Do Shih Tzus Need Sweaters?

do shih tzus need sweaters - shih tzu in a orange and white sweater
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As a pet parent, one of your top priorities is ensuring that your canine companion is always comfortable. Taking good care of your Shih Tzu companion means understanding their regular and seasonal needs. With that in mind, do Shih Tzus need sweaters?

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Do Shih Tzus Need Sweaters?

Since sweaters are warm clothing, let’s begin by considering whether Shih Tzus get cold or are affected by the colder winter temperatures.

Shih Tzus are small toy breeds.

Body mass is an important factor for maintaining body warmth.

Shih Tzus do not have a lot of body mass.

Thus, they could get be adversely affected by winter temperatures.

You may want to argue that Shih Tzus should be used to cold temperatures because they originated from China and Tibet where the winter temperatures are pretty darn cold.

A counter-argument to this is that they were not built to be outdoor dogs.

Shih Tzus were bred to be human companions and not meant to be subjected to harsh temperatures.

You might expect that your Shih Tzu will be immune to the cold because it has long hair.

While the long hair can provide good protection, it doesn’t make long-haired Shih Tzus immune to cold.

Their body size and proportion do not provide good winter support.

Shih Tzus also have hair instead of fur. Fur is a better insulator than hair. Even the double-layered hair of Shih Tzus does not winter-proof them. 

So, yes, Shih Tzus can get cold and even die from cold exposure during winter.

As a Shih Tzu parent, you should take necessary precautions for avoiding overexposure to the cold.

I know my Shih Tzus seem to get cold when it gets below 70 degrees. I always put a sweater on them when temperatures start to get colder, such as the 40s and 50s.

Even with a sweater and a coat when we go outside in the winter, my poor dogs start shivering immediately.

Needless to say, we aren’t out for long.

If you shave your Shih Tzu you will definitely need to provide a sweater for them. Even if it isn’t too cold out, they will have very little, if any, protection from the cold with no hair.

shih tzu in pink and white sweater
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Sweaters for Shih Tzus?

Clothing is an important part of the winter protection of small dogs and toy breeds like Shih Tzus.

I’ve tried a lot of different types of sweaters.

I started out using ones that had sleeves for their front legs. Those didn’t work well.

Both Sammy and Truman would get their legs out of the sleeves and the sweater would end up around their waist or off completely.

I moved on to sweaters like this one that doesn’t have sleeves.

These are the last sweaters I bought, and I’ve been really happy with them. I got them in size small as both my Shih Tzus weigh about 10 pounds each.

I purchased the pink and gray and red and brown. They are super cute and comfortable.

They work a lot better and if you think about it, most Shih Tzus sleep with their legs curled up under them anyway, so their legs stay warm.

Just make sure that the sweater will provide the extra layers of warmth your pooch needs to survive winter.

Sweaters with cotton or fleece lining will provide the extra layer of protection for your Shih Tzu.

Double-layered sweaters also provide better warmth than single-layer sweaters. 

You also want to confirm that the sweaters are wind and water-proof, for when your dog takes a walk or uses the bathroom outdoors.

When inside, you might want to switch to a sweater that is a bit more comfortable. Obviously, sweaters for indoor use don’t need to be water-proof.

Also, confirm the size of the sweater before getting it.

Dog clothing items are sized according to length, chest size, and weight. 

Something else to keep in mind, your Shih Tzu shouldn’t wear a sweater all day and night long.

Personally, I have a sweater on my Shih Tzus during the day, but at bedtime, I take them off and make sure they are covered with a blanket.

This is the one I like and they seem to like it as well.

It’s a lot more comfortable for them.

Winter Protection for Shih Tzus

Sweaters are part of the basic winter clothing for Shih Tzus.

Apart from sweaters, your pouch will also need other clothing items like boots.

Boots help to protect Shih Tzus’ paws from the cold.

Snow melting products can also be toxic to the paws of Shih Tzus. 

I know here in Illinois, we do get plenty of snow, and even worse everyone puts salt out on the sidewalks to clear them.

Both the snow and the salt can be difficult for your dog. I know mine can get snow in their paws and it causes them a lot of pain, so I decided to get little boots for them.

It’s true, they don’t love wearing them, but it does make it easier on them when they have to go out in the winter.

I decided on these boots and they have worked out well.

Vet checks are especially important during winter. The health of Shih Tzus is specifically fragile during the colder periods.

Don’t forget to ensure that your Shih Tzu is warm inside as well.

If your house is anything like mine, the floor is cold and even the outside walls are colder.

Consider moving your dog’s bed to a warmer position. Add more blankets if necessary. 

I always add an extra blanket in the winter, so there is more padding between my dog and the floor.

Also, encourage more indoor activity to make up for the time of outdoor activity lost.

Winter is that period when you should also pay extra attention to the security of your dog.

Losing a dog during winter is one of the worst experiences for pet parents.

You do not want to lose your pooch on a cold winter night when you braved a walk.

Always be sure your Shih Tzu is on a collar and leash before heading out, especially at night.

You might also enjoy:

Should I Leave the Collar On My Shih Tzu All Day?

Why Does My Shih Tzu Hide Under the Bed?

Related Questions:

Can Shih Tzus Die of Cold?

Yes, Shih Tzus can be frostbitten.

They can also get hypothermia and die.

Signs of hypothermia include cold skin, breathing problems, dilated pupils, and shivering and trembling.

How Cold is Too Cold for a Shih Tzu?

The average temperature that poses a lot of danger to Shih Tzus is 25 degrees Fahrenheit or -4 degrees Celsius. 

Anything below that and you should keep them inside as much as possible. Even at that temperature, they will need a coat and boots.

What Are the Signs That a Shih Tzu is Cold?

The commons signs that a Shih Tzu is cold include lethargy, shivering, and refusal to go outside.

When a Shih Tzu is cold, it could bark or whine and raise its paws off the ground when outdoors.

To Sum it All Up:

Yes, Shih Tzus need sweaters to keep them warm during the winter. As toy breeds, they are not designed to survive winters.

As a pet parent, you need to pay particular attention to the health of your Shih Tzu during winter. Keep them warm and safe from the harsh outdoors.

Sweater, boots, and blankets are great for keeping Shih Tzus warm and to help them to maintain optimal health during winter.  


Please Note:

This article is informational only and does not substitute for veterinary advice. Always check with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your Shih Tzu. This article should not be considered in any way as veterinarian advice.

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