One of the biggest challenges with the adorable breed is that Shih Tzu breathing problems can be a common issue. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing or knowing that your Shih Tzu dog has issues with their breathing patterns whether it is an existing condition or has just developed through time. A lot of factors can contribute to these Shih Tzu Breathing problems including the environment and lifestyle or how the dog is raised.

Shih Tzu dogs are considered brachycephalic breeds which means that they have short noses and flat faces. Because of this, they are very prone to having issues with their breathing. Even though this is common to this type of breed, any type of breathing issues is not something that you should just brush off.

As the owner, there are a few steps that you can take in order to improve the condition of your Shih Tzu dog but in some situations, veterinary care might be required. In this article, we will be talking about some of the breathing issues common to Shih Tzus.


Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome is the condition common to brachycephalic breeds. This is a breathing problem caused by the dog’s body structure. Although this is just a general term commonly used, it actually covers at least one of these health problems; elongated soft palate, stenotic nares, voice box, and abnormally small or collapsed trachea.

Symptoms that are observed in Shih Tzus that has Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome include fast breathing, frequent snoring, episodes of heavy breathing, regurgitating food, inhales that sounds like coughs, breathing with noises, collapsing, and intolerance to exercises.

Shih Tzu Breathing Problems

1. Elongated Soft Palate

There is a flap of skin at the back of the dog’s throat which is called the soft palate. If this palate is too long, the entrance to the windpipe might be blocked partially which can cause breathing issues.

2. Stenotic Nares

Stenotic Nares or also called Pinched Nostrils is caused by a nose cartilage malformation inherited from the dog’s ancestors. As the name suggests, these dogs have nostrils that are unnaturally small which gives them trouble taking in the air when breathing.

3. Collapsed Trachea

This happens when the rings of cartilage surrounding the windpipe collapse inwards which is caused naturally or accidentally.


1. Avoid too much heat

As much as possible, follow guidelines for summer care for your Tzu’s. Minimize activities at very hot times and if possible, only take your dog out for walks early in the morning or before sunset because these are times that are usually not so hot. When you are out with your Shih Tzu, make it a point to bring water and take a break in the shade once in a while.

2. The place where your Shih Tzu sleeps and usually hangs out

It is important to be sensitive to where your Tzu sleeps or take frequent breaks. The Shih Tzu dog should have a sturdy bed where the body will not sink into the mattress. It is also suggested that a pillow is to be placed under the dog’s neck to help them breathe better. See our helpful post on choosing Shih Tzu dog beds.

3. Be picky with collars

If a collar is too small for the dog, it can limit the breathing. To check if the collar is loose enough, try if you can slip your two fingers under it. Never use a leash for your Tzu, always use a harness as it causes less strain on the throat.

4. Moisturize the air

Some Shih Tzu dogs find it difficult to breathe in environments with very dry air. A humidifier placed near the dog’s sleeping area might be able to help with this.

5. Excitement with your Shih Tzu dog

When your Shih Tzu becomes too excited, try to calm the dog down before it affects his breathing. We suggest taking breaks from playing and having some distractions when over excitement happens.


Clinical treatment is not required with breathing problems unless your Shih Tzu displays dangerous signs. However, prevention is always better than cure so as much as possible, avoid the things that will trigger these conditions. If the dog has been experiencing one of these problems ever since he was a puppy, medications might be necessary in order to assist the breathing of your Shih Tzu. Keep your Shih Tzu healthy and be sensitive to their needs.