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Shih Tzu Heat Cycle and Heat Signs

Shih Tzu Heat Cycle

Summary: What are the signs of a Shih Tzu heat cycle? We review the 4 stages of the Shih Tzu heat cycle. We also discuss the signs you should be watching for to tell if your Shih Tzu is in heat. Understanding the Shih Tzu heat cycle will help you even if you are not planning to breed your Shih Tzu or not have her spayed.

What are the Signs of a Shih Tzu Heat Cycle?

One of the problems that many female Shih Tzu owners will deal with is preventing pregnancy. If you have an intact male (Sire), along with a female (Dam or Bitch) that has not been spayed you must be very careful or prepare to find a surprise of puppies hiding under their mom’s coat. The main responsibility to prevent unwanted pregnancy lies with owners of all Shih Tzus. However, the majority of the effort is on the part of the females owners.

In order to prevent or prepare for pregnancy, it is important to know when your Shih Tzu can become pregnant. Your Shih Tzu can get pregnant during her heat cycle (called the estrus stage). Shih Tzus DO NOT go through menopause the way people do. As Shih Tzus grow older they become less fertile; however, it is possible for your older Shih Tzu to become pregnant.

Shih Tzus typically have two heats per year; however, they can go in and out of cycle with greater frequency. Some will go into their heat season every four and a half to five months. Each Shih Tzu may differ in length of the heat, discharge amount, messiness, and personality changes. Watch your Shih Tzu and learn the specific signs of her heat cycle. If you are wanting to breed your Shih Tzu, you should wait until she is in her third heat cycle before breeding her. She should be vet checked and definitely up-to-date on all of her shots. Choose her mate carefully, focusing on improving the Shih Tzu. Require that the sire is vet checked and up-to-date on all of his shots as well.

Four Stages of the Shih Tzu Heat Cycle

  1. Proestrus Stage
  2. Estrus Stage
  3. Diestrus Stage
  4. Anestrus Stage

The female Shih Tzu is not fertile during the first days of the proestrus stage. However, do keep in mind that male sperm can live for several days inside of the female. It is important to watch her closely. You may want to consider buying some appropriately sized dog diapers or dog pants to protect her from mating with unwanted suitors. Unwanted pregnancies can compromise your Shih Tzu’s health and the genetics of the puppies.

Dog Diapers for Shih Tzus to Prevent Pregnancy

Did you know that dog diapers are great at preventing a Shih Tzu pregnancy! There are several types of dog diapers and pants available for smaller dogs such as the Shih Tzu. Using dog diapers can help in the preventing of stained carpet and furniture during her heat cycle as well. Dog Diapers may be a great way to protect your Shih Tzu from unwanted pregnancies if you don’t mind going through the effort. Dog diapers also can mean a lot less cleanup for you. There are several types of dog diapers to choose from. There are the disposable and reusable (washable) dog diapers. Each one has benefits of its own.

Some pet owners prefer to use disposable just for their convenience. The reusable dog diapers can be washed and reused. Reusable dog diapers come in assorted fabrics, colors and patterns. Pet Magasin makes a washable dog diaper available at Amazon that comes in a 3 pack. It has 4 different sizes (x-small, small, medium, and large). This product works very well for the intended purpose and is even listed as ‘Useful for female dogs in heat.’

Luxury Reusable Dog Diapers (3-Pack) – for Shih Tzus

If you prefer a disposable dog diaper for controlling your Shih Tzu heat cycle, then try the <Simple Solution Disposable Dog Diaper 30pk for Shih Tzu. These disposable dog diapers come in 5 sizes from x-small to x-large.

Simple Solution Disposable Dog Diaper 30pk for Shih Tzu

Other products that are well worth considering are dog wipes, that deodorize and clean. Our favorite is the Nature’s Miracle Deodorizing Spring Water Wipes for Shih Tzus

4 Stages of the Shih Tzu’s Heat Cycle

It is so very important to know when your Shih Tzu is coming into heat and going out of heat. Some of the signs are clear and there are some subtle clues. Pay attention to your own female and learn her behavior. This will help in understanding what’s going on when she comes into heat.

Proestrus Stage for Shih Tzus

This stage of the female heat cycle can last from 4-20 days. The average is usually 7-10 days. There are 4 common signs for a Shih Tzu in heat during this stage:

  1. Swollen Vulva: This is one of the better ways to spot the start of a Shih Tzu heat cycle. Her vulva may become 3-4 times of its regular size. You will notice the swelling is a significant difference over the normal appearance of her vulva. Her teats may also swell slightly, but this can be difficult to spot.
  2. Discharge: Your female Shih Tzu may be spending a lot of time licking to clean herself. Shih Tzus are quite good at keeping themselves clean. If in doubt about the discharge, take a tissue and wipe her vulva. If you notice red discharge, and her vulva is swollen, that is a pretty good indicator that she is coming into heat. It is important to check for this, because timing is everything when it comes to a pregnancy. The first day you notice the bloody discharge is “DAY 1”. It is best to mark it on your calendar or make sure to remember.
  3. Suitors: A female Shih Tzu in heat produces a substance called pheromones. It is this substance that attracts male dogs. This third sign of a Shih Tzu in heat is not found on your dog, but it is in the presence of other dogs. You may notice neighbor dogs frequenting your house. Due to their incredible sense of smell, they can smell your Shih Tzu’s heat cycle even a mile away. So take precautions.
  4. Behavior: During this time the female Shih Tzu will not show interest in mating. She may become somewhat clingier to her owners and can become much more excitable. If a male should attempt to breed her she may show agitation and growl, she may sit down or run away. She may even snap at him.

Estrus Stage for Shih Tzus

The Estrus Stage of the Shih Tzu Heat Cycle typically lasts from about 5-14 days. During this time your Shih Tzu is fertile (her actual heat). During this stage, the discharge usually changes from red to more of a straw color. In many female Shih Tzu, it is still somewhat pink, but you will notice a change in color from the beginning of the proestrus stage. The change usually will occur around days 8-9. Your female will also be willing to accept a sire during this stage. She will move her tail to the side signaling that she is ready for action. She might whimper and want to be outside more. Your Shih Tzu is following her instinct to breed. Now it is the most important time to keep a watchful eye on her.

Shih Tzus can be tricky and even if she is in a kennel, she can still end up pregnant. Male dogs have been known to impregnate a bitch through the holes in a chain link fence – so be very cautious where you keep your Shih Tzu. Otherwise, you are going to be ordering DNA testing kits to determine the authenticity of your purebred puppies. To determine the Shih Tzu’s due date, use the Shih Tzu Pregnancy Calendar Calculator.

Shih Tzus can become very creative during this stage. If you notice strange males in your yard, keep your female away from them. Bring your dog inside and wait for the males to leave. When male dogs are anxious to breed, they can be much more likely to bite. Do not take your Shih Tzu out in public because you can inadvertently cause problems that you do not want. It is best to just keep her secluded at your home.

Diestrus Stage for Shih Tzus

The Diestrus Stage of the Shih Tzu heat cycle most generally begins around day 24. This stage can last from 60 to 90 days. Your Shih Tzu is no longer fertile at this point. Her discharge will change from straw colored to red and then will completely stop. However, she still has a scent which will attract unwanted attention, so wait until she has completely stopped bleeding before taking her into public places.

Anestrus Stage for Shih Tzu

The Anestrus Stage is the fourth and final stage of the Shih Tzu’s heat cycle when your Shih Tzu’s body returns to normal. This last stage can last from 60-90 days, when it is over, the entire heat cycle will start all over again.

Summary: Shih Tzu Heat Cycle

Remember to pay attention to your Shih Tzu. Begin to understand what her heat signs and behavior signify. To know where she is at all times during her fertile times will help you prevent an unwanted Sire from mating with your Shih Tzu. Make certain to have her vet checked and be sure that you are willing to go through all the work necessary to raise Shih Tzu puppies responsibly BEFORE breeding her. If you do have a male and have no interest in using him as a stud dog, please have him neutered.

Photo by Brad Montgomery