The Shih Tzu is considered to be an exceptionally beautiful dog. They have a long, flowing coat that has both an undercoat and an outer coat. It takes daily brushing and grooming to keep these little dogs looking their best. While some pet owners do keep their dogs trimmed in a short haircut to make it easier to care for their coats, many owners love to take care of their dog’s long coat and show it off. If you wish to show your dog at a dog show, you will need to keep the coat long. Here is some helpful advice about Shih Tzu grooming styles.
The Shih Tzu Coat
The Shih Tzu’s coat has an undercoat which keeps the dog warm and insulated against colder weather. This may not be necessary if the dog is a pet living in an apartment, but when the breed was created they lived in a colder climate and they needed this warm undercoat lying close against their skin.
The dog’s outer coat is the long, flowing hair that you see on top of their body. This coat is luxurious and dense. The hair on top of the Shih Tzu’s head is customarily tied up in a top knot and held in place with a bow.
For the show ring, which is the grooming standard for the breed where they are best groomed and presented, any excessive trimming is considered a fault. However, it is permissible to trim around the paws of the dog and along the bottom of the coat and at the dog’s anus to make the coat neat and to allow the dog to move more freely.
It takes daily brushing and grooming to keep a coat in this excellent condition. To groom your Shih Tzu you should have a good boar bristle brush, preferably with a wooden handle and back. Boar bristles are considered to be gentler on the hair. Nylon bristles are more likely to break the dog’s hair which will ruin the long, flowing appearance. A wooden handle and back are desirable for the brush because they soak up the natural oils in the dog’s coat and spread them throughout the hair. This is considered to be good for the hair. A dog with healthy skin and coat will naturally produce these oils and they should be evenly distributed throughout the coat by regular brushing.
You should bathe your Shih Tzu regularly. Once a month is usually a good time table for a pet Shih Tzu who does not become excessively dirty or roll in anything smelly. You should use a good shampoo and conditioner for the coat. Do not use human products on your dog’s coat. Dogs have a different pH from humans and most, if not all, human products are too harsh for dogs. They will strip out the natural oils from the dog’s skin and coat. This includes human baby shampoos. They are too harsh for dogs. Many pet stores and online retailers sell good shampoos and conditioners for dogs. You can use a shampoo and conditioner with natural ingredients if you prefer.
When grooming your Shih Tzu, or any dog, you may wish to put some small pieces of cotton in your dog’s ears before the bath. This will help keep water out of your dog’s ears. Be sure to rinse your dog thoroughly after shampooing. Any soap residue left behind can cause your dog to itch and scratch. This is a frequent cause of hot spots and other skin problems.
You can also use a coat detangler on your dog’s coat immediately after the bath. This will keep the coat from tangling and make it easy to comb out. It usually makes grooming easier.
You can use a little conditioner, mixed with water, to spray on your dog’s coat each day before you brush. Or just spray a little water on the coat to dampen it. This will make the coat easier to brush and keep the hair from breaking.
If you don’t wish to devote a lot of time to grooming your Shih Tzu, you can have him professionally trimmed every six to eight weeks so he stays in a short pet haircut. This look is cute on a Shih Tzu and it’s easy to care for.
If you intend to keep your Shih Tzu’s hair long then you will need to brush it every day. This will keep the skin and coat healthy and prevent mats and tangles from forming. Bathe your dog about once a month. Do not use human products on your dog. If you don’t wish to devote a lot of time to grooming your Shih Tzu, you can have his coat cut in a short pet haircut by a professional groomer.