Shih Tzu Sounds

Unique Shih Tzu Sounds

Unique Shih Tzu Sounds

A Shih Tzu is a small dog breed defined by its long, flowing double coat but it also has its own distinct sounds. If you are planning to adopt a Shih Tzu, you might be surprised that it has a variety of snores and/or snorting sounds. As a brachycephalic breed, it has a distinctively compressed upper respiratory system.

What Does Brachycephalic Mean?

Flat-faced dogs…including the Shih Tzu…are cute little furballs but their short noses can lead to breathing issues where they are prone to snoring and snorting sounds. Although they appear as harmless ailments, these common issues indicate that the airway of the dog is partly obstructed and can worsen over time if left untreated.

Some of the Main Features of a Brachycephalic Breed Include:


 The standard lower jaw and compact upper jaw provides a facial structure that isUnique Shih Tzu Sounds moderately flat. Even though the jawbone does not relate to the sounds that a Shih Tzu produces, owners should be aware that the 42 teeth that all dogs have need to fit the smaller space a Shih Tzu has.

This results in slanted teeth…as well as issues with dental care…since compacted teeth can be difficult to clean. Proper and regular dental care is essential for this breed.


The skull is rounded but the muzzle is short or practically, non-existent in some breeds. In addition to the Shih Tzu, other dogs that are part of this classification are the pug and boxer.

Since the muzzle of the Shih Tzu is short and flat, the nostrils and all the interior workings of the sinuses are compressed.

Snoring and Snorting

If you are a new Shih Tzu owner, it is normal and expected for this breed to snore in varying degrees. Most Shih Tzu make some form of noise while sleeping although not all will. The sounds can vary from a small…barely noticeable…one to a rumbling you can hear throughout the room. Maybe all over the house. Snorting is also common and is due to the same reason as snoring such as:

Elongated Soft Palate

The soft palate is the tissue splitting the oral cavity from the nasal passages. The soft tissues within the throat and mouth of the breed will not always readily fit into their packed facial region.  Since there is limited space, it folds into the throat in fluctuating degrees.

Unique Shih Tzu SoundsIf there is minimal drooping, the only issue is the noises.

However, in severe cases, the breathing can be significantly disrupted and might require a surgical procedure where the palate is trimmed down. This might be detected during routine exams by a veterinarian, usually during the first year of the puppy.

Stenotic Nares

This condition is also known as pinched nostrils and is a common characteristic of the breed. It simply means that the nostril cavities are narrow or constricted.

While some owners or veterinarians opt to have this surgically fixed it could very well be a temporary issue. It would be advisable to wait until your puppy has gone through its teething phase.

Once this  passes, the nostril openings tend to eventually open which may negate any need for surgery.

What Happens if There is New or Increased Snoring or Snorting?

Should your Shih Tzu begin making these noises or there is an increase in intensity it might be due to the following reasons:

Swollen Palate Due to Excessive Barking or Panting

If severe, surgery might be suggested by your veterinarian. Although it is best to have it checked by a veterinarian it may not be necessary if the swelling is only for a brief duration.

Presence of an Obstruction Such as an Abnormal Growth or Foreign Object in the Breathing Passage

Remember that dogs might swallow non-food objects ranging from socks, stones or even necklaces. It is vital to keep areas where your Shih Tzu frequents free from any clutter or small-sized objects.

Weight Gain

This is one of the main reasons for an increase in snoring and snorting. As the layer of fat builds up it can place pressure on the face and neck causing it to weigh down on the already compressed area.

As a small dog breed, gaining one or two pounds can result in health issues. If Unique Shih Tzu Soundsthere is a need to cut down on weight it should be done in a gradual manner such as losing one pound a month. This can be achieved by reducing fat-based foods and excessive snacks, increased activity and providing healthy foods.

Since Shih Tzu are prone to overheating if exposed to extreme heat, it might end up with breathing issues if exercise is too rigorous.

Due to this you will want to slowly increase your pets activity levels. Simply add 5 minutes to the daily walk every week. Be sure to bring extra water with a collapsible bowl and take frequent rests to allow your dog to rehydrate. It is recommended to walk during dawn and dusk or late evening to avoid overheating.

Is It a Form of Communication?

It is not uncommon for Shih Tzu to produce snorting or grunting sounds. So this doesn’t always have a connection to any physical or bodily concern.

There are various types of noises that a dog can create other than barking to communicate. Some may be indications of distress while others are signs of pleasure.

Some common sounds your Shih Tzu will make include whining, howling, growling, yelping, whimpering and moaning.

A grunting sound can indicate that your companion is happy and feeling good. If you have more than one Shih Tzu you may notice they will communicate with one another via snorting and grunting.

Other Sounds That Your Shih Tzu Uses for Communication

Low-tone Bark

This is how your Shih Tzu voices out a warning of danger or a change in the environment. Your dog might produce a low-tone bark if they sense the presence of a stranger. In some cases, the dog might also bark if there is a change in the environment.

High-tone Bark

Your dog produces this sound to get your attention. Your Shih Tzu might want to go outside or simply needs attention with a cuddle or short play session.


If your Shih Tzu is howling it may be communicating with another dog. Remember that dogs can sense other dogs even if you cannot see them. 


This sound is considered a warning. The bark that warns about a stranger within seeing distance will turn into a growl should that person enter your dogs territory and indicates feels threatened. A growl is a distinct form of vocalization used to warn people or other dogs to leave. When a dog is growling it often includes tooth snapping sounds.


This is a form of vocalization if a dog is under emotional distress. It can simply mean that your Shih Tzu is sad and does not want to be alone. It can also be a sign that your dog is experiencing some form of pain.


This sound is the same as whining but is more what a puppy does while an adult whines. Generally, a Shih Tzu puppy usually whimpers while an adult whines.


A dog might produce a low moan if it feels happy or contented. Your Shih Tzu will often moan when you are rubbing its tummy or another spot it enjoys.


This is a clear and immediate sign that your dog is injured. A dog that yelps feel pain. Once this sound is heard, you should check for the cause.


Some Shih Tzus produce a whisper-like noise instead of a bark. Some owners claim that it is like “singing” if the dog whispers for a while.


A dog pants to cool itself during physical activity. Nevertheless, panting is also done if your Shih Tzu needs to relax. Once a dog is stressed out, it might pant to calm itself down.


Remember that each Shih Tzu is unique. The uniqueness of your Shih Tzu sounds helps it stand out…including its distinct snoring and snorting sounds. These are…for the most part…completely normal but it’s important to know the signs of abnormal sounds in your companion so they can be dealt with by your veterinarian.

We hope you find this information helpful. We’d love to hear your tips and experiences with your Shih Tzu Dog. Let us know in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Unique Shih Tzu Sounds”

  1. Hoping you have the dog of my dreams. Shin Tzu. Boy ,girl, does not matter. Also not a puppy. Too old for that.. Lol. I had one but she passed away 2 yrs ago at age 16. Miss her so. Not sure I know where u r located? I live in Illinois, LaSalle County. Hope to hear from u soon. Ty

  2. Shirley Landis

    I am looking for a female Shih Tzu and would like to have a tan and white or a cream and white, but no black and white. I love the companionship of a Shih Tzu and would like to come and visit where I can find one. Thank you very much.
    Shirley Landis

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