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Shih Tzu Heat


Having a female Shih Tzu will mean having to understand all about the Shih Tzu heat cycle. There are many myths about heat, spaying and all that is involved. If you are thinking about bringing a female Shih Tzu into your family or you currently have a female dog, learn all about this issue.

What Exactly Happens?

Heat is the term that is used to describe the time during a female dog's cycle of menstruation. This cycle will be very different than a human female cycle and an owner should be informed about all of the aspects.
female Shih Tzu
Joey Baggadoughnuts, female
Photo courtesy of owner: David Small
When Does It Begin?

Your Shih Tzu will have her first cycle when she is about 6 months old, this means that she can become pregnant at this age, although with proper breeding practices, she would not be bred so young. However, this is not written in stone. Some dogs enter as early as 4 months and some enter as late as 15 months.

If your Shih Tzu dog is over 15 months and you have not noticed that she has entered into heat yet, this is a red flag signal to bring her to the vet as soon as possible.

How Will I Know It is Happening?

You will know that your Shih Tzu is in heat from the following symptoms:
  • Her vulva will become swollen. Owners are encouraged to take note of what the vulva looks like during a non-heat cycle so that they will be able to ascertain the difference. 
  • A small amount of blood will be discharged. The amount of blood will be a lot less than one may expect; smaller breed dogs may have very negligible amounts. This may range from white/pink to red since the blood mixes with other bodily fluids. 
  • Male dogs may seem overly interested in her, even stray male dogs may hang around your yard. Male dogs that have not been neutered will be able to detect that your dog is in heat from as much as 3 miles away! 
Will My Dog Feel Pain?

While no one can say for sure, it is suggested from studies that a female dog's behavior shows that she is aware of her cycle and may indeed feel some cramping or discomfort. Many female dogs may "nest", they will want more rest in a comfortable area, sometimes appearing to want to be alone and arranging blankets and other soft items around her. She may spend more time in her dog bed or resting area.
How Long Does This Last?

The average time is from 2 to 4 weeks and it will happen about 2 times per year. Until you have your Shih Tzu spayed, she may continue to have this for the rest of her life. It is not healthy for an elderly dog to go through this twice a year phase.

Why is Spaying Important?

All experienced veterinarians, breeders and clinical researchers are in agreement: Spaying your female Shih Tzu dog will give her a better chance for a healthy life. Many vets recommend having a female spayed even before she enters her first heat and doing so will have no ill affects. Unless you have serious plans to breed your Shih Tzu, this procedure should be done as soon as possible. Doing so will greatly reduce her risk of getting ovarian and mammary cancer.

Keeping Your Dog and Home Clean

While it is true that dogs of smaller size do not bleed as much as larger ones, you may wish to protect your home and keep your female Shih Tzu clean by having her wear a doggie diaper. This is highly acceptable and is growing more popular each day. Toy breed dogs such as the Shih Tzu can wear dog clothes to cover the diaper is an owner wishes, as dog clothes are growing in popularity as well. 
Keeping Your Dog Safe

If you have not yet had your Shih Tzu spayed and she is in heat the number 1 important safety rule is to keep her inside during this time and when she must go outside, you must keep an eye on her while having your dog on a very short leash! It is suggested to never underestimate the power of stray, un-neutered male dogs.

These dogs will be able to smell your dog's cycle from as many as 3 miles away! When your Shih Tzu urinates, blood will be mixed into this fluid and will leave the odor in your yard; even a trace amount will be enough to trigger a male dog's instinct. 

The strong urge that they feel will compel them to go to her at all costs. Male dogs will jump fences, run across rivers and traverse any terrain to find your female. Many owners will find stray dogs in and around their homes. You should open your door slowly and have a good look around before bringing her outside to eliminate
1 year old female Shih Tzu
Gia, 1 year old
Photo courtesy of owner: Mary
More Information

The female Tzu has many health issues that are not often talked about. Since professional breeders deal with many of these issues, as they arise during the breeding process, owners cannot find information about these topics. There are also issues that an owner must be aware of because time if of the essence! Did you know that there is a female disease in which you only have hours to notice symptoms and react? You may want to see about our book:
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