The Average Lifespan of Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu have a life expectancy of 10 to 16 years, with the average Shih Tzu living 13 years. A 13-year lifespan is common to many dog breeds, so Shih Tzu have a fairly average lifespan. Small dogs usually live longer than large dogs, but the length of time a Shih Tzu lives depends on their genetics and the care they receive.

What Health Issues Impact the Lifespan of a Shih Tzu?

Adorable and sassy, Shih Tzu make great pets. But like any pet, they need attention and care to live a long and healthy life.

The average lifespan of a Shih Tzu, 13 years, beats the average for dogs by one year. However, Shih Tzu are prone to some health conditions you’ll need to look out for. These include:

I. Cancer – Shih Tzu are susceptible to cancer, including mast cell tumors, bone cancers and lymphoma. The good news is that most dog cancers are curable if detected early, and regular vet visits can detect cancer and nip it in the bud.

II.Urogenital diseases are the second most common cause of death in Shih Tzu. Health conditions involving the bladder, kidneys, and prostate fall into this category and may shorten the life of your Shih Tzu. Routine check-ups can catch and cure these conditions early, before they become fatal.

III. Infections are the third leading cause of death for Shih Tzu. Like any other breed, Shih Tzu are susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections. Protozoal infections such as leishmaniasis are also a potential risk for Shih Tzu.

Health Tips to Lengthen your Shih Tzu’s Life

  • 1. Good grooming

Good grooming is essential for your Shih Tzu’s health. Their characteristic dense coat requires regular care, but good grooming of your Shih Tzu goes beyond taking good care of their coat. Dental hygiene, including regular tooth brushing, using dental sprays and providing dental chews is also important.

If you don’t have time to groom your Shih Tzu yourself, look for good groomers in your area and make regular appointments to keep your Shih Tzu in tip-top shape.

  • 2. Regular exercise

One of the benefits of owning a Shih Tzu is that they make great apartment pets. But a regular exercise regimen is just as important for Shih Tzu as it is for large dogs.

Regular walks and daily play will keep your Shih Tzu's metabolism healthy, boost their cardiovascular health, and release their pent-up energy. 

Regular exercise is one of the best ways to lengthen the life of your Shih Tzu. Research found that regular exercise delays the onset of disease and prevents some illnesses altogether.

  • 3.  Diet

A healthy diet is a healthy dog. Avoiding food with artificial preservatives will lead to a longer, healthier life for your Shih Tzu. Always read your dog food labels and choose organic and natural foods for your dog. It’s also important to keep your dog hydrated with clean and toxin-free drinking water to keep them alive and happy well into their teen years.

  • 4. Regular vet visits

Don’t just assume that your dog is healthy. Instead, stick to a regular vet schedule to monitor their health. Most canine health conditions can be treated if detected early and having your Shih Tzu checked regularly could save your pet a nasty illness down the line.

  • 5. Spaying / Neutering your Shih Tzu

For females, spaying eliminates the risk of ovarian cancers and infections. Spaying before your Shih Tzu is three will eliminate the risk of her developing mammary tumors and boost her lifespan.

For males, neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and prostate disease. Neutering male Shih Tzu can also improve their behavior by reducing territorial marking tendencies and the urge to wander and roam.  

  • 6. Dog-proof your house.

Trauma is a major cause of death for dogs like Shih Tzu. Stairs, electrical cords, toxic substances and choking hazards all pose a threat to your pet and may drastically reduce the length of their life.

Dog-proofing your house to limit the possibility of accidents is essential. Using stair gates, keeping choking hazards out of reach and keeping cabinets locked are some simple but effective ways to prevent accidents that could harm your Shih Tzu.

The Takeaway

Shih Tzu are a bold and confident breed that thrive in small spaces and make great pets for sedentary people. However, your Shih Tzu’s life depends on how well you care for it. The longest living Shih Tzu ever recorded was 23 years old. With good care, there’s no reason your Shih Tzu can’t live longer than 13 years.




Hello, I'm Shelly! I write about all things dogs. I'm a proud mother of 3. So I guess my official title is fulltime mother, part-time dog blogger. Look around and if you have any questions reach out to me