How Many Puppies Do Shih Tzus Have?
[Full Updated Guide]

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: January 17, 2022

Shih Tzu being a toy breed, we receive a lot of queries in our dog training center regarding the size of their litter. They are characterized by being “Brachycephalic,” short-snout, or small-headed. Shih Tzu’s small-sized flat-shaped faces and snouts are found to be adorable by most dog owners. So, coming to the key question at hand – how many puppies can they have, or what is their average litter count? 

The above aspect and considerations around the Shih Tzu pregnancy will be covered in detail in this article. Along with that, the litter size during the first delivery will also be looked into. 

Let’s cut to the chase on the Shih Tzu topic at hand.

Average Litter Size For Shih Tzus

Based on our experience, we usually see litters of three in the case of this tiny dog breed. This is not a hard and fast figure. There are also cases where the litter size was 4 or 5 on some occasions. If your dog has given birth before, it is more like that the number will go above three. We have also found that a small percentage of Shih Tzu deliveries also require C-section techniques. Obviously, those must be performed by a certified veterinarian.

We have found that comparing the litter sizes of different dog breeds provides interesting outcomes- from a giant dog breed such as the German Shepherd whose litter size is as large as 8 to that of the Shih Tzu coming down to 3. 

This factor impacts their selling price as well. Since this breed’s population growth levels are lower, they are more expensive to buy in pet stores than dogs with larger litter sizes.

Shih Tzu Litter Count For The First Delivery

If the female Shih Tzu is at a younger age during pregnancy, we have found that the litter size is on the lower side. In general, the litter size increases with the age of the mother dog.

We have seen sizes varying from one to 3 puppies for the first time. As a rule of thumb, we recommend not to breed them more than four times in the female’s lifetime as it can adversely affect their health and does no good to their mental well-being.

As a responsible pet parent, keep a close watch over your female dog as things can get complicated for the mother when a litter of more than four puppies. The result will be Shih Tzu puppies that are weaker in health when the size exceeds four. This will, in turn, put more pressure on the mother dog to take additional care of the weak ones.

Pregnancy Complications in Shih Tzus

As mentioned earlier, not all deliveries for this breed go easily. Around a quarter of them have been proven to require C-section surgeries. This is because natural birth is found to be more hazardous for the mother and her newborns. To avoid this issue, most vets will recommend the Caesarean alternative.

There are physical attributes of the Shih Tzus that make the pregnancy process vulnerable. They have narrow hips, and the babies have big heads. Due to the awkward physical traits of the Brachycephaly breeds, the litter size is reduced. Apart from the Shih Tzus, some of the other dog breeds that belong to this category are pugs, Pekingese, Chow Chows, English Toy Spaniels, Bull Mastiffs, and French Bulldogs

To make things worse, we have witnessed cases where a baby’s head gets stuck in the birth canal. This can be dangerous both to the Shih Tzu puppy and the mother. Always get the mother checked out by the vet to predict any such complications that may arise during the delivery time.

From a monetary perspective, C-section deliveries can range from $300 to a few thousand depending upon the case’s complexity.

Annual Litter Sizes of Shih Tzu Breed

Based on our experience, we recommend that your Shih Tzu does not have more than one litter of puppies per year. It is also advisable to have a gap of one year before the next litter. 

For deliveries that involve a C-section, the toll on the mother’s health is significantly higher and requires more recovery time. It is unfair to have another delivery soon as you would be putting your dog’s health in severe danger.

We suggest you do some background checks before owning a female Shih Tzu, such as the number of deliveries and the litter size of the dog. You can also check with the dog breeder when the last delivery occurred.

It is advisable not to purchase females who have delivered three or more litters as a safe practice. Making the dog breed unwantedly more times is an indication that the breeder is looking for some quick money and is mistreating the canine.

Typical Pregnancy Period Of Shih Tzu 

It is imperative to assess when your dog is due to give birth, especially in the case of a C-section operation. This will make it easier for you to book the procedure. 

Your Shih Tzu’s pregnancy period is typically the same as other dog breeds. This period is usually around 63 days. If you are not sure whether the dog is pregnant, get it medically checked out when the female starts showing related signs of tiredness/fatigue and lack of usual movement. Do you notice a weight gain, swollen belly, and enlarged nipples? Then, your guess is most probably correct; your Shih Tzu is pregnant.

Vet’s usually can feel your dog’s belly during a 20-30 day period and confirm that they are indeed carrying. An ultrasound scan at around 25 days into pregnancy can reveal the presence of the puppy fetus. 

In the next section, we will look at the litter sizes of some common dog breeds to understand to what extent the count is different from your Shih Tzu.

Comparing Litter Size With Other Dog Breeds

Now that you know the typical litter count of Shih Tzu, let’s look at some litter numbers below:

  • Chihuahua – 3 pups
  • Dachshund – 3 pups
  • Yorkshire Terrier – 3 pups
  • French Bulldog – 3 pups
  • British Bulldog – 4 pups
  • Miniature Schnauzer – 4 pups
  • Basset Hound – 5 pups
  • Pug – 5 pups
  • Poodle – 5 pups
  • Beagle – 6 pups
  • Springer spaniel – 7 pups
  • Labrador – 7 pups
  • Corgi – 7 pups
  • Great Dane – 8 pups
  • Golden retriever – 8 pups
  • Rottweiler – 8 pups
  • German Shepherd – 8 pups
  • Golden retriever – 8 pups

From these figures, you can clearly notice a correlation between the dog’s size and litter size. In general, larger-sized dogs tend to have more significant litter sizes compared to tiny ones.

Wrapping Things Up

There is no doubt that Shih Tzu’s are fun and adorable pets to have. They are loyal and a great addition to your family. We know of several cases where adopting a Shih Tzus has transformed dull homes into bundles of energy. They are lively, make adorable playdates with your kids, and are a source of joy to family members of all ages.

However, their pregnancy can be complicated due to the physical traits discussed earlier in this article. Their pregnancy is riskier for both the pups and the mother. This aspect requires the owner to be vigilant and take all the medical help from your trusted veterinarians during the pregnancy period.

Although an ultrasound scan can be an excellent mechanism to know if they are pregnant or not after day 25 of the pregnancy cycle, it is still not accurate to predict the litter size.  

Alternatively, an X-ray scan is a far better option to get an estimate of the number of puppies that are going to be delivered. Unlike Ultrasound, X-rays are usually carried out around 45 days into the pregnancy period. By doing so, the doctor would be able to search for how many puppy skulls are inside the womb of the mother dog.

The key point to remember is that it is healthier for both the mom and her pups when the litter size is lesser. This will ensure both the parties are in good shape and health post the delivery process. Finally, once all the hassles associated with the pregnancy are completed, get ready for a world of cuteness in your home when the mom and pups arrive healthy and sound.