A Shih Tzu have a shorter life span than that of humans, so it is impossible not to see them grow old faster than us. It is not something that should make us sad but it should make us value their life even more and make sure to give them the best care possible.


Shih Tzus age faster depending on their size, lifestyle, and level of activity. They have a life expectancy of about fifteen years on average, unlike large dog breeds that have a life expectancy of just about ten or twelve years.

Obviously, the better a Shih Tzu’s quality of life has been, the longer they can live. There are even numerous cases of Shih Tzus living more years than the average lifespan, mainly because they have a good quality of life.

Throughout their lives, Shih Tzus have the same phases as humans, that is:

  • Puppy (less than a year old): It can be compared to the baby stage of a human.
  • Young (from one to four years old): It can be compared to the adolescent stage of a human.
  • Adults (four to seven/eight years old): It can be compared to human adulthood
  • Elderly (eight years and older): Can be compared to older age in humans.

Thus, it is normal for a Shih Tzu to begin to age from seven, eight, or nine years. Depending on their size and quality of life.


There are different factors that you can evaluate to know if your Shih Tzu is getting older, which can be more or less intense, depending on their lifestyle. It is important to understand that aging is something completely normal and it should constantly remind us to give your Shih Tzu more love and affection as well as to adapt to their new needs.

Adorable White Dog

The appearance of gray hair or a change in hair color

It is very common in elderly Shih Tzus for small groups of grayish hair or spots to appear throughout the whole body, it’s totally normal and you can’t prevent or change it. You can just choose to enjoy the new look of your Shih Tzu and still keep their coat in good shape by adding salmon oil or any rich oils to their diet.

Loss of appetite

Lack of appetite is also a common thing in elderly Shih Tzus. If your Shih Tzu normally eats three times a day, you can try giving them only two meals a day instead to adjust to their dietary needs. You can also give them natural food that is better for their health than just kibbles.

Mouth or teeth problems

Remember that you should go to the vet to get your Shih Tzu’s mouth checked because when they are of a certain age, they can suffer from gum or teeth problems. A vet should, therefore, check your Shih Tzu’s mouth at least once a year.

Playing less than usual

Elderly Shih Tzus are less willing to play than younger Shih Tzus. It is something completely normal and that should not worry you, although that does not mean that you should pay less attention to them. On the contrary, you should increase the time that you spend with them and see what they prefer to do with you: walk, play, or simply receive a lot of pampering.

Body stiffness

Stiffness is a common thing that occurs with increasing age in Shih Tzus and you should go to the vet to make sure it’s not something serious such as osteoarthritis. These diseases require medication to relieve pain and maintain a good quality of life.

Lack of energy during walks

This is something that’s completely common because your Shih Tzu is no longer a kid and they need to walk at their own pace. Just observe your Shih Tzu and see how they do when walking and determine if you need to speed up or slow down for them.

Never force your old Shih Tzu to walk; they should not do intense physical exercises either. They just have to walk and play as they please, setting the pace themselves.

Eye color changes

As a Shih Tzu gets older, their eyes lose its color intensity, making it grayish. Just like in the previous cases, you must go to a vet to make sure that it is not glaucoma.


The first thing that you must understand is that you also get old, and it’s something that is completely natural. The life of your Shih Tzu is not measured by how many days they live, but by how happy those days were for them, that’s why we should do our best to care for them even when they get older.


Tip #1: Give them healthy food

Many Shih Tzus reach adulthood with dental problems because their teeth are being worn down during the previous years, so choosing a food that is soft is the best option for them. In addition to that, their diet ​​must contain around twenty-five percent less metabolizable calories. This is because elderly Shih Tzus do not move around too much and if you overfeed them, they will become fat which is not healthy.

If you want to feed your old Shih Tzu with dog food, make sure to choose one that’s made specifically for seniors and mix in a good amount of protectants for their joints and antioxidants.

Tip #2: Increase your affection towards them

Elderly Shih Tzus tend to feel more fearful and unprotected, so you should increase your affection towards them if possible. Giving them loving gestures daily and showing them how happy we are with them is essential to make them feel loved and accepted even during their elderly years. We even recommend that you start massaging your elderly Shih Tzu to relax their muscles and also strengthen your emotional ties with them.

Tip #3: Regulate their exercises

You should treat your old Shih Tzu ​​like a puppy. You should never force them to run or exercise, nor to take long walks, much less to play when they don’t want to. You simply must maintain your routine of walks with them but letting them set the pace. If they get tired and want to sit down, sit down with them, if they want to walk slowly, go slowly, etc. Respect your elderly Shih Tzu, let them be the one in charge.

Tip #4: More frequent veterinary visits

Unfortunately, elderly Shih Tzus do not have the same vitality as young Shih Tzus, and a small infection or disease can become very serious for them since their defenses are not what they used to be when they were younger.

To prevent any kind of medical problem, you should pay a little more attention to your Shih Tzu’s health and schedule a series of routine visits to the vet even if they are not sick, just to check and make sure everything is fine with them.

Some of the most common diseases in elderly Shih Tzus are:

  • Cataracts / Blindness
  • Elbow or hip dysplasia
  • Tartar problems on the teeth
  • Occurrence of osteoarthritis
  • Cardiovascular/circulation problems

It does not mean that all elderly Shih Tzus suffer from them, but rather that they are common in dogs of a certain age.

Tip #5: Adapt your home for their needs

Older Shih Tzus are not as resistant to seasonal changes like cold or heat so you must prepare a good place inside the house for them, where they have a comfortable and soft bed.

If it’s summer and it’s very hot, you must try to put your Shih Tzu’s resting place in a cool area (always close to you) so that they will feel comfortable. If it’s winter, you will do the same but look for a warmer place for your Shih Tzu to stay in.

It is even a good idea to put two beds: one in your room so that your Shih Tzu can sleep with you at night and the other in the living room so that they can be with you when you are at home. Always leave fresh water near their beds and some toys to entertain them when they want to nibble on them.

Tip #6: Healthy lifestyle

Lifestyle influences your Shih Tzu’s aging. If they have a nutritious and balanced diet, they will have a higher quality of life than the ones fed with leftovers and/or industrial food with little to no nutritional value. Nutritious food can help in the development of your Shih Tzus teeth, bones, and body. Furthermore, if your Shih Tzu exercises frequently, they won’t suffer from obesity. A Shih Tzu who lives a healthy lifestyle will age better and they’ll be sure to live longer.

Tip #7: Give them vitamins or food supplements

You can give your elderly Shih Tzu vitamins or food supplements along with their regular meals. You can also give them chondroprotective for their bones and cartilage in order to reduce discomfort from osteoarthritis.

Elderly Shih Tzus are easily susceptible to diseases because their immune systems are weak, so you need to give them something to strengthen it. It’s important to note though that the vitamins and food supplements that you give your elderly Shih Tzu should only come from a veterinarian’s recommendation to make sure it’s safe.




Regardless of how much you take care of your Shih Tzu, they are always prone to having parasites because there are eggs and larvae in your environment. Parasitic diseases are dangerous at any age and can potentially result in chronic digestive problems, gastroenteritis, respiratory disorders, anemia, tooth decay, and even death.

There are different kinds of parasites that can potentially affect your elderly Shih Tzu and some can even be transmitted to man. The way to control them is through periodic deworming. Your trusted vet will know how to guide you in this. A stool analysis can also be performed to identify the parasites in your Shih Tzu’s body in order to give them the most appropriate medication and regulate the interval between doses.


When you vaccinate your Shih Tzu, you are trying to prevent serious diseases from harming them. By having them vaccinated, you are supplying them with modified viruses that do not cause any diseases but produce antibodies to combat them.

Mothers transfer a part of their defenses to their puppies through the colostrum (breast milk from the first few days). This passive immunity decreases through time, which is why it’s important to vaccinate them. It is ideal to start vaccinating your Shih Tzu at 43 – 45 days of age and complete it by 4-5 months when their defensive system is already mature.

They must then be revaccinated every year because the effectiveness of each vaccine decreases as time goes by.

Here are some of the diseases that you need to protect your Shih Tzu from by having them vaccinated:

  • Distemper: Affects the digestive, respiratory, and/or nervous systems. A Shih Tzu with inappetence, conjunctivitis, fever, nasal discharge, respiratory problems, and diarrhea is very likely to have distemper. A large percentage of unvaccinated Shih Tzus will contract the disease, and several, especially puppies, will die.
  • Hepatitis: In adult Shih Tzus, the mortality from hepatitis is low; but not in puppies. This virus attacks various organs causing great damage, especially in the liver and eyes.
  • Parvovirus and Coronavirus: They come in the form of dangerous viral diarrhea. They are producers of gastroenteritis, leading to the death of puppies due to the intense dehydration or due to an attack on the myocardium (heart muscles).
  • Respiratory diseases: Not only the distemper virus can affect the respiratory system, there are also other organisms that produce persistent cough, adynamia, low defenses, and Parainfluenza or kennel cough, which is always exploited by secondary bacterial contamination.
  • Rabies: Thanks to the annual vaccination, the incidence of this disease has decreased in animals as in man, but there are still cases in different places.



A good diet is essential for your elderly Shih Tzu, you must be informed about the benefits and nutritional value of each food so as to give your Shih Tzu a balanced meal.

Dog food

There are two types of dog food that you can give to your elderly Shih Tzu:

  • Premium and Super Premium Food: High quality, with an in-depth analysis of all its components. They contain nutrients for optimal health and it’s not necessary to supplement them with any vitamins or minerals. As they are highly digestible foods, the volume and texture of your Shih Tzu’s stool will be consistent. This type of dog food is highly recommended for your elderly Shih Tzu.
  • Cheap Food: This is massively sold in supermarkets and has lower quality and health benefits compared to that of premium dog foods.

Homemade meals

If you want to start giving your elderly Shih Tzu homemade food, you should do it gradually and you should make sure that it’s balanced. We suggest following the process below:

  • 1st. Week: 75% dog food + 25% homemade food
  • 2nd. Week: 50% dog food  + 50% homemade food
  • 3rd. Week: 25% of dog food  + 75% homemade food
  • 4th. Week: 100% homemade

Ideally, once the process is complete, your Shih Tzu will eat twice a day. In this way, you avoid the risk of them eating too much.

When preparing meals for your elderly Shih Tzu, make sure to include the following:

  • Proteins: Minced meat that’s grilled, baked, or microwaved. It is not recommended to give it to them raw due to the risk of infections and parasitosis.
  • Carbohydrates: Rice, white noodles, or polenta. They must be very well cooked (add approximately 10 minutes to the usual cooking time of each food).
  • Fatty Acids: Shih Tzus need fats in their diet. For this reason, it is important to add it daily to their diet through either lean meat or Corn oil.
  • Other food: pumpkin, zucchini, apple, carrots, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta, cereal flakes, cooked fish, tripe, various fruits, bread, and biscuits; the latter in moderate quantity.

The amount of food to be given varies according to the size and physical condition of your elderly Shih Tzu. If your Shih Tzu does not have obesity problems, you can leave the food available to them throughout the day.


SHIH TZU on the ground

Checking your elderly Shih Tzu’s health regularly is a good idea. If they refuse to eat their food or if you notice any other changes in their behavior, consult your vet. Eyesight and smell can deteriorate with age, and you will have to adjust based on these changes to help your Shih Tzu cope.

If your Shih Tzu becomes elderly, you will notice that they will obey your commands less, although it’s just because they’re not hearing you too well. Vision problems may also appear so pay attention to symptoms such as secretions in the corner of the eyes or your Shih Tzu stumbling frequently on furniture (in many cases, Shih Tzus with vision problems adapt very well to their environment).

Aside from teeth loss, gum inflammation is a much more serious problem because bacteria can pass into your Shih Tzu’s blood through the inflamed tissues. Take your Shih Tzu to have their teeth and gums checked regularly, and visit your vet if they don’t look perfectly healthy to you. Brush their teeth regularly with a special brush and give them biting bones or special cookies as snacks or pass time.

Urinary incontinence (loss of urination control) is also a problem in older Shih Tzus. It may be because of disorders in the nervous system, which controls the bladder, urinary tract disorders, or prostate problems. If your Shih Tzu has urinary incontinence more than usual, make sure to see your vet.

To finish, remember that periodic vaccinations are as important in older Shih Tzus as in younger ones.