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Breeding Your Shih Tzu

Before You Begin Breeding

When you wish breed your Shih Tzu, there are many elements to keep in mind both for the sake of your Shih Tzu and for the potential puppies.

Is Your Shih Tzu Ready?

If you have a female dog, how do you know if your Shih Tzu is ready to breed? Is your dog old enough? How do you know that you can safely breed your dog?


The best time to breed your Shih Tzu is between the dog's 2nd heat cycle and the age of 7 years old. It is not recommended to breed a toy breed dog after the age of 7 years, due to potential health risks. This breed would endure too much stress if having puppies after this age. Because a Shih Tzu can continue to enter into heat cycles for her entire life, you will want to have her spayed as soon as you know that you will not be breeding her any more. As stated in our Heat section, spaying your dog and stopping the heat cycle will help greatly to prevent mammary and ovarian cancer - great risks to little Shih Tzu female dogs. 
litter of Shih Tzu puppies
How Many Times Can You Breed a Shih Tzu?

Ideally, you will not want to allow a female Shih Tzu to have more than 3 liters. Each time this dog gives birth to puppies, it puts an enormous strain on her body. Professional Shih Tzu breeders may be able to breed more than 3 times, as they have the expertise to evaluate each dog.

Weight Requirements for Breeding a Shih Tzu

To correctly breed the Shih Tzu breed, 2 elements must be kept in mind:
1) Size should be considered when pairing. The male Shih Tzu dog (sire) should be smaller than the female (dam).  Ideally, a 1 or 2 lb. difference is best. 

2) Never take 2 "runt" Shih Tzu dogs and allow them to mate in an effort to produce very small sized Tzu puppies. It is very unethical and very dangerous to the health of those pups.
Health Check

Before you breed your Shih Tzu, it is very important to have testing done to both male and female dog. Why? Because a dog can be carrying genes that are passed on to the puppies. If 1 of the dogs is shown to have genes of a serious inherited disease, you will want to think twice about breeding them. If both dogs have the genes of a serious inherited canine disease, you will not want to breed them. This would only produce puppies who have serious health issues and will not only be of no value, but will not be happy & healthy pets.

What Type of Testing Must Be Done?

The eye test that should be performed are:

• CERF Canine Eye Registration Foundation, for heritable eye diseases

The dog, once cleared, can be registered with your local Canine Eye Registry

Testing for Renal Dysplaysia should be done:

• Urine Specific Gravity and urine concentration testing
• BUN and creatinine tests if above test show low levels
• Wedge biopsy

Hip Dysplasia testing should be done:

• X-ray – if cleared you will receive an OFA Certification that the dog is clear of this
Once cleared, you can register your Shih Tzu with your local Orthopedic Foundation for Animals

Additional suggested testing should include:

• Blood testing for VonWillibrands and thyroid disorders
• Bile acid test
• Brucellosis Testing - Request this for any stud dog; this is a canine STD that spreads through mating with terrible consquences.
• BAER (Brain Auditory Evoked Response) for hearing loss

If you are wondering about how to obtain exact Shih Tzu breeding information, including:
How do You Actually Urge Dogs to Mate?

The timing must be right. How do you know when your dog is ready to breed? Many believe that it is as soon as they notice the signs of heat. This is not correct. 

Males can breed anytime at all, as most male Shih Tzu owners are quite aware of. The female is usually choosy and the timing must be right according to her heat cycle in order for her to become pregnant.

The Shih Tzu will normally enter heat 2 times per year. Most will not want to mate the 1st day. For some dogs, the female will be ready up to 2 weeks after signs of heat occur. 

The average time to breed your Shih Tzu dog will be 2 and 16 days after the 1st signs of heat.

How do You Know Which Day is Best?

Your female dog will let you know. When she is ready, she will not run or try to avoid the male dog. She will move her tail to the side (called flagging) which means she will be receptive to the male.

Can My Shih Tzu Become Pregnant After One Try?

Yes. If mating when she is at the optimal time, a Shih Tzu can certainly mate successfully after just 1 attempt.
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