Before you go out and purchase your first Shih Tzu, you should know that there are some hereditary health conditions that every owner should be aware of.
However, there is no need to be scared about Shih Tzu ownership; in this article, I just want you to be aware of these health conditions associated with this breed so that you know what to look for and can hurriedly take your companion to the vet.
As you already know, Shih Tzu’s have a unique head that is flat and broad. This type of head is known as Brachycephalic. Actually, this unique head shape is what attracts most people to the breed.
Unfortunately, this cute feature of its head and face is what makes it so susceptible to heatstroke as well as breathing issues.
Remember, it is extremely important to take your new Shih Tzu to the vet if you suspect she is having any type of breathing or overheating issues.
A lot of dog owners rely too much on the internet when their dogs look ill. Do not waste time on the internet, if your dog looks distressed, please take her to the vet immediately.
Overheating and Heatstroke
As I mentioned earlier, because of the Shih Tzu’s brachycephalic skull — breathing can be difficult especially in hot climates. This is a result of the breed’s short nasal passageway.
Their skull shape limits the amount of air that the dog gets. It varies from dog to dog; therefore, it is important for you to observe your dog’s breathing when on long walks on hot days.
Shih Tzu’s are not outside dogs. Therefore, if you plan on bringing one into your family, be advised that it should be kept inside the home.
Shih Tzu Health Problems: Stenotic Nares
If this is your first Shih Tzu, then you probably have not heard of stenotic nares. It is part of the brachycephalic syndrome of short-nosed dogs. Breeds such as Boxers, Bulldogs, King Charles Spaniels, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apso’s, etc. are all considered brachycephalic breeds.
Stenotic nares mean the nostrils are pinched or narrow. This makes it more difficult to breathe and causes snorting and snoring in these animals. It is an inherited trait; these animals are born with it. Veterinarians perform a simple surgery to help widen the nares, often at the same time as a spay or neuter.
Shih Tzu Health Problems: Soft Palate Issues
Shih Tzu’s are also susceptible to cleft palate and elongated soft palate. This happens when the dog is in the embryonic state where the tissue in the nose that separates the nasal passage from the throat and oral areas does not properly fuse together.
Thankfully, this condition is not considered to be a major health issue. However, in severe cases, surgery is an option to repair the deformity as well as take care of some respiratory issues. Hopefully, this article gives you an idea of what to expect when you first get that cuddly bundle of cuteness. Even with these health concerns, the Shih Tzu will still live a long healthy life. In fact, Shih Tzu’s have a life expectancy of 10 – 16 years.