Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are wonderful pets due to their friendly personality. Their name comes from the Chinese word for “lion dog”, because the breed resembled the lion as depicted in traditional oriental art.  They have silky long hair and typically weigh between 11 and 15 pounds.

Shih Tzus are predisposed to certain diseases though, so careful observation of your pets daily routine is important. Any significant change in this routine is cause for a veterinary examination. Our web site at has detailed information on many of the diseases Shih Tzu are prone to.

Shih Tzus can develop kidney disease (renal dypsplasia) early on in life, which verifies the importance of routine exams on a yearly basis. The initial symptoms of this disease are subtle, consisting only of a mild increase in thirst and urination. Due to this subtle nature, it is a good idea to quantify how much water you put in your pets bowl everyday. This problem is diagnosed with a blood sample and a urinalysis.

Shih Tzus are genetically predisposed to many different types of bladder stones; calcium oxalate, urate, struvite calcium phosphate, and silica crystals.  These problems are diagnosed with fresh urine samples, and typically treated with medications and diet changes.

Shih Tzus are particularly prone to eye problems because of their large dark eyes, affecting the eyelids, cornea, and retina.  Specifically; entropion, where the eyelid folds towards the eye and the eye lashes scratch on the eye ball. They can get a dry eye, where they eyes do not produce enough tears.  Any sign of squinting, redness to the eye, ocular discharge, cherry eye, or cloudiness, warrants an exam.  After our preliminary exam we may even have our ophthalmologist examine the eyes.

Shih Tzus are also prone to ear infections.  So plucking the hair in the ear canals, along with cleaning and inspecting the ears on a regular basis will help prevent this painful problem. You can learn more about this common problem at the following link- (/word/canine/ear-infection/

Like most small breed dogs dental disease is especially prevalent.  Please visit our web site to learn more about this important problem and its prevention. /word/services/dentistry/.

Male Shih Tzus are commonly affected by a disease of the stomach musculature called antral pyloric hypertrophy.  The result of this malady is a reduction of outflow and resultant back-up of ingesta in the stomach.  Abdominal pain and vomiting are typical signs if this problem is present.  X-rays and ultrasound are used in the diagnosis.

Shih Tzus are also genetically predisposed to back problems (intervertebral disk disease, /word/canine/disk-disease-ivd/).  If this occurs, they will have back pain, loss of the coordination of their back legs, and they can even become paralyzed.

Shih Tzus can have breathing problems related to the shape of their nasal passage ways and face.  This is called Brachycephalic syndrome.  They can have a soft pallet that is too long, a trachea (windpipe) that is to small, and  smaller than normal nostrils.  As Shih Tzu’s age they can also have a collapsing trachea.  The cartilage rings of the trachea become weakened and flat.  They may have a “goose type honk” when they become excited.  Certain surgeries can be performed if you pet has a serious problem caused by snorting, snoring or passing out.

Their beautiful long silky coat, which reaches the floor, requires daily brushing, and frequent grooming, and should be clipped short for comfort if your pet seems uncomfortable or has skin conditions during the summer.

Shih Tzu are to some degree hypoallergenic, in comparison to other breeds.  They do not shed to the same degree, only losing small amounts of hair when bathed or brushed.  Remember that it is the dog’s dander and saliva that trigger most allergic reactions in people.  Always keep the hair out of their eyes.

Allergies ( also affect Shih Tzu, as evidence by hair loss, itching, and licking.  The symptoms of allergies can mimic other skin conditions, which may have completely different causes.  For example, hypothyroidism (/word/canine/hypothyroidism/) which can be a genetic problem in Shih Tzu causing hair loss, weight gain, muscle loss, and being lethargic. Therefore, it is imperative that we make an accurate diagnosis early in the course of this problem, and institute a long-term treatment regimen that will prove beneficial to your pet.