While it may seem difficult given that the adult Shih Tzu has a double coat, with a bit of practice and preparation, a basic Shih Tzu grooming routine can be done at home, even for a novice groomer or someone with little to no experience.
When to start grooming your Shih Tzu
Truth be told Shih Tzu puppies do not actually need to be groomed that much, some say a quick brush once every 3 days is fine. Additionally, it may be beneficial to allow your dog to become accustomed to the feel of the brush and the idea of grooming at an early age, around 8-9 months.
Get your dog used to the brush early on
This could be done in the evening, ideally when your pup is relaxing and less active or fidgety. You might give her a little brush every now and then while sitting on the sofa together for example.
There’s no need to be excessive, all we want is to allow her to get used to the brush and the idea of being groomed by you. Soon she will learn to enjoy it.
In regards to bathing, people often assume that the more you bathe your Shih Tzu the better the coat will be. This is not usually the case, in fact, a bath just once every 3 weeks should be sufficient for any age, including puppies and older dogs.
Brushing and Bathing your Shih Tzu
At the age of around 1 year, most Shih Tzu dogs will have grown a longer adult coat, at which time you will want to start doing more detailed and thorough grooming. As a full routine, the below should be done at least every 3 weeks.
So, that’s a bath, thorough brushing and untangling of knots, finally some cleaning and trimming. Brushing on its own however is something you may want to do every day depending on the length of your dog’s coat.
The bathing process for a Shih Tzu is pretty simple, here are a few guidelines to follow:
- Use lukewarm water
- Treat your dog to a decent shampoo!
- Ensure you work the shampoo into a rich lather and massage it in properly. This can be a nice relaxing time for your dog.
- Rinse out the shampoo suds thoroughly as you don’t want to leave any residue on the skin.
- Apply a leave-in conditioner and detangler
After she’s finished in the bath give her a rub down so she’s not dripping wet then go back to any matted fur and remove as necessary. It’s important that you take appropriate action to remove knots and matted fur as they can lead to discomfort, skin inflammation and even infection in some cases.
Before brushing it is highly recommended to first apply a quality leave-in spray or conditioner of some kind to protect from static electricity buildup and dryness which can lead to breakages.
Once the coat is sufficiently moistened start from somewhere like the top of a leg and work your way down to the foot. Using your fingernail, a knitting needle or the end of a steel comb part a small section to work on first.
Using your brush now, work outwards and in the same direction as the fur starting from the area nearest to the skin, do this several times until the brush moves freely through that section. Repeat this process on the rest of the body.
As you brush, be sure to feel for any slight knots, try and gently pull them apart with your fingers if you can. Matted hair will require a bit more effort to deal, take note of any problem areas, and move onto them after giving your dog a bath.
Cleaning the ears
Cleaning your dog’s ears regularly and after a bath should be on your top priority list, especially as a Shih Tzu owner. It’s quite well known that they are prone to ear infections as well as a few other health conditions you should be aware of.
First try to get your dog to lay down and relax, lift back the ear flap and gently pour some ear cleaner at an amount recommended by the directions for the specific product you’re using or as outlined by your veterinarian and just gently massage it in.
Next, take a cotton swab or clean flannel and remove any debris that may have fallen loose. Finally, if there is a lot of overgrown hair blocking the opening of the ear canal carefully trim it.
Note: that this might not be easy for less experienced hands, if you are at all in doubt please ask a professional groomer.
You are going to want to use a face comb and gently run it through the moustache area being aware of potential knots as you comb, you don’t want to tug on your dog’s face by accident!
If you do come across a relatively knotted area it’s best if you can hold the knot at its base between your fingers or whatever else you can to take the pressure as you comb the hair through. Repeat this process on the ears.
More on Shih Tzu Grooming
See the video below for even more tips and information and how to complete a Shih Tzu grooming session in under 13 minutes!
Video by Fetching Fur Dog Grooming