How Many Puppies Can a Shih Tzu Have?

Shih Tzus are adorable and affectionate little canines. They can make a great addition to almost any family. If you are looking to add more Shih Tzus to loving homes by breeding your beautiful pup, you may be wondering how many puppies can a Shih Tzu have.

how many puppies can a Shih Tzu have
How many puppies can a Shih Tzu have?

How Many Puppies Can a Shih Tzu Have?

How many puppies a Shih Tzu can have can vary based on the pup’s age and her litter history. If a female Shih Tzu has never had puppies before, she is likelier to have a smaller litter. She could have as little as one pup during her first pregnancy.

Shih Tzus in basket
Shih Tzu puppies fit inside a small basket!

The more litters she’s had and the older she is, the more likely she will have larger litters.

On average, Shih Tzus typically have between three to four puppies each time. The litter size tends to be lower for younger dogs and those in their first pregnancy. 

The number of puppies goes up as she ages and has more litters. Some Shih Tzus have been known to have up to five to six during each pregnancy. With larger litter sizes come more risks of complications.

When there is a larger litter size or larger pups, the female is more likely to need intervention during the birthing process, possibly even requiring a C section.

She will need frequent vet checkups throughout the pregnancy to ensure she’s progressing normally with no complications. These checkups can also make it helpful to keep track of how many puppies to expect in the litter. 

Knowing how many puppies there are makes delivery of the puppies safer, so you know if one may be stuck or hasn’t come out yet. If a puppy gets stuck, it can cause an emergency, leading to a C-section to keep both mom and puppy safe.

How Many Litters Can a Shih Tzu Have per Year?

A Shih Tzu is pregnant for about two months and usually goes through a heat cycle between two and three times a year. However, this does not mean they should get pregnant that often.

Shih Tzu in a hurry
Shih Tzu is in a hurry and needs to poop!

Pregnancy can be challenging and dangerous. Therefore, it is recommended that a Shih Tzu has time to heal between pregnancies to maintain her health and the health of future pups. 

For optimal health, a Shih Tzu should only have one pregnancy every other year and should not be bred for the first time until two years of age. Although a female Shih Tzu can have their first heat cycle as early as four months old, it does not mean they are mature enough to handle a pregnancy. 

Before breeding your Shih Tzu, it’s crucial to have her vet-checked to ensure she’s healthy enough for breeding. A female should be fully mature before having her first litter of puppies. Waiting until she’s old enough allows her body to be fully developed, making her healthier and making pregnancy and delivery more manageable and safer for her and the pups.

With these limitations, a Shih Tzu should only have four litters in her lifetime to keep her and her babies healthy. This is a guideline NOT a rule, so speak to your vet.

When looking for a new pup, asking about the mother and her past litters is highly recommended. Knowing when her last litter was will tell you if you are dealing with a responsible breeder and not someone who is just looking to make money. Responsible breeding ensures that both mom and puppies are healthy.

Preparing Your Shih Tzu for Birth

If your Shih Tzu is pregnant, you may wonder how to prepare her for birth. Preparing a place for her and her pups is essential as time gets closer to delivery. 

sad Shih-Tzu
A sad-looking Shih Tzu is on the couch.

At least a few days before the due date, you’ll need to prepare a whelping box. This is a box that the mother will use to have the pups and keep them safe for the first few weeks of their lives. The box will need to be big enough for both mom and babies, with a way to keep the puppies in, meanwhile allowing the mom to get out safely. 

Many choose to make this whelping box out of cardboard, but you can make it out of almost anything. What matters is that both mom and babies are all safe and comfy. To keep the dogs comfortable, putting a heating pad, an old towel, or the mom’s favorite blanket in the box can be helpful.

How Do You Know if All the Puppies Are Out?

The best way to know if all of the Shih Tzu puppies are out is to know how many puppies to expect. The vet can discover this by performing an x-ray during the 6th week of the pregnancy. Ultrasound is an option, but it is not as accurate as an x-ray when determining the number of puppies she’s pregnant with. 

Shih Tzu breastfeeding puppies
A Shih Tzu mother breastfeeding her puppies.

You’ll know when she’s finished delivering puppies when you know how many to expect. However, there are times when the vet may miss a puppy on an x-ray, so it’s still a good idea to know the signs of an impending puppy or problems during the delivery

The birthing process can start hours before a puppy arrives. The mother Shih Tzu will begin to get restless and possibly even make a comfy nest to have somewhere to deliver. 

Once she starts straining and trying to push, puppies should arrive every 30-60 minutes. For larger litters, some Shih Tzus may take one- to two-hour breaks between pups to get some rest. If more than four hours have passed without a puppy and you expect more, it is time to call a vet

If you’re unsure how many puppies she was expecting to have, look for signs that she’s still in active labor to know if you should be expecting more.

When she’s finished, she should relax and start nursing the pups. The straining will stop, and her focus will be on caring for the puppies. 

If she’s still restless and looks like she’s still trying to push, it may mean another is coming, or there are complications. If four hours have gone by with no changes, it’s essential to contact the vet.

Visiting a vet within 48 hours of delivery is important to ensure the Shih Tzu is recovering well. Sometimes, things can get left behind, making the mother very sick. She will likely have signs of infection such as:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Green discharge
  • Appetite loss

Wrapping Up

Shih Tzus are such a great companion that some may be looking to breed more of them. It’s helpful to know how many pups to expect so you can be prepared and know when she has safely finished delivering her puppies

It’s common for first pregnancies to have smaller litter sizes. They can average one to three puppies. The average litter size is three to four, but this number can go higher for older Shih Tzus, who have had a few litters of puppies.

Be prepared by creating a whelping box to keep the mom and puppies safe for the first few weeks. 

Breeding should always happen responsibly, ensuring proper care for both the safety of the puppies and the mother.