Shih Tzu Grooming :A guide to groom your FurBaby.

The Shih Tzu is known for its regal long and shiny coat. It may be a popular look but those luxurious tresses are not easy to maintain. Some owners opt for the monthly grooming sessions. As the owner of a Shih Tzu the decision has to be made early on how the dog will be groomed. You have to ask yourself: will the hair be kept long or short? Is most of the grooming going to take place at home or will you be visiting a groomer? Find out here which option might be best for you for Shih Tzu Grooming.

Shih Tzu Grooming

What Makes the Shih Tzu Special

The Shih Tzu, a treasure since the early Chinese dynasties, is unusually strong for such a small breed; its name means “Lion Dog” and it is fitting.  Known for its adorable face, the Shih Tzu is up there on the list of most popular lap dogs and best kid-friendly dogs as they are both cuddly and active, depending on their moods and yours.  This breed also gets along well with other dogs and cats in the family.   The Shih Tzu breed definitely wins the Congeniality Award!

What Makes the Shih Tzu Special

The Shih Tzu is blessed with a beautiful double coat which comes in a variety of colors.  That beautiful coat will get matted and messy though, if left ungroomed.

Shih Tzu Grooming Styles

Shih Tzus can be groomed to look either sporty or elegantly sophisticated, and their hair can be straight or left curly.

There are seven different Shih Tzu styles:

The basic short clip “puppy cut” on a Shih Tzu gives it a sporty look and shows off its sturdy little body.   The hair is clipped down to about one to two inches throughout the body.  This puppy cut can be made a little longer if you are vigilant about daily brushing to avoid mats.  A puppy cut can be done with longer hair left on the ears to show off the silky nature of the Shih Tzu hair while keeping maintenance as low as possible.  And this cut can be further modified with even longer hair and facial hair to show off a fuller coat and body look.

Shih Tzu Grooming Styles

The hair on the face of the Shih Tzu can be rounded to form a “teddy bear cut,” while the overall length of hair on the Shih Tzu can be left either short or long.

Since the Shih Tzu has the capacity to grow long hair, a popular style for this breed is known as the “top knot.”  The hair on top of the head is left long, while the rest of the body is either short or longer.  The long hair on top is tied together to showcase the silky long hair feature, and to be fancier, it can be braided.   With this style, it is important to keep that long hair away from the face.

Moving away from the more practical cuts, the top knot style can be coupled with long hair throughout the Shih Tzu’s body in what is known as a “show cut.”   This stunning look is also high maintenance, as several brushings a day are required to prevent matting.

Shih Tzu’s body

There are, of course, may other styles for the Shih Tzu.  The hair around the eyes and chin can be trimmed while leaving the hair on the face longer to resemble a West Highland White Terrier.  Bangs are also a popular Shih Tzu look, but you will need to trim them often to keep your dog’s visibility clear.

How you groom your Shih Tzu is up to you.  It takes a year or longer for a short puppy cut to grow to a floor length coat.  And the longer the hair, the more brushing is required.

Grooming Your Dog At Home

The typical pet owner may love the signature long coat of the Shih Tzu, but cutting it shorter makes your pup easier to maintain. Long hair maintenance can get kind of pricey, that is one of the main perks of home grooming. Not only are you saving a pretty penny on the grooming bill but also on the transportation to get the little furball back and forth.

When it’s you doing the cutting, you have more control over styling just the way that you like it. Regular brushing and combing is required in between grooming. Daily maintenance is paramount to ward off a tangled coat. Home bubble baths are also a must to keep your Shih Tzu’s fur healthy.

Grooming a Shih Tzu

Keeping the clippings at home is also another way to bond with your pup. You can find that most dogs get nervous when it is time for a new hair cut. Being there for your dog during a potentially vulnerable time will inevitably bring you closer together. It can be done in the middle of the day when not much is happening around you or even late at night while you are both relaxed and comfortable. Either way, it’s a great idea to get your small dog used to being groomed on a hard surface like a table or countertop.

Shih Tzus can be full of energy so it is best to teach them good grooming habits as a puppy. It will keep the squirming down as they grow older. Take the time to use a higher surface as often as possible to get your dog more comfortable with being that distance from the floor. Constantly reassure them during this process to create a positive environment.

Shih Tzu Brushing

Perfect your home grooming routine by using one similar to the pros. Start by brushing and combing the dog to remove any loose hair from the inner and outer coat. This would also be the best time to detangle any matted hair before bathing. Much like you and I, your pup needs to be dried after bath time.

If Spot is sporting longer hair then it is best to blow it dry. It’s okay to use a brush, but only when the hair is damn. If it’s too wet you can be painful for your dog, while brushing dry hair causes it to easily break. It is best to use two types of brushes to keep the tangles away: a pin brush and a slick brush. Typically you can find a brush with both at any pet supply store. The versatile brush is used to penetrate through both the top and bottom coats to remove any matting while the slick brush smooths the top coat down and gives it that shine. Puppy combs can also be used to remove small tangles throughout the hair in conjunction with your fingers.

style your Shih Tzu

These combs also serve other purposes, they are great when used to keep the dog’s facial hair clean. Always be sure to mist with conditioning spray before brushing. If you can’t decide on which spray to use, put a small amount of regular pet conditioner in a spritzing bottle. Fill the remainder of the bottle with water. When you start brushing remember to work your way from the feet up, tackling one small section at a time. Pay special attention to the chest, neck and ears of your dog. These are areas that you might be finding more matted fur than anywhere else.

How often should I bathe my Shih Tzu

Bathing your Shih Tzu is the best time to get it all lathered up in products that will help its coat to shine. Your pup should be prancing in water and suds every three weeks unless your vet has suggested more frequent cleanings.

It’s best to avoid washing too frequently as to not to remove too much of the natural oils. However, don’t wait too long in between baths either. The longer the oils are left to build up on your Shih Tzu’s skin, the easier it becomes for the skin pores to clog. The dog can begin to scratch more frequently, smell and even have a greasier appearance.

How often should I bathe my Shih Tzu

It’s easier to give Shih Tzus a bath because of their small stature. Utilizing the kitchen sink or the bathtub as a washing station allows for easy access to all of your supplies during this process. You can usually find a bottle for spraying in both of these locations, too. That makes rinsing especially easy.

After all of your tools are set up and you’ve issued the pre-poo brushing session, plug your dog’s ears with cotton balls to keep water from getting into their ears. Water in the ears can lead to infections. Beware of stuffing the cotton too deeply, it is meant to stay shallow enough to block the water not stop a dam. Before you get started, put a slip resistant aid so that your small dog is not slipping and sliding around the entire time.

Wet the whole body, including the head, before you begin to lather. You’ll want to avoid getting anything in their eyes. Use a measuring cup to pour when you get to the facial area if it makes the water easier to manipulate. Ensure that the pre rinse has moistened the whole body before moving on. Choosing the right shampoo and conditioner duo plays a huge part in how your dog’s fur will look. Be sure to have a shampoo that removes the built up oils and whatever other dirt or debris can be found on a dog.

shih tzu

Steer clear of any shampoo with harsh low-grade ingredients listed. These things will surely strip the fur of moisture. You are even putting your pup at risk of having dry, irritated skin. Just as parabens and phosphates are not good chemicals for our skin, they can be hard to rinse from your Shih Tzu’s skin. If they ingest these chemicals it can even result in an upset stomach. Improper pH balanced shampoos can be an issue for Shih Tzu dogs. Try out something labeled specifically for sensitive skin, that should clear things up.

If the vet has let you know that your pet has some sort of allergy there are specially formulated shampoos that can still get them squeaky clean, safely. Conditioner seems like it would be an easy step to skip but when used in conjunction with shampoo it is vital to getting your dog’s hair show ready. However, there is one more step before the washing is considered complete, leave-in conditioning spritz. Using this spritz can definitely make a big difference in how your Shih Tzu looks and feels.

One of the more important functions for the spritz is to make up for any lack of moisture from the shampoo process. It can also be used as a coat refresher in between wash days, aiding in the elimination of knots and matting. Nail Clipping You may find your Shih Tzu doesn’t want to stop cuddling with the comfy drying towel after bath time, but the grooming isn’t over yet. Clipping a dog’s nails can seem like more of a tedious process than it truly is. Learning to take care of this at home saves time and money, especially because you may find that your pup’s nails are growing rather quickly due to their diet.

By this point you should make sure that your puppy is comfortable with you touching their paws during this process. Even if you have not had time to properly familiarize your Shih Tzu with this, be mindful to touch, pinch and rub their paws in your down time together. It may also be best to clip nails when your dog is relaxed or tires as you will get less resistance.

The major thing to look out for when clipping your own dog’s nails is the quick, the vein that runs through each nails. Depending upon the color of your dog’s nails you may not be able to see where the quick end and where it is safe to cut. I would recommend watching your groomer do this first or asking their suggestion on where the perfect place would be to begin clipping. There are a few kinds of clippers available the guillotine, scissors and battery powered grinder. If your dog has been groomed before, ask what style they have used before as your pup will already be familiar with the feeling and may be more comfortable.

How do I clean my dog’s ears to prevent dirty dog ears?

Inside the Shih Tzu’s ear canal is a the perfect environment for bacteria and ear mites to grow. Both of these things have the potential to lead to infection which is miserable for everyone involved.

shih tzu ear

Cleaning your pup’s ears may not be the easiest thing to do to control odor, wax buildup and overgrown hair. Gathering all of the materials before you begin can cut down on the unpleasantness for you and your pup. There are only a few supplies needed clean cotton swabs, mineral oils or ear cleaner and ear powder. Wet your cotton ball with your cleaning solution and gently wipe the ear until the cotton swab comes up clean. Be prepared for a few head shakes that will send excess liquid flying. Due to the way a Shih Tzu’s ear is configured it is very easy for debris to get caught in the hair and create a breeding ground for bacteria. Most dogs are not fond of ear hair removal because it can be uncomfortable. Sprinkle in a bit of ear powder, spreading it around the entire canal. Most of the ear hear you will be able to pull out with your fingers, but if it is more difficult tweezers can be used. Curved hemostats tend to work best for this. Be mindful not to catch any skin when you are plucking, that could slow the process down as your dog may become fearful.

Shih  Tzu Teeth Cleaning

It’s easy to think that you can bypass brushing your dog’s teeth, except when it gets a little too funky during your daily kisses. Your Shih Tzu’s dental health is a part of their overall wellbeing. A yearly cleaning with your vet is alway recommended but good oral hygiene can start with you. Start slow and use a soft toothbrush to minimize bleeding gums. Also, this should go without saying but NEVER use any toothpaste aside from those specially formulated for dogs.

Utilize treat time as a time to freshen up those teeth. Invest in higher quality dental chews and breath fresheners to give to your dog daily. These treats can help keep plaque and tartar buildup under control. They will never know that these delicious goodies are actually beneficial to them. Plus, who doesn’t like fresh breath?!

Cutting the coat of a Shih Tzu

The options are unlimited when you are cutting your own Shih Tzu’s hair. Remember, all Shih Tzu’s are not created equally. A cut that you may see on another pup might not work for yours depending upon their frame, fur thickness and a number of other factors. Most Shih Tzu owners are a fan of the cute top knot. It is relatively easy to grow out this section of hair and pull it up with a rubber band. It’s completely up to you, have one ponytail or two, maybe even a bun!

Cutting the coat of a Shih Tzu

We’ve already established that long show coats are regal but really tedious to maintain. It’s easy to opt for the short cut or get the best of both worlds by allowing the length to vary by the season. However you choose to let them sport their hair there are three methods to maintain it: clippers, scissors and shears. Two speed clippers are recommended with a variety of blades. Number 3, 4, 5, 7, 10 and/or 30 might be be best. Choosing any blade 3-7 is good for overall body trimming. Number 10 should be used when getting close to sanity areas and footpads. Clippers have a tendency to heat up quickly, to avoid burning your pooch have some blade coolant on hand. Andis is a trusted brand that generally works well for all grooming needs.

You’ve got all of the tools necessary to have the prettiest pup in town. Happy grooming!