Ask a Vet

How Many Puppies Do Shih Tzus Have in a Litter Usually?

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Shih tzus are one of the most common breeds of brachycephalic dogs out there. Their flat little faces and snouts make them endearing for many prospective dog owners. There’s also another thing that’s noteworthy about brachycephaly dogs – they usually have significantly smaller litter sizes than many other dogs. These dogs are super small too. Since the shih tzu is a small toy breed, you can expect your dog to have a smaller litter.

Of course, the main question then is how many puppies can you expect from a shih tzu – what is the average size of a shih tzu’s litter? Will the litter be smaller for first time moms? We’re going to explain that and any other questions that you may have below! 

How many puppies do shih tzus have in a litter usually

Litter Size Guide for Shih Tzu

Now, you may be wondering how many puppies a shih tzu will usually have. Well, we have an answer for you. Usually, a shih tzu will tend to have roughly 3 puppies per litter. It’s best to expect your dog to have around 3 to 4 puppies. If your dog is older though and has given birth previously, there is a chance that they could have a larger litter – roughly 5 to 6 puppies. It’s worth noting, however, that around 20% of litters are usually going to require a C section delivery.

It’s quite interesting to compare a shih tzu litter to that of another dog – there’s a staggering difference in terms of the numbers. Let’s say you have a german shepherd – that’s potentially 8 puppies! Even slightly smaller dogs tend to have around 6 puppies.

If you ever wondered why it costs so much money to buy a shih tzu puppy, that’s it. Shih tzus tend to have much smaller litters so there are fewer dogs to sell. That, and they’re also very popular dogs, so people will charge a lot of money for them.

How Many Puppies Will a First Time Shih Tzu Mom Have?

If the shih tzu is younger then she will likely have a smaller litter during her first pregnancy. Dogs will tend to have bigger litters when they get older.

It can be hard to pinpoint exactly how many puppies a shih tzu is going to have during their first pregnancy. You may expect as few as 1 puppy or as many as 4 puppies. It’s very unlikely that your dog will have more than 4 puppies the first time around, but it certainly can happen.

You will usually find that the most pups come on the third or fourth litter. The litters will then get much smaller after this point. It’s also best to avoid breeding your shih tzu more than four times, since it can be bad for their health to have more pregnancies past this point. It’s not good for your dog’s mental state either.

It’s very important to ensure that you monitor your female dog, since a litter of more than 4 puppies can result in complications for the mother and the puppies. You are more likely to have smaller, weaker puppies in the group if there are more than 4 puppies. These puppies are usually going to need a lot more help from their mother, and it can make life difficult for the puppy in some cases.

Is Pregnancy and Birth Dangerous for My Shih Tzu?

We mentioned a statistic earlier – that 20% of shih tzu puppies will be delivered via c section instead of a natural birth. There are a few reasons for this, but the key takeaway is this: natural birth can sometimes be dangerous for the puppies and the mother.

Now, it’s important to note that your shih tzu isn’t always going to need a caesarean section, but you will find that most vets will recommend that you get one. This is because shih tzus have narrow hips and the puppies have big heads, and this can cause complications. There’s a chance that the puppies could get stuck inside the birth canal, and this can be very dangerous for the puppies and the mother. It’s worth speaking to your vet, since they can inspect the mother and the litter size to advise you about what you need to do.

How much does this cost? Well, it depends. If you have planned to have a c section in advance then you could be looking at around $500. For a last minute c section it could cost up to $2,000, especially if it’s a special case.

How Many Litters Can My Shih Tzu Have?

Most breeders will advise against having any more than 4 litters from a mother in her life spa. The pregnancy can put a lot of pressure on the mother, which isn’t good for the mother. 

How Does a Shih Tzu Litter Compare to Other Breeds? 

So, you now know how many puppies you can expect from a shih tzu. What about other breeds? Here are some of the litter sizes of other breeds:

Why Do Brachycephaly Breeds Have Smaller Litters? 

A brachycephalic dog tends to have a shorter head, small body and a shortened head. Their faces are usually squashed too. Some other dogs that are brachycephaly breeds are pugs, chow chows, pekingese, French bulldogs, English toy spaniels, lhasa apso, and bull mastiffs. 

Since the dog is smaller, it will naturally have fewer poppies. Not only that, but the dog will have narrower hips and a small body, so it’s more dangerous for the dog to have the puppies and it’s harder for them to have bigger litters. 

How Many Litters Can a Shih Tzu Have In One Year? 

How many puppies do shih tzus have in a litter usually. Gi1f

It’s best to avoid having more than 1 litter every year. In an ideal scenario, it is better for your dog to have a litter every other year if possible. This will give your dog’s body plenty of recovery time.

Some dogs give birth via c section, and this means that more recovery time will be needed. It’s not fair for a dog who has had a c section to be giving birth frequently.

If you are planning on buying a puppy from a breeder, then there are some questions you need to ask to ensure that they’re bred ethically. First, ask the breeder about the number of litters that the mother has had throughout her life. Then, ask about when the dog was pregnant last. 

It’s best not to buy a puppy from a dog that’s already had more than around 3 or 4 litters. This makes it very clear that the breeder is just after some easy money and there’s a chance that the dog may have been mistreated.

How Long Will My Shih Tzu Be Pregnant? 

It’s very important to have an idea of when your dog is due to give birth, especially since a lot of shih tzus need to have cesarean sections in order to give birth to the puppies.

Your shih tzu will likely be pregnant for the same amount of time as most other dog breeds. Usually, dogs are pregnant for around 63 days. It’s important to keep an eye out for signs that your dog is pregnant if you aren’t sure. For instance, check whether your dog isn’t eating as much as usual. Are they more fatigued and moving around less? Does your dog have swollen nipples or a swollen belly? These are all signs that your dog could be pregnant.

After around 20 to 30 days your vet will be able to feel your dog’s belly in order to see whether they are pregnant. At 25 days pregnant, your dog can have an ultrasound where you can see the puppies, and they can have a blood test roughly 5 weeks after the dog has mated with another dog.


A shih tzu is a great pet to have. They’re loveable and loyal, so anyone would be happy to have a shih tzu in their home. Unfortunately, it’s important to make sure that you are extra vigilant if your shih tzu is pregnant since there can be complications. A shih tzu pregnancy can be a little more high risk than that of other dog breeds. Furthermore, you will need to take extra care to monitor your dog when they are a puppy.

If you suspect that your shih tzu is pregnant, it’s always best to speak to a vet for advice. You can generally tell how far along your dog is in her pregnancy around the 25th day. At this point, a veterinary surgeon can perform an ultrasound so that you can see the puppies! At this point, the vet can count the number of puppies that are present in the womb.

Naturally, an ultrasound isn’t necessarily the best way to see the number of puppies that your shih tzu is going to have. An ultrasound is best used simply as an estimate – there’s no real way of knowing until they give birth. As discussed previously, a shih tzu will also have significantly fewer puppies due to their small sizes and narrower hips. A shih tzu will generally have around 4 puppies maximum, which is still a large amount in comparison to other breeds like golden retrievers or german shepherds.

Ultimately, the best way to see how many puppies your dog will have will be via an x-ray exam. You can have this done when your dog is around 45 days pregnant. The doctor will be able to see the number of skulls in the womb by doing this.

The short answer though is that you shouldn’t expect too many puppies from your shih tzu. It is much healthier for your dog to have a smaller number of puppies, and it will mean that both the mother and the puppies will be in better shape after the birth has taken place. Hopefully though, you can now plan ahead for your little bundles of joy! 

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.