The Shih Tzu dog is a small and very popular toy dog breed that originated in Tibet, and that has a distinctive long and flowing coat that is often tied in a ponytail on the head to keep the hair from obscuring the dog’s eyes. The Shih Tzu can stand up to 11” tall at the withers and weigh up to 7.25kg, with males and females of the breed being around the same size.
Their coats can be seen in a wide range of colours, including white, black, black and white, brindle, blue, grey, brown, and gold, and their fur is very fine, straight and long with two layers. Compared to most other breeds of dog, particularly ones with similar length coats, the Shih Tzu does not shed heavily, and as such, they may be worthy of consideration by people who are prone to canine allergies. The coat can be either wavy or coarse, and requires a lot of brushing and grooming to keep it in good condition, as well as regular trips to the grooming salon for tidy ups.
If you are considering buying one of these small and very popular and widely owned toy dogs, it is important to do as much research as possible before committing to a purchase. In this article, we will look at the hereditary health and longevity of the Shih Tzu breed, plus recommended health tests for the breed too. Read on to learn more.
The average lifespan of the Shih Tzu displays a significant range of variance, with surveys returning the average as anywhere between ten and sixteen years. This makes it difficult to draw any general conclusions about the breed health and wellness based on their longevity alone, as dogs of the breed represent both ends of the scale, with ten years being below the average for all breeds of a similar size and build, and sixteen years being well above the average.
The coefficient of inbreeding statistic for the Shih Tzu is 5.4%, which falls comfortably within the accepted norm of 6.25% or lower that is the ideal for pedigree dog breeds. This indicates the fact that the Shih Tzu breed is popular and diverse, and that a high degree of inbreeding is not necessary to maintain the breed in perpetuity.
The British Veterinary Association and The Kennel Club advise that dogs of the breed be DNA tested for renal dysplasia, a kidney condition that is prevalent across the breed. Pre-breeding health screening is advised for potential breeding stock.
While renal dysplasia is the only health condition that is considered to be both prevalent within the breed and testable prior to breeding, the Shih Tzu is actually a breed for which a fairly long list of other potential health issues can be found as well. There is no definitive way of finding out prior to purchasing if such conditions are likely to occur, but finding out as much as possible about the health of the parent dogs can help the prospective buyer to make an informed decision.
Some health issues known to affect the Shih Tzu breed include: