1) Support- One of the top elements to consider is the type of support that the bed will offer. For breeds like the Shih Tzu that are prone to hip dysplasia
and back issues, this is paramount. While it may seem as if the sleeping surface may not matter much due to this breed's small size, we must remember that it is all relative.
Whether a 12 pound dog or a 150 pound person rests down on a bed, the mattress's ability to hold, distribute pressure and conform to the body's curves are all going to affect the level of relief and rest that the body receives.
When a Shih Tzu rests or sleeps on his bed, this is the time for the body to rejuvenate, for muscles to rest, for joints to be free of undue pressure and for his entire body from head to paw to be able to physically relax while being properly supported.
Senior dogs need orthopedic, memory foam mattress; once a dog reaches the age of 7 years old, his chances of developing arthritis are 60% and this increases as each year goes by.
2) Proper positioning
- Being both a Brachycephalic breed (compact face, which compresses the breathing passages) and having an almost squared-off body (only slightly longer than tall, wide chest, short legs, rounded thighs), means that a Shih Tzu needs to have a bed with the right sizing and to allow for proper positioning. Many Shih Tzu have some level of elongated palate, which can lead to breathing issues
particularly at night (snoring
is quite common).
Therefore, the right interior dimensions will allow enough room to properly stretch out without being so large that you lose the element of security. Some Shih Tzu do best when they have raised bumpers, which are used as a pillow-type support that allows the neck to stretch out a bit, allowing breathing passages to open. For those that like a more open feeling, flat mattress can work as well, as long as they are large enough that the Shih Tzu can fully stretch out.
3) Security - All canines are pack animals and when a dog has his own 'den', this is one of his most prized possessions. A Shih Tzu's bed is his own special area; no one else can sit there, no one can invade his territory, he has his own little recluse to retreat to. Whether his bed is placed up on your bed, is in the corner of your bedroom or is has its own spot in the family room within a gated off area or canine playpen, it is your Shih Tzu's one area that is 'all his'. And this is so important to help a dog feel that he has some control over his world and has a place that offers warmth and comfort.
4) Hygiene - 3 things accumulate on a dog's bedding: body oils, skin flakes and dust mites. This goes for human beds as well (just swap out body oils for sweat). While it's not very pleasant to think about, dust mites are everywhere. They burrow deep into mattresses and are found on sheets and pillow cases. In regard to body oils and skin flakes, while the Shih Tzu does have hair instead of fur, this by no means equals hair retention. Both hairs and skin are in a constant state of renewal.
For these reasons, the best beds will have washable covers, so that you can launder them to maintain a clean sleeping
surface for your puppy or dog.