How long do Shih Tzu live?

It is a well-known fact that dogs have a shorter lifespan than humans. However, this fact should not stop you from getting a canine companion for your family. So, how long do Shih Tzu live?

Hi, my name is John. I am a proud dog owner of a German Shepherd dog, but I have been thinking of getting another dog companion to stay indoors with me. The Shih Tzu dog breed has always captured my attention due to their petite frame and affectionate character.

As such, I have done my research on this dog breed, and I have all my facts about them. Therefore, let us delve into how long Shih Tzu live.

What is a Shih Tzu?

Senior Shih Tzu laying in window

The name ‘Shih Tzu’ means little lion because of the small manes found around their face. Their history is deeply rooted in Chinese royalty and is one of the ancient dog lineages in existence today.

This adorable breed is full of energy, and spunk and they think of themselves highly. They thrive in affection and enjoy showering their owners with love.

 However, they are also very playful, which may turn into naughty behavior. Shih Tzu dogs can also be trained for competitions, rallies, and obedience, depending on the preference of their owners.

Question: Are you finding it hard to train your best friend? If you are, this resourceful online dog training tool is for you…

So, what is the lifespan of a Shih Tzu?

The average dog has an average lifespan of 12.8 years. Small and toy dog breeds tend to live longer than larger or medium-sized dogs. The lifespan of a Shih Tzu dog ranges between 10 to 16 years. Their average lifespan is 13 years.

Female Shih Tzu dogs live a little longer than their male companions, approximately 1.4 years.Shih Tzu dogs are considered fully grown at about one year.

They live their early teen years and reach senior age at around 9-10 years old. The oldest Shih Tzu dog, Smokey, lived up to 26 years old in St. Petersburg, FL. 

Health issues that affect the lifespan of a Shih Tzu

All dogs can potentially develop genetic health issues. Exercise daily, eat healthy foods, drink filtered water, and take plenty of time to rest are all practices that help in prolonging the lifespan of dogs.

Shih Tzu dogs suffer from many of the illnesses common to small purebred dogs. From missing or misaligned teeth to popping kneecaps to respiratory problems, dog owners need to be aware of such conditions in order to act fast when they appear.

The shape and size of a dog affect its lifespan. Giant dogs live shorter lives than smaller ones. Similarly, the body shape of your dog also impacts its health.

If one of the features of a dog is too big or too small, there is a reason to worry as it can cause complications. Some health concerns that Shih Tzu face include:

Conformational defects

Shih Tzu dogs may have bodily defects. Some of them include short muzzles, giving rise to respiratory issues, a regularly dislocating kneecap (patellar luxation), or hip dysplasia.

When diagnosed early, a veterinarian can come up with an effective treatment plan for most of these conditions. Shih Tzu dog owners have to pay extra attention to their dogs and ensure they go for regular medical and dental checkups as well as vaccination shots.

Eye diseases

This dog breed is prone to several eye defects and conditions due to their protruding eye structure. These eye diseases, such as dry eye and corneal ulcers, may lead to permanent blindness if not treated and managed early enough. 

Genetic diseases

illustration of double helical dna

Shih Tzu dogs can be born with some diseases that may shorten their lifespan. For instance, they may suffer from liver shunt, where blood does not flow properly to and from the liver.

Veterinarians can help such dogs live their full term by developing a treatment plan that specifically caters to the dog’s needs.

How to increase the lifespan of a Shih Tzu dog

It is the responsibility of every dog owner to ensure their dogs live the healthiest and longest lives possible. For Shih Tzu dogs, you can start by investigating their health history.

Good dog breeders have medical files on their dogs, indicating most, if not all, previous medical conditions. If you have a rescue dog, take it for a thorough medical checkup as well as the necessary shots for the dog to live a healthy lifestyle.

Do not leave anything to chance when it comes to the health of Shih Tzu dogs. Neutering or spaying your Shih Tzu dog lessens its chances of acquiring cancer. It also helps in prolonging the lifespan of your dog.


Dog lovers think of their canine companions as part of the family. As a result, we will do everything possible to ensure they live their best life. Knowing what to look for and how to take care of your dog aids in ascertaining your dog lives a long and healthy life.

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