A compact toy breed, Shih Tzu’s are known for their long, luxurious coats. Though this breed’s beautiful appearance may be what draws many potential owners to the breed, the Shih Tzu’s lively, friendly personality is often what gets owners hooked. This breed is the perfect companion and house pet and, though its coat requires daily brushing, its exercise requirements are fairly minimal. Shih Tzu’s respond well to training, though housebreaking them can be difficult. Like many small breeds, Shih Tzu’s are prone to developing behavioral issues such as barking and snapping if their human caretakers spoil the dog and fail to exhibit proper leadership.
Many toy breeds suffer breed-specific problems including congenital diseases like patellar luxation, eye conditions and respiratory problems. In addition to these conditions, Shih Tzus can develop back problems and may also be more prone to bone fractures as a result of the fragility of their bones. Pet insurance may help you cover treatment and medications for these conditions.
Common in small and toy breeds, patellar luxation is a condition in which the patella, or kneecap, does not fit properly into the groove in the femur. The kneecap my slide or pop out of position, causing degenerative joint damage, pain and arthritis. If untreated, the leg may even become lame. Reconstructive surgery to repair the joints typically costs between $1,200 and $3,000.
One of the most common eye problems affecting Shih Tzu’s is distichiasis, a condition in which eyelashes grow abnormally from the inner eye lid causing tearing and discomfort. Treatments for this condition include freezing and removing the hairs, a process called cryotherapy, and surgery to excise the hairs. These treatments can cost between $500 and $1000. Cherry eye, or glandular hypertrophy, is another condition many Shih Tzus develop before the age of one. This condition develops when the gland in the third eye lid becomes prolapsed and swells, producing discharge. The gland can be reduced by a veterinarian, generally for less than $100, or it can be surgically removed or repositioned for between $300 and $700.
Due to the size and shape of their faces, many Shih Tzus experience respiratory problems indicative of brachycephalic syndrome. Symptoms of this condition often manifest in the form of snoring, mouth breathing and overheating in warm or mild weather. Shih Tzu’s with this condition often have an elongated soft palate or collapsed nostrils which cause breathing difficulties. Treatment for these deformities most often involves surgery, which can cost between $1,000 and $2,000, followed by medications which typically cost less than $100 per month.
Disclaimer: Symptoms, conditions, and costs may vary. Consult a licensed veterinarian to inquire about treatment options and cost of care for your particular situation. Check actual coverage and benefits for your dog to determine whether you will be covered by pet insurance.