Shih Tzu Sleeping Patterns At Every Age: A Complete Guide

Your Shih Tzu is a loveable breed with oodles of personality and happy, outgoing nature.

Perfect for apartments, families, or one owner, Shih Tzus are the ultimate lap dog and stay true to their royal Chinese ancestry by loving nothing better than to stretch out and have a snooze.

In fact, Shih Tzu’s love to take a comfy nap so much that their owners may become concerned about whether their snooze fests are normal.

Shih Tzus do sleep a lot in comparison to other dog breeds, and it is perfectly normal. Shih Tzu’s sleep duration depends on factors such as age, environment, and feeding schedules. Newborn shih tzus tend to sleep up to 22 hours a day, weaned puppies up to 20-21 hours, adolescent adult shih tzus sleep 12-16 hours each day, and older shih tzus up to 19 hours per day.

It is only a point of concern if your Shih Tzu’s sleeping patterns change dramatically.

Your Shih Tzu is the ultimate in lap-dog skills and loves nothing more than to have a comfortable sleep near his/her best human friend.

If you wonder if your Shih Tzu’s sleep-a-thons are out of the ordinary, we have some facts to set your mind at ease.

Why Do Shih Tzu’s Sleep so Much?

Despite their differences in shape and size, all dogs have the genetic heritage of their hunting ancestors.

Dogs used to sleep as a point of recuperation to achieve the stamina necessary for the hunt, and this has not changed today, especially in your Shih Tzu.

The National Sleep Foundation explains that dogs spend a shorter time than humans in the REM state, meaning they need more sleep time to get the same rest as humans.

As a breed, Shih Tzu’s have longer than average sleep patterns, which are just part of your Shih Tzu’s unique breed characteristics.

Sleeping patterns are dependent on several factors, but the average time spends in sleep for the breed are as follows:

Newborn Shih Tzus: Very High Sleep Requirements

Newborn Shih Tzus need plenty of sleep so that their little bodies and brains can develop properly. Newborns spend 22 hours on average sleeping, only waking to nurse every 2 hours or so.

Once the pups are in the process of being weaned or are beginning to eat solid foods, they should be sleeping 19-21 hours.

Puppies tend to follow their mother’s sleep patterns and sleep more during the night hours when their mother is sleeping.

Shih Tzu Puppies’ Sleeping Patterns

Along with house training, Shih Tzu puppies might need training when it comes to their sleeping patterns.

Puppies have sporadic bursts of energy throughout the day (learn more about those energy bursts in my article here), followed by bouts of deep and sudden sleep.

Shih Tzu puppies generally sleep 16-20 hours a day, which gradually turns to a more regular nighttime sleep pattern.

You can tire out your shih tzu puppy with walks of at least 15 minutes in duration each day , or sufficient playtime to get them to sleep better when you want them to.

Adolescent and 1 Year Plus Shih Tzu Sleeping Amounts

With encouraging owner behavior, an adolescent Shih Tzu should be sleeping 12-16 hours out of 24 hours.

Activity level and stimulation may have much to do with the sleep to waking ratio, as bored dogs may often sleep more.

Senior Shih Tzus: More Sleep Necessary

Older Shih Tzus often sleep more than their younger counterparts.

You may find that once in a comfortable spot; your senior Shih Tzu might sleep between 14-19 hours a day.

This pattern is a typical average for an aging Shih Tzu, but you should not neglect your senior dog’s exercise just because they seem so comfortable.

Senior Shih Tzus need to exercise outdoors and social stimulation to be healthy and happy, and these factors should not be neglected.

How to Help Your Shih Tzu Puppy Sleep at Night: 4 Simple Tips

Preparing your Shih Tzu puppy for a restful night sleep is essential to achieve a nighttime sleep routine. Prepare a comfortable and warm sleeping area with toys and access to water.

You can even set up a playpen area with pee pads like these ones found on Amazon if the puppy is not yet house-trained, and see to it that they also take their daytime naps in this area of the house only.

Quieting down distracting noises such as lowering the television volume and dimming the lights can help prepare your puppy for nighttime rest.

If your puppy wakes in the night to do its business, don’t engage in play. Try to keep interaction calm and minimal without forgetting to give plenty of praise for using designated areas to make their wees or poos.

You can eliminate your Shih Tzus need to wee or poo during the night by regulating their feeding times and feeding their main meal 2 hours before bedtime.

After mealtime, light snacks are fine, but the two hours give your pup enough time to empty its system before bedtime.

Always take your puppy out several times before sleep to ensure a full bladder does not wake them.

How To Help Your Senior Shih Tzu Sleep

Your older Shih Tzu will need extra care compared to the adult and puppy stages. Senior dogs need more rest and sleep may suffer from incontinence if very old.

Ensure your older pooch has an appropriately supportive orthopedic bed like this one available on Amazon, and install pee pads if they are prone to accidents in the night.

If your old shih tzu is sleeping more than usual, it could be just that they have lower energy levels as they age (don’t we all), but if you suspect something is even a little bit off, don’t hesitate to take your dog to the vet for a check up. Better safe than sorry!


Your Shih Tzu finds great pleasure in good sleep, often assuming strangely human positions while he/she catches z’s. Shih Tzus sleep more than other breeds, and there is nothing to worry about this behavior.

Make sure your Shih Tzu gets plenty of exercise (see my article on Shih Tzus swimming) and stimulation, and encourage quiet and restful behaviors at night, and your Shih Tzu will be a happy and healthy sleep companion. 

Also, if you enjoyed this article and started to wonder if Shih Tzus can be left alone at home 8 hours a day because they seem to sleep all the time anyway, check out what I wrote about that right here. Thanks!

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