Have you ever wondered about what dog grooming actually is? Do you like how a Shih Tzu looks but don’t understand how it looks like that? Does your Shih Tzu look like it needs some grooming and maintenance, but you don’t know from where to begin?
Having a loyal, cute, and playful companion like a dog is amazing, but there’s always some grooming to do. Dog grooming is an essential part of having one, especially when it’s a Shih Tzu with a long-haired double coat.
Shih Tzu grooming is popular because they’re typically high-maintenance. However, a typical professional grooming appointment can be expensive and hard to get, considering the circumstances.
There are many advantages to grooming your Shih Tzu yourself besides saving you money: it helps you bond with your dog, saves time, and protects your dog from the occasional going-to-the-vet stress. Yet, if you’re new to this, it might seem overwhelming to do it yourself.
So, here is everything you need to know about how to groom a Shih Tzu at home, what tools you need to use for which part of the grooming process, and what precautions you should take.
How Do You Groom a Shih Tzu for Beginners?
1. Brush That Hair
Shih Tzu are a double-coat breed, so brushing their hair is the most important step in their grooming. It’s so important that you need to keep a hair grooming schedule, preferably daily, to help prevent mats before they happen and keep your Shih Tzu cool and happy.
Pin brushes perform the best with long-haired adult Shih Tzu, while a slicker brush is good enough for a Shih Tzu puppy. Also, a double-sided comb is necessary because it allows you to de-tangle all harder-to-reach areas from the tips to the roots, such as the face, neck, paws, and more.
If your dog is already dealing with mats, consider using a de-matting spray and/or tool, but do it when the dog is in a calm mood so that it won’t be unpleasant.
2. Express the Anal Glands
“Express what, now?” If you’re new to this topic, anal sacs or glands refer to scent glands that exist on both sides of the dog’s rectum. These scent glands help your dog mark their territory and communicate with other dogs.
Dogs need to express or empty their sacs in small amounts on a sort of a regular basis because if they don’t, painful and “fishy” complications may occur.
While you usually don’t have to worry about that as long as your dog is healthy, smaller breeds like Shih Tzu tend to experience problems with their expression and may need help.
This step will probably be your least favorite in Shih Tzu grooming/ Shih tzu haircut, but if you wear your gloves and get this graphic job done in a bathtub so that you can easily clean the dog afterward, it won’t be that bad.
3. Time for a Bath
Can you call it a grooming routine without a bath? These babies need to smell fresh and clean so that we can say we’ve groomed them. Place them in the bathtub and check them for skin problems or parasites.
Use lukewarm water to wet your Shih Tzu dog from the top of their head to the tail. Next, grab your dog shampoo and lather up your Shih Tzu for clean, healthy skin. Try to keep the shampoo away from the eyes, nose, and the insides of the ears. Now, rinse thoroughly.
You may have thought that you’re done, but you’re not. Shampoos are essential for all dogs, but conditioners are also essential for Shih Tzu, as they help de-tangle the hair even further and give the shih tzu’s coat the shine it deserves. Once again, rinse, then use a towel and a hairdryer to dry your dog.
4. Clean These Puppy Eyes
Regardless of the dog breed you have, you need to clean their eyes and check for any eye issues. However, the Shih Tzu needs more eye care because its bulging, large eyes are more prone to excessive tearing, which could lead to tear stain and bacterial infections as well. Eye stains, in particular, are a common occurrence in small dogs.
So, wet a cotton ball and use it to gently remove mucus, dried tears, or debris around the shih Tzu eyes area. While you’re at it, clean the whole face. Repeat until there’s nothing to clean, then pat dry. Remember to do this step daily or every other day.
5. Can Anybody Hear Me?
With a Shih Tzu, especially one that is always hanging outdoors or swimming, the wax and bacteria build-up is much more excessive because they have long, floppy ears that seal in excess moisture. Also, ear hair grows everywhere, including the outer ear and inside the ear canal.
So, ear cleaning is the only way to prevent problems, mainly ear mites and ear infections. By making it a habit to clean them, you’ll immediately notice the first sign of problems, such as redness, bad odor, swelling, or small black specs.
Ask a friend to help because your dog will probably jerk and move around. Put the recommended amount of drops of the ear cleaner and massage them. Then, use cotton balls to dry them. If you want to learn how to clean your dog’s ears the right way, watch this video.
6. Brush Again
We can hear you wondering why you need to do that. For the next step to be done neatly, you have to de-tangle as much hair as possible. Bathing your Shih Tzu and conditioning their hair helps soften the hair enough so that further de-tangling will be much easier.
So, grab your double-sided comb and go to town on the remaining tangles. Of course, remember not to do it too roughly because this is not the last step in Shih Tzu grooming, and you need your dog to be calm.
7. Clip Clip
This step is tricky when not done by a professional groomer, so paying attention and following professional guidance is a good idea.
Place your Shih Tzu on a higher table with a mat underneath to catch the hairy mess. Also, we recommend securing your Shih Tzu with their leash so that they don’t move or run suddenly.
Try to talk to them in a calm and loving voice. Also, use quieter electric clippers so that you don’t scare the dog. Start clipping the hair slowly to avoid leaving any awkward lines. Also, go with the direction of the hair, not against it, for a natural-looking finish. Don’t forget the underbelly.
Keeping the hair of your Shih Tzu clipped short helps reduce the need for constant grooming.
8. Snip Snip
Trimming sensitive and smaller areas seems scary, but when done right, it’s the most rewarding.
Paw pads are a typically neglected area that gathers a lot of debris, poop, and tiny objects, especially in long-haired dogs that go outside, such as Shih Tzu. The longer the hair gets, the more dangerous and uncomfortable it will be for your Shih Tzu.
So, grab your round-ended scissors after you spread your dog’s toes apart and trim the hairs. Pulling the hairs upwards before trimming helps you do it safely.
The area around your Shih Tzu’s ears can grow seriously wild as well. So, take their adorable floppy ears in your hands and work around them.
9. It’s All in the Eyes
Have you ever looked at a puppy and wondered how the heck they can see from the excess hair around the eyes? Don’t neglect your Shih Tzu to that point.
You need to trim around the eyes, as the hair causes more build-up of discharge, debris, and everything you need to prevent to keep the eyes clean. However, eyes are very sensitive, and going near them unprepared is dangerous. So, consider watching helpful tutorials.
Secure your dog’s face by holding them by the chin hair or muzzle. Then, comb your dog’s hair around the eyes forward. Next, only use your round-ended scissors, thinning scissors and hold them parallel to the eyes, as opposed to pointing towards them.
Keep the trimming process slow and mindful; this is a no-rush process. While you’re at it, trim any excess hair on the shih tzu’s face the same way.
10. Ready for a Haircut?
The most fun part about having a Shih Tzu is the cute haircuts, thanks to the luxurious coat that allows you to get creative. Here are the most common cuts and a tutorial video attached to all of them.
The most well-known cut your Shih Tzu can rock is the puppy cut. As the name suggests, it’s freaking cute. Plus, it’s very clean and short, so there will be much less matting and tangling. It’s also the ideal haircut for hot days.
Teddy Bear Cut
If you want your Shih Tzu to remind you of the stuffed animal you had growing up, try the teddy bear cut. The face looks much fluffier than the body, giving the Shih Tzu a teddy bear look.
Have you ever had bangs that keep getting into your eyes constantly? Imagine that but ten times worse for your little Shih Tzu. The top-knot cut is a practical way to keep your dog’s eyes free and clean while also having an excuse to style them with cute ribbons and bows.
11. Don’t Forget the Nails
Overgrown nails are a serious problem for a Shih Tzu. They put too much pressure on the paws as they twist under them. If you can hear your Shih Tzu walking because of their nails, it’s time for some shih tzu’s nails clipping since nails aren’t supposed to touch the floor.
The traditional way is to use good old-fashioned dog nail clippers, spreading out your dog’s paws to clip the nails. However, some people prefer a longer yet safer way to do the job, which is using nail grinders.
Regardless of the tools, it is essential that you only cut the white part of the nail, as the pink part contains live tissue and should be left untouched, just like you wouldn’t want clippers to come near the bodies of your nails.
If it’s your first time, we highly recommend watching a video to know how to do it safely.
12. Show Me Your Teeth
For some reason, most dog owners/Shih Tzu owner tends to forget the importance of regular brushing of the teeth. Like people, dogs need to get the plaque and bacteria off their teeth so that they don’t turn into complications, specifically gum disease, tooth decay, and infections that could spread to vital organs.
So, if you want to combat bad breath and protect your Shih Tzu from things you didn’t know before, commit to daily brushing.
Start by using a canine toothbrush for smaller breeds, ideally one with two heads that face towards a 45-degree angle. Experiment with different flavors of canine toothpaste to find one that your Shih Tzu loves.
What is the Best Haircut for a Shih Tzu?
It depends on different preferences. If you prefer your Shih Tzu to have a cleaner, low-maintenance look, the ideal haircut choice would be the puppy cut. It’s also the most popular and makes your already small Shih Tzu look ten times younger, so it’s pretty cute.
On the other hand, if you’re all about showing off your puppy’s beauty but find show cuts to be too consuming, we recommend the teddy bear cut.
If you want the perfect balance of cuteness and practicality, consider the top-knot cut; it keeps the shih tzu’s hair away from your dog’s eyes while upping the cute factor with updos that rival your favorites on Pinterest.
Is It OK to Shave a Shih Tzu?
Shih Tzu have a plush coat of hair that can be a lot to handle on warmer days, especially for the dog. So, shaving their long hair initially sounds like a good idea. In fact, it is the only way to go if the dog is full of mats because trying to remove too many will be painful for your little Shih Tzu.
That being said, a Shih Tzu being completely shaved down exposes them to the elements, as a coat provides them with insulation and protects them from sunburn. Also, shaving too close to the dog’s skin causes problems similar to people’s, such as changes in texture and ingrown hairs.
So, it is mostly unnecessary to consider shaving down dogs, especially when not done by a professional groomer for medical reasons. However, grooming a Shih Tzu regularly, by brushing and trimming, is a must.
How Can I Groom My Shih Tzu at Home?
The idea of grooming your toy dog at home sounds overwhelming, but there are many things that you can do without the help of a professional groomer. However, it never hurts to watch videos or any visual tutorials to guide you along the way, especially when working around your dog’s sensitive areas.
The most basic yet important part of grooming is brushing. Try to use multiple tools to get to your dog’s hidden tangles. Do it regularly enough that mats don’t have the time to settle in your dog’s coat.
Also, you may want to put your Shih Tzu in a bathtub to empty their anal glands. However, you should only do it when there are health concerns about the dog not being able to empty them naturally.
Doing this step in a bathtub would be ideal for the next step, which is the bath. Take that time to clean their eyes, faces, and ears. Your Shih Tzu will be much happier and healthier once you trim their nails, too.
While brushing their teeth doesn’t seem like a necessity at first, it will make all the difference in your dog’s breath and dental health.
What Tools Do I Need to Groom My Shih Tzu?
To begin with, you’ll need a dog brush-pin/pin brush for long hair and a bristle for short hair/fur, in addition to a double-side comb for de-tangling. Matted hair will need the help of a de-matting spray.
Also, bathing requires a neutral dog shampoo and a conditioner for needed moisture and extra de-tangling. To dry your Shih Tzu, bring a towel to pat them down and a blow dryer to, well, blow dry them.
Then, use the newly moisturized hair to your benefit by combing it once again, as it will help make clipping, trimming, and cutting the shih tzu hair easier.
Next, bring an electric clipper for dogs with different blades to customize the trim. For the sensitive areas like the eyes, bring round-ended scissors. Of course, you’ll also need a leash to ensure that your Shih Tzu won’t move.
There are other Shih Tzu grooming tasks that need supplies. For example, you’ll clean the eyes and ears with cotton balls. Remember to bring an ear cleaning solution, too. Also, we recommend wearing gloves when going about expressing anal sacs.
Bring nail dog clippers specifically made for dog’s nail for a canine pedicure. If you’re one of the people that worry about nail clipping accidents, that’s okay. This is exactly why nail grinders/nail trimming exist as a safer alternative.
For ideal dental health, use a dog toothbrush and toothpaste, as they’re much gentler and safer on dogs.
How Often Should a Shih Tzu Be Groomed?
While most Shih Tzu owners/pet owner/dog owner mean well, they tend to either overdo dog grooming or don’t do it enough. So, we’ve decided to help with a grooming schedule so that you’re more efficient at keeping your dog clean and pretty without too little or too much effort.
- Brushing/combing: daily or every other day
- Bathing: once every three to four weeks
- Eye/face cleaning: daily or every other day
- Ear cleaning: once a week or when needed
- Gland expression: when needed
- Hair clipping: once every two months
- Hair trimming: when needed
- Nail clipping: once every three weeks
- Brushing teeth: daily or whenever possible
Have you enjoyed reading the tutorial? Please tell us in the comment section below. We hope that our detailed recommendations of home grooming your Shih Tzu have been as helpful to you as we have intended them to be.
Shih Tzu grooming can be very simple if you follow our thorough guide.
Remember that if you commit to regular monitoring, brushing, and cleaning of your Shih Tzu, you will have a very happy, healthy, fluffy, and cute one at home.