Though its name means “Lion Dog” in Chinese, the Shih Tzu is a toy breed, weighing 10 to 15 pounds (5 to 7 kg), that is distinguished by its long, silky fur and underbite.
Shih Tzus seem to have originated in Tibet and China, where they were bred to be active and people-loving, and they make great family pets, though they need lots of attention and near-daily brushing. These little bundles of fur are favorites of apartment dwellers for obvious reasons.
Common Shih Tzu Health Problems
Shih Tzus can live over 15 years, but they are at risk for several medical problems:
- Breathing Problems: these dogs’ short snouts can restrict airflow, and if the condition is severe enough surgery may be required to reconstruct the airway.
- Cataracts: the eyes of Shih Tzus tend to overproduce fluid, which may trap foreign objects and scratch the corneas. Surgery may be required to restore a dog’s sight.
- Hypothyroidism: this condition occurs when the dog’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland, resulting in a lack of the necessary hormones that the thyroid produces. Symptoms include hair loss, skin problems, weight gain, and lethargy. Blood analysis is used to confirm the presence of the disease; treatment involves daily administration of an artificial hormone to replace what the thyroid no longer produces.
- Portosystemic Shunt: this congenital condition, which afflicts smaller breeds, in particular, occurs when a blood vessel misdirects blood so that it bypasses flowing through the liver. Toxic compounds may, therefore, form accretions in the kidneys and/or circulatory system. Affected dogs may be lethargic and eat and drink abnormally. Treatment includes medication and special diets.
Pet Health Insurance for Shih Tzu
Conditions like these can cost a great deal to treat; in particular, drugs that are required for the life of a dog can add up to a big yearly bill. The right pet health care plan can help defray the ongoing expense of providing your dog with the right medicines and drug therapies.
For other types of dogs, check out our full list of dog breeds.