Shih Tzu Health Issues

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a toy breed native to Tibet. Shih Tzus are small, sturdy, strong dogs that are suitable for people who suffer from allergies because they are a hypoallergenic breed. Shih Tzus are very intelligent, loyal, lively, and gentle with people and children. The average life expectancy of a Shih Tzus is 10-18 years. They are susceptible to a large number of hereditary and other diseases. Below you can find a list of health issues that affect this breed most commonly.

Common Health Issues in Shih Tzus

The health issues that have been reported in Shih Tzus over the years:

  • Orthopedic issues: intervertebral disk disease (IVDD), hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, chondrodysplasia
  • Eye problems: cataracts, glaucoma, eye ulcers, keratitis, proptosis, distichiasis, ectopic cilia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), retinal detachment, dry eye/keratoconjunctivitis sicca
  • Ear infections
  • Skin problems: interdigital furunculosis, skin fold dermatitis/pyoderma, demodectic mange
  • Dental issues: oligodontia, retained baby teeth, misaligned teeth, gum problems, overbites, underbites/”undershot jaw”, periodontal disease
  • Respiratory problems: breathing spasms, reverse sneezing, brachycephalic syndrome, pneumonia
  • Kidney diseases: glomerulonephropathy, juvenile renal dysplasia (JRD), bladder stones, bacterial and viral bladder infections
  • Hereditary bleeding disorders: Von Willebrand’s disease
  • Birth deformities: cleft lip, cleft palate, elongated soft palate, stenotic nares, collapsed trachea, laryngeal collapse, portosystemic liver shunt, umbilical hernia
  • Autoimmune diseases: immune-mediated hemolytic anemia
  • Allergies: food allergies, contact allergies, inhalant allergies
  • Addison’s disease
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Cancer
  • Obesity

The list is not ranked according to any special criteria so it does not mean that the health issues from the top of the list occur more often in Shih Tzus than those from the bottom. This breed has a history of developing health issues listed above, but it doesn’t mean that all of them will surely appear in every Shih Tzu.

Shih Tzus are prone to overheating and heatstroke due to the flat shape of their face and shortened nasal passages. Shih Tzu puppies have large and rounded heads, which is the reason why birth is aggravated and cesarean section is often indicated. These dogs are at risk of anesthesia-related complications, so it is necessary to take into account the blood pressure and heart rate during the introduction of anesthesia, as well as the choice of anesthetic.