Shih Tzu Health Problems
Common Medical Concerns

On this page we will cover some important information regarding Shih Tzu health problems and common medical issues and concerns. If you own a Shih Tzu or are thinking about getting one, becoming familiar with these potential Shih Tzu problems is a must.

For starters, Shih Tzu dogs are Brachycephalic, which in essence, basically means that they have a short muzzle and give off the appearance of having a pushed in face.

As a result of being Brachycephalic, Shih Tzus are prone to several respiratory conditions.

Please keep in mind that not every Shih Tzu will develop symptoms related to the following health problems:

Stenotic Nares are very small and narrow nasal passages. As you can imagine, not having enough air entering the nose makes it difficult to breathe. As a result, the heart and lungs are put under more strain. This particular Shih Tzu health problem is passed on genetically and in severe cases, surgery will be required to open up the nostrils.

Elongated soft palate/cleft palate is a Shih Tzu medical concern that forms when the Shih Tzu is still in the embryonic state. Occurring inside the mouth, cleft palate is the result of improper fusing of the tissue that separates the nasal passages from the oral and throat regions. In many cases, this condition is not life threatening but if it does begin causing respiratory distress, surgery will be needed.


Shih Tzu dogs can be prone to overheating and heat stroke because of their Brachycephalic nature. Because air flow through the nostrils might be limited, overheating can occur if these dogs are exercised too much or kept outside too long in hot temperatures.

Other Shih Tzu Health Problems

Umbilical hernia is another Shih Tzu health problem that is in most cases, an inherited medical issue that affects the area where the umbilical cord used to be attached. This is a potentially fatal condition, so if you see a protrusion coming from the stomach area of your Shih Tzu puppy, please call your vet immediately.

Cherry eye, also known as Harderian Gland Prolapse, is a medical condition that affects the third eyelid of the Shih Tzu. Inside this third eyelid, a gland is found which produces tears. If this tear gland becomes loose or weakened, it will become irritated and start to swell with blood. This protrusion will be visible to the naked eye and can look very disturbing. If cherry eye is not treated, temporary blindness and discomfort will occur. A fairly simple and safe surgical procedure can correct this Shih Tzu eye problem.

Patellar luxation is another Shih Tzu health problem that affects the kneecaps. This medical condition can be caused by a variety of issues such as weak leg ligaments, misaligned muscles and stretched tendons. As a result, the kneecap will generally slip out of its proper place causing the Shih Tzu to limp on just 3 legs, holding the injured leg off the ground. Many times a puppy can outgrow patellar luxation but if the condition worsens or if it appears later in the dog's life, surgery might be required.

In conclusion, these are just a few of the more common health problems related to this breed. Don't let these medical issues scare you. As we've previously stated throughout the site, Shih Tzu dogs are in general, a pretty healthy breed. But, as always, never forget to consult with your vet for advice about the medical condition and treatment of your pet. If your dog is suffering from allergies, please visit our Shih Tzu Allergies page. 

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