Shih Tzu Sleeping Habits

By Naomi Millburn

If you're hard at work, there's a good chance your Shih Tzu will be sleeping peacefully on his own. These small dogs are great at keeping themselves occupied. Shih Tzus are capable of falling asleep in all sorts of unusual spots, laundry hampers included.

Hours of Sleep Per Day

The total amount of sleep a Shih Tzu gets generally depends on his age bracket. When your Shih Tzu is a young and lively puppy, you can expect him to sleep roughly 14 hours per day. When he reaches adulthood, he'll probably sleep 12 hours a day. When he reaches his golden years, he may sleep upward of 20 hours.

Brachycephalic Dogs and Snoring

Shih Tzus are brachycephalic, which means that they have flat faces and short noses. Since brachycephalic dogs are equipped with unusually small windpipes, they're vulnerable to breathing troubles. Upper airway obstruction is also common in them due to their lengthy soft palates and slender nostrils. Snoring is a common sign of upper airway obstruction. As a result, Shih Tzus often aren't the quietest sleepers. Many brachycephalic dogs are also prone to sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that's characterized by shifts in sleeping patterns. Especially noisy snoring sometimes signifies sleep apnea in canines.

Encouraging Proper Sleep

If you want to encourage a restful and cozy night's sleep for an active and energetic Shih Tzu who behaves like a night owl, do the following:

  • Take him for a relaxing outdoor walk shortly after he consumes his evening meal.
  • Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure his sleeping troubles aren't related to a health condition.

Sleeping issues are sometimes a big part of sleep apnea. When dogs have sleep apnea, they often cease breathing temporarily, which in turn causes them to wake up. Other conditions that can cause sleeping difficulties in dogs are narcolepsy and insomnia. Note that insomnia is particularly prevalent in elderly canines.

Make sure your Shih Tzu always has a sleeping environment that's conducive to proper rest. If possible, set up a sleeping spot for him that fits this criteria:

  • A location in the corner of a room that doesn't get a lot of traffic -- dogs appreciate sleeping in corners because they make them feel more protected.
  • Sufficient direct sunlight
  • Lack of drafts
  • The right temperature

Mature Shih Tzus do well with sleeping temperatures of roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Shih Tzu puppies need slighter higher sleeping temperatures of approximately 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sharing Beds With Humans

Although many Shih Tzus enjoy sleeping in the same beds as their owners, there are potential hazards associated with it. Shih Tzus often suffer injuries due to jumping down or rolling off beds. If you allow your Shih Tzu to sleep in your bed, give him steps or a ramp that will make getting down a markedly safer process. Steps and ramps are commonly available for purchase at pet supply stores online and offline.

Outside of potential hazards, behavioral issues are also problems that sometimes arise when people allow dogs to share their beds.

  • If your Shih Tzu understands that you're the leader of the pack and behaves accordingly without trying to take over your bed, ¬†you should be OK.
  • If he doesn't understand that, figure out a new sleeping arrangement that doesn't involve your bed.
  • Speak to your veterinarian regarding the potential dangers of sleeping in close quarters with your pet. Zoonotic diseases are one possible risk.

Shih Tzus as a breed generally aren't too fond of being by themselves. Separation anxiety, as a result, isn't uncommon in these people-oriented canines. If your Shih Tzu has to sleep away from home, perhaps for a stay at a kennel for a few days, do your part to make things as easy on him as possible. Provide him with cozy reminders of things that are familiar to him -- think blankets and toys.