Shih Tzus are small dogs that originated in Tibet as early as 624 A.D. They were then known as the little "lion dogs." According to the American Kennel Club, the Shih Tzu nearly became extinct during the communist revolution in China. All the Shih Tzus now in existence can be traced back to the 14 survivors of that time. Shih Tzus are now one of the most popular of the beloved toy breed dogs.
Signs of Pregnancy
Though not scientific, watch for subtle signs of pregnancy in your Shih Tzu. First, she will retain a bit of the swelling you may have noticed during her heat cycle throughout her pregnancy. If the breeding didn't "take," the vulva area would return to normal size. Also look for a slight discharge on about the 11th day after breeding and a hardening of the teats. She may also begin to lick around the teats causing there to be circles of missing hair around each one as the pregnancy progresses. She won't begin to show until around three weeks prior to her due date.
Gestation length in dogs is approximately 63 days from the day they were bred. This time frame can safely vary by a week before or after their calculated due date.
A typical Shih Tzu litter is five to six puppies but can range anywhere from one to 10 puppies. An X-ray scan once the puppies are large enough and the spinal column and skull are formed can be done to count puppies before whelping.
Make sure your Shih Tzu is properly vaccinated and dewormed prior to the breeding. If you don't, consult with your veterinarian. Taking this responsibility upon yourself during pregnancy, especially in the early stages can prove disastrous to the growing puppies. Also, inform your vet of your dog's due date. You vet will examine her closer to her due date in an effort to help predict any potential problems that may arise during the whelp (birthing).
Meals should be broken up into two to three meals per day, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy when your Shih Tzu may not be able to consume as much food comfortably. Care should be taken to avoid obesity in your Shih Tzu. Overweight dogs are much more prone to needing caesarean sections. Add supplements only if suggested, or agreed upon, by your veterinarian.
Have all your materials and birthing area ready at least two weeks prior to your Shih Tzu's due date. The whelping area should be quiet and away from other pets. Gather the following materials: notepad and pen, towels, unflavored dental floss, scissors, clock, garbage bag and thermometer. Because of the long, thick coat of the Shih Tzu, shave the entire belly area to give the puppies easier access to milk and to prevent entanglement.
Signs of labour and contractions are different in dogs than they are in humans. Dogs tend to shiver and dig around in their bedding when in labour. Though not fool proof, checking the temperature with a rectal thermometer can help determine this. A normal dog temperature is 101. A dog that is ready to whelp often has a temperature of 36.7 degrees C or less. This may bounce up and down. When it stays down, labour is imminent within the next 24 hours. If it does not drop, labour can still be near.