Tips for Making a Shih Tzu Puppy Topknot

Shih Tzu Puppy Topknot by Janice Jones     |Last Updated 09-02-2023

A Shih Tzu puppy topknot might be just the answer to all that facial hair obstructing the view of those beautiful Tzu eyes.  Even if you can’t decide whether to have your puppy grow out his hair to floor length or clip into a puppy do, a small puppy topknot will help keep stray hairs out of his face and keep him looking neat and clean.

Many people will choose to keep their Shih Tzu in a shorter cut and still maintain a small topknot.  If you are considering showing, you will need to grow out the coat so don’t go near the face with a pair of scissors!!

We will assume that you have been working with your puppy and training him to enjoy the grooming experience.  It’s very hard to put a topknot in properly if your little one is fidgeting everywhere.  If you don’t think you can put a pony tail on a moving object, stop and work on some grooming training first.

This will be a tiny topknot because the puppy just doesn’t have enough hair yet.

Shih Tzu top knot on two Shih Tzu dogs

Tools & Supplies for Making a Shih Tzu Puppy Topknot

  • Small elastic bands or Infant clips
  • Rat-tail comb
  • Fine tooth comb
  • Small puppy brush
  • Old toothbrush to use instead of a small brush.  It works great on facial whiskers and to divide the hair that goes into the topknot
  • Bows, optional

Hair Bands for Puppies

Now let's talk about Hair Bands for Puppies. These tiny tools come in an array of sizes, but when it comes to puppies, you want to stick with the smallest of the pack:

* 1/8 inches
* 3/16 inches
* 1/4 inches
* 5/16 Inches
* 3/8 Inches

The secret weapon? Orthodontic bands, the saviors from every dentist's office, known for their strength and gentleness on hair. These come in a spectrum of strengths from feather-light to heavy-duty. They even come in a rainbow of colors! Just $6.00 fetches you a bag of 100 bands, a three-month supply for daily use.

Remember, the lightest bands can snap while the heaviest might feel like wrestling with a python. Find your Goldilocks zone- not too light, not too heavy, just right! For older puppies, consider something between the two extremes, while the lighter bands are perfect for the younger ones.

Shih Tzu Puppy Topknot Hair Bands

Not Quite Ready for a Pony Tail

Whether your puppy is fidgety, short on attention span, or all out hates brushes and combs you still don't need to give up on longer styles or even shorter top knots.  Baby hair clips might just be the answer for keeping that hair out of the eyes so you can enjoy these captivating gazes without the veil of scattered lose hairs.  They even make them for dogs!

They come in different sizes and are usually sold by the age of the infant in mind.  I would try a couple different sizes to see what works best for you. 

  • Too small:  You won't be able to hold much hair and may need more than one
  • Too large:  Clips will fall out
  • Just right:  You've found your Goldilocks solution
Check Prices on Amazon

Most people prefer to pull the hair back tightly over the head and secure with a small clip.  This won't look like your typical show top knot but remember you are training the hair (and the puppy) to tolerate something new on his head.  If your puppy is fine with a clip, you are good to go, but what if your puppy resists?

There are two avenues to explore:

  1. Give up:  Not an option if you want your puppy to sport a top knot

  2. Baby Steps:  Find out whether your puppy prefers the brush or the comb.  You probably already know this by now.  Spend time brushing (or combing) the top of his head, bushing backwards from head towards the tail if they allow.  Alternately, many of the puppies I've had will let me brush their hair from the nape of the neck towards the face.  (This also works well when using a hair dryer to blow dry the face and head).  You may need to do this daily for a week or more before the puppy relaxes and enjoys the experience. Then introduce the hair clip.  

Should You Use Hair Products to Help You Style the Top Knot Clip or Band?

This question gets asked a lot when it comes to puppy topknots.  AND, I'll be honest, I've tried a lot of different things.  When I first started grooming puppies, I added a tiny dab of petroleum jelly to help hold the hair.  This was by far the cheapest and easiest and most readily available product.  It worked well, held the hair for a while, and had no odor.  BUT, it did make the hair greasy and if I used it daily, the puppy began to look dirty and really needed bathing more frequently.

Hairspray worked a little better but it came with risks.  I would spray a little onto my fingers and then work it into the puppy's hair before attaching the clip or rubber band.  Some puppies didn't seem to notice, but then there were others that would spend minutes furiously pawing at their head to remove the clip.  I worried that they would get the hair spray on their paws and then eventually into their mouth.

I finally settled on coconut oil because it seemed to hold the hair and would not hurt the puppy if consumed.  It did act in a similar way as the petroleum jelly in that it made the hair greasy.  

If you don't like home remedies, there are products on the market that show breeders use for top knots and if you are serious about training your puppy to sport a topknot, you might want to look into these.  I've used them all at different times throughout the years.

Procedure:  Shih Tzu Puppy Topknot

Shih Tzu Puppy Top KnotShih Tzu Puppy Top Knot
  1. Start by dividing or parting the hair just above the top back of the nose.  A rat-tail comb works well but you can also use a fine toothed comb if you’re afraid the puppy might move.  You can also do this with your fingers.  Make the part just between the eyes.

  2. Next gather up the hair in a V shape above the nose between the eyes. The wider part of the V is closest to the nose.

  3. Place a tiny elastic band.  If you prefer not to order the bands above from Amazon, you can also purchase them from a beauty store. 

  4. Comb the whiskers down and away from the eyes.  

5.  If desired, add a small bow to finish it off. I have found that puppy bows do not stay in well so you may want to wait a month or so before purchasing cute bows.

As the hair grows, you will be able to take in more hair to make larger topknots.  To do this, make a longer part at the top back of his nose and again, gather the hair into an inverted V shape.  Once the puppy has reached maturing, the part for his top knot will be made from the other edges of each eye.

Cute as a button!


The art of crafting a topknot on a Shih Tzu puppy paves the way to unmasking those beautiful puppy eyes, previously obscured by too much facial hair.

Adaptable to either a full, flowing mane or a neatly-trimmed puppy cut, a petite topknot is a versatile, trendy option that ensures an elegant look while keeping those mischievous strands in check.

Training your little furball to enjoy the grooming experience is necessary, as a wiggly-worms can prove challenging. The best tool for this task? Petite hairbands, which slide effortlessly into place without splitting or tearing the delicate locks.

Orthodontic bands, usually found in a dentist's office, are a secret weapon, available in a variety of strengths and colors. The optimal choice is a band that isn't too light or too heavy - a middle-of-the-road band that's just right for your puppy.

In conclusion, the path to a perfect Shih Tzu puppy topknot is a journey of patience, training, and bit by bit progress.

But remember, "The only way to do great work is to love what you do" - Steve Jobs.

Let your love for your Shih Tzu guide you through the grooming process.

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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.