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How Much Do Shih Tzu’s Sleep? (Inside Info From Owners)

If you are a first-time Shih Tzu owner, or if you are just curious about what other owners experience is you may be wondering how much sleep your Shih Tzu needs. Maybe you think your Shih Tzu is sleeping too much or too little, or perhaps your Shih Tzu is having a hard time sleeping through the night. If any of these are your concern then you’ve come to the right place.

Adult Shih Tzu’s will sleep on average 12-16 hours a day. Shih Tzu Puppies will sleep 18-20 hours a day in a 24hr period. Shih Tzu’s tend to develop sleep habits similar to their owners. It’s normal for your Shih Tzu to sleep a lot. If your dog’s sleep habits have suddenly changed it may be a cause for concern.

If you are fit and active your Shih Tzu will be also if you are relaxed and laid back chances are your Shih Tzu will be similar to you. But how do you know if your Shih Tzu is getting too little or too much of those precious zzzzzz’s? Continue reading to find out.

How Much Sleep Do Shih Tzu’s Need? Puppies, Adults, Seniors

Shih Tzu Newborns

This stage of life is very short and full of lots of shut-eye! For the first week of their life, Shih Tzu newborns will be sleeping anytime they aren’t nursing. Newborns generally nurse every 2 hours but even while doing so they will have their eyes shut and look as though they are eating in their sleep.

As they grow they will slowly start to spend more time awake. Around 3 weeks old they will have around 2-4 hours of active time a day broken up into small spurts of energy and exploring their world.

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Shih Tzu Puppies

Puppies are quickly growing and changing. They need plenty of sleep to fuel and recharge their growing bodies. From 2-5 months old, Shih Tzu puppies will generally sleep around 18-20 hours in a 24-hour period. This includes sleeping at night and daytime naps.

Your puppy will sleep in longer stretches at night, but will still need to get up to relieve its small bladder and stretch. He may even have a burst of energy and seem like he wants to play. With some patience and guidance, your puppy can learn to sleep through the night by 4 months old, maybe even sooner.

Older puppies from around 6-12 months old will sleep about 14-16 hours throughout a 24 hour period. At this point, they should be more active and inquisitive during the day and will be better about sleeping through the night in 6-9 hour stretches. They will also take multiple naps during the day, as well as times of rest when they appear to be just lying around, but somewhat alert as well as high energy awake time when they will want to play and work.

Fun Fact: Research shows smaller dogs actually have more frequent but shorter dreams than large breed dogs. Smaller dogs have new dreams about every 10 minutes that only last a few minutes long as opposed to large dogs that have a new dream every 60-90 minutes that last around 10 minutes long.

Shih Tzu Adults

Your adult Shih Tzu will normally sleep around 12-16 hours in a 24hr period, but more as he ages. In this study, researchers found that older and middle-aged dogs slept more during the day than young adult dogs.

This was because they took more naps, not because their naps were longer. They tend to run out of energy and need to rest more often than the younger group. Older and middle-aged dogs also slept more at night than younger dogs because they had longer stretches of sleep at night (waking up later) and woke up fewer times during the night.

It’s important to remember that this can greatly differ depending on the personality and temperament of each dog as well as the atmosphere/lifestyle of your home. When I asked Shih Tzu owners what their Shih Tzu behavior was like they covered all the ranges of this 12-16 hr span. A big factor was how active and attentive the owners were.

Because Shih Tzu’s are specifically bred to be house companions they require minimal exercise and are pretty good at lounging around the house. This quality may make them sleep more and seem to be a bit lazier than some other more active breeds like Border Collies for example.

I did find it quite interesting that nearly all of the 100 owners that responded to my question asking how much their Shih Tzus slept responded that their Shih Tzus slept for a good portion of the day. I only got a few responses telling me that their dog was up most of the day.

This makes me think that possibly Shih Tzus tend to sleep more than other dog breeds such as corgis.

“My Shih Tzu sleeps a lot. The vet called me the other day to ask how he was doing the day before his operation at 9 am and I had to say I don’t know yet he doesn’t get up until 10 am.”  

Kate I.

Senior Shih Tzu

Your Shih Tzu is considered a senior around 9 years old and at this time you will probably start to see your dog slowly increasing the amount of time it is resting and sleeping. It won’t happen all at once, but just like humans as they age they tend to slow down and not have quite as much energy as a young pup. Senior Shih Tzu’s will sleep 14-16 hrs a day on average as they get to be 12-14 years old and older they could be sleeping up to 18 hrs a day.

At an older age, your Shih Tzus sleep patterns may change as well. It’s normal for your Shih Tzu to take more naps during the day and have a few wakeful periods at night. This change will probably happen slowly and should be nothing to worry about unless it’s a sudden or significant change.

If your Shih Tzus has sudden or significant changes in their patterns of sleep it’s probably best to consult your vet. For older Shih Tzu’s this could be signs of more serious issues such as dementia, arthritis, hypothyroidism, or other conditions associated with older age.

YourShih Tzu may be waking up more at night because it’s bladder is getting older and they need to use the potty more often. You can try and help with this by taking them out right before bed, and limiting their water intake just before bed as well.

Fun Fact: Senior dogs, as well as puppies, tend to twitch more in their sleep! This is due to a part of their brain called the Pons which regulates muscles and keeps them still while they sleep. This part of a puppy’s brain is underdeveloped and for older dogs, it works less efficiently.

Sleep Problems and Solutions for Shih Tzu Puppies and Adults

Strange Noises While Your Shih Tzu Sleeps

You probably have noticed that your Shih Tzu can make some weird sounds while they are sleeping. This may include snoring snorting or even periods when your dog’s breathing seems to be short. This is somewhat common in the Shih Tzu breed because although their cute flat faces can be charming they can also lead to a condition called brachycephalic.

Brachycephalic is a condition that affects short-nosed breeds and can make it difficult for them to breathe or cause more obstructions in their airway. Some dogs with this condition can have sleep apnea. It’s normal that your dog may snore to some degree but it’s important to pay careful attention to other possible red flags.

Those red flags include noticing your dog not breathing while sleeping, narcolepsy (when your dog suddenly falls asleep in the middle of doing something normal like sitting, standing, or playing) or extreme and consistent snoring.

You should talk to your vet and consult with them how to help your dog with their condition.

Some things that you can do on your own are to make sure that your dog is getting consistent rest, make sure they are a healthy weight, don’t let them overheat, or get overly stressed.

Help Your Shih Tzu Sleep Better

If you are struggling with getting your Shih Tzu to settle down and sleep at night you are not alone. Whether it’s the new puppy days, or you just moved, most owners go through this stage at some point.

Things that may be making this challenging can range from crying or whining at night, waking up in the middle of the night, struggling to settle down, or waking up too early in the morning.

Luckily there are some things that you can do to help your Shih Tzu (as well as yourself) get the good night’s sleep you need.

Have a routine and schedule

If your Shih Tzu knows what to expect and has specific cues to alert him that it’s time to wind down and get some shut-eye it can do a lot to help them easily get settled at night. This routine can include using the restroom, bringing the noise level down, dimming the light, creating a relaxing and calm atmosphere.

It’s important to keep this schedule as consistent as possible. Going to bed around the same time each night, and having set patterns will not only signal to your dog’s brain it’s time for bed, which will in turn help to increase the production of melatonin (your bodies powerful natural sleep aid) it can also help you fall asleep more easily as well.

Give them plenty of exercise

Since Shih Tzus are a naturally curious and playful breed they will want to be social and play especially as a young puppy. Your Shih Tzus will need plenty of stimulation and exercise each day.

At least 1 hour of exercise a day split up in 2 or 3 sessions will help your intelligent Shih Tzu from getting bored or frustrated.

If they have been bored and laying around all day chances for a good night’s rest are minimal. The best time for a good exercise session is about 2 hours before bedtime. Try to include high cardio exercise as well and engaging brain activities so that your Shih Tzu will be both physically tired as well as mentally tired. Here is a link to an amazing Brain Training program that can do wonders to help your dog reach their full potential!

Have a specific sleeping area and make it inviting

Whether it’s in their crate in the living room, their doggy bed (affiliate link to a comfy warming bed) next to your bed on the floor, or even in your own bed, the extra cuddles can help you and your dog feel less anxiety and give you a sense of security. Find out how cuddly Shih Tzus are in this article.

Having a designated area to go to will help create the routine and let your dog know that it’s sleep time. If your dog sleeps in his own bed, or in a crate, having something that smells like you and a small stuffed animal to snuggle with can help him feel more safe and secure. This is especially true for puppies.

Try changing meal times or limiting food and water

Take up their water after a certain time of the evening. If your Shih Tzu seems to need a bathroom break in the middle of the night all the time you can try changing his meal time to be a few hours earlier (so he will get the poop out before bed) or a few hours later (so he can hold it until tomorrow). You can also take up the water dish a few hours before bed so that he isn’t filling up his bladder just before dozing off.

Either way, you may want to slowly adjust the time of his meals to see if that will help with the late-night bathroom breaks.

If early morning waking is a problem try figuring out what it is that may be waking them up?

Is the sun coming up? Try adding some darkening curtains. Are there noises such as birds or early morning traffic? Try adding some white noise by using a noise machine check prices here(affiliate link)

All it takes is some investigative work to try and figure out what may be causing the problem. It can be easier to do this if you keep a log or journal of your dog’s sleeping and eating patterns. This doesn’t have to be something that you do long-term, but just long enough for you to notice a pattern so you can address it.

Speaking of eating, if your Shih Tzu eats strange things click here to read my latest article about Shih Tzu health and what to do.

If nothing seems to be working, your dog has changed his sleep patterns suddenly, he seems very lethargic and low on energy all the time, or he has other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, blood in his stool, or other concerns then you should take him to the vet immediately to get checked out.

If you have a puppy and all its needs are met and it is still crying just remember it is common for it to whine and cry especially for the first week or so that you have him in your home. You can try a soothing stuffy like this one (affiliate link). An older dog who is new to your home may experience this as well. If you must check on him make sure that the lights stay dim, and you are as un-intrusive as you can be. If you are working with your puppy to sleep in their own bed or crate, make sure to not give in and then expect smooth sailing after that. You need to start the expectations as you mean to go forward.

If you are wondering if it’s ok to let your Shih Tzu sleep with you!? Make sure to read this article first!

Should You Let Your Shih Tzu Sleep With You? (What Owners Say) | Paws and Learn

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