HERNIA OR DELAYED CLOSURE?
Delayed closures are very common in the Shih Tzu breed. A lot of "hernias" are actually delayed clsure of the umbilical or inguinal (groin) area. We call it a hernia because at that time that is what it is. If the "hernia" is small you can't tell the difference if it is a true hernia or a delayed closure. If, as the puppy gets older, the hernia is getting better then most likely it is just a delayed closure. Sometimes a breeder just knows based on years of experience. It is not uncommon for an umbilical hernia not to close but mostly all are simply cosmetic and do not cause any health concerns. They can be stitched for a minimal cost at the time of spay. Again, I don't recommend the pup going through a separate surgery for this. Almost all "inguinal hernias" are delayed closures and require no medical help.
True inguinal hernias are actually rare in Shih Tzu. Almost all are completely healed (closed) by 4-6 months old.
Umbilical hernias are of little concern and are very common in this breed. I can usually tell by 4-7 weeks old if a pup has one and I will let you know. Some will close by 6 months of age if they are actually just a delayed closure and very small. If it is large then it can easily be repaired when the puppy is spayed/neutered. An umbilical hernia is usually a small soft bump where your puppy's umbilical cord was (belly button) and for some reason the muscle never closed. There are a couple of reasons why this could happen. Somes the moms have a hard time biting the cord because of their flat faces and underbite so they will tug a lot. Sometimes the pup needs a little pulling to help get it out therefore tugging on the cord. I cut the cords myself to try and limit the number I get but the mom's still try to get at the left over piece. Very rarely are they a cause for concern.
You can not tell if a puppy has a true hernia until they are at least 5-6 months old. They are delayed closures most of the time.
An inguinal hernia is the result of abdominal organs, fat or tissue protruding through the inguinal ring. Inguinal hernias are skin-covered bulges in the groin area. They can be vilateral, involving both sides or unilateral, involving one side. Most will shrink and disappear as the pup grows. It is good to push the tissue back into the cavity a couple times a day. As with an umbilical hernia if it doesn't close by the time the pup is spayed you can have it done at that time.