Our furry Shih Tzu friends are cute sleepyheads when they are sleeping, obviously. In addition to the hours of nighttime sleep, they also usually take LOTS of short naps during the day. If you’re a Shih Tzu owner sometimes you will be wondering when they are actually going to bother to wake up 🙂

A Shih Tzu’s need for sleep is greater than that of humans and they require more than 50% of of our sleep amount each day.

For Shih Tzu’s, it is essential to sleep well and their sleep must be of good quality. Your Shih Tzu will enjoy a good rest if they perform lots of physical and mental activity during the day. So in addition to giving them walks and exercises, you must also stimulate their brain with some interactive activities. Keep in mind that the more activity your Shih Tzu has, the better the quality of their rest is going to be.

A Shih Tzu’s need for sleep must be respected to guarantee a good quality of life. A Tzu that is properly rested will be in good physical and mental health. This translates into:

  • Soft, shiny and abundant hair / fur.
  • Well-hydrated skin.
  • Good mood.

If you want to avoid a grumpy dog, let them sleep and make sure they get enough interaction to tire them out naturally.

HOW LONG DO SHIH TZUS SLEEP?

The number of hours a Shih Tzu sleeps varies according to their age, size, and physical activity. For example:

  • The larger the Shih Tzu, the more time they need to rest.
  • Shih Tzu puppies spend a lot of energy, therefore they will spend most of their day sleeping and feeding. It’s not unusual for puppies to need up to 18 hours of sleep in a day.
  • Older dogs, given their physical and mental condition, require more hours of sleep.

Adult Tzu’s On average:

  • They require between 12 to 14 hours of rest split between day naps and nighttime rest.
  • An adult Shih Tzu sleeps 8 to 9 hours each night.
  • The rest of the time a Shih Tzu spend sleeping is divided between several “naps” throughout the day.
  • Daytime sleep is usually lighter and they are more vigilant, they wake up easily when stimulated by one of their senses.
  • You’ll also probably get to witness them in REM sleep and dreaming.

Since rest is so important for our Shih Tzus, it is important to find a suitable and relaxing place for them. Your Shih Tzu deserves:

  • A place that they can consider as their own and thus feel safe. This might not be a cage or dog bed but somewhere they select.
  • A comfortable bed suited to their size should be provided anyway.
  • A space free of drafts, but ventilated.
  • Having the right temperature for a restful sleep.

Adult Shih Tzus

The number of hours a Shih Tzu sleeps depends on their age, physical condition, and rhythm of daily activity. In general, an adult Shih Tzu that lives in a family environment will sleep more during the middle of the day.

An adult Shih Tzu usually spends 44-48% of their time awake, 19-21% in a drowsy situation, 22-23% in slow wave sleep and 10-12% in REM phase. That is, 50% awake and 50% asleep, regardless of sleep type and depth.

If we take an entire day as a measure, within the 24 hours of a Shih Tzu’s day, they spend an average of 9.67 hours in slow wave or light sleep and about 3.24 hours in deep sleep.

It should also be noted that sleep patterns in an adult Shih Tzu will vary according to the photoperiod which is their daily activity and familiarity with the environment. A Shih Tzu in a new or unfamiliar environment is always more alert, so they won’t be able to sleep easily, but it will pass. It’s a good idea when moving home or boarding your Tzu to make sure they get lots of exercise to help wear them out and reduce any potential stress.

Shih Tzu Puppies

shih tzu puppy sleeping on the floor

Shih Tzu puppies need more sleep than adult Shih Tzus. In the two weeks following birth, the puppies only show deep sleep patterns. In this neonatal period, the type of sleep observed is of the REM type. There bodies are changing and they are going to be growing at a rapid rate as they begin to develop so sleep is essential.

During the third week, or transition period, slow wave and REM patterns begin to emerge. The time puppies stay awake increases as the time for deep sleep decreases. At this time, it is no longer so common to go directly from being awake to being in a deep sleep.

A Shih Tzu puppy ​​sleeps a lot because they gain more information about their environment (everything is new and everything is yet to be learned). They also need to grow physically and the growth hormone is secreted during sleep. A Shih Tzu puppy of less than three months old can sleep between 18 to 20 hours daily.

From 4 weeks of age, Shih Tzu puppies begin to interact much more with their environment and therefore will remain alert more than 50% of the time. Little by little, and until 8 weeks, which is when the socialization stage begins, the sleep patterns become increasingly similar to those of the adult Shih Tzu.

HOW DO SHIH TZUS SLEEP?

A Shih Tzu have a human-like sleeping pattern, but with some relevant differences which they have inherited from their wild ancestor, the wolf. The phases of sleep in Shih Tzus are similar to ours, although the REM stage only lasts for 10% of the cycle (it usually extends up to 25% in people). And, like humans, dogs dream and even have nightmares. You can notice these moments because:

  • They move their legs
  • They groan
  • They bark
  • They lick the air
  • They raise their ears

In addition to that, a lot of Shih Tzus snore because they are considered a brachycephalic breed whose airways are narrow and have a flat nose.

Although it may seem contradictory, sleep is not a passive activity but a highly active one. While a Shih Tzu sleeps, their brain is continually working. During sleep, postural relaxation occurs and sensory thresholds are raised so that your Shih Tzu can disconnect from the environment and focus on resting.

Polyphasic Sleepers

cute shih tzu sleeping on the wooden tile

A Shih Tzu’s brain works based on their brain waves and depending on how these waves are, the Shih Tzu will be in the waking or sleeping phase. Shih Tzus, like people, alternate phases of short or slow wave sleep and fast wave or REM sleep. To understand how Shih Tzus sleep, it is important to know what happens in each of these phases.

Within the sleep cycle, there are two phases:

  1. Slow, short-wave sleep or Non-REM (NREM) sleep
  2. REM dream (Rapid-Eyes-Movement)

Slow Sleep or NREM

During NREM sleep, your Shih Tzu’s brain is calm and their body, although relaxed, could move or change position. Heart rate decreases, body temperature drops, and growth hormones are released. During this phase of sleep, your Shih Tzu does not dream. They are in recharge mode, their bodies are repairing and the brain is given time off.

REM Sleep (Deep Sleep)

During the REM phase is when your Shih Tzu sleeps soundly but also dreams. Their breathing is fast and irregular and your Shih Tzu can shake, move their legs as if they were running, and even bark. REM is an abbreviation of the term “Rapid Eye Movement” since during this phase of sleep, their eyeballs move rapidly under the eyelids. 

Sometimes this can be easily seen because your Shih Tzu falls asleep with their eyes slightly open. The REM phase and time for Shih Tzu dreams is as important as NREM sleep and captures a huge amount of information from the environment due to their high brain activity. In this phase, the level of brain activity is similar to when your Shih Tzu  is awake.

Social Sleepers

shih tzu on bed with sleeping owner

Have you ever wondered why your Shih Tzu is looking to sleep or rest near you? The answer is because they are social sleepers. That is, they can only sleep when in contact with another dog or with their human companions. If not physically, at least in the same room. This allows them to feel more secure and relax better. If your adopted dog or new puppy struggles to rest at night and they are a Tzu, bringing them closer to you will allow them to settle if they are a solo dog. You are their pack after all.

It is the expression of a protective instinct: if a dog were sleeping outside alone, it would need to be continually alert to avoid threats or dangers present in the environment. For this reason, it is not advisable to force a new puppy to sleep alone and isolated.

Active Rest Postures and Deep Sleep Postures in Shih Tzus

When we talk about how Shih Tzus sleep, we also have to keep in mind how they rest, even without being asleep. A Shih Tzu have a wide variety of postures when resting and sleeping. Some of it helps them to be at rest but alert, and others help them fall asleep.

During active rest, which is the one that allows your Shih Tzu to spend minimum energy while being alert to what is happening around them, your Shih Tzu can be sitting or lying on their sternum. If they are used to being in a lying position, they will never be on their side because what they seek during active rest is to be able to react quickly to any unforeseen threat.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEPING

Rest is important for any species. Most animals have a biological rhythm of rest-activity that allows them to restore their energy. Sleep helps your Shih Tzu to remember their experiences and what they have learned during the day. It is also important because of following reasons:

  • It allows their body to conserve and restore energy.
  • It keeps their brain agile.
  • Improve learning ability.
  • It helps to consolidate new memories and update old ones based on what they have just learned: the sleeping brain knows which new information is significant enough to keep and which is not worth retaining.  
  • Forge new neural connections.
  • It allows growth. During sleep, growth hormone is released, so understanding how dogs sleep and the importance of rest is essential.
  • Prevents brain degeneration. During sleep, activity increases in the genes involved in the production of “oligodendrocytes”, which are the cells responsible for covering the myelin neurons, the “insulation material” of the brain. Conversely, lack of sleep leads to increased activity in the genes involved in stress and cell death.
  • It improves the immune system.

A Shih Tzu that does not rest properly can have learning and memory problems, as well as a weaker immune system that leaves them exposed to diseases.

WHERE SHOULD YOUR SHIH TZU BE SLEEPING?

It is important that both your Shih Tzu and the rest of the family are comfortable and satisfied with their sleeping area. Because of this, it is ideal that you think about it before your Shih Tzu’s arrival. If they are new to the home it’s still a good time to consider their sleeping needs.

Shih Tzus, in general, are very affectionate and they like to be very close to their owners, but when they arrive, some rules need to be established so it will be much easier for them to adjust to their new home. That is, don’t pamper them too much and allow them to do everything during the first days if later on, you are going to prohibit them from doing what you are letting them do today. This will only confuse them.

People often then Shih Tzu’s are hard to train because of this, we don’t think that’s the case, they are just sociable and resistant to change.

shih tzu ready to sleep

Tips For Choosing Where Your Shih Tzu Should Sleep

  1. If the floor is small, find a corner for your Shih Tzu. They also need to have their alone times and sometimes like to retreat to a place where no one can bother them. You must decide whether or not you want this place to be in the room of a family member or in a common area. Once you decide, do not change it. Also let the dog guide you, if they tend to aim for the same spot they like it for a reason. If it’s not safe or suitable look at the environment and try to replicate what it seems they like somewhere else.
  2. In the case of a very small Shih Tzu puppy, it can be best to keep them close for the first few nights, but as soon as they grow a little, it’s best to find a space for them. Given half a chance they will sneak to snuggle next to you on beds and furniture. As they don’t shed, that’s not as much of an issue as it can be for some other breeds.
  3. If the first days or weeks, your Shih Tzu cries at night, it is totally normal and you will have to be strong not to succumb. In this way, they will get used to the fact that each one in the family has their own space.
  4. Choose a bed for your Shih Tzu based on their size. If it’s a puppy, try to avoid materials that they can nibble and destroy. Not only is this not their fault as they will be dealing with things like teething, it can also put their health in danger with choking hazards.
  5. If the house has a garden, in good weather, you can install a doghouse. This will give them independence and security. Try to keep it clean though, with a comfortable bed, a blanket, light, and some toys. Often they are just as happy laying on the porch, patio or decking. Catching you Shih Tzu bathing in any small shaft of sunlight is quite normal 🙂


DO SHIH TZUS HAVE DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES?

Dreams

We have seen how Shih Tzus sleep but we have to answer the question of whether they can dream.

Given the similarities between dog and human sleep patterns, it would be strange to think that they can’t dream. Now, it has not yet been possible to demonstrate what they dream about, although logic leads us to think that they recover experiences lived in their day to day lives and, therefore, they dream of “dog things”. Thanks to the study of encephalograms that analyze brain activity, Scientists have discovered that Shih Tzus dream and do so during the REM sleep phase, just like we do.

Nightmares

Just as we can affirm that Shih Tzus dream, we could deduce that they also have nightmares. In fact, at some moments, we will be able to observe our Shih Tzus shaking during the REM phase and even vocalizing (whimpering, barking and growling). 

Although today, there is no scientific way to check what images or stimuli the Shih Tzu’s brain is evoking during this sleep phase, everything indicates that Shih Tzus can have, like people, unpleasant or unpleasant dreams and sudden awakenings due to these nightmares.

sleepy shih tzu under the table

SHIH TZU SLEEPING DISORDERS

Adequate sleep is essential for your Shih Tzu to maintain their physical and mental health, as is the case with all mammals. And we are not only referring to the quantitative aspect, but also to the qualitative one. However, there are some sleep disorders that can affect your Shih Tzu’s rest. These are disorders that must be taken into account because they could indicate serious illnesses. We will tell you about the most common ones below.

Insomnia

First of all, we want to talk about insomnia, which can be due to different pathologies. Of course, it is normal that it’s accompanied by rheumatism or respiratory discomfort. We also have to highlight anxiety, which causes sudden awakenings in the phases of a deep sleep. Stress and depression can also be causes of insomnia in Shih Tzus. Physical contact and soothing touches can help alleviate this for them.

Hypersomnia

Another common sleep disorder is hypersomnia, common in Shih Tzus with narcolepsy, an inherited disease that causes them to fall asleep regardless of what they are doing. It usually manifests after intense excitement.

Somnambulism

We also want to talk about sleepwalking, which causes your Shih Tzu to walk, run, jump, bark and even cry when they are asleep. It is a more common disorder than it seems, but it does not have any serious negative effect on your Shih Tzu.

Snoring

Finally, we want to talk about snoring, which can be due to allergies, overweight, and throat obstruction. Because of these, your Shih Tzu can wake up tired. On the other hand, it is important to keep in mind that snoring can be due to serious diseases such as tumors, so it is best to take your Shih Tzu to the vet if the problem is not solved by checking, cleaning, and clearing their nostrils. This is for excessive snoring only. 

TEACHING YOUR SHIH TZU TO BE BETTER AT SLEEPING

shih tzu on bed

Shih Tzu Puppy

It has happened to many people that they have adopted a Shih Tzu puppy that finds it difficult to sleep during the night. Especially in the first few weeks, a Shih Tzu puppy does not let us sleep with their constant barking, crying, etc. You don’t have to worry because there is a solution, you just need a little patience.

The reason that a Shih Tzu puppy does not sleep very well during the first few weeks is because they feel disoriented and insecure because they have been separated from their mother and siblings. You also have to understand that they are in a different environment, with different people, and even different smells that they do not know. That’s why you need to have a little understanding.

This does not mean that we will just leave the situation without solving it, you just have to follow these useful tips:

Routine

We already know that dogs are routine animals, so from the first day, you have to plan a routine and have your Shih Tzu puppy follow it. You need to have a schedule for giving their food, walking them, playing games with them, and of course, the time for their sleep. You have to make sure that the daily activities are executed at the same time so that your Shih Tzu puppy gets used to it.

Environment

You have to create a pleasant environment conducive for the sleep of your Shih Tzu. A place that is for them and where their bed is. A mistake made by most people is that when their Shih Tzu puppy starts crying, they take them to their bed and that should not be done because your Shih Tzu puppy will get used to it and not think of their bed as a place to rest. Instead they’ll associate it with punishment or anxiety over separation from you.

In the first few weeks, put your Shih Tzu puppy next to your bed, since they will be reminded of their mother’s heartbeat with you near them and they will feel calmer. It is also very important to avoid loud noises that will scare them.

What you must not do

Do not go immediately if your Shih Tzu puppy starts crying or else they will think that every time they cry, you will come to them and misunderstand it as a means to get attention or comfort from you. Of course, you must monitor them from a distance to make sure that nothing happened to them.

Do not feed your Shih Tzu puppy before bed, as this will give them energy and they may want to play instead of sleep. It is preferable to feed them 3 to 4 hours before going to sleep. Digesting food takes energy so sleeping once food has digested is easier and more comfortable. Think about how you felt last time you tried to sleep soon after a heavy meal.

Shih Tzu Adult

If your Shih Tzu is an adult and does not sleep well at night, it’s because something is wrong, so it’s time to assess the situation. If you have changed your house, if there is a new member in the family or a new pet, if the owners are stressed, etc., all of this can influence your Shih Tzu’s desire to sleep. As soon as the new situation passes, your Shih Tzu will possibly rest quietly again. If this is not the case, then you might want to consider the following.

Sleeping environment

First of all, you have to provide your adult Shih Tzu with a good environment to sleep so that they can sleep and rest. Give them a comfortable bed that they can treat as their own. If it is not placed in your bedroom, you can show it to them by putting on top of it a treat that they like.

It is very important to establish their sleep time, it can be the same as yours or a different time. Always create the same daily routine by turning off the lights, turning off the television, turning off the music, etc., that your adult Shih Tzu can identify as a time to go to sleep.

Food

Like puppies, Shih Tzu adults should not eat before going to sleep as that will give them a lot of energy. They have to eat 3 to 4 hours before going to sleep. It is also very important that they get plenty of exercise during the day, so they will feel tired and sleep faster.

sleeping shih tzu

Relaxing massages

Once your adult Shih Tzu is in bed, you can treat them with relaxing massages, especially in the head and back areas. This will make them feel relaxed and help them sleep better.


WHEN YOUR SHIH TZU IS SLEEPING TOO MUCH

In a Shih Tzu, it’s normal to take long naps and get plenty of rest during the day, but various factors such as age and daily activity must be taken into account. You have to pay close attention to some details that can be key to detect problems such as lack of appetite or a state of depression. We know it can be difficult, but we will try to clarify and explain each problem and how to solve it.

The first thing you should do when you notice that your Shih Tzu sleeps too much is to count their hours of sleep, taking into account that Shih Tzu puppies sleep much more than an adult Shih Tzu and that as they get older, their sleep hours will increase.

If your Shih Tzu sleeps during unusual hours or in strange situations, it could be due to a more serious problem.

Changes to Sleep Patterns During Winter

Winter has shorter days, longer nights and usually less favourable weather so it’s quite normal for Shih Tzu’s to sleep longer. If they seem to be sleeping more excessively then keep an eye on their overall health as that might indicate underlying problems.

Changes to Sleep Patterns During Summer

The same thing happens during summer as in winter with our Shih Tzus, due to the heat, you will notice that your Shih Tzu throws themselves in any shade to rest and that their hours of sleep increases. During the day, they will be less active due to the heat in the early morning and in the late afternoon, they will have more energy. Our Shih Tzus can also change their eating habits, eating at other times or in less quantity.

Age Affecting Shih Tzu’s Sleep Hours

As we have previously said, the age of our Shih Tzu is a very important factor when it comes to sleep, which is why it will increase their usual hours of sleep. You have to be careful if they sleep too much and you see some symptoms of the Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome , which is similar to Alzheimer’s. You will see how their mood and habitual behavior changes, they will be disoriented and will begin to urinate inside the house. They will also sleep more during the day than at night which is one more mitigating factor, so we recommend going to your trusted vet as soon as possible.

Sadness Can Affect Sleep

If your Shih Tzu is sad and also sleeps a lot, you must first detect if it is due to any physical activity. It may be due to lack of attention, boredom, or sudden changes in their routine. A Shih Tzu that has been adopted may be more prone to this type of problem, because they have been mistreated or separated from their mother too soon. Affection and stimulation can go a long way to turning a sad dog into a happy member of their new home.

Sleeping a Lot and Eating Too Little

Some of the most common causes of your Shih Tzu sleeping too much and lack of appetite may be anorexia, apathy and fever. But if you detect any factor that makes you think that they sleep too much, it may be due to a pathological process. Viral diseases, for example, tend to be more worrying in puppies, since they are not yet too developed and have an immature immune system.

Vomiting and Sleep

One of the most common causes of our Shih Tzu sleeping too much is poisoning. Shaking or sleeping too much, vomiting, or having diarrhea will be key symptoms to get your Shih Tzu to the vet right away.

SHIH TZU SLEEPING POSITIONS AND WHAT IT MEANS

Those of us who have a Shih Tzu know how important it is to pay attention to their small gestures like the way they look at us and the way they wag their tail. Every day, our Shih Tzu gives us hundreds of signals that we can use to know what they are thinking or even assess their health condition, this is their way of communicating with us.

One of these gestures which may go unnoticed by many is the sleeping posture of your Shih Tzu. As it is in humans, rest is a very important factor in the life of our Shih Tzus, so their sleeping positions can tell us a lot about how they feel.

Curled Up Like A Ball

gray shih tzu sleeping on bed

Admit it, you have many times noticed your Shih Tzu sleeping curled up like a ball on their bed. It is one of the most common sleeping positions, but that does not mean that it is entirely a good sign. Your Shih Tzu does not adopt this position for comfort, but to maintain body heat. By being in this position, they are protecting their throat, limbs, and vital organs. If you have seen your Shih Tzu sleep like this for many days, perhaps you should check the temperature at home as it may be too cold for them.

On the other hand, there are also studies that have determined that this sleeping posture is more common in kind dogs, is it the case with yours?

Sleeping On The Stomach

sleepy shih tzu on the couch

We won’t deny it, your Shih Tzu sleeping on their stomach is adorable, but it may not be the most ideal posture either. This position is very common to younger puppies since they consume so much energy that they remain stiff as it is when resting. However, sleeping on their stomach does not stop tightening the body muscles which may prevent them from reaching the REM phase of sleep.

On the other hand, the fact that the abdomen is very close to the ground can also mean that they’re getting heat from the ground. In this way, most animals manage to counteract high temperatures from their environment, especially if the floor material is heat insulating.

Sleeping On The Side

sleeping shih tzu with owner

This, after the curled up position, is the second most common. But rest assured, this is all good news as it means that your Shih Tzu is calm and happy. This position is the opposite of an alert position, it would make it very difficult for them to react to a dangerous situation, which means that your Shih Tzu is completely unconcerned; they feel safe and comfortable at home and with you.

Legs Up and Crazy

shih tzu sleeping on the couch

This position is probably one that has generated a lot of memes on the Internet. Mouths open, tongues out, each leg pointing somewhere; surely, if your Shih Tzu has fallen asleep like this, it has given you more than a laugh .

Well, good news. Aside from being funny, it’s a very good sign, it means your Shih Tzu is enjoying their sleep like never before. If sleeping on their side would be a problem when reacting to danger, how much more in that position! So don’t wake them up, they’re enjoying their sleep and feeling completely safe at home.

Superman Posture

shih tzu taking a nap

If your Shih Tzu has got their paws in a position as if they were about to fly away, they are exactly preparing for that. This posture would be considered an “alert posture”, this means that your Shih Tzu is not completely calm in their environment and is prepared for what may happen. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing though.

CONCLUSION

Sleeping, and resting properly, just like for people, is essential for our Shih Tzus. Sleep is essential to maintain physical and mental health .

The beds, far from being a luxury, are very necessary for the proper rest of our Shih Tzus. They can manage to sleep anywhere, but their quality of life will increase if they have a suitable bed for their needs.

For all this, it is important that we make sure that our beloved Shih Tzus have a suitable place to sleep, and can have sweet dreams.