Anyone who loves dogs will love a Shih Tzu. Besides the general curiosity about this breed, a question many owners have is how do you groom a Shih Tzu?
With a luxurious coat and a well-kept top knot, Shih Tzus look like high-maintenance pets. But, their grooming is similar to other dogs, including brushing and combing, bathing and drying, removing matted hair, nail clipping, ear cleaning, removing hair from footpads, and brushing their teeth.
A Shih Tzu makes for a wonderful pet with their cute little tail and pretty top knot. However, it also makes you wonder how much time goes into grooming this dog to keep it looking top-notch. Well, the truth is that if you’re looking for a show dog, you’ll have to devote plenty of time to keep them looking great. On the other hand, if you’re just looking for a pet and companion, you can easily get away with much less time and effort.
We consulted dog grooming experts to find how to groom a Shih Tzu to give you folks a better idea of what goes into their maintenance before you make a decision you regret. This article will elaborate on all expert suggestions regarding a Shih Tzu’s grooming.
How to Groom a Shih Tzu
Shih Tzus are the sweetest pets that make excellent companions. Their cute appearances are generally maintained through regular grooming and haircuts. However, since professional grooming can often take a toll on the wallet, most dog parents choose to groom their fluffy little babies at home. You need to know a few things, including the grooming supplies you need and the process of grooming a Shih Tzu before you jump in.
Shih Tzu Grooming Supply Essentials
You will need to purchase a few good supplies whether you plan to take your Shih Tzu to the groomers every few weeks or do-it-yourself at home. We’ve broken down the supplies into two sets, with the first list being for those who take their dog to a professional groomer and the second list for do-it-yourselfers who plan to do it all by themselves.
Shih Tzu Grooming Supplies between Visits Grooming Visits
Many people find grooming challenging, which is why they think it is best left to someone else. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be getting your hands dirty at all. You will need to conduct your dog’s maintenance between visits, which will typically comprise bathing, brushing, and maybe even nail trimming. Items you’ll need to purchase to do that include:
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Pin brush
- Steel comb
- Nail clippers & filer
- Small blunt scissors
- De-tangle spray
- Ear cleaner
- Eye cleaner
Shih Tzu Grooming Supplies for DIY
Sending a pup to a professional groomer can often be quite heavy on many dog owners’ pockets. Also, some owners don’t feel comfortable handing their dog over to someone else to handle. These two major reasons are why some dog parents choose to groom their Shih Tzu at home. Items you’ll need to purchase to groom your Shih Tzu at home include:
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Electric clipper (made specifically for dogs)
- Spare electric clipper blades and clip-on combs
- Clipper coolant
- Dog grooming shears
- Pin brush
- Sticker brush
- Steel comb
- Flea comb
- Nail clippers & grinders
- De-tangle spray
- Ear cleaner
- Cotton buds
- Dog ear wipes
- Styptic powder
How to Groom a Shih Tzu – Step-by-Step Guide
Once you’ve gotten your hands on the right equipment and have learned the basics of Shih Tzu grooming, you’ll be well on your way to having a well-kept pup. We have put together a list of important steps that go into the grooming process of a Shih Tzu.
Step 1: Preparing and Brushing Your Dog
The first step is to prepare everything you need to groom your dog. Shih Tzus require special grooming supplies due to their unique fur. You can easily purchase most of the items listed above from a grocery store or local or online pet store. Make sure that everything you buy, from nail clippers to electric clippers to shampoo, are all tailored for dogs. Never, even by mistake, use human shampoo on your dog, as it can seriously irritate their skin.
Step 2: Get the Space Ready
Dogs can be quite hesitant when it comes to getting their grooming done, which is why you’ll need to find a safe area your pup can’t escape from. If you want to groom your dog inside your home, consider using your bathroom. On the other hand, if you want to minimize the mess by grooming them outside, make sure to opt for an enclosed space, such as a garage.
To prep the area, lay down some towels on the floor to keep you and your dog from slipping and to keep the mess under control. Also, make sure to add a nonslip surface in the bathtub or sink to keep your Shih Tzu from slipping and hurting itself.
Step 3: Calm Your Dog
Grooming time can be a very stressful period for dogs, especially the first few times they undergo the process. So, before directly jumping into the grooming process, it is important that you take out a few minutes to soothe and calm your dog to make it feel safe and comfortable. You can do this by petting and praising your Shih Tzu in a calm voice.
Step 4: Brushing
Once your dog is calm and ready for grooming, start the process by brushing their fur. Simply place the brush directly but gently on their skin and brush through until you reach the end of their hair. You can start from your dog’s face, especially its muzzle, and then make your way down to its legs. Generally, you should brush your Shih Tzu every day, but if you can’t, then at least try to do it twice or thrice a week.
Step 5: De-Tangling
You’re sure to come across a few mats and tangles when brushing your Shih Tzu’s hair. It is important that when you do, you work through them gently without hurting your pup. You can use a de-tangling spray and brush, starting at the tips of the matted hair, working out the tangles a little bit at a time. De-tangling your Shih Tzu’s hair can be quite a task, but it is doable. However, you should remember that the best way to deal with tangles is to ensure that they never occur.
Step 6: Pour Water on Your Dog
Put your dog in a tub to bathe them. Bathing will help your pup stay clean, smell fresh, and prevent unwanted matt fur. To start the bathing process, you’ll have to wet your Shih Tzu’s coat with mild-warm water to make sure it is well all over. It is important to ensure that you use lukewarm water so that your dog doesn’t get hurt or fall sick.
Step 7: Wash with Shampoo and Conditioner
Once your dog’s fur is wet, pour some dog-friendly shampoo and gently massage it into its fur while steering clear of its eyes. When your Shih Tzu’s been lathered in shampoo, pour water slightly onto its fur while rubbing your hands on its body to rinse the shampoo out. Make sure to get out the shampoo thoroughly without leaving any residue behind as it can be dangerous for your dog.
Step 8: Clean Your Dog’s Eyes
Rub around your pup’s eyes with clean water to help get rid of mucus while their fur is still wet. You can either use your fingers or a soft cloth to clean their eyes. However, you need to be very careful not to poke your Shih Tzu in its eyes. Getting rid of rheum or mucus around your Shih Tzu’s eyes is crucial as it can discolor the hair around their eyes when left for too long.
Step 9: Dry the Hair
Get your Shih Tzu out of the sink or bathtub, keeping it wrapped up in a towel. Rub your dog with the towel to absorb the excess water and to keep it warm. You can choose to dry your dog yourself or allow it to air dry. If you want to dry up your dog quickly, simply set your hairdryer on the lowest setting and blow through its fur.
Step 10: Comb your Shih Tzu’s Hair
Once your Shih Tzu’s fur is almost dry, pick up a soft brush and calmly comb its fur back down. Pay special attention to areas where you found matted fur earlier. Doing this will help get rid of any tangles to keep your dog’s coat looking beautiful.
Step 11: Trim Their Nails
A Shih Tzu’s nails can grow pretty long, which is a potential threat to them. To trim your Shih Tzu’s nails, hold the special dog nail clipper in the palm of your hand, using your fingers to make the cut. Like with your own nails, insert your Shih Tzu’s nail into the clipper hole to make a clean and swift cut. This will help reduce fraying on your pup’s nails. You’re only supposed to cut the white part of the nail. Steer clear of the pink part as it contains live tissue, which will bleed if you cut. Additionally, if you accidentally cut your Shih Tzu’s nails too deep, use cornstarch to control the bleeding.
Step 12: Cut Your Dog’s Hair
You’ll need a Number 10 blade for your electric hair clipper to trim your dog’s hair. This blade size is the best since it’s long enough to keep you from cutting your pup’s skin. Generally, Shih Tzu haircuts comprise trimming their beard and ear hair before shaving their body to the desired length. Keep your Shih Tzu on a tight leash during this step to keep it from running away.
Step 13: Clean Your Dog’s Ears
A Shih Tzu’s ears can get very dirty, which is why it is critical to clean them properly. The best way to go about this is to use an alcohol-based ear cleaning solution by pouring in on a cotton ball and gently rubbing it on your dog’s skin and hair near its ears. Then you have to fold your dog’s ear and massage it from the top side to get the solution everywhere. Lastly, pick up a clean cotton ball to wipe off the remaining moisture from the cleaner. Beware of getting a cotton ball too deep into your dog’s ear cavity.
Step 14: Clean Your Dog’s Teeth
Brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth daily is essential. You simply need dog toothpaste and a double-sided toothbrush that you can use to gently scrub your pup’s teeth and gums. If your dog is finding it hard to adjust to the toothbrush, consider purchasing a finger brush to get your dog accustomed to the process before transitioning to a real dog toothbrush.
About THE AUTHOR
I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.Read More About Russell Wright