Shih Tzu Litters: How Many Puppies Can They Have?

by Pup + Bones

When it comes to Shih Tzu litters, have you ever wondered just how many adorable puppies these fluffy little dogs can have? Well, you're in luck, because this article will give you all the insight you need. From the factors that can influence litter size to the average number of puppies a Shih Tzu can have, we'll cover it all. So if you're a fan of these delightful breed, get ready to discover the exciting world of Shih Tzu litters!

Factors that Influence Litter Size

Size and Age of the Dam

The size and age of the dam are important factors that can influence the litter size of Shih Tzu dogs. Generally, larger and older dams tend to have larger litter sizes compared to smaller and younger dams. This is because as a dam grows in size, her body is better able to support more puppies during pregnancy. Additionally, older dams may have increased fertility, leading to larger litters.

Health and Genetics

The health and genetics of the dam and sire also play a significant role in determining the litter size. If the parents have been bred for generations to produce large litters, there is a higher chance that the dam will have a larger litter. On the other hand, certain health conditions in the dam, such as hormonal imbalances or reproductive issues, can sometimes lead to smaller litter sizes.

Breed Standards

Breed standards established by kennel clubs and breed associations can also impact the litter size of Shih Tzu dogs. These standards define the desired characteristics of the breed, including their size and overall conformation. Breeding for conformity to these standards may result in smaller litter sizes as breeders prioritize quality over quantity during the selection process.

Nutrition and Care

Proper nutrition and care are essential for a dam to have healthy puppies and potentially larger litter sizes. Providing a balanced and nutritious diet to the dam before and during pregnancy is crucial to support the healthy development of the puppies. Regular veterinary check-ups and appropriate vaccinations can also contribute to the dam's overall health, leading to optimal litter sizes.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors, such as stress levels and the overall well-being of the dam, can also have an impact on litter sizes. A calm and stress-free environment during the dam's pregnancy is important to ensure that the puppies are not negatively affected. High-stress levels can potentially lead to smaller litter sizes due to hormonal imbalances or complications.

Average Litter Sizes

Standard Range

The average litter size for Shih Tzu dogs typically ranges from 3 to 5 puppies. This range is considered normal and falls within the average for many small breeds. However, it's important to note that litter sizes can vary significantly from one dam to another, even within the same breed. The factors mentioned above can influence whether a dam falls within the lower or higher end of the standard range.

First-time Litters

First-time litters tend to be smaller compared to subsequent litters. It is not uncommon for a first-time dam to have just 1 or 2 puppies, particularly if she is a young or smaller-sized Shih Tzu. As the dam matures and goes through subsequent pregnancies, her litter size may increase, reaching the average range or even producing larger litters.

Subsequent Litters

After the first litter, Shih Tzu dams tend to have more consistent and larger litter sizes. As they gain experience in motherhood and their bodies adapt to the reproductive process, subsequent litters often have more puppies. Breeders often see an increase in litter size in dams that have had more than one successful breeding.

Exceptionally Large Litters

While rare, there have been reported cases of Shih Tzu dams having exceptionally large litters exceeding the standard range. These cases often involve breeders who have specifically bred for larger litter sizes by selecting dams and sires with a history of producing multiple puppies. However, it's important to note that such large litters can also come with higher risks and complications during both pregnancy and whelping.

Shih Tzu Litters: How Many Puppies Can They Have?

This image is property of

Potential Complications


Dystocia refers to difficulties or complications during delivery. It can occur due to various factors such as the dam's size, the size of the puppies, or malpositioning of the puppies. Dystocia can lead to a prolonged labor, increased chance of complications, and may require veterinary intervention.


In some cases, a dam may require a cesarean section (C-section) to deliver the puppies safely. This surgical procedure involves making an incision in the dam's abdomen to remove the puppies. C-sections may be necessary if the dam is unable to deliver naturally, if there are complications or distress during labor, or if the dam is physically unable to give birth vaginally.

Interventions and Assistance

During the whelping process, some dams may require intervention or assistance from the breeder or a veterinarian. This can include facilitating the birth process by gently guiding the puppies out, helping to break the amniotic sacs, or providing resuscitation if a puppy is not breathing properly. Breeders should be prepared to provide appropriate support and care during whelping to ensure the well-being of the dam and her puppies.

Recommended Breeding Practices

Health Screening

Before breeding, it is essential to conduct thorough health screenings on both the dam and the sire. This includes genetic testing for hereditary conditions that can be passed on to the puppies. Health screenings not only help in producing healthier litters but also minimize the chances of complications during pregnancy and whelping.

Mating Techniques

Mating techniques can influence the success of breeding and can also impact the size of the litter. Breeding at the optimal time during the dam's heat cycle, following veterinarian advice, can increase the chances of successful fertilization. Artificial insemination may also be considered if natural breeding is not possible or if the sire is physically unable to mate with the dam.

Monitoring the Dam

Close monitoring of the dam during her pregnancy is crucial to ensure her health and the health of the puppies. Regular veterinary check-ups, ultrasounds, and hormonal monitoring can help to identify any potential issues early on. Monitoring the dam's weight and overall well-being can also provide important indicators of the puppies' growth and development.

Preparing for Whelping

Breeding practices should include thorough preparation for the whelping process. This includes setting up a clean and comfortable area for the dam to give birth, equipped with whelping supplies such as clean towels, heating pads, and a whelping box. Breeders should familiarize themselves with the stages of whelping and be prepared to provide necessary assistance or veterinary aid if needed.

Shih Tzu Litters: How Many Puppies Can They Have?

This image is property of

Breeding Management

Understanding the Heat Cycle

Understanding the heat cycle of the dam is crucial in determining the optimal time for breeding. Shih Tzu dogs typically have two heat cycles per year, each lasting around 21 days. Breeders should closely monitor the dam's heat cycle to identify the most fertile period for successful mating.

Determining the Optimal Time for Breeding

Determining the optimal time for breeding requires careful observation of the dam's behavior and physical signs. As the dam approaches her fertile period, there may be changes in her behavior, such as increased friendliness or restlessness. Additionally, changes in the appearance and texture of vaginal discharge can indicate the start of the fertile period.

Stud Selection

Selecting a suitable stud for breeding is crucial for a successful and healthy litter. Breeders should evaluate potential studs based on their conformation to breed standards, temperament, and health records. Responsible breeders will also consider the compatibility between the dam and sire to ensure the best possible outcome for the puppies.

Assisted Reproductive Technologies

In some cases, breeders may utilize assisted reproductive technologies to facilitate the breeding process. Techniques such as artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization can help overcome certain challenges or increase the chances of success. However, it's important to note that the use of these technologies should be approached ethically and in the best interest of the dam and her future puppies.

Caring for Expectant Mothers

Prenatal Care

Expectant mothers require special care to support healthy pregnancies and the well-being of the puppies. Regular veterinary check-ups and prenatal care are necessary to monitor the dam's health, detect any potential issues early on, and ensure that her nutritional needs are met. Vaccinations and deworming should also be kept up to date to minimize the risk of transferring infections to the puppies.

Diet and Exercise

Proper diet and exercise are essential for expectant mothers. Feeding a high-quality, balanced diet specifically formulated for pregnant dogs is crucial to provide the necessary nutrients for the dam and the developing puppies. Regular exercise should be encouraged but not excessively strenuous to avoid any unnecessary strain on the dam's body.

Providing a Comfortable Whelping Area

Creating a comfortable whelping area is important to ensure a stress-free environment for the dam to give birth and care for her puppies. The area should be clean, quiet, and warm, with enough space for the dam to move around comfortably. Providing bedding, a whelping box, and a heat source can help keep the puppies warm and secure during their first weeks of life.

Shih Tzu Litters: How Many Puppies Can They Have?

This image is property of

Whelping Process

Recognizing Signs of Labor

Knowing the signs of labor is crucial for prompt action and proper support. As the dam enters labor, she may exhibit restlessness, nesting behavior, panting, or appearing anxious. Vaginal discharge may also become more frequent and change in color. Breeding managers should be attentive to these signs to ensure that the dam receives the necessary care during the whelping process.

Stages of Whelping

Whelping typically occurs in three stages: pre-labor, active labor, and delivery of the placenta. The pre-labor stage may include nesting behavior and mild contractions. Active labor is characterized by stronger contractions and the birth of the puppies, while the final stage involves the delivery of the placenta. Breeders should be aware of these stages and be prepared to provide assistance if necessary.

Handling the Puppies

Proper handling of the puppies is crucial to their well-being and bonding with the dam. It is important to handle the puppies gently and ensure they are kept clean and warm. Weighing the puppies regularly can help monitor their growth and identify any potential issues. Breeders should also facilitate early bonding between the dam and her puppies to ensure their emotional and physical development.

Supporting the Dam

During the whelping process, breeders should provide emotional support to the dam. Staying calm and reassuring her can help reduce stress and anxiety during labor. Breeders should be ready to assist in the delivery process if needed and should provide continuous monitoring and care for both the dam and the puppies.

Post-Birth Care

Monitoring the Puppies

After the birth of the puppies, it is important to closely monitor their health and development. This includes checking their weight gain, ensuring they are nursing properly, and observing their behavior. Any signs of distress or abnormalities should be promptly addressed by a veterinarian. Regular check-ups are also necessary to ensure that the puppies are growing and developing as expected.

Nutrition for the Dam

Nutrition plays a vital role in the dam's post-birth recovery and milk production. A high-quality diet rich in nutrients and calories is essential to support the dam's increased energy needs during lactation. Breeders should work closely with veterinarians to determine the best feeding plan for the dam during this period.

Vet Check-ups for the Litter

Regular veterinary check-ups for the entire litter are necessary to monitor their health and ensure they are progressing well. Vaccinations, deworming, and general health examinations should all be taken care of to prevent any potential health issues. Breeders should communicate any concerns or changes in the puppies' health to their veterinarians promptly.

Socialization and Early Training

From an early age, it is important to focus on socializing the puppies and introducing them to various experiences. This helps them become well-adjusted and confident dogs as they grow. Early training, such as basic commands and potty training, can also begin during this time.

Finding Suitable Homes for Puppies

Screening Potential Owners

Responsible breeders take the placement of their puppies seriously and ensure they go to suitable homes. This involves screening potential owners by asking questions about their lifestyle, experience with dogs, and their ability to provide a safe and loving environment. Breeders may also request references from past pet owners and perform home visits to ensure a proper fit.

Providing Necessary Information

Breeders should provide potential owners with all the necessary information about the breed and the specific needs of Shih Tzu puppies. This includes details about the breed's temperament, grooming requirements, exercise needs, and any potential health issues. Providing comprehensive information allows potential owners to make an informed decision about bringing a Shih Tzu puppy into their home.

Ensuring a Smooth Transition

To ensure a smooth transition for the puppies, breeders should offer guidance and support to new owners. This can include providing information on feeding, grooming, training, and general care. A gradual introduction to the new home and family members can help the puppies settle in more easily and establish a positive bond with their new owners.

Contracts and Agreements

It is recommended for breeders to use contracts and agreements when placing their puppies in new homes. These documents outline the responsibilities of both the breeder and the new owner and may include provisions for health guarantees, spaying/neutering agreements, and return policies. Contracts can help protect the well-being of the puppies and ensure responsible ownership.


Understanding the factors that influence litter size in Shih Tzu dogs is essential for both breeders and prospective owners. Size and age of the dam, health and genetics, breed standards, nutrition and care, and environmental factors all play a role in determining the average litter size. Potential complications during whelping can arise, making proper breeding practices, prenatal care, and monitoring crucial for the dam and her puppies. Caring for expectant mothers, guiding them through the whelping process, and providing post-birth care are necessary for the health and well-being of both the dam and the puppies. Finding suitable homes for the puppies involves responsible breeding practices, thorough screening of potential owners, and educating them about the breed's specific needs. Ultimately, understanding Shih Tzu litter sizes, practicing ethical breeding, and promoting responsible ownership ensure the overall health and happiness of these beloved companion dogs.

You may also like

Verified by MonsterInsights