There are lots of people who jump into breeding their Shih Tzu but don’t realize that it can be more complicated than you think.
At what age can you breed a Shih Tzu? The American Kennel Club recommends that the bitch should be older than eight months but there are reasons why it should be later, and here’s why.
I personally think the bitch should be over two years old and the reason I think the bitch should be at least two years old is to give her time to become mature enough physically to go through the pregnancy.
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How Often Do Shih Tzu Go Into Heat?
A female Shih Tzu can go into heat as young as four months old, which for most dogs is quite early. This might seem quite early as your Shih Tzu will still be a puppy but they are capable of having puppies at quite a young age but not recommended.
If you have not had your dog spayed and after one year she has not started her first heat cycle then it is recommended you get the advice of a vet as there could be problems.
How Often Heat Cycles Occur?
Your Shih Tzu will normally come into heat every four to eight months with an average of three times per year.
Older more senior dogs can still come into heat so you need to be careful when taking your dog out for a walk to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
If you want to protect your older dog’s health and because they can still have a litter of puppies it is recommended you have your Shih Tzu spayed.
How Long Can a Heat Cycle Last?
A heat cycle can last from two to four weeks but please note you may not see the signs for the whole period. Again you need to be cautious because even though there are no signs of your Shih Tzu being in heat they can still become pregnant.
It is recommended that you don’t breed your dog until after her second heat cycle and before her fourth heat cycle due to health issues. She will be in heat for about twenty days but she will not be interested in mating for the first couple of days.
What Are The Signs of Heat?
If you have never seen your dog in heat before it might be hard to spot at first but after a few times it becomes easier, you will normally notice a discharge from your dog but sometimes it is light so keep an eye out.
There are some common signs that your dog is on heat, for example, her vulva will look swollen, it can be two to three times larger than normal when on heat. You might want to look at her vulva when she is not on heat so you can see the difference.
The main sign of your dog being on heat will be some discharge. Some dogs are very heavy and some are light with discharge and can be hard to spot, but over time you will see deposits build up especially on her bedding so keep an eye out for that.
Her discharge can change color while she is on heat, it can change from a pinky-white to a red color but don’t worry as this is normal for dogs on heat. It will change color from the beginning of her heat cycle from light at the beginning, getting darker towards the middle and lighter again at the end.
One other indication that she is on heat is male dogs pay her more attention. Most male dogs even if they have been neutered can smell out a bitch on heat up to three miles away and can become a pest, especially when you are walking your dog so again be careful.
You might notice she is becoming a little restless, she may move her toys around, ruffle up her bed more than normal. If she is around male dogs she might seem more interested than normal, all these are signs that she is in heat.
How Long Does a Shih Tzu Bleed When in Heat?
Your Shih Tzu will breed between fourteen and twenty days in total. She will pass blood for the first seven to ten days getting lighter for the remaining seven to ten days.
How Many Times Can You Breed a Female Shih Tzu?
It is not recommended that you breed your Shih Tzu more than three times (Three liters) as each time it put a strain on her body. Each bitch is different so it is always advisable to get some advice from your vet for the health of your dog. They are the experts and will be able to advise you about your particular dog.
When choosing the right dog to breed with your bitch as a general rule of thumb he should be smaller than your bitch.
You should choose a dog that has a similar temperament that will compliment your bitch to produce a good liter of pups. You can visit the dog’s home beforehand to make sure the dog you are choosing is the right match for your bitch.
How Many Litters Can a Shih Tzu Have in a Lifetime?
A Shih Tzu can have up to two litters per year, and as you shouldn’t breed your dog until they get big enough to have a litter safely until they are about two years old and they should stop around five years old they could have ten but not recommended.
For health reasons your dog should have no more than once per year, Shih Tzu can have up to five puppies at a time and like any pregnancy, it can be dangerous so we recommend one per year.
Again we recommend you check with your vet before breeding your dog to make sure she can handle the pregnancy.
What’s The Shortest Recommended Time For Recovery Between Pregnancies?
In reality, you could breed your dog every time she goes into heat but for health reasons, this is not recommended. Different countries have different rules so you should really check first but we recommend no more than once per year.
While a year might seem a long time between litters the longer the recovery time the better for the mother and her puppies.
Each dog is different and while in general, a bitch could breed every heat cycle, it is recommended that she has a rest between each. The most important thing is for your dog to be healthy between each litter of pups and the best way to check your individual dog is to get her checked out by a professional vet.
What Age Can A Male Shih Tzu Stud?
It’s a little different for a male Shih Tzu because they can mate as soon as they reach sexual maturity, unlike the female who goes through heat cycles from around seven months old.
A male Shih Tzu can reach maturity at about eight months old and can smell a female Shih Tzu up to three miles away. He can become a little aggressive when around a dog on heat.
How Often Can You Breed A Male Shih Tzu?
Like most males, they want to breed as much as possible and its no different from male dogs. In general, as soon as your male dog is mature enough to breed he can breed as many times as you let him, however, to get the best sperm from your dog it is recommended you plan the frequency of your dog breeding and here’s why.
To get better results the sperm of your dog needs to healthy, and letting your dog breed multiple times per day simply won’t get you the results you might be looking for.
The more he breeds the lower the sperm count will be, you can have your vet check the sperm count to ensure you get the best results if you putting your dog up for stud for purely commercial reasons.
Your vet will advise you on the correct procedure but normally you would need to collect the sperm over a seven day period to get accurate results. The quality of your dog’s sperm is important if you want to produce a good healthy litter of puppies.
Having quality sperm is not always the requirement for a good pregnancy, the time between breeding for your male dog is also important.
It is recommended that your dog should breed once per day for three days but no more than once per day for five days as this might cause your dog to run out of sperm.
Preparing Your Shih Tzu For Birth
When your dog is due to give birth there is some preparation you need to take to help her along, you can prepare for the birth by building a whelping box.
A whelping box is a place for your Shih Tzu to give birth. A whelping box can be made from cardboard or a wooden box, it should have sides low enough for her to get in and out of and be big enough for her and her puppies once they are born.
You can put her favorite blanket into the box to make her comfortable and introduce her to it a few days before the birth.
The whelping box is designed to protect the mother and her newborns in the first few weeks protecting them from being crushed and to keep them warm.
A whelping box can be made from a number of things, from cardboard boxes to wooden crates to purpose-built plastic boxes, as long as they keep the mother and her puppies safe and warm it can be made from almost anything.
The sides of the box should be high enough so the young puppies can’t get out but low enough so the mother can get in and out comfortably. Some purpose-built whelping boxes can come with doors, again designed to keep the puppies in while they are young.
You can line the box with old newspapers, fabric or you could purchase whelping pads, but the most important thing is to keep the mother and puppies safe and warm and keep the new puppies from escaping.