Shih Tzus are playful, outgoing, and love sitting on your lap. It’s a good thing, too, because their small stature and regal appearance make them perfect lap dogs. From puppy to full maturity, they only gain about 10 to 15 pounds. One look at them, and you’re just itching to sit down for a Shih Tzu snuggle. Is it any wonder why they’re the 22nd most popular breed in the US1?
But wait, how do you know if your Shih Tzu is growing properly? Will they always stay so small?
In this post, we’re going over what to expect as your Shih Tzu grows in weight, length, and height.
The 6 Facts About Shih Tzus
- About 1,000 years ago, long before China ruled Tibet, the two civilizations worked together, experimenting with the Pekingese and Lhasa Apso1. The result was the adorable and playful Shih Tzu.
- “Shih Tzu”is a Mandarin term meaning “little lion.” This may be a reference to Mañjuśrī, the Buddhist God of Learning. His name in Sanskrit means “gentle, or sweet, glory.”
- Shih Tzus lived as lap dogs to emperors and royalty, particularly with The Ming Dynasty from 1368 to 1644.
- Although the Ming Dynasty’s had significant political and cultural influence over China, the Shih Tzu remained a secret between Tibetan and Chinese royalty. They used the breed as a status symbol, exchanging dogs as valuable gifts.
- Eventually, China took over Tibet in the 1950s, and the breed went almost extinct2.
- The breed’s survival can be traced back to 14 dogs, thanks to hardworking American military personnel and diligent breeders.
Shih Tzu Size and Growth Chart
Shih Tzus started as fancy lap dogs and haven’t changed much. From birth to maturity, they only gain about 10 to 15 pounds. Take a look at this growth chart for reference.
|Age||Weight Range||Height Range|
|Birth||< 1 pound||1–2 inches|
|4 weeks||1.5 pounds||2–4 inches|
|8 weeks||1.5–2 pounds||3–4 inches|
|3 months||4 pounds||5–6 inches|
|4 months||5 pounds||6–7 inches|
|6 months||6–10 pounds||7–8 inches|
|9 months||7–12 pounds||8–9 inches|
|10 months+||9–16 pounds||9–10.5 inches|
*Source from Pet Insurance Review
When Does a Shih Tzu Stop Growing?
Small dogs reach maturity faster than large dogs, which makes sense since they don’t need as much time to grow. Expect a Shih Tzu to be fully grown by 10 months old. Larger Shih Tzus could take a full year to grow, but 10 months is the average.
If you’re interested in estimating your Shih Tzu’s adult weight, a few formulas will give you a rough estimate. These are merely estimates, so don’t treat these formulas as law.
8 Weeks Old: weight X 3, + 2–3 pounds = Estimated Adult Weight
12 Weeks Old: weight X 2 + 1 Pound = Estimated Adult Weight
16 Weeks Old: weight x 2 = Estimated Adult Weight
Factors Affecting the Size of a Shih Tzu
Genetics, diet, exercise, and the dog’s overall health will affect how big or small a Shih Tzu becomes.
Shih Tzu puppies will often grow to be the average size of the parent. So, if your adult Shih Tzu is small and one of the parents is small, you know why.
Diet also plays a huge role in your Shih Tzu’s size. Malnourished puppies tend to be smaller and possibly sickly into adulthood. Proper nutrition is vital for young puppies to grow to their ideal weight and fight disease.
Of course, you don’t want to feed your Shih Tzu too much. This breed is prone to obesity since they don’t require as much exercise. Your veterinarian can help determine your Shih Tzu’s body condition score and how many calories should be fed daily.
Even though they’re fancy lap dogs, Shih Tzus still need some exercise to stay healthy and strong. Generally, 20 minutes per day is all they need. A few laps around the block, tossing a toy around in the backyard, or fun indoor playtime is enough.
If your Shih Tzu doesn’t receive any exercise, don’t be surprised if you notice weight gain. Simple exercises and a well-rounded diet will help fix the problem.
Ideal Diet for Maintaining a Healthy Weight
All dogs should eat a diet that suits their season of life. You can achieve this through commercial or homemade diets if you work with a veterinarian to provide proper nutrition.
Typically, puppies need a high-protein, high-fat diet to provide the necessary energy requirements for a hyperactive puppy. In addition, you’ll want to look for food with amino and fatty acids, including DHA, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids. Offering grain-free or grain inclusive is your choice, as long as your puppy receives the basic nutrition requirements.
As your dog ages, you can transition to a diet designed for adult dogs and its activity level. Shih Tzus are lap dogs, so they don’t require caloric-dense foods.
Elderly dogs need more protein, but this can vary from dog to dog. Some dogs develop specific medical ailments that require a veterinarian-designed formula.
No matter what, it is important to make adjustments based on what your dog needs for its age, activity level, and overall health.
How to Measure Your Shih Tzu
It’s a good idea to measure your Shih Tzu’s length and weight to ensure it’s growing correctly. Luckily, measuring your Shih Tzu is simple!
To measure your Shih Tzu’s height, take a tape measure and note the measurement from the wither (shoulders) to the floor. For length, measure the distance from the wither to the base of the tail.
Measuring weight requires more math, but it’s still easy as pie. Start by standing on the scale and measuring your weight. Next, stand on the scale again, this time holding your Shih Tzu. Note the difference in weight.
You can also take your Shih Tzu to the vet’s office for weight checks. These are usually free of charge.
Shih Tzus are small dogs, so don’t be alarmed if your luxury lap dog stays smaller than the size of a pillow. Sometimes, dogs don’t stay within the normal range of weight.
Even with its small stature, it’s a good idea to record your puppy’s weight, length, and height. This information will give you a good idea about how your Shih Tzu is doing.
Featured Image Credit: Drazen Zigic, Shutterstock