If you’re the proud owner of a pregnant Shih Tzu, you’re likely ready to meet the new members of your family.
But you might be wondering—how long are Shih Tzus pregnant for?
Grab a cup of coffee and pet your dog momma to be because we’ll fill you in on everything you need to know about Shih Tzus’ gestation periods and preparations.
Shih Tzu Gestation Period
The average Shih Tzu is pregnant for 63 days before giving birth.
To be fair, this is the gestation period for any dog breed, although the number can vary by a handful of days.
Furthermore, determining when your Shih Tzu became pregnant can be trickier than it initially seems.
Even if you watched your Shih Tzu mate, sperm might survive for many days inside her.
Pair that with the fact that her eggs may stay fertile for up to two days, and you’ve got yourself a pregnancy that’s difficult to pinpoint without the support of a veterinarian.
A Weekly Shih Tzu Pregnancy Calendar
If your Shih Tzu is pregnant, your family members are likely beaming as if a new human were coming into the family.
And like a human baby, you likely want to know the stages of what your Shih Tzu—and her puppies—are experiencing.
The following calendar will prepare you for what to expect.
Week 1 & 2
Fertilization happens, and the ovum moves into your dog’s uterus.
The ova floats around, and a placenta develops.
During this time, you should keep your Shih Tzu’s routine the same—that goes for food quantities and exercise too.
Your Shih Tzu’s puppies are less than a ½ inch long, but they’re already forming a central nervous system.
You should still maintain your dog’s routine, but you may find that she laps up her food quicker than usual.
The week where puppy magic begins, as they’re now about twice the length of the week prior.
They begin to form limbs, eyes, and a face.
The embryo also takes on a fetal position.
Miscarriages are more common at this point, so make sure to avoid having your Shih Tzu undergo heavy exercise.
Don’t be alarmed if her nipples discharge a clear liquid—it’s completely normal.
If you’re working with a vet, they might be able to determine the sex of your Shih Tzu’s puppies at this point.
You’ve also likely noticed that your pregnant girl put on weight and has an even bigger appetite than before.
At this point, any doubt you had about your Shih Tzu being pregnant should clear up, as her stomach is likely bulging.
The puppies are growing more rapidly as they near their final weeks before birth, and they develop more details like growing nails.
Make sure to increase momma’s food, for she’s going to need more energy to keep her babies growing.
Your Shih Tzu will likely start her nesting process around this time (more details on this shortly), so you’ll want to make sure you introduce her to the area where you’ll have her give birth.
Internally, the puppies are growing hair, and their bones are starting to calcify.
If you’re working with a veterinarian, they’ll now be able to see fully calcified puppy skeletons on an x-ray.
Your Shih Tzu will be plump at this point as her fetuses rapidly put on weight.
If you see some milk escaping her nipples, that’s completely normal as they get ready to feed her brood.
Since premature births can happen, be on the lookout for signs that your Shih Tzu is ready to give birth and have your veterinarian’s phone number on hand in case you run into any issues.
The moment you’ve been waiting for! At any moment, your Shih Tzu could give birth.
Ensure she has 24/7 access to her birth area and shave her stomach and vagina area to ensure a cleaner delivery.
Checking her temperature often will give you an idea of how soon she’ll give birth; once her temperature hits 98 degrees Fahrenheit, the puppies will arrive within one day.
How Many Puppies does a Shih Tzu Have?
Unlike some breeds that can have a double-digit number of puppies, the average litter size for Shih Tzus is three or four.
It’s a great amount to enjoy some puppy play without it feeling like an overwhelming amount to give attention to.
How to Tell if Your Shih Tzu is Pregnant
If you’ve been trying to get your Shih Tzu pregnant, you may have already run vaginal smears and blood tests to assess her hormones and time the breeding.
However, if your non-spayed pooch escaped the coop and you have a hunch that she could be pregnant, below are some signs to look for:
- Mucus discharge
- Prominent nipples
- Weight gain (typically occurs around the five-week mark)
- Increased appetite
You should take your Shih Tzu to the vet if you believe she’s pregnant, as your veterinarian can run ultrasounds and blood tests to confirm it.
Furthermore, they’ll give you advice on ensuring your dog has the proper nutrition, so her puppies have the best chance possible of healthy growth and birth.
Once your Shih Tzu is about eight weeks pregnant, you’ll be able to feel her puppies moving around when laying your hand on her stomach.
How to Help Your Shih Tzu Have a Healthy Pregnancy
Shih Tzus are like family, so you’re no doubt wondering what you can do to help your furry love have a healthy and comfortable pregnancy.
First and foremost, you should follow any instructions that your vet gives you.
But if you’re skipping the vet route, keep the following items in mind.
You can change your Shih Tzu’s diet over to a puppy formula during their pregnancy (and lactation, for that matter) once you know she’s pregnant.
However, it’s important to gradually mix the puppy formula with her old food to avoid upsetting her stomach.
It may be tempting to increase her food quantity right away but hold off until halfway through.
The Kennel Club recommends increasing your Shih Tzu’s food quantity by 10% starting at week six.
From there, increase her food quantity by 10% weekly until she gives birth.
Including supplements for pregnant Shih Tzus is a big debate among breeders, so we recommend referring to your veterinarian.
Some people believe that vitamins and minerals aren’t necessary provided that you’re feeding your Shih Tzu high-quality food.
Others insist they’re helpful. Either way, make sure to control the amount of calcium your dog consumes, as too much calcium can cause eclampsia during birth.
Encouraging your Shih Tzu to stretch her legs during pregnancy is vital to her health.
However, you should avoid taking her on challenging walks involving lots of hills and long durations.
Instead, take her on some standard walks around your neighborhood a few times per day.
Like people, Shih Tzus may showcase a range of moods during their pregnancy.
You may find that your Shih Tzu wants to spend more time with you, showing anxiety whenever you’re not there.
Alternatively, your normally lap-loving pup may become more distant and want its space.
Your Shih Tzu may also become jealous easily and start fights with dogs she used to play with.
If you have children, keep a careful eye out as she may get irritated with child play that she used to love.
Even though your Shih Tzu will have more comforts than she could ever dream of compared to giving birth in the wild, don’t get offended when she starts nesting.
It has nothing to do with the plush bed you gave her and everything to do with nesting being an instinctual habit.
Signs that your Shih Tzu is nesting include seeking a dark, isolated location and digging in that area.
It’s unlikely you’ll be able to stop your Shih Tzu from nesting, so try to show her the space you’ve designated for her to give birth in advance so that she can get used to it.
Ready to Introduce More Paws to Your Family?
Of the many preparations that go into ensuring your Shih Tzu has a smooth pregnancy, it’s easy to forget one of the most important parts—enjoying quality time with your beloved pet before she becomes a mom.
Since a Shih Tzu is pregnant for only nine weeks at most, the time will fly.
Before you know it, you’ll have adorable baby Shih Tzus running around your home and making their way into your heart.