Loss of interest in things that used to excite them
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Extreme temperatures (either very high or low)
  • Isolation
  • Rapid weight loss

Immediately you notice the manifestation of these symptoms on your pup; the right thing is to take them to a vet for a check-up. However, you may not be successful in saving your Shih Tzu’s life, but you can do the following to make their final days comfortable:

  • Keep them warm at all times by providing them with blankets
  • Give them medications to relieve pain and discomfort
  • Ensure that they have easy access to food and water
  • If the Shih Tzus do not want human interaction, respect their desire for peace
  • Give them appetite stimulants to ensure that they at least eat

For those with difficulties moving around, you can opt to provide them with a non-skid floor.

How Can You Extend Your Shih Tzu’s Lifespan?

You can do many things to extend your Shih Tzu's lifespan. There are also measures that you can put in place daily to give your dog a better and healthy long life.

Proper Diet

What you feed your Shih Tzu determines whether or not they will have a healthy life. Like in humans, a high-quality and properly balanced diet is the foundation for keeping your Shih Tzu healthy.

Always ensure to give your Shih Tzu water regularly. Most importantly, you should never provide them with water from unchecked sources.

Regular Exercise

Like any other dog breed, Shih Tzus need to maintain a regular exercise program. Shih Tzus are majorly indoor dogs, and they may tend to become obese. Obesity comes with breathing problems.

A Shih Tzu with a strong, fit, and healthy body rarely suffers from some conditions like spine and joint problems. Shih Tzus suffering from collapsed trachea are the only ones that shouldn't exercise. All the rest should have regular exercise.


Neutering your Shih Tzu may prolong their life. Neutering prevents mammary tumors, womb infections, and prostate cancer.

It is always wise to conduct extensive research before neutering your Shih Tzu because this exercise can also cause possible risks.

Routine Grooming

Shih Tzus are known for their long and uniquely silky coats. Even though these dogs are hypoallergenic and do not trigger allergic reactions, regular grooming is necessary.

Grooming includes teeth brushing, ear cleaning, and nail trimming. Regular grooming prevents dry skin that is more prone to infections.