How Long Do Shih Tzu Live?

If you recently brought a Shih Tzu into your home, you’re probably not thinking about the end of your dog’s life.

However, it’s important to remember that the average lifespan of a dog is much shorter than the typical lifespan for a human. You should be aware of your pet’s life expectancy.

If you have a better understanding of Shih Tzus and their lifespans, you may actually be able to extend your dog’s life.

If you learn more about this breed, and you focus on taking great care of your pet, you’ll be able to ensure that your pooch lives a long and happy life.

The Life Expectancy of Shih Tzu

a black shih tzu

The lifespan for a Shih Tzu can range from 10 to 16 years. The average Shih Tzu lives for approximately 13 years [1].

This is in line with the average lifespan for a dog, which is 12.67. On average, female Shih Tzus live for 1.5 years longer than males of the breed.

It’s important to remember that these age ranges are typical. It’s possible for a dog to live much longer than these estimates.

One Florida Shih Tzu, named Smokey, lived to be 23 [2]. If a Shih Tzu is in good health and is properly cared for, it has the potential to live a long and happy life.

Common Shih Tzu Health Problems

a dog that isn't feeling well

Like most dog breeds, Shih Tzus can suffer from a number of hereditary health problems. These health issues can reduce a dog’s lifespan, especially if the issues aren’t treated right away.

It’s important to be aware of potential health issues so that you can bring your dog to a veterinarian for treatment if you notice any symptoms.

1. Thyroid Issues

Hypothyroidism, a condition that causes the thyroid gland to malfunction, is frequently seen in middle-aged Shih Tzus. Symptoms include hair loss, sudden weight gain, and fatigue.

This condition can be effectively managed through medication after it is diagnosed.

Respiratory issues are common for Shih Tzu because of their unusual face shape. Because these dogs have shorter noses, it is easy for their airways to be obstructed, which can make it difficult for them to breathe.

In severe cases, a dog may need surgery so that it can breathe properly.

2. Spine Issues

Smaller dog breeds, including Shih Tzu, are prone to intervertebral disk disease. This disease can cause a dog to experience severe back pain, and it can also lead to a loss in coordination. This is another condition that might require surgery if the condition is severe.

3. Eye Issues

The Shih Tzu breed is also prone to eye problems. Many of these dogs develop cataracts, which can lead to blindness if they are not treated.

4. Allergies

Many dogs suffer from allergies, which may require the use of eyedrops. Some dogs may have fur on their eyelids, which can cause corneal scratching. It’s important to have your dog’s eyes examined regularly.

5. Other Potential Issues

Other health problems associated with the breed hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and ear infections. All of these conditions have the potential to decrease your dog’s lifespan. Bladder issues are also very common. Urogenital disease is a leading cause of death for adult Shih Tzu [3]

Even if your dog appears to be in good health, you should schedule regular vet checkups and closely monitor your pet’s wellbeing.

Many common diseases don’t show severe symptoms early on.

If you pay close attention to your dog’s health and make sure they are regularly seen by a vet, you’ll be able to catch these problems while they are still treatable.

Tips to Help Your Shih Tzu Live Longer

playing with a dog

As a pet owner, it’s likely that you want your dog to live as long as possible. Thankfully, there are plenty of things that you can do if you want to increase the life expectancy of your Shih Tzu.

In addition to watching your dog’s health, you’ll want to make healthy lifestyle choices that can help your dog to live a longer life.

1. Find the Right Food

It’s essential to feed your dog the right kind of food. Your dog will be getting the nutrients that they need from their food, which is why you won’t want to choose something just because it’s cheap. You should focus on finding a nutrient-rich food that’s vet-recommended.

If you have the time and resources, you may want to consider feeding your dog homemade food.

Just make sure that your veterinarian approves of your dog food recipe.

2. Maintain a Healthy Weight

In addition to feeding your pet nutritious food, you should make sure that you feed them appropriate servings of food.

It’s important for your pet to stay at a healthy weight. Obesity can increase your dog’s risk of developing numerous health conditions, including diabetes and cancer.

Don’t allow your dog to overeat and make sure it gets the exercise that it needs.

3. Don’t Forget Dental Care

It’s easy to overlook the importance of dental care for dogs. After all, not many people take their dogs to a dentist.

However, experts actually recommend that you brush your dog’s teeth twice each day to remove plaque and other bacteria. Plaque can lead to gum disease, which puts your dog at increased risk for heart, liver, and kidney problems.

4. Keep Things Fun

You should also try to keep your pet’s mind sharp. While people say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, older dogs can actually benefit greatly from learning new skills.

Signing your dog up for a dog sport, such as lure coursing, can be a great way to give your dog some exercise and teach them something new.

5. Love & Affection Are Key

Above all else, you’ll want to make sure that your dog gets plenty of love and affection. Try to avoid leaving your dog alone for long periods of time. Make sure you take your dog out every single day, even if it’s just a walk around the block.

Dogs are pack animals, and when they don’t get attention from their owners, their wellbeing can suffer.


No one likes to think about the end of their pet’s life. Unfortunately, no dog lives forever, including Shih Tzu’s.

If you’re aware of the risks that your dog is taking, and you take steps to increase its life expectancy, you’ll be able to ensure that you and your beloved pet can spend many happy years together.


  1. Summary results of the Purebred Dog Health Survey for the Shih Tzu breed, Kennel Club. Retrieved at
  2. Smokey the Shih Tzu 23-years-old, UPI. Retrieved at
  3. Natalie Swieton, Urinary calculi in a shih tzu dog with hyperadrenocorticism, Canine Vet Journal. Retrieved at
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