The shih tzu is a Chinese dog believed to be descended from the crossing of a Pekingese and a Lhasa apso or Tibetan mountain dog. It is a small dog with long and dense hair. Shih Tzus are a popular breed to mate, if you're educated about the dog's cycles and gestation period.
The breed's lively, friendly, and loyal personality has contributed to their popularity as house pets. According to the American Kennel Club registration statistics, the Shih Tzu was the 10th most popular dog breed in the United States in 2010.
Female Shih Tzu cycle
A female dog goes through numerous reproductive cycles — called the estrous cycle —throughout its lifetime. When a female dog is going through its estrous cycle, it is commonly referred to as being "in heat." A Shih Tzu's first cycle can come anytime from six to 15 months of age. A female that has not had its first cycle after 15 months of age should be checked by a veterinarian. A Shih Tzu will go through a cycle, which lasts for two to four weeks, about every seven months.
Shih Tzu menstruation
In a Shih Tzu, menstruation happens as it does in all other dogs. When a Shih Tzu dog is in heat, her temperature rises and there will be a red or pink colored discharge from her swollen vulva. Other signs of being in heat include fatigue, restlessness, increased urination, and mood changes. When she is ready to mate, she will attract more interest from male dogs and in turn be more attentive to them.
Sexual maturity of stud Shih Tzu
A male breeding Shih tzu is called a stud Shih Tzu. A male dog is ready to mate any time after it reaches sexual maturity. A large dog breed can take as long as 18 months to reach sexual maturity, but a male Shih Tzu reaches sexual maturity around eight to nine months of age. A male Shih Tzu can smell a female dog in heat from as far away as three miles and might become very aggressive in trying to reach and mate with her.
Shih Tzu gestation period
A female Shih Tzu will be receptive to a male's advances when it wants to mate. Signs that point to her being pregnant are behavioral changes, swelling of the vulva without bleeding, increased nipple size, and a swollen stomach. The gestational period lasts between 56 to 63 days. A typical litter size is four puppies.
Importance of vet visits
As with any animal you are planning to breed, always take your male and female dogs to a veterinarian prior to breeding. The American Shih Tzu Club strongly recommends vet checks before breeding, along with conducting testing for issues common in Shih Tzus including progressive retinal atrophy in the eyes, juvenile cataracts, renal dysplasia, and hip dysplasia,
Also, some veterinarians recommend spaying a female dog after she has been bred because a female will continue to go through an estrous cycles until the end of her life. This puts additional stress on the body, if she's not spayed.