Thursday, April 19, 2007

Shih Tzu Eating Feces: Why?

If your Shih Tzu eats its own feces as well as the feces of its companions do not be alarmed and feel as though you have gotten a Shih Tzu from a breeder that was not reputable or some other cause. Behavioral research now says the idea that it is a dietary deficiency or a pancreatic enzyme deficiency is not even the source. Dogs in general are historically scavengers and this is believed to be a scavenger behavior.

I cannot believe how some people who have purchased Shih Tzu will call me immediately and announce: “that dog eats its feces,” or some other negative sounding remark about the Shih Tzu in particular and often they are also referring to me as the breeder as something “guile” now that they witness “that dog eats its feces.” I am forever amazed at how people do not realize dogs and Shih Tzu are “animals,” and they will all have traits peculiar to what people would do. Of course, no human in their right mind would ever eat feces, although this has occurred in the human race as well.
A human eating feces, however, is very abnormal and is a reason to seek help for that individual as soon as possible. A human that eats feces is definitely mentally disturbed. Dogs are animals. They are not humans regardless of how much people domesticate them, they are still animals and will always carry some of their animal instincts with them wherever they go, and for as long as they live.

It is important for Shih Tzu owners and other dog owners to know this behavior is normal for a mother Shih Tzu or mother dog with puppies. Newborn puppies have to learn to urinate and defecate. They are not born able to eliminate their wastes automatically as human babies are.
Honestly, sometimes I feel like saying if you cannot accept that the Shih Tzu is an animal and accept some of its ways as being normal to this fact, then you need to adopt you a real live baby instead of adopting the Shih Tzu or other dogs and then being angry at the dog or the Shih Tzu or the breeder for that dog’s animalistic behaviors. I have even had people to tell me: “since that dog ate its feces, I have been turned against it,” and I sure don’t want that dog kissing me after knowing it eats feces.” Well, if you are a person such as this, you don’t need to adopt a Shih Tzu or any other kind of a puppy. Stay away from them, and if you must adopt something, adopt a human baby. But, I warn you, there will be problems with that as well.

Not everyone is able to be a Shih Tzu owner or dog owner. For those of us able to bear some of these less tasteful annoyances, hooray for us, because there is so much more to enjoy about the Shih Tzu and being a dog owner than there are those things that are negative.

A mother Shih Tzu licks the bottoms of their newborns. This licking stimulates the newborn to urinate and defecate. The Shih Tzu mother then consumes the newborn puppies’ excrement, which in the dog kingdom and as order of Mother Nature serves two protective purposes which are:

• It keeps the den area clean
• It removes smells that could attract a predator

A lot of Shih Tzu puppies and other breeds of puppies learn the behavior of eating feces from their mother and will stimulate themselves and consume their own feces. A person could go a little further and speculate the puppy is continuing the tradition of its mother to keep itself and its environment clean and to help ward off predators from its immediate environment. In the doggie kingdom, this would be considered “highly intelligent” behavior, rather than something so very awful and disgusting as it is in the world of humans. Most Shih Tzu puppies will eventually stop this behavior.

Adult Shih Tzu can learn this behavior from other adult Shih Tzu. In some cases it may also be an attention-seeking behavior, or due to anxiety or boredom. Animal behaviorist for the most part says though motivation for eating feces is just not known.

I have watched how my own Shih Tzu will follow me around when I am scooping feces, and some of them will try to get the feces up before I can get to it. In this case, I really feel they are playing a game with me, as if to say, I can get those feces before you get it. I can sit and look at the same section of feces, and nobody touches it, until I grab the scoop to get it, then there is a crew right there, ready to pick it up “first.” I call this behavior just plain “comical antics of the Shih Tzu.”

Eating feces is still a problem in that it exposes the Shih Tzu to parasites and diseases. The behavior is easier to prevent than cure. Do not allow the opportunity to arise. Keep the Shih Tzu’s area as clean as possible and dispose of feces promptly. This is probably the best possible solution for the problem.

You should also consult with your vet about other possible solutions to the Shih Tzu eating its own feces, and/or the feces of other dogs.

Author: Connie Limon, breeder of pet and show prospect Shih Tzu in a variety of colors. Website provides a wealth of information. Please visit us at and sign up for our newsletters. Puppies are sold with health guarantee and are bred from champion bloodlines. Visit our Shih Tzu Article collection for FREE reprints to your newsletter, website or blog at

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