Congrats to you for choosing to own a Shih Tzu, they are great companions. The Shih Tzu is a very popular Toy Breed because of their loving easy-going temperament. Originating from Tibet they are one of the oldest breeds in existence today and were bread solely as a companion dog. In other words, they are lap dogs that love to be spoiled. The breed also requires frequent grooming to maintain it’s gorgeous long coat. In this article about grooming Shih Tzus, I will help you learn how to care for your little fur baby.
The Shih Tzu Coat
According to the American Kennel Club, the Shih Tzu should have a double coat that is long and dense. Due to poor breeding and overbreeding some Shih Tzus now have sparse coats, single coats, and/or curly coats. But the fact remains that the hair of the Shih Tzu tangles and mats easily. Because of this, they require daily brushing and combing to prevent the hair from tangling and matting.
Needed Tools and Supplies
Before you begin to groom your pup make sure you have everything you need at arm’s length. This will help to make the grooming process go much smoother.
- Metal Comb
- Slicker brush
- Pin brush
- Grooming Table with Noose (optional)
- Blow Dryer
- Force Dryer (optional)
- Clippers and Blades
- Grooming Scissors
- Nail trimmers and file
- Dog Toothbrush
- Shampoo and Conditioner
- Medicated Ear Powder
- Styptic Powder
- Ear Wash
- Dog Toothpaste
- Q-tips and Cotton Balls
- Latex Grooming Bands
Grooming Shih Tzus – Step-By-Step
Step #1: Brush and comb your Shih Tzu daily using a spray-on detangler and conditioner when needed. Make the brushing session an enjoyable one, take brakes when needed and always reward your dog for good behavior.
Step #2: Get your pup ready for the bath by giving him/her a thought brush out. Never bathe a matted or tangled coated dog, it will result in mats that are to tight to brush out.
Step #3: Before bathing, trim the nails and pluck the hair from inside the ears.
Step #4: Next shave the pads, butt, and belly with a #10 blade. You can also use a #40 blade on the pads to them nice and clean.
Step #5: Your pup is now ready for a bath. Place your dog in the tub then clean the ears with an ear wash, clean under the eyes using a fine-toothed comb to remove tearing build-up, and brush his/her teeth. I find these things easier to do when the dog is in the tub but this is up to your personal preference.
Step #6: Wet your dog down with lukewarm water and begin to shampoo. Rince and condition then rinse again. The most important part of the bath is the rinse, make sure to rinse thoroughly.
For more instructions on Bathing, Ear cleaning, Nail trimming, and Brushing, please visit Grooming Needs for Every Breed!
Step #7: Using your hands gently squeeze excess water off your dog then towel dry. Extra towels may be needed to remove as much water as possible, this will save you drying time.
Step #8: Complete the drying process with a Force dryer and/or a Hand dryer. Brush with a Pin brush as you blow dry (this process will be much easier to accomplish if you have a dryer holder). Keep drying until your Shih Tzus coat is completely dry.
Step #9: The standard Shih Tzu trim involves trimming the feet only. Hold your dog’s paw on the table, lift the long hairs on the legs, comb out the hair around the feet, then trim into a perfect circle all the way around.
Step #10: Now it’s time to give your fur baby the finishing touch! Starting at the neck, make a straight part down the back to the base of the tail. Comb so the hair is laying flat and flowing downwards.
Step #11: Next is making the Top Knot, there are several different ways to make a Top Knot on a Shih Tzu. I am going to show you the basic and most common way. The woman in this video is using her fingers to make the part, I use a comb for this. You can use whatever you feel more comfortable using. Finish up the Top Knot with a cute bow. These can be found in our Pet Boutique. Wala, you now have a well-groomed Shih Tzu. Give yourself a pat on the back and reward your dog for a job well done.
The following steps are for people who want to give their Shih Tzu a full haircut.
You will need clipper snap-on combs and/or a #4, #5, or #7 blade. This will depend on the desired length you want for your dog’s hair. The two most common haircuts for Shih Tzus are the Saddle cut and the Puppy cut also known as the Teddybear cut.
Step #12 The Saddle Cut: Choose a snap-on-comb for the desired length. Place the snap-on over a #10 or #15 blade. If you desire a shorter cut you can use a #4F or #5 F blade. Starting between the ears cut down the back to the tail. You will be cutting the entire saddle area and around the neck blending it into the skirt and legs. You may need to go over the saddle several times to get the look you want. Don’t worry, you will get better and faster each time you groom your pup. Now it’s time to scissor the skirt, legs, and face to the length you desire. You also have the option of leaving the Top Knot or trimming the hair over the eyes to form bangs. The video below shows a Shih Tzu with a Saddle cut and bangs.
Step #13 The Puppy Cut: This cut is also known as the Teddybear cut. With this cut, you will be using a snap-on-comb over the entire body and legs. Choose the size for the desired length and go over the entire body, legs, and around the neck. If you wish to go really short you can use a #4F or #5F blade. Continue cutting with the snap-on comb to make the hair as even as possible. Once you are done with the clippers get your scissors out to even everything up. Comb the hair as you scissor to get a nice clean look. The puppy cut usually does not have a Top Knot but that again is up to you.
For more tips on grooming please visit How to Groom a Long Haired Dog!
If you are new to grooming your Shih Tzu remember that it takes time and patience. Keep following my tips and you will get better and better each time you groom your dog. Before you know it your Shih Tzu will look like he/she just came home from a professional grooming parlar.
Always reward your dog with love and a treat to promote good behavior!
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Happy Shih Tzu grooming,