What is Shih Tzu Coprophagia and Should Pet Owners Be Worried?

What is Shih Tzu Coprophagia and Should Pet Owners Be Worried?

Are you aware that there is a condition called Shih Tzu Coprophagia? Shih Tzus are one of the most adorable breeds. This breed loves to cuddle and can be trained with positive reinforcement techniques. However, this breed is susceptible to coprophagia, or eating poop. Coprophagia is one of the most disgusting behaviors in all of animal behaviors, yet it’s also surprisingly common among dogs with certain genetic predispositions. Coprophagia is not typically harmful for Shih Tzus but it does need to be monitored so your pup doesn’t develop an intestinal parasite due to ingesting fecal matter!

What is Shih Tzu Coprophagia? Learn more here on why this behavior occurs and how you can help your pup overcome this condition!

What is Shih Tzu Coprophagia?

Coprophagia is a behavior in which the dog ingests the feces of their own or another animal. This is typically done through eating poop, but can also be done by licking or ingesting fecal matter off their paws. Despite this disgusting act, it’s actually normal to find dogs engaging in coprophagia behaviors every once in a while. However, it’s important to watch out for any signs of negative effects because this condition can result in intestinal parasites, gastrointestinal upset, or malnutrition if the behavior is not treated

What is Shih Tzu Coprophagia?
Photo by Christine Jane

Why Do Shih Tzus Engage in Coprophagia?

We may never know why dogs engage in coprophagia behaviors specifically since they can be difficult to monitor in canine behaviors. However, there are a few reasons why dogs tend to become attracted to consuming feces.

Coprophagia is Learned

Shih Tzu Coprophagia behavior is often developed through repeated exposure and reinforcement of the behavior in the dog’s environment. This means that if your Shih Tzu pup is exposed to coprophagia through watching another dog in the household doing it, they’re likely to learn that this behavior is acceptable.

Coprophagia Can Be a Sign of Gastrointestinal Disorders

If your Shih Tzu begins consuming feces out of nowhere, it may be a sign of malnutrition or parasites. Symptoms of gastrointestinal upset include lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea. If your pup is consuming feces on a regular basis it’s important to monitor their stool for parasites if they’re not currently up-to-date with preventative products.

Coprophagia Behavior May Be the Result of Dominance or Aggression Towards Other Dogs

If your pup consistently consumes poop after another dog has done their business, it might be a sign of dominance and aggression. This is often seen in large breed dogs but can also occur among Shih Tzus. If you notice that your pup is only consuming poop after they see other dogs doing so, this may indicate issues with dominance. This behavior is less common but should be monitored if your pup exhibits this sign.

What Can I Do About Shih Tzu Coprophagia?

Coprophagia is a difficult behavior to treat because it’s often learned or reinforced through exposure. Consider keeping a diary of your dog’s copraphagic behaviors, noting the frequency and duration for a few days so you can monitor the behavior. If you’re able to identify an environmental cause, it may be possible to manage your pup’s exposure to that trigger.

However, if your Shih Tzu is engaging in coprophagia because of underlying gastrointestinal issues or dominance aggression, this behavior will likely continue unless these underlying issues are treated. If you’ve determined that this is caused by parasites or malnutrition, it’s important to visit your vet for an examination and products to manage these issues!

What are the Effects of Shih Tzu Coprophagia?

Although coprophagia isn’t directly harmful for your pup, if they develop intestinal parasites or other gastrointestinal disorders as a result of this behavior it can be uncomfortable for your pup and potentially dangerous.

If your Shih Tzu is suffering from malnutrition due to coprophagia, they may begin suffering from additional consequences such as diarrhea or weight loss.

If your pup is engaging in coprophagia because of dominance aggression towards other dogs, this can lead to fights among your dogs or conflicts with other pets in the household.

If you notice that coprophagia is becoming a common behavior for your Shih Tzu, it’s important to take steps towards resolving this issue before it becomes more severe!

Shih Tzu Coprophagia Prevention

The best way to prevent coprophagia is to monitor their stool for parasites, illness, or other problems that may be causing them to eat feces.

Coprophagia can also be caused by dietary sensitivities or allergies, nutritional deficiencies, parasites, intestinal disease, lack of proper grooming resulting in impacted anal glands that are infected or painful to touch (and releasing foul-smelling material), endocrine diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, Addison’s Disease or Cushing’s syndrome, and diseases affecting the organs of elimination such as liver or kidney disease.

In some cases, this may also be behavior learned from the mother during early puppyhood if she’s eating feces. In this case, it may be possible to manage your Shih Tzu pup’s exposure to their mother until they’re weaned and on a proper diet.

Coprophagia is common among all dogs, so finding ways to manage your pup’s stool can be beneficial. For example, if you notice that Fido starts eating their poop around the time they’re receiving deworming medication, ask your vet about using an alternate deworming product that may not cause this behavior. If your dog is eating their stool because their anal glands are impacted, consider having them checked by your vet to see if this is the underlying cause.

Coprophagia Treatment Options

The best way to get your Shih Tzu to stop eating feces is by using positive reinforcement training. Give them the treat only when they are not licking or chewing on any fecal matter. They need 100% attention when it comes to getting a reward for their good behavior!

Coprophagia and Dogs of All Ages

Shih Tzus prefer their own stool to strange stools, so it’s usually not harmful. However, coprophagia can cause a Shih Tzu to become seriously ill if they ingest feces from other animals that may be carrying parasites or pathogens. It is especially dangerous for puppies and elderly dogs as well as those with compromised immune systems. They should be supervised when outside to reduce the risk of coming into contact with unscooped pet waste left by neighbors’ pets (which often contain dewormers and flea treatments).


The best way to deal with coprophagia is by understanding the root cause. If you are noticing that your Shih Tzu has an unusual appetite for feces, there may be a medical reason behind this behavior. However, if not addressed early on, it can lead to serious health consequences like death or parasites in their stomachs. Be sure to contact your vet first before trying any of these treatments on your own and remember that prevention is always better than treatment!


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