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Why Does Shih Tzu Snort?

by Pawsome Tips
Why Does Shih Tzu Snort

‍Why Does Shih Tzu Snort? Shih Tzu has long, flowing coats and expressive eyes that melt hearts. These adorable pups originated in China and were highly valued as companions and lap dogs for the Chinese nobility. “Shih Tzu” means “lion dog,” which is fitting considering their regal appearance and confident demeanour.

Shih Tzus have a unique set of characteristics that make them beloved pets. They are known for their friendly and outgoing nature, making them great family dogs. They are also intelligent and eager to please, which makes training them relatively easy. However, one of the most noticeable traits of Shih Tzus is their snorting sound, which adds a touch of quirkiness to their already charming personality.

What causes Shih Tzu to snort?

The snorting sound that Shih Tzus makes can have various causes. One of the primary reasons behind this behavior is their anatomy. Shih Tzus have flat faces and short snouts, also known as brachycephalic features. While these features contribute to their unique appearance, they can also lead to breathing difficulties.

Due to their shortened airways, Shih Tzus may struggle to breathe correctly, especially during physical exertion or in hot weather. This can result in a snorting sound as they try to clear their airways and take in enough oxygen. The buildup of mucus or saliva in their nasal passages can also contribute to the snorting sound.

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Physical reasons behind Shih Tzu snorting

The physical characteristics of Shih Tzus make them more prone to snorting. Their flat faces and short snouts can cause brachycephalic airway syndrome. This syndrome encompasses various respiratory issues, including elongated soft palates, narrowed nostrils, and tracheal collapse.

An elongated soft palate can obstruct the airway and make breathing difficult for Shih Tzus, resulting in snorting. Narrowed nostrils can restrict air flow, making breathing harder for them to breathe through their nose. Tracheal collapse occurs when the rings of the trachea weaken and collapse, further obstructing airflow.

While these physical conditions are more common in brachycephalic breeds like Shih Tzus, it’s important to note that not all dogs of this breed will experience snorting or respiratory issues. Each dog’s anatomy and overall health play a role in determining the severity of these conditions.

Common triggers for Shih Tzu snorting

While the physical characteristics of Shih Tzus are the primary cause of their snorting, specific triggers can exacerbate this behavior. Heat and humidity can make it more difficult for them to breathe, leading to increased snorting. Physical exertion, such as running or playing vigorously, can also cause them to snort as they try to catch their breath.

Environmental allergens, such as pollen or dust, can irritate their nasal passages and trigger snorting. Additionally, excitement or stress can cause Shih Tzus to snort, as these emotions can affect their breathing patterns. It is essential to observe your dog’s behavior and identify any specific triggers contributing to their snorting.

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When to be concerned about Shih Tzu snorting

While snorting is an expected behavior in Shih Tzus, there are instances where it may indicate an underlying health issue. If your Shih Tzu’s snorting is accompanied by other symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian. These symptoms could be signs of a respiratory infection, allergies, or a more severe condition such as tracheal collapse.

If your Shih Tzu is experiencing frequent episodes of snorting or if their snorting becomes more severe over time, it’s also advisable to seek veterinary attention. Your veterinarian can perform a thorough examination and may recommend further diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the snorting and provide appropriate treatment if necessary.

Tips for managing and reducing Shih Tzu snorting

While you may not be able to eliminate snorting in Shih Tzus completely, there are several steps you can take to manage and reduce this behavior:

  1. Keep your Shih Tzu relaxed and well-ventilated, especially during hot weather. Avoid exposing them to excessive heat or humidity, exacerbating their breathing difficulties.
  2. Avoid strenuous activities that may cause your Shih Tzu to become overly exerted. Please provide them with plenty of rest breaks during playtime and exercise sessions.
  3. Ensure that your Shih Tzu maintains weight. Excess weight can put additional strain on their respiratory system, making it harder for them to breathe.
  4. Regularly clean your Shih Tzu’s nasal passages to prevent mucus or saliva buildup. Use a soft, damp cloth or specialized wipes for dogs to clean their nose gently.
  5. Consider using a harness instead of a collar when walking your Shih Tzu. Collars can put pressure on their neck and throat, making it more difficult for them to breathe.
  6. Consult your veterinarian about appropriate supplements or medications to help manage respiratory issues and reduce snorting in your Shih Tzu.

Remember, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian before changing your Shih Tzu’s diet or medication regimen. They will provide personalized advice based on your dog’s needs and health condition.

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Breathing exercises and techniques for Shih Tzu snorting

Like humans, dogs can benefit from specific breathing exercises and techniques to improve respiratory function. While these techniques may not eliminate snorting entirely, they can help strengthen your Shih Tzu’s respiratory muscles and improve their overall breathing.

1. Diaphragmatic breathing

Place your hand on your Shih Tzu’s abdomen and encourage them to take slow, deep breaths. This technique helps them engage their diaphragm and expand their lungs fully.

2. Sniffing exercises

Encourage your Shih Tzu to sniff different scents or treats, as this helps them take deeper breaths through their nose and clear their nasal passages.

3. Calm and relaxed environment

Create a calm and stress-free environment for your Shih Tzu, as stress and anxiety can affect their breathing patterns. Provide a safe and comfortable space where they can relax and unwind.

4. Slow and controlled exercise

Engage your Shih Tzu in gentle, relaxed exercise sessions like walking or swimming. This allows them to maintain physical activity without becoming overly exerted.

Remember to be patient and consistent when practicing these exercises with your Shih Tzu. Over time, they may help improve their breathing and reduce snorting episodes.

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Other quirky behaviors in Shih Tzus

Snorting is just one of the many quirky behaviors that Shih Tzus exhibits. These lovable dogs are known for their unique personalities and amusing antics. Here are a few other abnormal behaviors you may observe in your Shih Tzu:

Reverse sneezing

Shih Tzus often experiences episodes of reverse sneezing, which can sound alarming but is usually harmless. During a reverse sneezing episode, your Shih Tzu may snort while inhaling rapidly. This is typically caused by irritation or inflammation in the nasal passages and usually subsides on its own.


Due to their unique anatomy and potential respiratory issues, Shih Tzus are prone to snoring. This is especially common when they are asleep or in a relaxed state. While snoring can be amusing, monitoring your Shih Tzu’s breathing patterns during sleep is essential to ensure they are not experiencing any difficulties.

Playful zoomies

Shih Tzus are known for their bursts of energy and playful zoomies. They may suddenly start running around in circles or darting from one room to another, seemingly full of joy and excitement. This behavior is how they burn off excess energy and express their happiness.

Pawing at the face

Shih Tzus may paw at their faces or rub their noses with their paws. This behavior can be a sign of itching or discomfort, possibly due to allergies or environmental irritants. Regular grooming and keeping their facial area clean can help alleviate any pain.

Embracing these quirky behaviors is part of the charm of owning a Shih Tzu. They add character and uniqueness to their already lovable personalities.

Final Thoughts: Why Does Shih Tzu Snort

The snorting sound that Shih Tzus makes is a combination of their anatomy and potential respiratory issues. Their flat faces and short snouts can make breathing more challenging, leading to snorting as they try to clear their airways. While snorting is expected in Shih Tzus, monitoring their overall health and seeking veterinary attention for any concerning symptoms is essential.

Remember to embrace the uniqueness of Shih Tzu snorting and other quirky behaviors that make these dogs so endearing. Their snorts and snuffles are part of their charm and a reminder of their individuality. So next time your Shih Tzu makes that adorable snorting sound, embrace it and shower them with love and affection for being the delightful companions they are.

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