Why Does My Shih Tzu Keep Sneezing?

why does my shih tzu keep sneezing - shih tzu in baby stroller sneezing
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Watching a Shih Tzu sneeze can be funny looking and even cute, but the question is why does my Shih Tzu keep sneezing? Is it something you should worry about? Some sneezing is completely normal while other sneezing can be a sign of a serious issue.

Why Do Shih Tzus Sneeze?

Shih Tzus are part of the brachycephalic dog breeds. These are dogs that have been bred to have short noses and compressed faces. Due to this breeding, these types of dogs tend to have more respiratory issues than dogs with longer snouts. 

This includes sneezing issues. Some of the more common reasons your Shih Tzu might be sneezing include the following.

Your Shih Tzu Has Allergies

Some Shih Tzus have allergies just like people do. I know that my Truman (you can learn more about Truman and Sammy here) has seasonal allergies. 

While most of the time allergies in dogs show up as itchy skin, they can sneeze as well. 

If your Shih Tzu is sneezing and scratching a lot, it could be allergies. 

You might also notice wheezing, coughing, or even a runny discharge from their nose or eyes. 

The most common allergens for dogs include:

  • Pollen – tree, grass or weeds
  • Dust mites
  • Mold 
  • Mildew
  • Flea bites

In addition to environmental allergens, your Shih Tzu could have also picked up the scent of an irritant such as paint, lawn fertilizer, cigarette smoke, cleaning supplies, or pesticides. 

To find out for sure and to determine the best way to handle your Shih Tzu’s allergies you should have your veterinarian check them out. 

Your Shih Tzu is Sick

Just like you, your Shih Tzu can get an infection, a cold, or even the flu. All of these can cause sneezing.


Your Shih Tzu might have picked up a viral or bacterial infection. These can be short-lived or even become chronic. Since we are talking about sneezing, it could be a sinus infection.


Again, just like in humans, colds aren’t typically serious. They come and go in a few days. Even so, it is important to have your vet determine if in fact your Shih Tzu just has a common cold or if it is something more serious.

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The Flu

If your Shih Tzu is doing more than just sneezing such as not eating, having no energy or they have developed a nasty cough, it is possible they could have the flu.

The flu can become serious for your Shih Tzu if it turns into pneumonia. Not to mention, it is very contagious, so if not treated any other dogs in your home could catch it as well. 

In fact, you should let your vet know you think your Shih Tzu has the flu before you take your dog in to see them. They may have procedures in place to reduce the chance of spreading the disease in the vet’s office.

Regardless if you feel your Shih Tzu might have the flu, a cold, or an infection, you should immediately take them to your vet to get a diagnosis. 

brown and white shih tzu with messy hair
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Your Shih Tzu Has Something Stuck in Its Nose

If your Shih Tzu is not only sneezing but also rubbing its nose on the ground or pawing at its nose, they could have something stuck inside their nasal passage. 

If this is the case, you might also see blood coming from their nose. 

Dogs tend to get things like a strand of hair or a blade of grass or even a piece of food caught in their nose. 

Other items that get stuck in dog’s noses include:

  • Bugs
  • Rocks
  • String
  • Twigs
  • Tinsel
  • Food
  • Small building blocks such as Leggos

If you think your Shih Tzu has something stuck in their nose, you will need to take them to the vet right away before the item can be inhaled deeper into their nasal cavity causing them even more distress and medical issues.

Your Shih Tzu Has a Tumor

Nasal tumors can either be cancerous or benign in Shih Tzus. Either way, it is a mass that is growing in the nasal cavity and is impacting your Shih Tzu’s ability to breathe. 

Typically, these types of tumors are more common in dogs with longer snouts, but they can happen in short-snouted dogs as well.

Your Shih Tzu Has Mites

Shih Tzus can get nasal mites. These nasty little bugs can cause sneezing as well as itching and nose bleeds and discharge. 

One Shih Tzu can infect other dogs in your home. 

You will have to take your Shih Tzu to the vet to have nasal mites treated. The treatment, depending on where you live in the country can be around $500. It might be more in some areas and less in others. 

Dogs can’t spread the mites to humans. 

closeup of black and white shih tzu playing with tennis ball
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Your Shih Tzu Sneezes During Play

Sometimes your Shih Tzu might be sneezing because they are in the middle of some heavy-duty play and it is their way of signaling that all is cool and they are just having fun.

They don’t want the other dog to mistake their play for something more serious. 

I know that my Truman does this. He will also snort to communicate when playing as well or when he wants something or is unhappy about something.

For example, he loves paper and especially tissues. If he gets his paws on one, he will fight you tooth and nail if you try and take it from him. 

I wouldn’t mind him playing with one too much but he does try to eat them, so I have to get them away from him.

When I do, then comes the sneezing or snorting to show his displeasure. 

Related Questions:

What is Shih Tzu Reverse Sneezing?

If you’ve ever heard your Shih Tzu make sounds as if they are choking or can’t breathe over and over, it can be pretty scary.

One reason this can happen is called reverse sneezing. When your Shih Tzu inhales loudly through their nose it can sound like gagging or choking.

According to the American Kennel Club, “Reverse sneezing is characterized by sudden, rapid and repeated inhalations through the nose, followed by snorting or gagging sounds.  It can be alarming to an owner, but is not known to be harmful to dogs without any underlying conditions…”

Your Shih Tzu might do this to remove allergens or irritants from their nasal passages. It is actually harmless even though it sounds scary. 

You can actually help your Shih Tzu when this happens by blowing in their face or massaging their throat which will help stop the spasms.

To Sum it All Up:

Shih Tzus can sneeze for a lot of reasons. Some of them are harmless as when they sneeze during play. Others, however, can be a sign that there is an issue such as having something stuck in their nose or that they are ill with the flu or a cold. Sneezing can also be a sign of allergies.

When in doubt, be sure to talk to your vet to make sure everything is okay.


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’s behavior. This article should not be considered in any way as veterinarian advice.


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