Tzu Health Facts
Written by Karen Christensen
Imperial Shih Tzu have very few health
issues but I have listed the ones that
people may have or may not of heard of. My
goal here is to dispel the myths concerning
the health of the Imperial Shih Tzu.
There are many myths involving the health of
Imperial Shih Tzu commonly known as the
Chinese Imperial Dog. Most of these are
unfounded. This article will address the
most common ones and dispel the myths.
An umbilical hernia is a small bubble like
protrusion of fat at the navel. This is very
common in the breed as the Imperial Shih Tzu
has a flat face with an under bite. This
does not allow the dam to cut the cord with
her teeth. The breeder must cut the cord for
her. If the cord is tugged on excessively it
will cause an umbilical hernia. Most are
very small and will close over time as the
puppy grows. This can take up to one year.
Some small ones do not ever close. This is
not a cause for concern and will not effect
the health of the dog as long as you are
able to push the fat back into the hole. If
the bubble becomes hard or the hernia is
quite large you should have it surgically
repaired. A great time to have this done is
when you spay or neuter your pet.
Your puppy may have snorty sounding
breathing. This may be caused by tightly
closed nostrils. This is called pinched
nostrils. When your puppy is teething, it
causes the gums and the lining of the
nostrils to swell. They may also have a
clear discharge coming from the nose. This
clears up after the adult teeth grow in. As
long as the puppy is eating, drinking and
playing normally then the puppy is just fine
and healthy. If the puppy is not eating or
playing then there may be and infection and
should be seen by your Veterinarian.
Reverse sneezing is when your puppy seams to
be unable to breath easy and making a
honking or snorting sound. The cause may be
allergies, nasal irritants or even nasal
inflammation. This can be a bit alarming to
witness as it seams that the dog is not able
to breath. Reverse sneezing is not life
threatening and will last a very short time.
Sometimes the smaller Imperial puppies will
mature slower than the larger Shih Tzu and
will have an open fontanels longer. This is
will most likely close as the puppy gets
older. This does not predispose the dog to a
condition called hydrocephalus. However, the
puppy should be protected from hitting it's
head as this could cause injury or death.
In our tiny dogs
hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is a very
common problem. Signs of hypoglycemia are a
wobbly gait, confusion, lethargy and if it
is allowed to progress without treatment can
even lead to seizures. Tiny dogs suffer from
this more often than the larger breeds.
This is due to their
larger brains and smaller livers compared to
their body size. Also in the way that the
smaller dogs process blood sugar. The larger
breeds use blood sugar stored in their
muscles. Our tiny dogs get their blood sugar
directly from the blood on which their
larger brains are completely dependant.
Puppies are at a greater risk of
hypoglycemia and should be fed at least a
minimum for 4 times a day with small snacks.
The puppy should grow out of this but should
never miss a meal even as an adult. A
stressful situation, such as a trip to the
groomer or Vet. can also bring on an attack.
To prevent this have a product called Nutri-Cal
or even Karo syrup on hand at all times.
This will help bring up the blood sugar. You
may also want to give your it to your puppy
at bedtime and first thing in the morning.
Get to know your puppy’s signals and you
should be able to prevent all issues with
hypoglycemia. Your tiny dog should able to
go on to live a perfectly healthy life with
only the slightest adjustment in their
Many people unfamiliar with our precious
breed have alarmed new comers to the breed
unnecessarily. The Imperial Shih Tzu is
quite a healthy breed and will make a
wonderful pet without concern for it's
Karen Christensen has been breeding the
Imperial Shih Tzu for over 20 years as of
2008. She is a key person in the founding of
the Chinese Imperial Dog Club of America and
helped to write the breed standard. She also
served as the Secretary for this club for 18
months and was a key founder for the
Imperial Shih Tzu Information Society; the
definitive place for the pet owner to get
information about the breed.
Karen Christensen is a great supporter of
the Imperial Shih Tzu and Chinese Imperial
Dog and the owner of