The Complete Shih Tzu Care Guide
Thinking of adding a Shih Tzu puppy to your household? Congratulations! They are wonderful dogs to keep as companions. However, it’s important when adopting a new pet to first learn everything you can about them to ensure that you are capable and well-prepared to give them the happy, healthy life they deserve. So, let’s talk Shih Tzu care!
What is a Shih Tzu?
Shih Tzus are a breed of dog belonging to the toy group. This, of course, does not make them toys! It just means they are tiny. Full-grown Shih Tzus weigh between nine and 16 pounds. In fact, their stature can make toy breeds a poor choice for households with children.
The breed is recognizable by its sturdy body, short muzzle, floppy ears, flowing coat, and feisty personality. They have longer life spans than large-breed dogs, and generally live between 10 and 16 years.
Shih Tzu Grooming
Shih Tzus have a long, double coat. This requires a heavy amount of grooming, including:
- Daily brushing if you keep your Shih Tzu's coat long. Falling behind on brushing can lead to matted fur, which can only be remedied by shaving the fur off. Matted fur can be very unpleasant for dogs.
- Frequent haircuts and styling if you decide to keep their hair cut short. You may opt to have your Shih Tzu's hair styled in a ponytail or other look to keep hair out of their eyes.
Shih Tzu puppy care and adult care also include:
- Daily face and eye-wiping
- Daily teeth brushing
- Monthly nail clipping
- Regular baths
- Regular ear cleaning
Shih Tzu Training
All dogs require training. Dog training helps address behavioral issues to maintain a happy relationship with your pet. However, it also keeps dogs stimulated, and can help keep them safe by being able to understand directions from their caretakers.
Shih Tzus are smart, but they can also be stubborn. They are not the easiest to house train. You will see the best results if you begin training from a young age. 12 weeks old is an excellent time to start training your Shih Tzu puppy.
Shih Tzus are also loving, loyal dogs, and may suffer separation anxiety. Make sure to identify if your pet is struggling and get them training to address anxiety if needed.
Feeding Your Shih Tzu
Proper nutrition is crucial to the health and happiness of your Shih Tzu. You simply won't have as many years together or the same quality of life if you feed your dog low-quality food.
Avoid feeding your Shih Tzu dog food that contains preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, and added sweeteners and chemicals. Instead, look for dog foods that are human-grade and organic. Cornucopia Organic Pet Foods is dedicated to helping your pet live their best life through optimal, vet-developed nutrition.
Provide Your Shih Tzu with Proper Exercise
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to a host of health problems and shorten the lifespan of humans and dogs alike. Give your Shih Tzu a minimum of two 20-minute walks per day.
Make sure your tiny friend has lots of toys to play with as well, both on their own and with human and/or dog friends.
Be Mindful of Your Shih Tzu's Breathing
When you consider that dogs evolved from wolves, it’s interesting that dog’s breathing structures have compressed significantly to become what they are today. Since Shih Tzus are a toy breed, they are especially prone to breathing issues. Shih Tzus can suffer from collapsed tracheas, nostrils that are too small, and elongated palates.
Due to their delicate breathing structures, it's important to walk Shih Tzus using a harness. Collars put too much pressure on their small throats.
Also allow your Shih Tzu to have plenty of breaks from play and walks if they are breathing excessively hard. Be sure to provide lots of fresh water at all times too.
Take Your Dog in for Regular Vet Care
This is true for any pet. Once your Shih Tzu enters their senior years (about age eight), they should go for bi-annual wellness checks. A vet can help detect problems before they arise or become dire. Regular vet care also adds considerably to the life of your furry companion.