Shih Tzu Grooming Tips by Janice Jones |Last Updated 07-06-2021
If you love the Shih Tzu dog, you no doubt have come head to head with the task of grooming one. For most of us, a standing appointment with a professional groomer is scheduled every six to eight weeks and we let that pro do all the heaving lifting. Still, there are things we must manage on a daily or weekly basis to keep our Shih Tzu dogs looking and smelling their best.
Let's face it, some Shih Tzu dogs are naturals at grooming. They may even run and get their brush if you let them. Most however, will tolerate it up to an extent. Some hide when you bring out the grooming tools. I've put together some tips that have helped me in the past, especially with some of those more reluctant dogs who would prefer to do just about anything but get groomed.
Perhaps your Shih Tzu’s Summer Coat is growing out, and you’re wondering whether to let it grow long for the winter or get it clipped.
Maybe you are thinking it might be nice to save some money and do some or all of the grooming at home.
I frequently get asked about grooming , so I’ve put together a list of my top ten Shih Tzu grooming tips to help you get started.
Here's a video we made about grooming a six-week-old. It is one in the series of Puppy Development Videos. Go to YouTube to see the other videos in this series (Miracle Shih Tzu YouTube Channel)
When brushing your Shih Tzu, whether he/she has a long coat or short, always mist the hair thoroughly with a conditioning spray before touching it with a brush. You can purchase an excellent styling mist or make your own. To make your own, add about ½ ounce of conditioner in a spray bottle and fill with warm water. Shake vigorously to mix the conditioner and water. Here are a couple of my favorites. (I use the one in the middle the most.)
Your Shih Tzu has a double coat, meaning that there is a straighter top coat and an under coat that is soft and fine. It is usually the undercoat that gets matted so brushing will remove those tangles if done properly.
Many people will take a brush and start brushing to top layer gently but never reach the undercoat. This is actually very easy to do especially on dogs that have very thick coats. The pins of a pin brush must be long enough to reach through the topcoat and down into the under coat. But it is much easier if you just start by brushing the undercoat.
When brushing your dog, start from the bottom and go up. By this, I mean that the top coat should be brushed last. Hold the top hair back as you first brush the undercoat. If you start at the paws and move up, by the time you get to the head, the dog is usually relaxed. The other benefit of doing it this way is that you can be sure you have brushed through all the layers of the hair and have removed any tangles that may have formed.
Read more about Brushing a Shih Tzu
Use a metal comb (also called a greyhound comb) after brushing to remove any remaining tangles or mats. If the comb does not remove the tangles, you may need to consider a detangling comb, go back to brushing. There are ways to remove mats without tears (yours) and growls (theirs). But assuming that the coat is free of most large mats, a metal comb can give you peace of mind.
Just as with brushing, the metal comb should be able to glide easily through both the top coat and the under coat. There are different types of combs and if you only own one comb, you will want to purchase one that has two different sets of teeth. One side of the comb will be the fine-toothed end and the other side, the medium toothed. When combing their hair after brushing, use the medium-toothed end to check for mats.
Learn more about Metal Combs for Shih Tzu Dogs.
Use a pin brush with longer pins to get through very thick coats. As I mentioned above, when brushing, you will want to get down through the layers of the hair without putting too much pressure on the brush. Most pin brushes today are more gentle on the coat and skin than previously, but if you press too hard, you can scratch the skin. There are a wide assortment of brushes on the market these days, but the best ones are those that are going to last for awhile.
You can also use a slicker brush but do be careful as they can irritate the skin if you are too rough. A good slicker brush can make the coat come alive. It smooths the hair and makes it look fuller.
Use a slicker brush against the grain of the hair on a puppy and you will achieve a very thick ball of fluff. Do the same on their legs to bring out the fullness of hair growing on their legs.
I've tried dozens of brushes over the years, but this is by far, my favorite brush or learn more about Shih Tzu brushes here.
Even if you use a professional groomer, chances are you may need to give your Shih Tzu a pedicure between grooms. Some Tzus don't mind at all and will tolerate a nail clipper as long as you don't clip into the blood vessel running through the nail. Use a scissor type nail clipper rather than a guillotine to get a more accurate cut. Even cat clippers work well with this breed. Puppy nails are small enough to be clipped with a human toenail clipper.
If you hate to clip nails or your dog hates you to do so, consider a grinder. If you don’t want to buy a pet nail grinder, use a regular Dremel tool with a sanding ring. It actually works better than the pet nail grinders you can purchase but should not be used on a puppy. Many Dremels have very fast speeds and you can get their hair caught up in the tool in a second. You a low setting and be sure to pull all the hair away from the nails before using.
There are quite a few models of pet nail grinders on the market today, many of them that are so much more quiet than a regular Dremel. In my experience, it is often the noise of the motor that is more stressful to the dog than the actually process.
Learn how to clip your dog's nails.
Learn how to use a Dremel Tool to grind nails.
I've already discussed brushing, but one tip I did want to mention and that is of daily brushing. If you have time to brush your Shih Tzu daily, you’ll save time in the long run. Mats and tangles are time consuming to remove so you can eliminate this step entirely by a quick brush at the end of the day. I will often brush while I watch the news or other television show. Dogs love to be by your side or on your lap anyway, so why not "kill two birds with the same stone."
Another often overlooked daily task is that of eye care. The Shih Tzu's eyes are one of the most prominent feature on their faces and also one that draws people to the breed. With those beautiful large eyes, the chance for injury is significant.
The hair around the eyes can also become quite moist with tears. When this happens on light colored dogs, you end up with red tear stains. One way to check for injuries, remove tears and other debris and reduce the chances of eye staining is to provide daily eye care. It normally takes about a minute or less and pays dividends in the long run.
Use a cotton ball, makeup remover pad or soft washcloth. Moisten it with warm water and gently wipe over and below the eyes. This warm water will soften any dried tears or mucus that have accumulated over night. Dry with a soft cloth or tissue. If there is still hardened tears, you can gently massage the area under the eyes to break up the clumps and either remove them with your fingers or a cotton ball. If there are still clumps after this routine, try a small metal comb or even an old tooth brush and gently comb or brush out the hair under the eyes.
You can also use a good eye wash or face wash instead, especially if your Shih Tzu has more than his share of tear production or if your dog is suffering from dry eye. This step may help reduce some of the staining.
Teach your dog to stand, sit, or lie on a flat surface for grooming. Many of us will brush our dogs while they rest on our laps and we watch television. That is fine, but some procedures are difficult to do when the dog is on our lap.
Get them used to a table or counter top as soon as you can. No worries if you missed this opportunity. You can start today. Place a nonskid surface on the table to keep them from slipping.
How to Teach Your Puppy to Tolerate Grooming
Learn to clean your dog’s ears at home. While this is normally part of the professional dog groomers routine, with a little practice, you can learn to do this at home. Most dogs need their ears cleaned, if nothing more than wiping out excessive ear wax.
Hair continues to grow inside the ear canal making that area a fertile grown for infections to brew. Your professional dog groomer will remove that hair during a normal grooming visit, but you can help keep the inside of the ears clean a dry during a quick clean about once per week.
I have had a few dogs over the years that hated taking a bath. They would show their displeasure by trying to jump out of the top in anyway they could, wiggling, squirming, or downright leaping the second I release my grip on them. If you have one of these guys and would prefer not to tranquilize them, I have a couple of tips for you.
How to Bathe a Puppy