How To Care For A Newborn Shih Tzu Puppy

Shih Tzus are wildly popular all over the world and have enjoyed this popularity for centuries. Their small size and generally adorable vibes no doubt have something, if not everything, to do with this. But if you think that Shih Tzus are cute, wait until you see their puppies.

Shih Tzus are considered puppies from birth to about 10 to 12 months when they reach maturity. During this puppy stage, they are more vulnerable than they may ever be again, which is why it is so important to take good care of them at this point of time.

Adequately caring for Shih Tzu puppies, especially in their newborn period, is about a balance between actively taking care of the puppy and working indirectly by caring for their mother. In the sections below, we shall take a look at both approaches to give you a better idea of how to care for a newborn Shih Tzu puppy until they are out of that vulnerable stage.

How To Take Care Of A Newborn Shih Tzu Puppy?

Newborn Shih Tzu puppies need a lot of care to survive what is probably the most vulnerable period in their lives. The little doggies are born with their eyes shut and their ear canals closed. Their nervous systems are also not fully developed at birth.

Add to this the fact that they have an average birth weight of 6 ounces and it is clear why it is so important to take care of a Shih Tzuโ€™s newborn puppy. Here are a few tips that will come in handy.

Ensure Their Space Is Clean

Newborn Shih Tzus puppies are prone to developing infections. One way to prevent this is by keeping their spaces clean. You could lay a disposable puppy mat on whatever they are using for a bed for easy clean-up.

Keep Them Warm

Shih Tzus are not born with their long, magnificent coats. The shorter newborn coat is not always adequate to keep the puppies warm.

If you can, get a portable heater or heating pad to keep them nice and toasty. You could also line their space with warm blankets and set them up in a warm part of your home.

Take Care Of The Mother

After all is said and done, the best thing you can do for a newborn Shih Tzu is to take care of their mother. Adult Shih Tzu females have powerful nurturing instincts and will know just what to do for their newborn pups.

So make sure your adult Shih Tzu is well fed, getโ€™s plenty of exercise, and is well groomed.

Image from Instagram:@luna.and.poppy

What Do You Feed A Baby Shih Tzu?

A baby Shih Tzuโ€™s dietary needs are very different from those of their adult counterparts. You therefore canโ€™t simply serve your puppy the same dog food you would for an adult Shih Tzu.

Their special dietary needs are meant to help them grow properly while also keeping up with their often higher energy levels. If this is your first run on the Shih Tzu puppy rodeo, here is a list of tips on how to address their dietary needs so you can take good care of the puppies.

Weaning Age And Process

Ideally, a Shih Tzu puppy should be weaned off breastmilk from the age of 8 weeks. Start with soft foods and gradually introduce small, soft kibble. Eventually, the Shih Tzu pup can eat hard kibble.

A great place to start when it comes to weaning your Shih Tzu puppy would be with flavorful, yet gentle foods like chicken or lamb for protein and pumpkins, quinoa, or potatoes for carbohydrates and micronutrients.

Dog Food Quality And Proportions

Shih Tzu puppies need a balanced diet rich in proteins for strength and growth as well as healthy fats for energy and general health. It is also important that the pupโ€™s diet be rich in vitamins and minerals in which case multivitamin supplements could come in very handy.

We recommend Pet Plate for high-quality puppy food that is made from human-grade ingredients and frozen fresh making it the best dog food for Shih Tzu puppies.

Meal Portions And Frequency

A Shih Tzu puppy should eat between โ…“ and ยฝ of a cup of dog food every day. As you wean the puppy, you could free-feed them where they have constant access to the food.

However, as the Shih Tzu puppy grows older, you should split the same portions into servings given 2 to 3 times a day.

What Should I Not Feed My Shih Tzu?

In addition to figuring out what, how much, and how often to feed your Shih Tzu, it is important that you know what not to feed the doggy. They are prone to gut issues from food intolerance and it is your job to avoid exposing them to the associated discomfort.

To help you out, here are 4 general ideas to avoid feeding your Shih Tzu puppies with.

Food Known To Be Toxic To Dogs

There are certain foods, snacks, and beverages that are known to be toxic to all dogs, especially to Shih Tzu puppies.

Some of these foods can and may cause immediate reactions with gut irritation which causes vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and many other issues for Shih Tzus.

Whereas other foods may have a more adverse and long-term effect with consequences leading to kidney failures of a Shih Tzu, as a result of the toxicity involved.

Here is a list of these foods that you should avoid feeding your Shih Tzu at all costs:

  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Onions and Garlic
  • Raw eggs
  • Raw meat
  • Avocadoes
  • Bacon
  • Cherries
  • Cinnamon
  • Artificial sweeteners like Xylitol
  • And so many more

Milk And Dairy Products

It is never a good idea to give Shih Tzu puppies milk as they are lactose intolerant, especially to milk that isnโ€™t their own motherโ€™s breast milk. This restriction includes dairy products like dairy ice cream, yogurt, and cheese.

If your Shih Tzu consumes milk, they will suffer discomfort from indigestion and diarrhea which may be serious enough to require a vetโ€™s attention.

Hard And Large Kibble

Large kibbles pose a choking hazard to Shih Tzus especially when they are young puppies. The fact that they eat very fast doesnโ€™t help matters.

To avoid this issue, find dry dog food that is specially formulated either for small dog breeds in general or specifically for Shih Tzus.

Too Much Food

Finally, on our list of what you should not feed your Shih Tzu is too much food. These little doggies have large appetites and are prone to developing obesity if their food portions are not monitored.

Image from Instagram:@boomertheshihtzu

How Long Do Shih Tzu Puppies Stay With Their Mother?

A Shih Tzu puppy should be left in their motherโ€™s care for at least 8 weeks. If possible, let them spend some extra time extending as far as 12 weeks before you separate them for adoption or for sale.

This is because no one can take better care of Shih Tzu puppies than Shih Tzu mothers. Here is a quick look at what these dedicated mothers do for their furry, little offspring.


Before a Shih Tzu puppy is weaned, they rely entirely on their mothers for sustenance. Leaving the pup with their mother for their first 8 weeks of life ensures that the puppies get the nutritional support they need to survive and thrive.


Shih Tzu mothers also offer grooming services to their puppies during the first few critical weeks of their lives. This grooming service is about so much more than just cleaning their coats as it also includes stimulating the puppies to poop and pee.


The thin coat on a Shih Tzu puppy is hardly enough to keep the little doggy warm especially if they are born during a cold season. Their mother offers them warmth by cuddling with them which is very important to the puppyโ€™s survival.


The first 8 to 12 weeks with their mother is also a great opportunity for the Shih Tzu puppies to learn social skills from their mother. They also get to practice by interacting with the siblings in their litter.


Finally, the first 8 weeks a Shih Tzu spends with their mother is vital for their bonding which is why they are usually so sad when they have to leave too soon.

Later on in the Shih Tzuโ€™s life, this premature separation may lead to the development of separation anxiety as well as other psychological and behavioral issues.

Image from Instagram:@boomertheshihtzu

Learn To Read The Danger Signs โ€“ How Do I Know If My Newborn Shih Tzu Puppy Is Going To Die?

As we have mentioned so many times before, a newborn Shih Tzu puppy is a very vulnerable dog. Unfortunately, it is possible for several puppies in the litter not to survive.

Newborn Shih Tzu puppies face their greatest risk of death during their first to third weeks of life. However, they are never truly out of trouble until 8 to 12 weeks when they are larger, stronger, and more independent.

If your newborn Shih Tzu puppy is currently in the danger window of the first few weeks, here are 3 of the most important signs that you have to look out for that show they are likely to die. That way, you can take prompt action and potentially save the doggy.

Abnormal Breathing

Abnormal breathing can take various forms from fast breathing to obvious distress involving gasping for breath. If you notice this in your newborn Shih Tzu, do not hesitate to take the puppy to a vet as they just may be on the verge of death.

Reduced Activity

This is a relative danger sign and is best assessed in comparison to the rest of the litter. You may notice that this particular Shih Tzu puppy is significantly less active than their sibling peers which is a major danger sign.

Low Appetite Levels

Newborn Shih Tzu puppies live for one thing and one thing only and that is to feed from their mothers. It is therefore very alarming to find a puppy in the litter that is not eating.

This can either be as a result of low appetite levels or a general lack of energy to fight their Shih Tzu siblings for space to feed. Neither of these possible causes is good news.

Image from Instagram:@damianagalindo

Can Shih Tzu Puppies Swim? Technically speaking, Shih Tzu puppies can swim especially if they are trained. However, they are not the best at it as they lack the strength and stamina to stay afloat in the water for long periods of time. Shih Tzus are also not instinctively good at swimming and may not be comfortable playing in water.

How Big Are Shih Tzu Puppies At Birth? At birth, most Shih Tzu puppies weigh a mere 6 ounces. Their fragile size makes them vulnerable to a lot of issues from injuries to temperature regulation problems. This is why it is so important that they are cared for by their mothers until they are larger and stronger. This could take 6 to 8 weeks.

How Many Puppies Can Shih Tzu Have The First Time? Shih Tzus can have a litter size of between 2 and 9 puppies during their first pregnancy. The number depends on a lot of factors including the dogโ€™s genetics and even their age at this first pregnancy. It goes without saying that Shih Tzus carrying fewer puppies are less likely to suffer complications during pregnancy and whelping.

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Pete Decker