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What Are Common Problems with Shih Tzu Dogs? 12 Things Owners Need to Know

Shih Tzu dogs are famous for their cute looks and friendly temperament. However, like any other breed, they are prone to specific health and behavior problems. What are common problems with Shih Tzu dogs?

One of the most common Shih Tzu behavior problems is separation anxiety. This is because they were selectively bred to be human companions and thrive on human attention. 

They can become anxious and stressed when left alone for long periods, leading to destructive behavior, excessive barking, and even physical symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. Gradually train your Shih Tzu to be comfortable with alone time and provide them with plenty of mental and physical stimulation when you’re not around.

In addition to behavior problems, there are specific Shih Tzu health issues. Some of the most common health problems in Shih Tzus include dental issues, ear infections, and eye problems. Regular dental cleanings, ear cleaning, and eye exams can help prevent and detect these issues early on. 

By staying informed about the common problems and health conditions affecting Shih Tzus, you can ensure that your furry friend remains healthy and happy for years.

maltese mix shih tzu on the grass

Shih Tzu Health Issues

1. Respiratory Issues

Shih Tzus are a brachycephalic breed, which means they have a short snout and flat face. This shih tzu health problem can lead to respiratory problems, such as snoring, reverse sneezing, and difficulty breathing. Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome can also lead to collapsed trachea and respiratory distress in severe cases. Shih Tzu owners should monitor their dog’s breathing and seek veterinary care if they notice any breathing problems.

2. Eye Problems

Shih Tzus are prone to eye problems, such as dry eye, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy and corneal ulcers. These Shih Tzu eye problems can cause discomfort and lead to blindness if left untreated. Shih Tzu owners should keep their dog’s eyes clean and seek veterinary care if they notice eye problems, such as redness, discharge, or cloudiness.

Chihuahua Shih Tzu Mix black

3. Skin Allergies

These little dogs are prone to skin allergies, which can cause itching, redness, and hair loss. Common allergens include fleas, pollen, and certain foods. Shih Tzu owners should keep their dog’s skin clean and seek veterinary care if they notice any signs of skin allergies.

4. Dental Disease

Shih Tzus are prone to dental problems, such as tartar buildup, gum disease, and tooth decay. These problems can cause pain, bad breath, and even tooth loss. Shih Tzu owners should brush their dog’s teeth regularly and seek veterinary care if they notice any signs of dental problems.

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Shih Tzu Behavioral Problems

5. Separation Anxiety

Shih Tzus are known for being very attached to their owners, sometimes leading to separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is when a dog becomes anxious or distressed when left alone. Symptoms of separation anxiety in your little lion may include excessive barking, destructive behavior, and house soiling. 

To prevent separation anxiety, gradually get your Shih Tzu used to being alone for short periods and provide them with plenty of mental stimulation and exercise.

6. Aggression

Shih Tzus are generally friendly and affectionate dogs but can become aggressive in certain situations. Aggression in Shih Tzus can be caused by fear, territoriality, or lack of socialization. Common signs of aggression in Shih Tzus include growling, snapping, and biting. To prevent attacks, socialize your Shih Tzu from a young age and provide them with plenty of positive reinforcement training.

shih tzu mini 7

7. Excessive Barking

Shih Tzus are known for being vocal dogs, and they can sometimes bark excessively. Excessive barking in Shih Tzus can be caused by anxiety, boredom, or territoriality. To prevent excessive barking, provide your Shih Tzu with plenty of mental and physical stimulation and teach them the “quiet” command using positive reinforcement training.

8. Housebreaking Issues

Housebreaking can be a challenge for many Shih Tzu owners. Shih Tzus are small dogs with small bladders, so they may need to go outside more frequently than larger breeds. To prevent housebreaking issues, establish a consistent routine for your Shih Tzu and provide them with plenty of opportunities to go outside. Crate training can also be a helpful tool for housebreaking your Shih Tzu.

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Grooming Problems

Grooming is an essential part of caring for a Shih Tzu. However, it can be challenging, especially if you’re dealing with common problems like matting and tangles, ear infections, dental hygiene, and eye stains.

9. Matting and Tangles

Shih Tzus have long, flowing hair that requires regular grooming to prevent matting and tangles. Mats are clumps of tangled hair that can be painful and uncomfortable for your dog. Tangles are knots in the hair that can lead to mats if left untreated.

To prevent matting and tangles, brush your Shih Tzu’s hair daily with a slicker brush and a metal comb. Start at the ends of the hair and work your way up to the roots. Use a detangling spray to help loosen any knots or tangles.

10. Ear Infections

Shih Tzu dogs are prone to ear infections due to hair growing inside their ear canals. This hair holds onto moisture, which can cause inflammation and infection by bacteria, fungus, or both. Routine cleaning with an ear cleaner that contains a drying agent is helpful to avoid this common condition.

To clean your Shih Tzu’s ears, apply the ear cleaner to a cotton ball or pad and gently wipe the inside of the ear flap. Do not insert anything into the ear canal, which can cause damage.

Shih Tzu Mixed with Yorkie

11. Dental Hygiene

Dental hygiene is essential for Shih Tzus, as they are prone to dental problems such as gum disease and tooth decay. Regular brushing with a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste can help prevent these issues.

To brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth, start by getting them used to the taste of the toothpaste. Then, gently lift their lip and brush their teeth in a circular motion. Be sure to brush the back teeth, as these are often overlooked.

12. Eye Stains

Shih Tzus are known for their adorable, round eyes but are also prone to eye stains. Eye stains are caused by tears that accumulate around the eyes and can lead to fur discoloration.

Wipe your Shih Tzu’s eyes daily with a damp cloth to prevent eye stains. Use a separate cloth for each eye to avoid spreading bacteria or infection.

white maltese mix shih tzu running

What are Common Shih Tzu Problems In Conclusion

In conclusion, grooming problems are common in Shih Tzus, but with regular grooming and care, you can prevent these issues and keep your furry friend healthy and happy. Watching out for weight gain is particularly important due to the small size of the Shih Tzu. Smaller dog breeds put on weight more easily and this can lead to issues like heart disease. The best thing for a healthy life for your little lion dog is to make sure you are providing it with regular exercise, a healthy diet and lots of love from its short legs to floppy ears. 

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