Shih Tzus are small dogs with long, flowing coats that require a great deal of care. Though many family pets are kept in short coats all year, those that are not clipped must be groomed frequently, to ensure that their hair doesn’t mat, and care must be taken to keep it out of their mouths and eyes. It’s best to get Shih Tzu puppies used to grooming from an early age, since they need to be brushed frequently throughout their lives. According to the expert groomers at the Shih Tzu Club, these dogs should never have their long coats groomed dry, but should always be sprayed with an appropriate coat conditioner when they are brushed.
The Shih Tzu’s long coat requires frequent brushing to keep it clean and tangle-free. If your dog has a topknot, start at the top of the dog’s head, undoing the topknot before brushing. Using a combination of a bristle brush and a comb, gently comb out the hair on the top of the head, paying particular attention to the ears, where mats tend to form. When all the hair is smooth, carefully use scissors to keep stray bits of hair from hanging in your Shih Tzu’s eyes. Also shorten the hair around the dog’s mouth, since Shih Tzus that have long hair in this area end up with faces that are constantly dirty, and the hair gets in their mouths when they eat and drink.
The owners of Shih Tzus with long, flowing hair typically gather their pets’ hair into a top knot as part of the grooming process. This lets the dogs keep their long hair, but holds it back out of their faces. There are many variations on the top knot, allowing you to get as fancy as you wish, and some owners go so far as to use French braids or other fancy styles as a way of keeping the hair out of their dogs’ faces. For most people, though, a simple top knot works well. Carefully gather all of the hair growing from the top of the dog’s head and bring it together on top, then hold it together with a rubber band, just like a human’s ponytail. Make sure not to pull the hair too tightly, since that can hurt your dog.
Shih Tzus may develop discolored areas around their eyes from normal eye discharge. The best way to prevent this is to develop a daily grooming ritual for your Shih Tzu, wiping gently around the eyes with a damp cloth. If the fur becomes stained and the color won’t wipe off, the discolorations can be removed with an over-the-counter oral preparation or commercial tear-stain treatment applied to the affected areas. Persistent red or brown stains may be a sign of a red yeast infection or other problem and require veterinary attention. If you choose to try one of the many home remedies that some people insist will work, check with your veterinarian first, since some of these do no good and others can even be harmful to your dog.
Use a comb and bristle brush to work through your Shih Tzu’s entire coat, including legs and feet, removing any mats or tangles that you find. If you encounter any mats, gently work them out with your fingers and the bristles on the brush. While brushing, pay particular attention to the areas where the dog’s legs join the body, around the neck, and on the chest. Divide the coat as you go, so that you are combing right down to the skin. Also check the hair in the tail area for cleanliness, and if feces is sticking to the hair it should be carefully trimmed. Clip your Shih Tzu’s toenails carefully with a guillotine-type nail clipper. If you cut them too short -- if you hit the quick -- they will bleed. A professional groomer can cut your Shih Tzu's toenails properly if you are uncomfortable performing this function.
Not all grooming sessions require bathing, but Shih Tzus do require a bath on a regular basis. The frequency depends on their living conditions, but show dogs are generally bathed every week, while family pets only need a bath when they are dirty. Bathe them after brushing, since bathing can make mats and tangles worse. Place dogs in a tub and wash them with warm water, lather them well with shampoo made for dogs, and rinse very thoroughly, since any shampoo left in the coat will cause the hair to appear dull and can also cause itchy, flaky skin. Use a coat conditioner once the dogs are well-rinsed, and leave some in the coat to help prevent tangles. Wrap Shih Tzus in a towel to dry, and replace the wet towels with dry ones two or more times, to absorb as much water as possible. To finish the drying process, use a blow drier on the coat while combing through it, leaving the coat silky and flowing.
7 Shih Tzu Haircuts
If you’re lucky enough to have a Shih Tzu dog or puppy, you know the breed is known for their playful and affectionate personality. You also know that their coat--which naturally hangs straight down like a big mop--can shed heavily, tangle easily, and be uncomfortable for your pet. It can even cause overheating in warmer temperatures, which is dangerous to your pet’s health. This is because Shih Tzus have a long, double coat that can trap heat and requires diligent grooming. The answer? These Shih Tzu haircuts.
The Shih Tzu haircut you choose can reflect their unique personality. Their hair grows quickly, and should be trimmed every 4-6 weeks, so you (and maybe your groomer) can try out different looks and lengths for your pet. This article will help guide you towards the right trim for your dog’s personality and lifestyle.
The Puppy Cut
The puppy cut, which can also be called the summer cut since it helps keep your dog from overheating in warm temperatures, is one of the most popular and easy to maintain Shih Tzu cuts. With the puppy cut, your dog’s hair is trimmed to 1-2 inches all over. Although the puppy cut still requires regular brushing to avoid knots and tangles, it’s a more practical option than some other cuts. You can play with the length of ear and chest coat and feathering for different looks within the puppy cut.
A short-cropped puppy cut with short ears is one of the lowest maintenance cuts:
A variation on the above is a short-cropped puppy cut with longer ears:
Here is a longer puppy cut with a fuller chest and coat:
The Teddy Bear Cut
Named for the way it helps your dog resemble an adorable stuffed animal, the teddy bear cut refers to creating a fluffy, rounded face shape for your Shih Tzu. It refers only to the shape of the face hair, so it can be paired with any length of puppy cut.
The “Practical” Top Knot
The top knot is one of the most recognizable Shih Tzu haircuts. The top knot is formed by gathering some of your pet’s hair together at the ball or apex of the head and then gently securing it with a clip, ribbon, or tie. Some owners may even choose to creatively braid the hair back. The hair in the knot will cascade down from the clip, and the rest of their body hair can be kept trimmed neatly, at least one inch from the skin. It’s important to keep the hair clear of your dog’s eyes and mouth. In this instance, the body hair is kept on the long side:
The Top Knot Show Cut
This cut is similar to the practical top knot, except this is a very high maintenance cut usually reserved for show dogs. With this cut, all of the dog’s hair is left long and flowing. And to avoid tangles and keep the shine, the coat must be brushed several times a day. This is not a practical cut, and can leave your dog overheated in day to day activity.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should a Shih Tzu be groomed?
Shih Tzus require regular grooming to keep their coat healthy and free of mats and tangles. The frequency of grooming depends on the length and style of their coat, as well as their lifestyle and activity level. Generally, a Shih Tzu should be groomed at least once a week, but some may need grooming every few days. If the Shih Tzu has a longer coat that is kept in a show-style cut, it may require daily brushing and grooming to prevent matting and tangles. If the Shih Tzu has a shorter, more manageable coat, it may only need grooming once every two weeks. In addition to brushing and combing, grooming a Shih Tzu also includes bathing, trimming the hair around the eyes, ears, and paws, and clipping their nails. Regular grooming not only keeps your Shih Tzu looking and feeling great but also helps to maintain their overall health and well-being.
What kind of grooming does a Shih Tzu need?
Shih Tzus have long, thick hair that requires regular grooming to prevent matting and tangles. Shih Tzus should be brushed daily to prevent mats and tangles. Use a slicker brush and a metal comb to remove any tangles or mats. Regular brushing will also distribute the natural oils in their coat, keeping it healthy and shiny. Shih Tzus should be bathed every three to four weeks or as needed. Use a mild dog shampoo and conditioner, and avoid getting water in their ears. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and dry them completely to prevent skin irritations. Shih Tzus need regular trimming to maintain their coat's length and style. The hair around their eyes, ears, and paws should be trimmed to prevent matting and improve visibility. Shih Tzus' nails should be trimmed regularly to prevent them from getting too long and causing discomfort or injury. Trim them once every two weeks or as needed. Shih Tzus are prone to dental problems, so they need regular dental care. Brush their teeth daily with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste or use dental chews to keep their teeth clean.
Can I groom my Shih Tzu myself?
Yes, you can groom your Shih Tzu yourself. However, it is important to have the right tools and knowledge to groom your Shih Tzu properly. You will need a slicker brush, metal comb, scissors, clippers, nail clippers, and dog shampoo and conditioner. If you are unsure how to groom your Shih Tzu, consider consulting with a professional groomer or veterinarian for guidance. They can provide tips and advice on how to groom your Shih Tzu properly.
Is it OK to bathe Shih Tzu every day?
No, it is not necessary or recommended to bathe your Shih Tzu every day. In fact, bathing your Shih Tzu too frequently can strip their skin and coat of natural oils, which can lead to dryness, irritation, and other skin problems. Shih Tzus typically need to be bathed every three to four weeks or as needed. However, if your Shih Tzu gets particularly dirty or smelly, you may need to bathe them more often. When you bathe your Shih Tzu, use a mild dog shampoo and conditioner and rinse them thoroughly to avoid skin irritations. If you need to freshen up your Shih Tzu between baths, you can use a dry shampoo or wipes designed for dogs. These products can help remove dirt and odor without the need for a full bath.
How many times a day is a Shih Tzu supposed to eat?
Shih Tzus should be fed small, frequent meals throughout the day to help maintain their blood sugar levels and prevent hypoglycemia, a condition that can occur in small breed dogs. Typically, a Shih Tzu should eat three to four small meals a day. The amount of food your Shih Tzu needs depends on their age, weight, and activity level. Puppies may need to be fed more frequently, while adult Shih Tzus may only need to be fed twice a day. When feeding your Shih Tzu, it's important to choose high-quality dog food that meets their nutritional needs. Avoid giving them table scraps or human food, as these can be high in fat and calories and can cause digestive upset or obesity.
References & Resources
Shih Tzu Club: Care & Grooming of the Shih TzuAll Shih Tzu: Shih Tzu Tear StainsAmerican Shih Tzu Club: Grooming the Companion Dog
More on Shih Tzus
About the Shih TzuShih Tzu Training SecretsRaw Food Diet for a Shih TzuShih Tzu Information: Health