1. Health Concerns in the Shih Tzu
Source: Dog World January 2001
The Shih Tzu is a hardy dog living as long as 18 years.
Health problems include juvenile renal dysplasia, often resulting in
death), eye problems, hypothyroidism, joint disorders and heat
1. Renal dysplasia (hereditary disease in which the kidney does not
develop normally, often resulting in death).
2. Hereditary eye diseases commonly seen are proptosed globes,
distichiasis, ectopic cilia, juvenile cataracts and progressive retinal
2.1 Proptosed globes - eyeballs come out of the socket. As
the Shih Tzus
have large eyes in shallow orbits, a head injury of brushing too hard on
the top knot can cause the eye to come out of its orbit. If veterinary
attention is not obtained within 15 minutes or less, the eye may become
2.2 Distichiasis and ectopic cilia - eye lashes rub and irritate the
eye, may cause scarring of the cornea or corneal ulcers if not surgically
2.3 Juvenile cataracts and PRA are hereditary diseases that can cause
blindness. Buyers will need to ensure that both parents have been tested
and cleared of these diseases through the Canine Eye Registration
Foundation (in the U.S) but there is no such body in Singapore.
2.4 Hypothyroidism - chronic disease in which the thyroid gland does
not produce enough hormones - hair loss, lethargy, weight gain. Can be treated
but needs medication for the rest of the life. Breeding stock should be
tested for hypothyroidism.
3. Hip dysplasia. Ensure that parents and several generations, if
possible have been certified as having hips suitable for breeding by the
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, PennHIP or the Institute for Genetic
Disease Control in the U.S. No such body exists in Singapore.
4. Luxating patellas or knee caps that slip out of position can either be
hereditary or caused by an injury. Condition can be corrected by surgery.
A dog with the hereditary form should never be bred.
5. Heat stroke. Like all brachycephalic (short nose) breeds,
Shih Tzus cannot efficiently cool themselves.
6. "Pinched" Noses. Nasal discharge or snuffling, bubbling and
snorting from the nose. Condition seems to appear during teething time. If
the puppy is eating well, generally it will outgrow this condition. However, if
the puppy can breathe only out of its mouth, the nostril may need to be
The reputable breeder is most likely a member of a local club that tests
for hereditary health conditions and certifies that his or her dogs as
being clear of juvenile renal dysplasia, hip dysplasia, eye diseases and
thyroid disorders. Health guarantees are standard in some parts of the
Reputable breeders take back or place a puppy or adult that has not worked
out for any reason, at any time. This may be too much to expect from
Puppies from good breeders will be sold only at 12 weeks or older as the
Shih Tzu develops more slowly than larger breeds and is weaned later.
However, Singaporeans prefer to buy puppies as young as 8 weeks and the
demand is great for young ones.
The temperament, health and conformation are important factors in the
selection of a Shih Tzu puppy. Purchase from reputable breeders will
be best. In Singapore, pure-bred Shih Tzus sell from S$800.
Miniaturized Shih Tzu that weigh as little as 3 lbs (the weight of a
normal one at 3 weeks of age) command as US$1,500 or more in the U.S.
The American Shih Tzu Club (ASTC) standard:
Ideal weight: 10 - 16 lbs
8 - 11 inches tall
2 most distinctive characteristics are its coat and head piece.
Double coat is thick and luxurious with long, sometimes wavy (not curly)
outer hair and a woolly undercoat.
The head is broad and round with a square short muzzle that is roughly 1
inch from the stop - where the muzzle meets the forehead -to the tip of the
The body is solid with a broad deep chest, sturdy , short, straight and
Friendly and outgoing temperament makes the Shih Tzu a
very popular pet in Singapore.
2. Hernias in the Shih Tzu
First-time Breeders in Singapore may not be aware that
large umbilical hernias in Shih Tzus can be repaired by
the veterinarian as early as 6 weeks of age. Consult
your veterinarian regarding the anaesthetic risks and the
veterinarian's comfort level in performing such
for first-time Dog Owners
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SHIH TZU AND A LHASA APSO
Shih Tzu - The head is broad and round with a square short muzzle that is
roughly 1 inch from the stop - where the muzzle meets the forehead -to the
tip of the nose. The Lhasa Apso has a longer and narrower muzzle.
4. Case studies
Eye ulcer in a Shih Tzu
4.2 Hernias in the Shih Tzu ---
The big belly-button Shih Tzu puppy has a few days to live.
4.3 The Shih Tzu has itchy ears
"Consulting the vet is much more expensive than seeing the general
practitioner," Mr Lam complained. "The human doctor charged me
twenty dollars when I went to him for a flu diagnosis. You charge
fifty dollars to pull a few ear hairs out of my Shih Tzu".
it was the
third time his pet had come for treatment of itchy ears. He had
tried over the counter ear powder, olive oil and his groomer had also
treated the ear itchiness. Nothing worked for long. Over a
period of time, the bills added up to a significant amount.
The fifty dollars included consultation, examination, tranquilisation and
irrigation of the ear canals of this Shih Tzu to get the oil and powder
out. I used forceps to pull out the long ear canal hairs which reduced
ventilation. Poor ventilation of the ear canals encouraged bacterial growth,
and inflammation. The inflamed ear canal became infected and itchy.
inexpensive as much time was spent on the ear irrigation compared to a
10-minute sit-down consultation at the general practitioner for flu.
Still, fifty dollars might mean a lot of money for any wage earner with a
baby to feed.
To lower the cost of ear problems in the Shih Tzu with
long ear hairs over the life-span of the dog, I
"There is a surgical procedure called LATERAL EAR CANAL RESECTION.
" The ear canal in the dog is L-shaped. There is a
vertical and a horizontal ear canal. The vet surgeon cuts open the side
wall of the vertical
ear canal so that the Shih Tzu. In this way, the canal is open and will not have ear ventilation problems
lead to continuous head shaking and scratching." I explained.
hole you see presently is the top end of the vertical ear canal. Further down, the
vertical canal curved inwards to become a horizontal canal. The L-shaped
canal structure traps and leads to infections of damp ear skin."
Mr Lam peeked at the opening of the vertical canal and could only see
turfs of hair obstructing the entrance.
The cost of general anesthesia and surgery called Lateral Ear Canal
Resection was $300
Mr Lam would rather not operate.
It was difficult for him
to visualise the long term savings of not having to bring his
companion for further veterinary treatment of the ears. Maybe it was the
cost of the surgery.
5. Pictures of Lateral Ear Canal Resection Surgery:
Above is a picture of chronic ear infections in the older
Shih Tzu in 2009. More info is at:
Ear Problems and Ear Surgery in the Dog.
for first-time Shih Tzu Breeders:
COLOURS OF SHIH TZUS.
There is a very low demand for black and white Shih Tzus
in Singapore. Therefore, your selling prices have to
be lower than the gold and white ones which seem to be in
great demand by the local Chinese Singaporeans.