Shih-Tzu Health & Genetics
My Findings and Experiences Since 1986
For New Breeders and Shih-tzu Enthusiast
By Karen DeAngelo/Glory Ridge Shih-Tzu
I am a Shih-Tzu breeder with a study of over 1000 documented litters since 1986.
This is not information to offend anyone. This below is based on my first hand experience and not genetic testing or laboratory testing. All information given are the factual outcomes. If you are a breeder and would like to contribute to this research, submit your AKC Litter form to me for review. Please have a witness sign the form that it is honest and correct. I am interested in all aspects of shih- tzu outcomes. Genetic Science is one of the fastest advancing technologies today but breeders breed faster and can obtain observations faster.
I have had many, many breeders disregard my advise and have written me after the fact, confirming I was correct after they produced disasters. It is a free country and you can breed what you want, but the wise heed counsel. I am not trying to stop you from cashing in (isn't that really why you breed such colors?), but my heart breaks to see the outcome of greed when it comes to these dogs. Responsible breeders stay away from know genetic disasters in dogs. I am passionate about doing right by this breed.
A breeder can only breed to the best of their knowledge and then there is a chance a hidden gene will pop up. If you expect a breeder to produce a genetically perfect dog, you are unrealistic. All questions are to be sent to ME about MY writings to firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional information is obtained by TOP US VETS.
GENETIC DICE THROWS
Juvenile Renal Disease
This is a nightmare.
I got it through a imported dog years ago.
ASTC was called in and 36 DNA's of Dogs and Puppies were taken after the initial litter came down with it. I culled 11 dogs out of my breeding program in 1995 and have not had it since. Thank the LORD!
A special diet prolonged the surviving dogs lives in that litter.
This usually occurs before 6 months of age and you notice excessive thirst.
Lethargy is in advanced cases.
Blood Tests can determine a problem but is NOT accurate in very young pups.
Kidney biopsies usually follow.
This research is slow because many breeders hide they have it.
The dogs die early of renal failure.
To SEE the special RENAL DIET for this breed,
MY BREEDING RULE
THERE MUST BE A GENE FROM EACH PARENT TO SHOW ITSELF IN THE PUP.
THESE GENES ARE RECESSIVE AND MAY NOT SHOW IN THE PARENTS UNTIL THE 2 CREATE THE PUP.
IF YOU SEE A GENETIC DEFECT IN THAT PUP, YOU SHOULD NEVER BREED THOSE 2 TOGETHER AGAIN.
YOU SHOULD NEVER BREED A DEFECTIVE ANIMAL. ONLY BREED BEST TO BEST.
If the dog is the only good pup in a litter,
IT SHOULD NOT BE BRED,
as those gene from those other pups are hidden in the dog and will come out somewhere.
-DON'T BREED FOR PEDIGREE ALONE. BREED BEST TO BEST ALWAYS! CULL HEAVILY TO IMPROVE THE BREED.
I recently read on The American Shih-tzu Club website some mis-information. I have the deepest respect for these people, but they sometimes misrepresent issues that are fiction. One of these issues is a breeder should not breed a dog every heat. Dr. Robert Hutchinson, DVM of Cleveland, Ohio, one of the TOP Artificial Insemination Veterinarians in the USA, recently spoke at another seminar I attended on this topic. FACT is IF you don't breed the Bitch EVERY heat, her uterus is actually more unhealthy NOT pregnant. The endometrial lining builds up and is at more risk for disease than when pregnant. Dogs fertility drops at age 6 and therefore the dog does not have many years to reproduce, especially if you skip heats. He states this is a misconception and an outrageously wrong practice for a breeder. If the Bitch is in good health, there is NO reason NOT to breed her EVERY HEAT. I have personally found nature skips conception of heats it deems unlikely for pregnancy and I don't have to do it. Judging a breeder by skipping heats tells me, if anything, the breeder is uneducated to the latest veterinary medical knowledge. ASTC also states if a breeder has more than one litter at a time, this is not good. FACT is dogs throw each other into heat. it is rare I don't have 2 litters coming closely together. ASTC claims breeders can't take care of 2 litter correctly. This made me laugh! I have had 6 children, among them, 1 severely handicapped and a set of twins too. I lived through THAT and if I can't take care of 2 litters of pups at a time, I better be ready for the NURSING HOME or the GRAVE. I am also a former nurse of which I had 8 patients (2 critical) to be taken care of for a 12 hour shift on any given day. 2 litters of puppies hardly compare to THAT. I think you get my point.
ASTC also advocates pups NOT be taken from their mother of siblings until 8 weeks of age. Never to be sold before 12 weeks. I have been breeding shih-tzu since 1986 and have rarely ever seen a bitch stay with her pups past 6 weeks. Once that pups starts teething, Mom wants no parts of the chompers! I had a dog attack her pup at 10 week so age so severely that the pup lost a leg!
We socialize our pups with HUMANS 6-8 weeks and then sell them, if they are ready.
At 10 weeks of age they are highly trainable and BOND quickly.
This is the age I want my pups in their NEW home, especially THERAPY dogs to be trained.
Once a male hikes his leg to mark territory, I do not trust him around females I don't want bred.
AKC accepts males breeding from age 7 months -10 years without a vet certification of fertility.
Sperm lives 48 hours and therefore breeding a male every other day to a female is sufficient.
If 2 females are in heat at once, you can use the male every other day.
If it's Very Hot outside temperatures can reduce the sperm count. We air condition our kennel.
I have had males go sterile young from over use, BUT most sterility issues are due to infection.
Brucellosis is a nightmare cause is dogs used for outside stud service without testing the females.
Any questions you have, I will be glad to answer to the best of my knowledge.
SHIH-TZU EYE ISSUES
Corneal ulcers caused by distichiasis, a condition in which an additional row of eyelashes, or cilia, develop along the edge of the eyelids. Though the eyelashes don’t always turn inward, they can irritate the cornea every time the dog blinks.
Advanced cases cause pustules that had form beneath the eyelids.
You will notice a dog with distichiasis squints and has excessive tearing and finally Cloudiness over eye.
Eye disease can be evident as early as 8 weeks old in some pups, but definitely before 1 year.
I have seen Juvenile Cataracts in an entire litter 6 weeks old.
NEVER repeat that breeding!
Sometimes groomers clip eyelashes too close, causing irritation and corneal ulcers.
Large, round eyes and a pushed-in face are among the prominent features of this lively toy breed that predisposes it to eye injuries.
Blue eyes and white eye rims send a red flag to
me for genetic predisposition to eye defects in their puppies.
Many crystal blue eyed shih-tzu go blind early in life which I assume is like albino, a lack of pigment needed to see.
A shih tzu with one blue eye is NOT RIGHT and should not be bred.
The eyes should be dark and clear.
Liver dogs will have 2 light eyes that look green. This is normal.
EYES CAN BE CLEAR FROM BOTH PARENTS BUT THERE IS A 25%-50% CHANCE A PUP CAN INHERIT A EYE PROBLEM IF BOTH PARENTS CARRY A RECESSIVE GENE FOR EYE DISEASE. CERF CERTIFICATION IS NO GUARANTEE THAT THE PUP WILL NEVER DEVELOP AN EYE PROBLEM LATER.
More on eye disease in Shih-Tzu:
Tear stains/smell could be from infection, yeast, food dyes and allergies. Change food and give distilled water.
Cherry eyes are more common in flat faced dogs and can be repaired with no damage to the vision. Some vets clip them out. Others claim they must do expensive surgery to prevent dry eye. My daughter had them clipped out of her bulldog without developing dry eyes. It looks like a cherry in the corner of the eye. In is not painful but really ugly.
Do not breed a dog that has or has thrown cherry eyes is my rule.
I have found liver shih-tzu throw them more often than black nosed,because liver gene is recessive and appears to "find" trouble in the mate's genes. Liver X Liver doubles your risk.
You can Google it to find more info.
BLACK to black can produce any color, but usually there is at least one offspring solid black. Black is a DOMINANT gene. Black to any color can produce Black.
GOLD is recessive to BLACK, but DOMINANT to Liver. Black to gold can give you reds with black noses.
LIVER is dilute. Dilute dogs (blues and livers and albino white) often have skin problems, along with other problems such as bad bites.
There are genes that can modify black to liver or blue dilute.
Dilutes DO NOT have BLACK noses. Their noses are liver or blue.
Only experienced breeders who know their dogs should inbreed and breed dilutes together,and know several generations of the lines behind them. STILL there is the genes hidden that no one can "see" on the outside.
So if a problem arises, it should not be a "surprise".
Glory Ridge never breeds liver to blue or blue to blue.Chocolates are livers. We do not breed true blues at all as we consider them HIGH RISK for defects. Blues have blue noses, not black and have blue pads on the feet. They are genetic nightmares.The results yield many defects in pups, so be aware of this when you buy a pup from parents that are these combos. Many die early or are still born. A lot of defects are internal that do not show up until the dog is altered and dies under anesthesia.
You may buy these colors, but don't buy them from those combos. And don't breed them from those combos.
I have found that even a Dam out of 2 liver parents will throw a large amount of defects, even when that Dam is not a liver at all. One dog from 2 liver parents died on me while birthing and the birth was easy. The dog died shortly after the birth (hours).
"Lavendar" is NOT a reconized color by AKC or a gene, as far I Iknow. It was made up by a breeder to ask a higher price for a fancy name.
It is nothing more than a shade of liver like this one:
SOLID Whites (no cream, no color at all, liver nosed) tend to throw eye defects and deafness (proven to be linked genetically).
I found in PURE SHIH-TZU (not crossed with MALTESE as many have done to get white shih-tzu with black pigment) the Whites must have cream on them to live past weaning (although breeders deny this).
Cream fades to white or turn red.
White (liver noses) should never be crossed with liver, blue or white in shih-tzu, boxers, schnauzers, scotties, ect.
Adult whites may appear white because the cream has faded out, but are not TRUE albinos. Albinos have NO pigment, blue eues.
I have never seen a TRUE albino live 2 weeks past weaning. As in albino horses, they are missing an immunity factor that predisposes them to infectious diseases that they can't fight off.
Livers and blues are prone to defects. So are albino whites.
I have had Chocolates throw bad bites, cherry eyes and PRAPSO pups. Breed with caution.
Prapso shih-tzu are a throw back from Pappions, I believe.
They do not grow hair on their muzzle and it does not grow past the knees.
They shed terribly. The are NOT non-allergic. They are loving and no grooming is needed.
This is a prapso:
Little shih-tzu are bred down to be smaller.
Smaller dog to smaller dog and the outcome is smaller dogs with an occasional "throwback" of a standard size shih-tzu.
Short legs are dominant.
THIS is HOW "Imperial Shih-Tzu" were developed by honest breeders, but other original Imp breeders crossed the shih-tzu with tiny breeds and back again to shih-tzu and OPENLY ADMITTED IT IN 1998 on the www.|
I have seen small pups(1.5 lbs at 8 weeks)
grow to 10 lb adults.
I have had many a letter from people ripped off thousands of $$ for an ''Imperial" that grew to 20 lbs.
Go to very established Imperial breeders of whom you have seen what they produce before you get ripped off.
The charts are OFF on size. I have seen shih-tzu at 6 months be 6 lbs and stop growing.
I have seen 6 month 6 lb shih-tzu grow to 12 lbs. You can never tell. And then again there is issues if the pups was ill (young) with a cold.
You can stunt the growth plates with antibiotics.
There are little bloodlines from breeders who intentionally for years have downsized.
I have one that I developed downsizing little to little from my Glory Ridge Stymie Em All whose
offspring is my 5 lb Glory Ridge Total Package ("Toto"). His mother, Glory Ridge Yuko Ono was short and stocky.
Also INBREEDING reduces size, but they are not dwarfs. Now there IS a DWARF GENE that produces scrawny little fragile bodies, with big heads and big bulging eyes.
DWARFISM is a genetic defect of the bones and joints.
It is a recessive gene and should NEVER be reproduced intentionally.
Genes control the growth and development within the environmental limits.
You can intentionally stunt growth and development by improper nutrition and antibiotic.
Dwarfs often have water on the brain and should NOT be sold. They die early in life.
A KNOWN CARRIER WILL BE THE OFFSPRING OF
A CARRIER OR HAS PRODUCED A DEFECT THEMSELVES.
A KNOWN CARRIER OF A GENETIC DEFECT SHOULD NEVER BE BRED.
I NEVER changed my mind on Imperials. There is NO "special" rare gene. Yes, I produce smaller ones because I sell Therapy dogs for people in wheelchairs that cant tolerate weight on thier legs. I too had a daughter like this and know this is the case. I had been repeatedly asked to raise healthy small ones and I downsized MY lines to do it for these people.
AKA "Low Blood Sugar" is a MAJOR issue in tiny dogs (under 2 lbs). They do not have enough body fat and burn sugar faster than they can eat when playing. Immature livers are ineffecient in generating energy, they get cold and have hypothermia-induced reduction of intestinal absorption. They get a fruity odor in thier breathe, act drunk and go down on you. These incidences can cause permanent liver and kidney damage along with brain damage, seizures, coma, and death. They often get pneumonia and vomit, furthering the issue. These pups must eat high calorie food often becasue they can't eat much at a time. Canned Cat food is very good for these puppies to gain weight and they love it, but you do not want to feed it long term.
L-Carnitine is very effective for stabilizing blood sugars. Blue Gatorade in their water helps them maintain blood sugar levels but too much can cause stomach upset.
Best thing to do is prevent your puppy from having low blood sugar and don't balme the breeder if it does!
MORE ON URINARY ISSUES:
I do not test unless I suspect a problem. Blood testing little puppies is UNRELIABLE.
Testing for Kidney, Liver and Thyroid is accurate IF the dog HAS the disease at the time of testing.
Kidney Disease genetic mapping is not 100% accurate and a kidney biopsy is an extreme measure for "testing" a healthy looking dog
just to sell puppies.
Recent findings have proven Renal Disease testing is highly unreliable, but PROVEN lines are MORE reliable.
LOW LEVEL INFECTIONS CAUSE BLADDER STONES and certain dog food can contribute to it. Well water high in mineral content also can contribute to stones. RAW DIETS can casue high protien levels in the blood and develop bladder stone.
Stress from pregnancy also will cause bladder stones.
Here is one I had surgically removed right after a dog whelped.
Feeding Cranberry treats defiantly helped with antibiotic treatment after a stone incident and
never another stone in this dog. Distilled water is also a prevention.
Frequent squatting to urinate (or hiking) with little or no flow indicates infection or stone.
HIP DYSPLASIA IS RARELY SEEN IN SMALL BREED ANIMALS.
"93% of Hip Dysplasia in shih-tzu never radiates pain or discomfort and most people are unaware they have hip dysplagia.
Glucosamine helps the joints"
-Dr. Skip Tanger DVM, Orthopedic Specialist, OK City, OK
Nuvet has a vitamen great for joint pain (click link).
"Lax Joints" in puppies is not hip dysplasia.
Large breeds need a special diet so they do not grow too fast and get dysplastic.
If you have a puppy with "weak knees", just be sure the dog exercises on solid flooring to strengthen legs.
CBD treats and oils helps pain. (click link)
I am suspicious that dog with LOW TEMPS (under 101 when not pregnant in labor) have low thyroid, but have not proven it.
Those dog often have "greasy skin and hair" and get fat.
Simple blood test can detect low level thyroid and be treated easily with thyroid medication.
Clefts In Shih-Tzu and other Birth Defects
Congenital Defects can be caused by mutations of genes reacting to chemicals, temperatures, drugs bacteria, viruses, bad water, dairy barn fly spay, lack of vitamins and minerals. Certian antibiotics given in pregnancy can cause clefts.
When a dog comes into heat, I start giving her 400 mcg daily of folic acid until she whelps and have completely eliminated clefts since doing this.
Cancer in Canine
Cancer is on the rise in dogs, just as humans at a very young age.
I believe in limited vaccinations.
I will not give my dogs Chinese imported products in any form that are eaten.
CBD is an alternative treatment
Odds and Ends
ARGENTINA GENETIC LAB LOOKING FOR SAMPLES AND INFORMATION ON MUSCLE DISEASE IN SHIH-TZU
CONTACT ME IF YOU CAN HELP,
I have never seen it in shih-tzu
I am also looking for info on Cushing's Disease in Shih-tzu. It seems once they get old, they are prone to this disease.
A major complaint is Hot Spots in
Shih-Tzu due to feeding SOY and other
allergens. We feed Nutrisource
and Tuffy's Gold (sold at Menards and made by Nutrasource, but less expensive)and alternate with
If your dog has skin issues like scaly patches, it could be ringworm and can deadly to people on chemotherapy.
Lamb and Rice feed is a good start to see if your dogs hot spots are due to food allergy. It can take up to six weeks to start clearning once you change feed.
The dog usually vomits bile when the
food is an issue.
I NEVER by Chinese imported treats or toys either.
DO NOT feed FAT scraps or table scraps or you risk pancreatitis.
Cornell University reports arthritic dogs given CBD oil 2x a day have increased activity and decreased pain. The does is 2mg per 2.2 lbs, 2x a day.
Feeding Your Dogs Dr. Greer DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health. 3/2019
1. GRAIN FREE DIETS are VERY BAD as dogs NEED carbs from rice, oats, barley. oatmeal, corn and beet pulp.
They are seeing a high increase in Heart Disease (DCM) in adult dogs, infertility and Cleft Palates in puppies from dogs fed grain free feed. It is ALL consumer HYPE.
2. RAW DIETS are also VERY BAD as it is loaded with parasites and bacteria. It causes dystocia (difficult labor needing C-sections) and some vets refuse to even see a dog fed raw meat due to complications it causes and owners refuse to listen. The imbalance of calcium and phosphorus is thought to be the problem with dystocia.
Dogs are domesticated now, NOT WOLVES.
3. FEED puppies DHA & EPA Supplement or with it in the feed and you will have smarter puppies!
Here is the FUNGAL/YEAST ear treatment I use:
Blue Power Ear Treatment
16 Oz. Isopropyl Alcohol
4 Tablespoons Boric Acid Powder
16 Drops Gentian Violet Solution 1%
Mix together in alcohol bottle and shake well. You will also need to shake solution every time you use it to disperse the Boric Acid Powder. To use, purchase the "Clairol" type plastic bottle to dispense solution to affected ears.
TREATMENT: Evaluate condition of ears before treating and if very inflamed and sore do not attempt to pull hair or clean out ear at all. Wait until inflammation has subsided which will be about 2 days.
Shake the bottle each time before using. Flood the ear with solution (gently squirt bottle), massage gently to the count of 60, wipe with a tissue. Flood again on first treatment, wipe with a tissue, and leave alone without massage. The dog will shake out the excess which can be wiped with a tissue, the Gentian Violet does stain fabrics.
SCHEDULE OF TREATMENT
Treat 2x per day for the first week to two weeks depending upon severity of ears
Treat 1x per day for the next 1-2 weeks
Treat 1x per month (or even less frequently, depending on the dog)
All of these ingredients should be available at a pharmacy. The Boric Acid Powder soothes the ear. The Gentian Violet Solution is an anti-infection agent. The solution appears to work well on any and all ear problems from mites to wax to canker. After the second or third you can clean out the ear with a Q-tip or cotton balls. Their success rate for this treatment is 95-99%. Those who do not succeed have usually not done the treatment long enough or have not been regular about it.
Dogs on the verge of ear canal surgery have been returned to normal with only the regular follow-up treatment to keep the ear healthy. If an infection seems to be remaining in the treated ear after the above course of treatment, you may also have some Pseudomonas bacteria in the site. This can be eradicated by using a gentle flush of raw apple cider vinegar and water (warm). Use 2 Tablespoons of vinegar to one cup of water, 2x per week.
They have found the Blue Power Solution to be effective for treating fungus-type infections on the feet and elsewhere on the dog, for cuts on dogs or people, and for hot spots. You may find other uses for this simple anti-infective agent. Remember it is for external use only and be careful not to get into the eyes.
NOTE: If your dog is sensitive to the Alcohol, you can substitute
"Yellow" Lysterine in place of Alcohol