If you’re all about tiny dogs in a big dog body, you might have come across the Shorkie, the dynamite designer dog crossbreed between the happy-go-lucky Shih Tzu and the sassy Yorkshire Terrier.
Shorkies are little balls of fearlessness in a tiny, fluffy package that make loyal, dedicated, and loving companions. They are vigilant dogs that will let you know when someone’s coming, and their small size makes them ideal for apartment dwellers and city folk.
If you’re considering adopting this endearing designer dog breed, you might wonder how long Shorkies can live. This article is for you! In it, we will cover how long Shorkies live, what factors affect the lifespan, and what you can do to ensure your precious pooch lives as long as possible.
How Long Do Shorkies Live?
When adopting a four-legged friend, pet owners want a maximum number of healthy years with their companion. For this reason, many people consider the overall health and lifespan of the breed when they are adopting to ensure whether or not it is right for them. Knowing the lifespan of a Shorkie will help you prepare and handle the loss that will happen in the future.
The average lifespan of a Shorkie is 11 to 16 years. However, they may give you some bonus years of mischief when shown proper love and care. Shorkies are considered relatively healthy and tend to live longer than other breeds, especially large ones.
A well-taken care of Shorkie will live a relatively long life, making them the perfect companion for pet owners. Crossbreeds such as a Shorkie live longer than purebreds because they inherit a diverse range of traits that tend to keep them healthier.
Moreover, if you give your dog a proper diet, take them for regular veterinarian visits, and give them adequate exercise, there is a chance that they can exceed the average time frame.
What Health Issues Do Shorkies Have that Will Impact Lifespan?
Typically, Shorkies do not succumb to health issues since their parents (Yorkie and Shih Tzu) tend to have a robust immune system. However, the health of a Shorkie will depend on several factors like responsible breeding and genetics, lifestyle, diet, and a healthy dash of luck.
Some health problems Shorkies face include kidney stones, oral health issues, liver disease, progressive retinal apathy, and patellar luxation.
You can minimize the risk of health issues in a Shorkie by adopting a dog from a responsible and reputable breeder. These breeders ensure that any severe hereditary problems are weeded out to produce a healthy puppy.
Common health issues faced by Shorkies that impact their lifespan include:
A dog’s kneecap typically sits in a groove at the lower end of the thigh bone, helping it extend and flex. However, in some dogs, mainly small breeds, the kneecap dislodges (luxate) from its original place. Patellar luxation is a condition where the kneecap pops out of the thigh bone and turns towards the outside of the leg.
If you notice a change in your dog’s stride, you should notify your vet to check for patellar luxation. Common signs of this condition are that your furry friend will start to hop, hold up the leg, and stretch it out to bring the knee back in its place.
You will notice that your dog will start to walk normally when the knee returns to its place. A Shorkie inherits this condition from both Shih Tzus and Yorkshire Terriers. This is a congenital condition, implying that the dog will be born with it.
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
Shih Tzus are brachycephalic dogs, which means they have flat faces and short snouts. Dogs such as the Shih Tzu, Pug, Boxer, and other flat-faced breeds often have respiratory problems.
A Shorkie tends to have underdeveloped, small narrow nostrils. Common in Shih Tzu, an elongated soft palate with narrow nostrils tends to cause several types of respiratory distress. The problem heightens when a dog is excited or stressed.
The majority of times, this syndrome will become intense during humid or hot weather. Some of the symptoms of brachycephalic airway syndrome include:
- Noisy breathing
- Snorting when excited
- Snoring while relaxed or asleep
- Tiring easily from exercise
- Might collapse or faint
- Vomiting or gagging
Owing to this syndrome, Shorkies might experience strain on the heart, which is associated with breathing difficulties. Moreover, for severe cases, a surgical correction plan might be required. In addition, dogs with this condition should never be bred.
Heart failure, often brought on by valvular disease, is one of the most common causes of death amongst small breeds such as Shorkies. This is particularly true for this cross breed because both Shih Tzu and Yorkshire risk developing heart problems.
Small dogs experience chronic degeneration of their heart valves. When the valves deteriorate, they no longer close correctly. As a result, the blood leaks around the valves and strains the heart.
Injury To Joints and Limbs
Since Shorkies have a fragile structure and tiny legs, this dog breed can easily hurt their joints and bones. It can happen upon impact or if they play rough with a much bigger dog and fall or get hit.
If you have another dog in the household or your Shorkie has a big playmate, it is possible to teach a big dog to be gentle with smaller dogs. The key is to start with basic obedience training and then move on to specific exercises that target gentleness. For example, you might teach your big dog to “sit” and “stay” while a small dog walks by.
Once your dog does this consistently, you can gradually increase the difficulty level by having the small dog walk closer and closer to a big dog.
Shih Tzus have small mouths, which can lead to the development of misaligned, overcrowded, and missing teeth. Similarly, Shorkies are prone to experience the same issue. Moreover, Shorkies inherit periodontal diseases.
Some common signs of dental problems in Shorkies include:
- Bad breath
- Discoloration of teeth
- Loss of appetite
- Visible tartar accumulation
- Inflamed gums
- Bleeding gums
- Swollen face
Fortunately, there are several steps that dog owners can take to keep their furry friend’s teeth healthy. One of the most important things is to brush regularly. Daily brushing is ideal, but even a few times a week can make a big difference. It’s also essential to use the right toothbrush and toothpaste.
A soft-bristled brush and dog-specific toothpaste are gentle enough for delicate canine gums. Also, provide plenty of dental chews and bones to keep your Shorkie’s teeth healthy and your shoes safe!
In addition, regular dental checkups and cleanings can help prevent dental disease in dogs.
Both Yorkshire Terriers and Shih Tzu are predisposed to experiencing this disease, making Shorkies prone to developing it. This serious health problem in small breed dogs happens with an overproduction of cortisol, the stress hormone. With increased cortisol, dogs might develop other health conditions such as kidney damage or diabetes.
In a Shorkie, this disease occurs when there is a malignant or benign tumor in the pituitary gland. Symptoms of Cushing’s disease include:
- Excessive thirst or drinking
- Increased appetite
- Thinning of the skin
- Frequent urination
- Muscle weakness
It is imperative to be attentive to these signs to attain timely diagnoses.
Similar to other small breeds, Shorkies might suffer episodes of low blood glucose. It is due to their meager reserves of vital sugar in the muscle tissues and liver. This can lead to indications of depression or even loss of consciousness, which should be treated with emergency glucose infusion and regular force-feeding.
Obesity or excessive body fat is a common yet preventable disease experienced by dogs. This common nutritional disorder should be treated quickly to prevent other illnesses. If you are unsure how much food, what, or when to feed your furry friend, it is imperative to talk to your vet for guidance. Moreover, you must inquire about how to maintain a healthy Shorkie weight.
Obesity in Shorkies can also lead to other problems such as:
Diabetes – The pancreas will fail to secrete sufficient insulin to control blood glucose levels
Heart disease – Triggered due to high cholesterol levels
Arthritis – Weight can cause joint problems like arthritis which will directly impact mobility, making it even harder for your pet to lose weight
Choosing The Right Diet for Your Shorkie
To keep your Shorkie in the top form, it is essential to ensure proper feeding and nutrition. This breed needs to be fed a high-quality and well-balanced dry kibble diet. Remember, you are what you eat!
Here are some tips to ensure a high-quality life for your four-legged companion:
Trusted Pet Food Brand
The kibble you choose for a small dog like Shorkie should be specifically formulated for active small breeds. Opting for companies with good reputations when choosing dog food is also imperative.
These companies will ensure premium ingredients such as a high percentage of lean meat and the inclusion of minerals and vitamins. As a result, your pup will grow with the proper nutrients, allowing them to lead a happy and healthy life.
When you choose no-name and cheap brands, they will usually offer plant-based protein and will be packed with fillers. Even though this cheap food will save you money, it could cause painful health conditions in your dog.
Regardless of the breed, it is imperative to choose food that is age-appropriate for your Shorkie. You must remember that puppies, adults, and senior Shorkies have varying dietary requirements. If you are unsure, consult your vet to ensure that you give your dog the right food for their age. Moreover, see if the food you opted for suits their belly.
Even though you can add canned or cooked dog food, dry food is essential to a Shorkies diet. This breed is predisposed to experience oral health issues like tooth loss, gum disease, or tooth decay. Dry kibble is healthy and will prevent these dental problems. Along with selecting the right food, you will need a doggie brush or toys to clean the mouth.
Determine the Quantity
It doesn’t require much for a Shorkie to gain weight. Obesity poses a higher risk for small breeds such as Shorkies because their fragile structure cannot handle extra fat, and excessive weight can lead to joint issues and all kinds of complications.
For this reason, you must NEVER overfeed your Shorkie. You can get recommendations from your vet or rely upon the manufacturer’s suggestions regarding serving size. Typically, a Shorkie is supposed to have a cup or cup and a half kibble. You can divide this quantity into two meals to provide your Shorkie with small amounts of energy throughout the day.
All dogs need exercise, even little ones like Shorkies. A nice 20 to 40-minute walk should be enough to keep your Shorkie happy, and if you have a yard, even better! However, Shorkies are small dogs with modest energy levels, so they can also be happy in apartments as long as they get enough physical and mental stimulation.
Shorkies are not lazy lap dogs but can adjust quickly to your routine once their basic walking needs are met. They will understand any cues for additional exercise and won’t mind indoor activities such as tug of war and playing fetch.
Shorkies will suit many households, even those with sedentary owners or seniors. However, be sure to provide plenty of playtime and exercise, as a bored Shorkie can be a nightmare!
Shorkies are energetic, fun-loving dogs blessed with generally good health and a relatively long lifespan. You’ll have many happy years with your Shorkie if you choose to adopt one!
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