Can Shih Tzus Live Outside?

Can Shih Tzus Live Outside?

In earlier times, almost every dog had their home in a pretty little kernel at the back of the house but that is changing quickly with time.

This change is not just because people are now able to train dogs and keep them in the house. But also because people start to realize that keeping them outside is not always the best for their health.

Many dogs are prone to heat strokes, freezing alongside many other risks connected to living outside. Although some breeds of dogs can withstand heat and cold and handle them just fine, some breeds cannot do that. 

Some breeds like Shih Tzus, Pugs, Boxers, Bulldogs, and other brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs are very susceptible to hot climates and are prone to suffering heat strokes.

Other short-haired breeds like Greyhounds, Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, and Weimaraners are prone to hypothermia. 

Can Shih Tzus Live Outside?

The answer is No, they cannot and should not live outside. Apart from potty breaks and maybe a few minutes of play when the weather is right, Shih Tzus cannot spend long hours out in the elements. They just are not built that way. 

Shih Tzus are the best and most comfortable family dogs you can find. They perfectly make themselves at home with you and are very content to cuddle up on the couch beside you or rest at your feet while you watch your favorite television show. But what happens when for one reason or the other you want to keep them outside?

There are many reasons why Shih Tzus cannot live outside, and I will let you know exactly why you should not make a home for your Shih Tzu outside, no matter how nice the dog shelter you have in mind is.

Why Shih Tzus Can’t Live Outside 

Reason 1: They Are Prone to Heat Stroke

The first and most basic reason is due to the Shih Tzu’s nature; it was never meant to be an outside animal and so it does not have the features of a dog that can live outside. By features, I mean their size, fur, and short nose.

Being a short-nosed breed, Shih Tzus can have major difficulties trying to stay cool and get in enough air. They are very prone to experiencing breathing issues and find it hard to tolerate excessive heat.

The short snout and compressed skulls of Shih Tzus make them difficult to take deep and quick breaths, unlike other dogs with long snouts. Their internal breathing passage is also more closely packed, causing the breathing process relatively slower for them.

Dogs can cool themselves in hot weather conditions mainly by panting; the warmer the weather, the heavier the panting to cool off. However, Shih Tzus cannot pant easily like other dog breeds due to their physical features.

So they will likely struggle continually to manage the heat if left outside until they cannot manage it anymore and might suffer heat strokes. 

Their heavy coats are also a heat risk factor for heat strokes. While their heavy coats make it easier for them to withstand cold temperatures, it makes it very difficult for them to withstand heat.  

Some signs of heatstroke include rapid heartbeat, excessive panting, weakness, dry skin, and even collapsing. Once you notice any of this, put your Shih Tzu in a cool place, give him cold water in small quantities, sprinkle some cool water on his body, and then contact a vet as soon as possible. 

Reason 2: They Don’t Do so Well in the Cold Either

Shih Tzus can withstand cold a bit more than they can manage heat but that does not mean that they are at home in the snow and cold; they cannot handle that very well too. 

Most Shih Tzu owners feel like there is nothing to worry about when it comes to cold weather; after all, Shih Tzus were developed from breeds that lived in cold environments.

That is quite true; Shih Tzus were originally bred in China and Tibet, where there are cooler climates which makes them adaptable to the cold, especially in the wintertime.

However, winters can be very harsh sometimes and all the hair your Shih Tzu has might not keep it warm enough in such cold situations. 

Regardless of their origin and abundance of hair, Shih Tzus should not be left out in the cold. They are a royal breed and very much home dogs so the inside of a warm house is where they should be. 

Frostbite is also a possibility for many dogs so your Shih Tzu should not be kept outside for long periods. They might love to play in the snow but don’t let them stay out for too long. They are at much risk of frostbite as you are. 

When you notice your Shih Tzu might be frostbitten, get him into a warm area and place warm moist towels on the frostbitten parts of its body. And continue changing towels until he has gained a bit of warmth and then take him to see the vet. Avoid rubbing their skin with your hand to get it warmed up as you would do to yourself. 

Once your dog returns from a run out in the cold, you should dry them up immediately with a warm towel or drier; don’t let them run around wet and cold. 

Other Reasons

Here are a few other reasons why your Shih Tzu cannot live outdoors:

  • During hot periods, hot pavements and floors can cause injuries and feet problems for your Shih Tzu. Gravel and tar are also bad for your dog’s feet and can give it really bad sores. If you have to walk your Shih Tzu in this condition, then you should get the boots to keep their feet safe. 
  • Keeping Shih Tzu outside in the peak of summer also puts it at risk of heartworms caused by fleas, ticks, and other pests that can be found outside at this time. It is crucial to ensure he is far away from these pests and vaccinated as well. 
  • During cold periods, ice, snow, and salt can also get trapped in his paws and cause cold paw. This is also a problem that can be averted by getting him some boots.
  • Stormy weather is terrible for Shih Tzus; they should not be anywhere else but in the warmth of your home during the wind and storm. Your Shih Tzu should never be outside during extreme weather conditions because it is at risk of many health dangers from exposure to such elements.
  • It would be nearly impossible for your Shih Tzu to live outside due to the nature of their coat. Shih Tzus have a high maintenance coat that could easily become a mess if not properly trimmed, knotted, brushed or clipped. It would be challenging to do all of these properly if you keep them outdoors. 
  • Leaving your Shih Tzu outside is way stressful than you can imagine. You would have to get past all the insects and parasites that make their home outside and get them away from your pet. Trust me, that part would be really difficult. 
  • Their personalities make it difficult for them to live away from their owners. Shih Tzus’ greatest desire is to love up to its owner on the couch, on the floor, and even sleep beside their owners in bed. 
  • Shih Tzus are companions and best friends and they always want to be with their owners at all times and take part in everything they do. Keeping your Shih Tzu outside is going against its nature and personality and could even lead to mood change and depression. They want to be with you, and you’re indoors so that’s where they will be.
  • Finally, Shih Tzus are indoor dogs, plain and simple. Shih Tzus were initially bred for Chinese royalties. They have dwelled in the palaces and as pets of emperors and dignitaries for ages. Shih Tzus are royal dogs and the idea of living outside just wouldn’t make sense to them even if you tried to explain it to them. 

My Final Thoughts

From centuries before now, Shih Tzus have been a house pet; they need the protective environment the home presents and all of the warmth that comes with a home. Your Shih Tzu cannot survive life outside and should not even be made to go through the conditions related to living outdoor. 

This is not to say that you cannot take them on outdoor trips and an occasional walk in the parks. These days, Shih Tzus are even participating in dog sports that are done outdoors, but they still should not be left out for long periods.

Although you don’t have a traditional palace for your Shih Tzu, your home is the only palace they have, and that is exactly where they need to be. In your midst, among a loving family with a warm place to play, goof around, sleep, and with a healthy meal, your Shih Tzu will be living its best life. 

John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially dogs. I've got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.

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