Grooming a Shih Tzu Puppy:  Supplies and Proceedures

by Janice Jones     |Last updated 01-08-2024

Grooming a Shih Tzu Puppy is Part of a Series of articles that are designed to aid the Shih Tzu Lover who wants to taking on all the grooming tasks at home.  On this page, I will describe the types of supplies you will need, why they are needed and even some optional items that are nice to have. 

Look for the links at the end of each section for additional information about how each task is done.  Some already have video tutorials and for those that do not, I am in the process of producing them.  Happy Grooming


Grooming a Shih Tzu Puppy:  Puppies are more receptive to grooming when tired. 

Supplies and Procedures for Grooming a Shih Tzu Puppy

You will need to purchase a few basic supplies for your new Shih Tzu puppy grooming routine.  While it is much easier to purchase little brushes and combs, it is also fine to start with adult sized tools.  Your choice.

Just about all basic tools can be purchased in miniature.  I found this out by going to the small animal section of my local pet store.  By small animals, I talking about guinea pigs and hamsters. Who would have thought to get inspiration from a Guinea Pig!

First Grooming Tools and Supplies To Purchase

Here is a list to get you started.  You will no doubt pick up more items as your puppy matures. I will explain each along with a short reason for why you need them.

  • Brushes:  Pin and/or slicker brush
  • Metal comb
  • Nail Clippers and Assessories
  • Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Spray on Conditioner
  • Tooth brush and tooth paste
  • Small pair of scissors
  • Cotton balls or soft cloth
  • Ear Powder and Cleaner
  • Blow Dryer

Grooming a Shih Tzu Puppy:   Brushes

Your puppy’s first brush can be a pin or bristle brush and slicker brush. I prefer pin brushes because they are the most versatile. These brushes can be used to brush the entire coat from head to toe. Pin brushes are not the best choice for the hair around the face and under the eyes. It’s easy to slip and hurt the eyes. For that area, I recommend a comb or a bristle brush. 

Pin brushes have metal pins with little rounded ends to prevent them from being sharp. They are good for brushing out small tangles and can go through both the top and under coat. Some pin brushes come with a bristle brush on the other side. Size of the pins does matter. The longer pins work best on dogs with long coats and shorter pins will be fine for those medium coats or even on dogs that have been trimmed short.

You can brush in both directions with and against the grain of the hair. If your puppy is squeamish around any part of the body, just lay the brush against that part, speaking calming. When you feel him relax, brush the hair gently. It is always better to go slow at first and gain his trust.

Slicker brushes can be used to finish the coat, give it added fluff and shine. I will often use a slicker and brush against the direction of the hair growth to give the puppy extra fluff.

These brushes have little metal bristles used to smooth out the hair after using the pin brush. They can also be used to remove mats from long coats. Some slicker brushes also come with a self-cleaning option that allows you to push a button and the hair will be lifted up allowing you to remove the hair quickly and easily from the brush.

Since these bristles are very sharp, you should not use them around the dog’s eyes. It is better to use the metal or steel comb on the mustache and beard. 

Whichever brush you choose, always spray the coat first with a conditioner or detangling spray. This protects the hair and gives it an extra shine.

How often to use?  --Daily to several times per week

More Information on Dog Brushes


Always Spray the Hair with a Leave On Conditioner before Brushing.  Brushing Dry Hair will break and Split the Hairs

Grooming a Shih Tzu Puppy:  Combs

Use a small metal comb to go over the hair after it has been brushed. This step may not be necessary, but it trains the puppy to accept the comb. You will also use a comb to smooth out the whiskers and beard on the face. Be careful around the eyes. 

The stainless-steel comb is the best de-tangling tool but has many other uses. You can comb out the coat after brushing or use it to loosen tangles in the undercoat. Use the end of the comb to pull apart tangles. 

Combs are sold by the placement of the teeth, from fine to coarse. Many combs come with two tooth sizes, a fine and a medium end. A very fine-toothed comb is also called a flea comb.

These closely positioned teeth are capable of locating fleas or flea excrement. If your dog encounters fleas, you would be able to locate them easier with this comb. The comb is also useful on the Shih Tzu’s face. Combing around the eyes carefully will remove any mucus and dried tears and debris.

A rattail comb is useful for making a part down the back of your Shih Tzu. If you want your Tzu to have a topknot, a rattail comb will help section of the hair.

Initially one stainless steel comb will be all you need.  As your puppy matures, you may want additional combs.  

Here is more information on dog combs.

Cotton Balls, Makeup Pads, Wash Cloth

You will need something to clean the eyes daily.

To clean the gook out of the eyes, use a soft moistened cotton ball then blot dry. If debris still remains, carefully comb it out with a small comb.  Hardened debris can also be removed it with your fingers and the massage the bridge over the nose.  Most Shih Tzu dogs will tolerate this well and some seem to like it.

If you prefer to to avoid disposable products, a wash cloth works great.  For anyone who loves to knit or crochet, consider making a few knit washcloths specifically for your dog.

Use a pair of blunt tipped scissors to remove stray hairs around the face, if necessary. If you plan to grow your Shih Tzu’s hair out, do not trim any hair around the face.

The mustache hairs can be trained away from the eyes by using a little petroleum jelly or a similar product.

How Often? Check Eyes Daily

Nail Clippers, File and Styptic Powder for Grooming a Shih Tzu Puppy

Those little nails grow very fast so you will need some manicuring tools to keep them looking their best.

To clip nails, you can use a human sized toe nail clipper, a cat nail clipper, or a small adult nail clipper.  A small metal file can be used to fill them so no one will be scratched when the puppy plays. Tools that grind nails do not work well on small soft nails. Most nails need to be trimmed every couple of weeks.  

Keep Styptic powder on hand.  If you accidentally cut into the quick of the nail (blood vessel), the powder will help stop the bleeding quickly.  This will become more of a problem as the puppy turns into an adult.  Their nails grow with them and bleeding can become more of a problem.

How Often?  About every 2 weeks

More Information on Clipping Puppy Nails

Bathtime Supplies for Grooming a Shih Tzu Puppy

Shampoo and Conditioner

Puppy shampoo and conditioner is tear-free and better for young puppies.   Bath time should be fun and you can make it so but speaking in a soft voice. 

Start by wetting the coat with warm water.  Avoid cool or hot water.  Lather from head to tail including a good scrub on the beard and mustache.  Avoid getting soap in eyes.  Wait a minute or two then rinse. Apply a little conditioner and wait a few seconds, before rinsing. Use a gentle but firm hold on his body, and do not let him jump. 

Squeeze out any water and wrap in a towel. Blot dry but do not rub. You may then want the puppy to shake off or begin to dry naturally. Alternately, you will want to use a blow dryer on a low, cool setting. Ultimately, the puppy must be able to accept the dryer, but many puppies resist at first. The low, cool setting is more acceptable, but the drying time is increased. 


You will want a couple of towels to dry off  and wrap your puppy up.

Blow Dryer

You can allow the coat to dry naturally after a bath as long as the area is warm and the puppy is not distressed.  A blow dryer will speed up the process and keep the puppy warm.  If you have a Shih Tzu with a bit of wave or even curl in their coat, blowing the coat dry will also straighten the hair.

Non Skid Plastic or Rubber Mat to line the tub or sink -- this just makes the puppy feel more secure

Optional:  Apron For you

How Often?  About every 3 weeks

More information about Bathing A shih Tzu Puppy

Toothbrush & Toothpaste For Maintaining those Pearly Whites

It is an excellent time to introduce your puppy to good dental hygiene.  Brushing will reduce the number of times your dog will need professional dental work. begin brushing teeth at an early age. 

You may find that a tooth brush is too big for your puppy.  Use a gauze pad wrapped around your finger and dipped in toothpaste if the brush is rejected.  Finger brushes and sprays are also available if your puppy hates the tooth brush.

Dental Care and Cleaning is not often part of the routine when you get your Tzu professionally Groomed.  Sometimes, it is added at an extra cost.  Even if you do not plan to groom at home, you will still want to learn how to care for your dog's teeth.

--Frequency: Daily to several times per week

Information on Brushing a Puppy's Teeth

Grooming a Shih Tzu Puppy:  Purchase a Pair of Small Blunt Tipped Scissors

A small pair of blunt tipped scissors have a variety of uses when grooming a Shih Tzu puppy

Even if you are not planning to do the majority of grooming at home, you may still need to do a little touch up between salon visits.

If you are planning to groom at home, we will get into a bit more detail about the types of scissors you will want to consider in a later article.

Use scissors to:

  1. Clip stray hairs from around the face/eyes
  2. Clip a bit of hair from the private parts to keep poop and pee from getting on hair. (Sanitary Clip)
  3. Clip a bit of hair between the paw pads to prevent the puppy from sliding on slippery floors.

Quick Sanitary Clip and/or Clean

Just a bit more about Sanitary Clips.  Hair grows rapidly on a small Shih Tzu puppy, especially in areas where you least expect, such as around all the "private" parts.  These area must be kept free of hair for proper elimination. This is a very important step with grooming a Shih Tzu puppy.

If hair begins to cover the anus, you will need to remove it. Matted hair in this area will cause constipation very quickly.  Use your small blunt tipped scissors to trim the hairs around the puppy’s anus and private areas. Be extremely careful in these areas.

Young puppies can get smelly in short time if hair grows around the penis or vagina.  Keeping these areas clean also prevents urinary infections.   Professional groomers will call this a sanitary clip.  For those interested in grooming at home, this might be a good time to purchase a clipper set.  

If you are worried about accidentally clipping his skin, stop and have a professional groomer do this for you.  

A sanitary clip helps keep your dog clean after urinating or defecating.  This is a must for long haired dogs such as the Shih Tzu.  

--How Often? Check daily, and trim hair when necessary

If you are fairly certain that you will be grooming your Shih Tzu at home, you may want to look into purchasing a pair of clippers.

Grooming a Shih Tzu Puppy:  Ear Powder and Cleaner For Keeping Those Ears Clean and Smelling Fresh

I have added this item here because some young puppies have thick hair growth in their ears that need to be removed.  If your puppy is not one of them, this item can wait until he gets older. 

Ear powder is just that, a powder that you sprinkle into the ear.  It creates some traction so that you can pull the hair out of the outer ear canal easily just using your fingers. 

You can also accomplish this task by using a pair of tweezers or curved tip hemostats.  It is necessary to keep the ears clean of hair as I will discuss shortly.  If you do remove the hair using ear powder, you will also want to get a bottle of ear cleaner, just to remove all the powder. 

Some Shih Tzu dogs also have an excessive amount of earwax.  An ear cleaner will get rid of that problem too.  After applying an ear cleaner, use cotton balls or cotton tipped applicators.

View My Ear Cleaning Video

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About Janice

Janice is the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu. Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, she served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu.

When not writing, reading, or researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, her husband, and her family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Small Dog Place and Smart-Knit-Crocheting.