Home Dogs Shih Tzu Poop Eating Habit: Is it Normal or a Cause for Concern?

Shih Tzu Poop Eating Habit: Is it Normal or a Cause for Concern?

by Pawsome Tips
Shih Tzu Poop Eating Habit

Are you a proud owner of a Shih Tzu? If so, you may have noticed a peculiar habit that has puzzled and intrigued you – their poop-eating tendencies. While it may seem disgusting, this behavior is typical among Shih Tzus and many other dog breeds. But what exactly causes Shih Tzu poop eating habit?

Is it normal, or should it be a cause for concern? This article will delve into the fascinating world of Shih Tzus’ poop-eating habits, exploring the possible reasons behind this behavior and providing valuable insights to help you better understand and address this issue. From nutritional deficiencies to behavioral factors, we will examine the various factors contributing to this behavior and offer practical tips to help you curb this habit if necessary.

So, if you’re curious to learn more about your Shih Tzu’s poop-eating tendencies, keep reading to gain a deeper understanding of this intriguing canine behavior.

The biology behind dogs’ poop eating behavior

Examining the biology behind this seemingly repulsive habit is essential to understand why Shih Tzus and other dogs engage in eating poop behavior. Dogs are descendants of wolves, and in the wild, wolves often consume the feces of other animals to obtain additional nutrients. This behavior, known as coprophagia, can be traced back to their ancestral roots.

One theory suggests that the instinct to eat poop may have developed as a survival mechanism. In the wild, resources are scarce, and scavenging for additional sources of nutrients can increase an animal’s chances of survival. Additionally, eating poop can help keep their living areas clean, reducing the risk of attracting predators or parasites. While domesticated dogs no longer face the same survival challenges as their wild counterparts, this instinctual behavior can persist.

Another factor that may contribute to poop-eating behavior is a dog’s highly developed sense of smell. Dogs have incredibly sensitive noses and can detect scents and odors that humans cannot. To a dog, the scent of poop may be intriguing or appetizing, mainly if it contains remnants of undigested food. This heightened sense of smell and their ancestral instincts can make eating poop behavior more appealing to dogs.

While the biology behind poop-eating behavior provides some insights into why dogs engage in this behavior, it’s important to note that the specific reasons can vary from dog to dog. Let’s explore whether poop eating is normal for Shih Tzus or if it should be a cause for concern.

Is poop-eating normal for Shih Tzus?

If you’re a Shih Tzu owner who has witnessed your furry friend indulging in their own or other dogs’ poop, you may wonder if this behavior is normal for the breed. While poop eating is not exclusive to Shih Tzus, it is relatively common among them and many other dog breeds.

Shih Tzus are known for their curious and independent nature, and this, combined with their ancestral instincts, can make them more prone to engaging in coprophagia. However, it’s important to note that not all Shih Tzus exhibit this behavior, and the prevalence can vary from dog to dog. Some Shih Tzus may never be interested in eating poop, while others may display this behavior more frequently.

If your Shih Tzu occasionally engages in eating poop behavior, it may not necessarily be a cause for concern. However, if it becomes a chronic or excessive habit, addressing the issue and taking steps to prevent it is essential. Let’s explore some potential reasons why Shih Tzus eat poop and how you can manage this behavior.

Potential reasons for Shih Tzus eating poop

There are several reasons why Shih Tzus may engage in poop-eating behavior. Understanding these reasons can help you identify the underlying cause and take appropriate steps to manage it.

1. Nutritional deficiencies

One possible reason for poop eating in Shih Tzus is their diet’s lack of essential nutrients. If your dog’s food does not provide all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and proteins, they may be compelled to seek them from alternative sources, including poop. Ensuring your Shih Tzu receives a balanced and nutritious diet can help address this issue.

2. Boredom or attention-seeking

Shih Tzus are intelligent and social dogs that thrive on mental stimulation and human interaction. If they are not adequately engaged or feel neglected, they may resort to poop eating to seek attention or alleviate boredom. Providing them plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and quality time can help redirect their focus away from this behavior.

3. Medical conditions

In some cases, underlying medical conditions can contribute to coprophagia in Shih Tzus. Gastrointestinal issues, malabsorption problems, or enzyme deficiencies can affect their digestion and nutrient absorption, leading to an increased desire to eat poop. If you suspect that your Shih Tzu’s eating poop behavior is due to a medical condition, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

4. Learned behavior

Dogs are quick learners and can pick up behaviors from their environment, including poop-eating. Suppose your Shih Tzu observes other dogs engaging in this behavior or receives positive reinforcement, such as attention or treats, when they eat poop. In that case, they may develop a habit of doing so themselves. Breaking this learned behavior may require consistent training and positive reinforcement.

5. Stress or anxiety

Like humans, dogs can experience stress and anxiety and may resort to coping mechanisms like poop eating. Changes in their environment, separation anxiety, or other stressful situations can trigger this behavior. Identifying and addressing the underlying source of stress can help alleviate the poop-eating habit.

Understanding these potential reasons behind your Shih Tzu poop-eating behavior is crucial for effectively managing and addressing the issue. However, it’s important to note that health concerns can also be associated with this behavior. Let’s explore these concerns in the next section.

Health concerns associated with poop eating

While poop-eating behavior may be relatively common among Shih Tzus, it can still pose certain health risks that should not be ignored. Consuming poop can expose your dog to various parasites, bacteria, and viruses that may be present in the feces. This can lead to gastrointestinal issues, infections, and other health problems.

Additionally, if your Shih Tzu consumes their poop or that of other dogs, it can result in nutrient imbalances. The undigested food in the poop may contain certain nutrients that can disrupt their diet and affect their overall health. This is particularly concerning if your dog is already on a balanced and nutritious diet, as it can lead to an excess or deficiency of certain nutrients.

It’s essential to monitor your Shih Tzu’s eating poop behavior and take appropriate measures to prevent them from engaging in this habit. Let’s explore some practical tips for preventing and managing poop-eating behavior in Shih Tzus.

shih tzu eating poop behavior
Joshua J. Cotten / Unsplash

How to prevent and manage Shih Tzu poop eating habit?

If your Shih Tzu has developed a poop-eating habit, there are several steps you can take to prevent and manage this behavior. Remember, consistency and patience are critical to effectively addressing this issue. Here are some tips to help you tackle the problem:

1. Keep your dog’s living area clean

Ensure that your Shih Tzu’s living area, including their crate and outdoor space, is clean and feces-free. Regularly clean up after them to minimize the opportunity for poop-eating.

2. Supervise outdoor activities

When taking your Shih Tzu for walks or allowing them to play in the yard, keep a close eye on them to prevent them from consuming poop. Interrupt and redirect their attention if you notice them showing interest in feces.

3. Train the “leave it” command

Teaching your Shih Tzu the “leave it” command can prevent them from approaching or ingesting poop. Start training indoors with treats, gradually incorporating outdoor distractions. Reward them when they comply with the command and redirect their attention elsewhere.

4. Modify their diet

Ensure your Shih Tzu receives a balanced and nutritious diet that meets their needs. Consult your veterinarian to determine if dietary changes or supplements are necessary to address potential nutritional deficiencies.

5. Provide mental and physical stimulation

Shih Tzus thrive on mental and physical stimulation. Engage them in regular exercise, interactive play, and puzzle toys to satisfy them mentally and physically. A tired and stimulated dog is less likely to engage in destructive or undesirable behaviors.

6. Address underlying stress or anxiety

If your Shih Tzu poop-eating behavior is triggered by stress or anxiety, it’s essential to address the underlying cause. Consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist to develop a tailored plan to help your dog cope with stress and anxiety.

By implementing these tips and being consistent in your approach, you can effectively prevent and manage your Shih Tzu’s eating poop behavior. However, there may be instances where veterinary intervention is necessary. Let’s explore when seeking veterinary help is warranted.

When to seek veterinary help

While most cases of poop-eating behavior in Shih Tzus can be managed with proper care and training, there may be situations where veterinary help is required. If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian:

Professional Help for Shih Tzu Anxiety
Usoltsev Kirill / Shutterstock

1. Persistent or excessive poop-eating

If your Shih Tzu eating poop behavior does not improve or becomes more frequent despite your efforts to address it, veterinary intervention may be necessary to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

2. Digestive issues or abnormal stool

If your dog experiences gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or changes in stool consistency, it’s essential to seek veterinary advice. These symptoms may indicate underlying health problems that need to be addressed.

3. Weight loss or poor appetite

If your Shih Tzu is losing or showing a decreased appetite, it may indicate an underlying health issue. This could be related to their poop-eating behavior or other factors that require veterinary attention.

4. Other concerning behaviors

Suppose your Shih Tzu displays other concerning behaviors alongside poop-eating, such as aggression, lethargy, excessive thirst, or frequent urination. In that case, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian for a comprehensive evaluation.

Remember, your veterinarian is the best resource for addressing any health concerns or behavioral issues in your Shih Tzu. They can provide guidance, perform necessary tests, and develop a tailored plan to help you and your furry friend overcome poop-eating behavior.

Common myths and Misconceptions about poop-eating

Regarding dogs’ eating poop behavior, several myths and misconceptions can cloud our understanding of this behavior. Let’s debunk some of the common misconceptions:

  • “My dog eats poop because they are hungry”: While nutritional deficiencies can contribute to poop-eating behavior, it’s not always the primary reason. Many dogs engage in this behavior out of curiosity, boredom, or other factors unrelated to hunger. Ensuring a balanced diet is essential but may not be the sole solution.
  • “Adding hot sauce or other deterrents to poop will stop the behavior”: While some dog owners resort to adding deterrents to poop to discourage their dogs from eating it, this approach is not always practical. The taste or smell may deter some dogs, but others may find it even more appealing. It’s better to focus on prevention, training, and addressing the underlying causes of the behavior.
  • “My dog eats poop because they are gross or have bad manners”: It’s important to remember that eating poop behavior is instinctual and not a reflection of your dog’s character or manners. Dogs do not possess the same societal norms and disgust as humans. Instead of blaming your dog, focus on understanding and addressing the behavior.

By dispelling these myths and misconceptions, we can approach Shih Tzu’s poop-eating behavior with a clearer understanding and take the necessary steps to address it effectively.


Eating poop behavior is relatively common among Shih Tzus and many other dog breeds. Understanding the biology behind this behavior, the potential reasons for its occurrence, and the associated health concerns can help us address and manage this habit effectively.

While poop-eating may not always be a cause for concern, monitoring your Shih Tzu behavior and taking appropriate steps to prevent and manage it if necessary is important. From providing a balanced diet and mental stimulation to addressing underlying stress or anxiety, a multi-faceted approach can help curb this behavior.

Remember, consistency, patience, and seeking veterinary guidance when needed are critical to successfully addressing poop-eating behavior in Shih Tzus. With your love, care, and understanding, you can help your furry friend lead a healthy and fulfilling life, free from the curious habit of poop-eating.

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