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How Fast Can a Shih Tzu Run? Breed Characteristics & Facts

Chantelle Fowler

By Chantelle Fowler

Shih Tzu running

Shih Tzus are probably not the first dog you think of when trying to compile a list of athletic dog breeds. They are, after all, bred mostly for companionship, not for working. But that doesn’t mean they are lazy pups that don’t enjoy some type of activity.

While it’s unlikely that your Shih Tzu will be joining you on any runs, you might be wondering what speed this breed can top out at. Shih Tzus can run at around 6 miles per hour, making them one of the slower (but not the slowest!) dog breeds.

Keep reading to find more information about Shih Tzus and their exercise needs.

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Are Shih Tzus Athletic?

Shih Tzus are known for their long and flowing coats, so many people don’t realize what they have under that beautiful fur: muscles. Many Shih Tzus do well in agility courses, but not many owners take the time to do these activities with their pups. This breed is known for its companionship and lapdog lifestyle so prospective owners often adopt them because they want a calm and chill breed to snuggle up with, not a running partner.

Your Shih Tzu won’t be a hiking partner or running buddy, but they’d happily accompany you on short walks at a relaxing pace.

Schweenie Dog
Image Credit: carlosleucipo, Pixabay

What Kind of Exercise Do Shih Tzus Need?

Since they were bred to be companion dogs, Shih Tzus require only moderate amounts of exercise. Up to an hour a day in total should suffice.

Many owners find that it’s best to break down their dog’s exercise routine into three or four short 15-minute sessions to ensure their pup doesn’t overdo it. Remember that playing with your dog is also considered exercise, so don’t do too much playing and walking in one day, or at least give yourself time to calm down and relax between sessions.

Most owners find that walks are the best and most tolerable form of exercise for their dogs. They can play fetch with you for a few minutes before they tire out, but this breed can easily over-exert itself, so it’s best to take things slow.

It’s very important not to skip out on your daily exercise with your Shih Tzu. This breed is highly susceptible to gaining excess weight, which can eventually lead to obesity and the health conditions associated with that.

What Happens if a Shih Tzu Over-Exerts Itself?

Shih Tzus are a brachycephalic breed, meaning they have a shortened snout. The shape of the nose and head can put them at risk of a condition known as brachycephalic airway syndrome. This can cause issues like loud snoring, noisy breathing, sensitive gag reflexes, and lack of oxygen. Dogs with this condition may also be at risk of bronchial collapse and gastroesophageal reflux.

If your pup runs too much, plays too hard, or spends too much time outside on a warm day, it can easily over-exert itself. This can lead to problems such as:

  • Heat stress
  • Injuries
  • Stiffness
  • Lethargy
  • Evasive panting
  • Limping
shih tzu
Image Credit: Nikolay Tchaouchev, Unsplash

Shih Tzu Running Speed Compared to Other Animals

Animal Running Speed (Miles Per Hour)
Shih Tzu 6 mph
Bichon Frise 16.6 mph
German Shepherd 30 mph
Cat 30 mph
Racoon 15 mph
Cheetah 70 mph
Average man 5.9 mph

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Final Conclusion

Shih Tzus aren’t going to be breaking any running records anytime soon. Though this breed is less athletic than others similar in size, that doesn’t mean you skip out on daily exercise. Every dog needs to exercise for physical fitness and enrichment, and it’s especially important for Shih Tzus to avoid obesity.

See Also: Can Shih Tzus Swim?

Featured Image Credit: Radosław Zmudziński, Pixabay

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