Shih Tzu Pregnancy by Janice Jones M.A. |Last Updated 10-07-2023
Did you find yourself on this Shih Tzu Pregnancy page because you want to breed your Shih Tzu or think your baby may be pregnant? Perhaps you are just curious. Well, you are in the right place.
I've experienced hundreds of pregnancies, some uneventful, others that caused me concern, and others that were heart-wrenching.
Bringing a litter of puppies into the world is a fantastic experience. I do hope if you are here, you've made a conscious decision to breed your girl, and now you may want some answers and guidance on how to proceed.
I'm always so happy to help new or one-time breeders fulfill their desire to create a new family of Shih Tzu puppies. In this article, we are going to look at a variety of topics. Feel free to read straight through all the issues or pick and choose those that are most relevant to your situation.
If you are contemplating bringing a litter of tiny Shih Tzu puppies into this world, you should know that there is a vocabulary for breeding. Here are just a few words to learn.
Dam /Bitch: The terms used to describe the female dog who is the litter's mother.
Sire/Dog: The term used to describe the father of the litter.
Tie: A mating term that describes the moment when the male and female dog have mated. The "tie " occurs when the male and female are locked together. The bulbus glandis of the male dog's penis swells inside the bitch's vagina, and during this time, ejaculation occurs.
Both dogs are "tied together" until this swelling subsides, which may be instantaneous to continue for 30 minutes. Typically, there is no pain, but virgin dogs may become distressed. The breeder can reassure the dogs by being near and holding one or both dogs, so they don't try to break the tie prematurely.
Flagging: When the female stands still, moving her tail to one side, signifying she is ready to mate.
Length of Pregnancy: Gestation: A typical dog's pregnancy lasts about nine weeks or 63 days, giving or taking a couple of days on either side from when the female ovulates. The Day ovulation occurs is not necessarily the day the Dam mates, as most girls will ovulate a couple of days before mating.
Nesting is an automatic process that female mothers undergo when preparing for their new litters. They may try to create a nest by tearing up paper or build a nest by scratching and digging in a location they deem suitable for giving birth to puppies.
Whelping: The act of giving birth to puppies
Conception / Fertilization: The point at which the zygote is formed due to sperm penetrating an egg.
Dog breeding soundness exams (BSE): A dog breeding
soundness exam is a physical examination performed by a veterinarian to assess
a dog's reproductive health and fitness for breeding. This exam can be helpful
for both male and female dogs, and it can help identify any potential problems
that could affect breeding success.
The BSE typically includes the following:
The veterinarian will also ask the owner about the dog's medical and breeding history. This information can help assess the dog's fitness for breeding.
If the veterinarian identifies any potential problems during the BSE, they may recommend further testing or treatment. For example, if the veterinarian finds the male dog has a low sperm count, they may recommend additional semen evaluations or hormone testing. If the veterinarian finds that the female dog has a vaginal infection, they may prescribe antibiotics.
It is important to note that a BSE does not guarantee that a dog can conceive or have a litter. It cannot rule out genetic problems that may discourage you from using this dog in a breeding program. However, it can help to identify any potential problems that could affect the success of breeding.
If you are considering breeding your dog, it is important to schedule a BSE with your veterinarian. This exam can help you to ensure that your dog is healthy and fertile, and that they are a good candidate for breeding.
Luckily, the Shih Tzu breed is healthy and may not require help achieving a pregnancy. However, some dogs need a little help. You are not likely to know if you need help the first time your dog mate, but if the female fails to get pregnant, it is at this point you will need to seek help from a veterinary reproductive specialist.
Assisted Canine Reproduction, or ACR, describes various techniques that can help dogs conceive and have litters. ACR can be used to address a variety of fertility issues, including male infertility, female infertility, and implantation problems.
Some of the most common ACR techniques include:
ACR can be complex and expensive, but it can be a valuable tool for breeders trying to produce healthy puppies from dogs with fertility problems.
Here are some of the benefits of using ACR:
However, there are also some risks associated with ACR:
This is a Shih Tzu pregnancy resulting from a brindle-colored female dog and a white male with many colors in his pedigree.
The general rule of thumb is that a dog's pregnancy lasts 63 days, give or take a day or two on either side. This statement, however, is a bit misleading because breeders will often calculate the date from either the first or last date of mating.
To understand how long a Shih Tzu Pregnancy is, one must understand their heat cycles. The gestation period is approximately 63 days from conception, but mating and fertilization differ. Healthy sperm can live inside a healthy female for up to 6 days. So, even though a female may allow mating to occur, it doesn't mean that conception occurred at the same time as mating.
are ways to help determine the whelping date, usually within a day by doing
progesterone testing or vaginal smears.
According to the AKC website, a dog pregnancy can last from ...
56-58 days from the first day of diestrus
64-66 days from the initial rise in progesterone
58-72 days from the first time the bitch, aka Mama allowed mating to occur.
For the Shih Tzu breeder, the best way to handle the questions is when you expect the litter to be born. I recommend giving them a time frame of about a week (for example, The second week in August)
As a new (or experienced Shih Tzu breeder, you may want to download our perpetual Whelping Calendar to keep handy to estimate the time of your new litter.
If you have both mom and dad available, you may be able to relax and allow the canines to do their own thing. After all, dogs have been able to reproduce by themselves forever. But it is not so easy in modern times. Maybe you own mom, but dad lives 1000 miles away, or (sigh) dad passed away ten years ago, but he was a valuable dog, and his semen was collected and frozen for future mating.
That is where Progesterone testing comes into the picture.
Progesterone testing is a blood test that can determine when a female dog is ovulating. This information can be helpful for breeders who are trying to time breeding for optimal success.
Progesterone is a hormone that is produced by the ovaries after ovulation. The progesterone levels in the blood gradually rise after ovulation, reaching a peak about 7-10 days after ovulation.
To perform a progesterone test, a veterinarian will collect a small blood sample from the dog's vein. The blood sample will then be sent to a laboratory for analysis. Most veterinary reproduction specialists have in-house laboratories capable of receiving results in just about an hour.
The results of a progesterone test are typically reported in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). A progesterone level of 2 ng/mL or less indicates that the dog is not ovulating. A 6 ng/mL progesterone level indicates that the dog has ovulated.
Progesterone testing can be performed any time during the estrous cycle, but it is most accurate if performed on days 5-10. Repeating this test every other day is common until progesterone levels have reached appropriate levels. It is important to note that progesterone levels can vary from dog to dog, and some dogs may have higher or lower progesterone levels than others.
If you are considering using progesterone testing to time a breeding, it is important to talk to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help you interpret the test results and develop a breeding plan that is right for you and your dogs. I’ve had vets tell me, “Quick, go home and put mom and dad together immediately.”
Here are some of the benefits of using progesterone testing for ovulation timing in dogs:
However, there are also some limitations to using progesterone testing for ovulation timing in dogs:
Like most other breeds, Shih Tzu dams go through a predictable phase that helps us determine whether they are pregnant.
Assuming your girl was mated, you witnessed the mating, and there was a tie, there is every reason to suspect your girl is pregnant. Unfortunately, human pregnancy tests don't work on dogs. Those home tests ladies use to detect pregnancy rely on a urine sample that can pick up a hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. Dogs don't produce this hormone, so the test would be useless.
There are ways to know if your dog is pregnant by observing changes in behavior and appearance. There are also more sophisticated ways that typically require your veterinarian's help.
Like in people, every dog experience pregnancy differently; each pregnancy is never alike. This is a general list, and some signs will be present in the early stages of pregnancy, while others won't be noticeable until late pregnancy, such as nesting behaviors.
Here are a few signs you might see:
are several ways you can confirm that your female is indeed pregnant.
From about day 28 until 35, it is possible to feel tiny embryos about the size of grapes. After this time frame, the sacs that contain the growing fetus fill with fluid, making it nearly impossible to feel individual puppies. This method is not an accurate determination of live puppies and can't be a reliable way to determine the number of puppies.
If the girl is tense, obese, or underweight, this method is not likely to be useful.
Ultrasonography is an imaging technique that can be used to diagnose pregnancy and evaluate the reproductive organs of dogs. Ultrasonography can be helpful for breeders trying to monitor a pregnancy's progress or identify any potential problems.
Ultrasound is a safe, painless procedure that consists of bouncing sound waves off internal organs. Commonly performed around 25 days from the last mating, it can provide several bits of information to the veterinarian and breeder.
First, it can detect the viability of the fetus (movement and heartbeat) and can often predict the birth date. In some cases, the vet may also be able to determine the number of puppies, but this is not usually reliable. A better way to determine the number of puppies is through X-rays, later in the pregnancy.
The easiest way to count the number of unborn puppies is to locate and count skulls. Some vets also can measure the size of the skull and compare the diameter to that of the birth canal. This is helpful when deciding whether a c-section will be necessary.
An X-ray can be done towards the end of the pregnancy to determine the number of puppies, their size, and where they are within the uterus. You can count skulls to determine the number of puppies, and the vet can also assess whether the size of the puppies may become a problem for the mother giving birth. If this is the case, a C-section may be indicated.
A blood test that measures the level of a hormone called relaxin can typically be detected in a pregnant female dog's blood as early as 22 to 27 days post-breeding. The placenta produces relaxin once the embryo has attached to the uterine wall. It will remain high throughout the pregnancy and then decline once puppies are born.
A positive result will detect a pregnancy at the time of testing, but it doesn't mean that puppies will be born. Anything can happen that would cause the mom to lose her litter. A negative result could be the result of poor timing, and the test can be repeated in a week to see if it is still negative. Two negative tests generally mean no pregnancy, but if you want to be assured of results, a third test can be done in a week.
This test can be purchased at home but requires a blood sample to be spun down via a centrifuge. Therefore, you must be able to draw blood and own a centrifuge. This is not a test that is used much anymore.
This may not be possible until the last week of pregancy, but it is fun to hear those tiny fast beating hearts. I found that a pediatric stethoscope is needed to hear the heartbeats but you may find that a regular stethoscope works fine for you. A typical heartbeat of an adult dog is between 70 – 120 beats per minute. The fetal heart beat is much faster at 170 to 230 beats per minute. It's literly too fast for me to count so it's easy to tell the difference between mom's and baby's heart rate.
Do not use this method to determine the number of puppies your mom is carrying. It won't be accurate.
typical Shih Tzu Pregnancy lasts 63 days and produces four puppies.
The quick answer is no unless you are curious. But, with that said, if your girl runs into problems, you will want to have her checked by a veterinarian who will likely use some of these measures to diagnose the problem.
This is an exciting time for you, and if you're like me, you will want to do everything possible to ensure a successful pregnancy and a litter of healthy, happy puppies. What are some things you can do to help your girl?
Pregnant dogs need a diet that is
high in calories and nutrients. Breeders should work with their veterinarians
to develop a nutritional plan for their pregnant dogs.
The food should be easily digestible and provide all the essential nutrients the mother and puppies need.
Here are some tips for feeding a pregnant dog:
Here are some specific nutrients that are important for pregnant dogs:
About halfway through the pregnancy, it is time to increase her food by about 10%. Increase her regular food by 30% during the seventh week, and by the 8th week, she's likely to be eating 50% more than usual. These are just rough estimates. I normally free feed, so my girls eat as much as they need.
There is debate about whether you need to supplement her diet, especially if she eats a premium brand. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause reproductive problems. Ask your vet to recommend a good quality prenatal vitamin/mineral supplement.
Personally, I used NuVet Plus as a prenatal vitamin/mineral supplement with good results.
Exercise during pregnancy: Pregnant dogs need regular exercise, but it is important to avoid strenuous activity. Breeders should consult their veterinarian about how much exercise is appropriate for their pregnant dogs.
Keep up with your exercise routine during your Shih Tzu Pregnancy
Exercise is good for any Shih Tzu dog and especially for pregnant Tzus. If you normally walk your dog, continue to do so. This would not be an ideal time to take a long hike or allow her to over-exert herself. But if your dog is accustomed to a daily walk, she will appreciate this activity well into her pregnancy.
your dog is pregnant, it is difficult to anticipate what behavioral changes she
may exhibit. Many dogs become clingy and need extra attention. Others will go
off and find a place to sleep on the other side of the room. For those who
refuse to allow you to be out of sight, caring for them can become a bit
Irritability is also a common behavioral change. Your sweet little girl who loves everyone may become fussy, irritable, and ripe for a fight. If you have other dogs in the household, she's likely to show signs of jealousy. Some may fight with other dogs, especially other girls in the house.
She may also be the victim of fights as other dogs sense a change in her odor.
If there are young children in the home, your pregnant Shih Tzu may no longer tolerate noisy play and may snap at your children. It is best to keep them separated. There is nothing wrong with a quick verbal reprimand, as you don't want her to forget all of her socialization and training.
Shih Tzu Pregnancies accompany some nesting behavior. What exactly is nesting?
Whether you call it nesting or digging, this instinctual behavior is a throwback to the days when pregnant ancestral dogs dug and prepared a "nest" where their puppies were to be born.
They would choose a secluded, warm, and protected place where their babies would be safe.
Of course, that is not necessary today. As dog owners, we have created the perfect place for our dogs to whelp and raise their litter.
Even experienced moms know this but will continue to dig. This digging behavior can occur anywhere, but in my experience, it is usually in a dark, secluded place. Watch for this behavior in a closet, under a bed, or in the corner of the room. If there is soft clothing, it is much better, but they may also dig a hole in your hardwood floor. This behavior can also occur after the puppies are born in the whelping box or nearby.
Should you discourage this?
You can try, but remember it is instinctual, so no matter how many times you try to reprimand, your mama is still compelled to complete her perceived task.
The best way to deal with nesting behavior is to prepare the whelping area ahead of time and get her acclimated to it. Add some soft towels or rags and encourage her to dig there.
Once the puppies are born, and she continues to nest, there will be a good chance she will knock the puppies out of the whelping area and onto the cold floor. Unless you place the puppy back into the warm whelping box, the puppy will succumb to hypothermia shortly. Puppies cannot regulate their body temperatures.
If you have a girl who does this, the best way to deal with the behavior is to fill the whelping box with the same small towels and washcloths you used before she gave birth. That way, she can still dig and not accidentally displace one of her puppies.
Weeks 1 - 2 (Days 1 - 14)
Week 3 (Days 15 - 21)
Week 4 (Days 22-28)
Week 5 (Days 29 -35)
Week Six (Days 36 - 42)
Week Seven (Days 43-49)
Week Eight (Days 50-56)
Week Nine (Days 57 -63)
Your Shih Tzu paces acts anxious, may be irritable, continues to nest, and can't stay still. She is in the early stages of labor. Since this is an entirely complex topic by itself, I have decided to break it apart from this page becuase, well, this page is soooo long. Learn all about the Shih Tzu Labor and Delivery.
After giving birth, dogs need rest and care. Breeders should provide their dogs with a comfortable place to recover and monitor them closely for any signs of complications. If other dogs are in the household, it may be appropriate to separate them.
I’ve had many moms who love the company and “help” of other dogs, but not all dogs appreciate the company and prefer to be alone with their puppies. A quiet, calm room where these moms can care for their pups is the best for most dogs. That doesn’t mean you should avoid interacting with mom and puppies. Your mama will appreciate your undivided attention and TLC.
The neonates won’t be able to see or hear you for the first few weeks, but they can sense your touch and smell. Being there for both mom and pups is critical for the puppies' future development and the mom’s well-being.
The Shih Tzu pregnancy is an exciting time for the breeder or owner of the Dam, but it is only one in the series of steps that breeders encounter when bringing a litter of pups into this world. If all goes well during this stage, the next step is whelping and delivery of a litter of puppies. In the case of the Shih Tzu breed, you can normally expect between three and six puppies born.