If you are planning to breed your Shih Tzu there are some things that you need to know and do before and during pregnancy to protect the health of your mom and the puppies she's carrying. You need to breed carefully and know what to expect during the pregnancy.
Basic Pregnancy Facts
Dogs are pregnant for about 59 to 63 days. A Shih Tzu can have as few as one puppy or as many as 10, with most litters averaging 3 to 6 puppies. Only one puppy may be too large for the mother to give birth to naturally. Too many puppies can be difficult for the mother to feed. Because Shih Tzus are small dogs they are prone to dystocia or difficulty giving birth, and may require a caesarean section.
There are some things to consider before you breed your Shih Tzu. You should wait until your female has gone through at least one oestrus (heat cycle) and has reached her full size. Plan on no more than three litters in her lifetime. Choose a male that isn't any more than 1.36 Kilogram heavier than your female. Avoid breeding two runts together because the resulting puppies are often small and have many health issues. Both the male and female should be tested for genetic concerns that could be passed on to the puppies. Avoid breeding two bloodlines that are too closely related.
Signs of Pregnancy
There are some signs that you should look for to indicate your Shih Tzu is pregnant. Many of the dogs will demonstrate noticeable changes in their personality when they are pregnant. A dog who was always very laid back might become more hyper. As the pregnancy progresses you'll see swelling of her vulva and her abdomen, her nipples will get larger and she may show nesting behaviour. It is very important to take your female to the veterinarian for prenatal advice and care as soon as you suspect she may be pregnant.
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Prenatal care is critical for the health of the mother and babies. Pregnant Shih Tzus should be fed puppy food for its higher fat and vitamin content. Your veterinarian may prescribe vitamin supplements. Your veterinarian may recommend either an x-ray or an ultrasound before the due date to see how many puppies there are. Daily exercise is important, but you'll want to limit jumping and excessive activity. You will also want to prepare a place for your mom to whelp--give birth to--the puppies.
Preparing for Birth
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Prepare a large box with clean bedding in a secluded area of your home where your pregnant mom will feel comfortable and safe. Check her temperature with a rectal thermometer regularly in the last couple of weeks before her due date. Normal body temperature would be between 38.0 and 39.1 degrees C. A drop of about -16.7 degrees C in rectal temperature means that your Shih Tzu should begin labour within 24 hours. If she doesn't, or she seems distressed, consult your veterinarian immediately.