The 7 Best Haircuts for Shih Tzu

Published on September 20, 2019 | Updated on October 23, 2023

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Whether you want your Shih Tzu’s coat long or short, there’s a haircut that fits you and your pup’s style.

Shih Tzu are often recognized by their long, flowing coats, which can take a lot of time and effort to properly maintain.

3 Shih Tzu dogs hairstylesShih Tzu Styling Haircuts

Often, Shih Tzu owners opt for a different haircut for their pup.

Maybe a style that might be a little easier to handle, or perhaps one that might be more comfortable for their dog.

While there are several options when it comes to haircuts for Shih Tzu, ultimately, the style you choose for your pup will depend a lot on the time and effort that you are willing to put into maintaining it.

The 7 best haircuts for Shih Tzu are:

  1. The Puppy Cut
  2. Summer Cut with Longer Ears and Tail
  3. Moderate Puppy Cut
  4. Lion cut
  5. Teddy bear cut
  6. Practical top knot
  7. Top knot show cut

If you aren’t particularly fond of spending hours of the week grooming your Shih Tzu, then you might want to opt for a shorter haircut, like the puppy cut or lion cut.

However, if you plan to show your dog, then the top knot show cut is the go-to style.

Of course, you can always enlist the services of a professional groomer, but no matter what style you decide on, it all comes down to what works best for you and your dog.

Read on to discover seven different haircuts that could be the right fit!

The Best Haircuts for a Shih Tzu

There are several different styles to choose from when it comes to haircuts for your Shih Tzu.

They can range from very short to super long and everything in between.

Plus, each individual haircut has variations that can make the selection process even more personalized to your own taste and lifestyle.

Let’s take a closer look at these popular haircuts:

1. The Puppy Cut

Max  the liver-colored Shih Tzu groomed in a puppy cut

The puppy cut is one of the lowest maintenance haircuts there is for a Shih Tzu.

The coat is kept short over the whole body (about 1 to 2 inches), including the tail and ears.

Since Shih Tzu do not like heat, this cut can be a good choice for summertime, and in fact, is often referred to as a summer cut.

Even though it is a low maintenance haircut, it does still require brushing to keep the dirt from accumulating, although you will not need to do it every day.

If you do not plan to show your Shih Tzu and are limited on time, then this could be the perfect cut for you and your pup.

2. Summer Cut - The Puppy Cut with Longer Ears and Tail

2 Shih Tzu dog with different puppy haircuts

This style is the same as the puppy cut, but it just keeps the ears and tails long.  It’s all a matter of your personal preference.

3. A Moderate Length Puppy Cut

Shih Tzu with a moderate length haircut and topknot

The moderate puppy cut is a variation on the classic puppy cut that keeps the overall coat a little fuller.

If you’re considering going from a long coat to a complete puppy cut, this style could be a good in-between one to choose to help you and your pup transition.

4. The Teddy Bear Cut

tan and white Shih Tzu with a teddy bear haircut

Take one look at a Shih Tzu with this style and you will see why it’s called the teddy bear haircut.

The teddy bear cut is a classic style for many breeds and suits pups with thick coats, such as Shih Tzu.

This style concentrates on the hair that is on the face, making it fluffy and giving it a rounded shape.

The end result; your Shih Tzu looks like the classic, cuddly teddy bear toy.

The teddy bear cut is mainly about the face and legs, so you can opt to pair it with any length of puppy cut on the body.

5. The Lion Cut

Tan colored Shih Tzu dog sporting a lion haircut

Sure, lions are big cats, and yet there are several dog breeds that sport a lion cut.

This cut, like the teddy bear cut, emphasizes the hair around the face.

However, it is paired with a short haircut on the rest of the body, usually trimmed to about one and a half to two inches in length.

The hair around the face is styled in a mane-like fashion around the face and head.

Sometimes, the cut even includes a trimmed tail with a tuft left at the tip to resemble a lion’s tail.

The overall effect is that your Shih Tzu resembles a tiny, adorable lion.

This is a fairly easy cut to maintain since most of the hair is kept short, but make sure to keep up with the hair around the face to avoid tangles and stray pieces that can poke your pup in the eyes and cause irritation.

6. A Practical Top Knot

Tan and white Shih Tzu dog with a short top knot

When you see a picture of a Shih Tzu, the odds are high that the dog will be sporting the classic top knot - the iconic Shih Tzu “up do.”

The top knot is simply formed by gathering some of your dog’s hair together at the top of the head and securing it carefully with a clip or tie.

The top knot hair is meant to cascade down, although when it is coupled with shorter cuts, sometimes the top knot is kept shorter as well.

In the practical top knot cut, the top knot is done as described above, and the rest of the body is kept trimmed short, puppy cut style.

A top knot is a great way to keep pesky long hairs out of your Shih Tzu’s eyes.

You can even use your pup’s top knot as a way to define her personal style; add a braid or two, or any other creative style that you can whip up.

7. The Top Knot Show Cut

Beautiful Shih Tzu in a show haircut

The show cut is the ultimate in Shih Tzu haircuts.

It is the one you see in the dog shows; the long, flowing coat, dragging across the show floor.

This cut is not for the every-day family pet.  It is too high maintenance, plus it can be very hot for your pup.

It is for these reasons that this cut is usually only seen on show dogs.

To properly maintain a show cut takes an extreme amount of time, dedication and often, money.

You must be prepared to brush your dog several times a day to avoid tangles, and also to use high-quality shampoos, conditioners, and de-tangling sprays or leave-in spritzes.

Regular grooming is of the utmost importance, and you should only opt for this haircut if you are ready to fully commit to the care that it requires.

How Often Does My Shih Tzu Need a Haircut?

How often you cut your Shih Tzu’s hair will depend somewhat on the style of cut that you choose, but on average, a Shih Tzu’s coat needs to be trimmed every 4 to 6 weeks.

The silky coat grows rather quickly, and it is critical to keep up with regular brushing and cuts to keep the hair from becoming matted.

Matted fur, besides not looking very nice, can be painful for your pup.

Grey and white long hair Shih Tzu dog getting a hair cut

Another thing that affects how often you trim your pooch is the temperature.

Shih Tzu do not deal well with heat, so many people decide to keep their Shih Tzu’s coat short when the weather is hot and let the hair grow out in the cooler months.

If you keep your pup’s hair short and then decide you want your Shih Tzu to have the long, flowing show cut, it will take a lot of time and dedication.

Growing out a full, long coat can take anywhere from one to two years!

A healthy Shih Tzu’s coat will grow about half an inch per month.

It is extremely important that you keep up with all brushing and trimming during this time so that your Shih Tzu's coat grows out evenly and does not become tangled with the hair that sheds.

If you are on the other side of the fence, and your Shih Tzu has a long coat that you want to clip short, do so carefully.

Take into consideration how long the coat will take to grow out, and make sure that a short haircut is what you really want to do.

It may be a good idea to clip the coat in increments, getting slightly shorter each time, to make sure that it is really the style you desire.

What To Do if Your Shih Tzu Doesn’t Like to Be Groomed

For many Shih Tzu, brushing is an enjoyable experience.

It not only feels good (if done regularly so that there isn’t a lot of matted hair to deal with), but it is also a time in which they get undivided attention from their owners -- which is a Shih Tzu’s favorite thing.

Brushing your dog can be a great way to bond with your pup and spend some quality time together.

In order for the experience to be one of delight and not one of anxiety, it is extremely helpful to introduce the routine early on, preferably when your dog is a puppy.

If you get a Shih Tzu that is already older, then introduce brushing as soon as possible, but slowly.

The same principle applies to any grooming routine, like cleaning the eyes and ears, trimming nails, and of course, bath time.

Here are a few things that can help make the grooming experience more pleasant:

Introduce the Tools of the Trade

Can you imagine if you had no idea what a hairbrush or dog clippers were, and all of a sudden someone started moving one towards your head?

Would you be a bit startled?

Your first reaction might be to take a step back or maybe even get away from the brush-wielding fiend.

Well, put yourself in your Shih Tzu’s shoes, well, paws.

She doesn’t know a brush from a comb to a set of nail trimmers.

Before you start any grooming routine, it is essential to introduce your dog to the tools.

Let her see them, sniff them, and even lick them if she wants, before you ever touch her with them.

Take Baby Steps

Don’t jump into the first grooming session with high hopes.

Set mini-goals; even if those goals are simple, like brushing your Shih Tzu for one minute.

The first few sessions might just include a couple of strokes with the brush, or maybe clipping one nail.

Whatever the case may be for you and your pup, start slow and gradually increase the amount of time you spend grooming your dog, until you are able to successfully complete a grooming session.

Be Consistent

When toddlers start preschool, they are often nervous on their first day.

Very often, there are tears and this can continue for several days.

Over time, they realize that school isn’t so bad and the tears fade. 

However, if all of a sudden they don’t go to school for two weeks, the process can start all over again.

Your dog will be nervous the first several sessions, but over time she will get better, as long as you stick with your routine.

Consistency brings comfort and a sense of what to expect, which helps ease anxiety.

Set up regular grooming sessions with your Shih Tzu, whether you do it yourself, or you take your pup to a professional grooming service.

Keep It Positive

Keep a small arsenal of treats and goodies with you during your grooming sessions.

When you are starting out, a simple tap or stroke of the brush might mean a treat for your pup.

Your Shih Tzu might earn herself a treat when she lets you clip one nail without a fuss.

Bath time might mean a new bath toy or a yummy bone.

If your dog loves peanut butter (most dogs do), try putting a little peanut butter on the wall or tub in front of your pup and letting her go to town as you wash, brush and clip away.

Call In the Professionals

If grooming your dog by yourself is a struggle, whether it is because of your pup’s attitude or simply because you don’t have the time, then your best option is to seek the services of a professional groomer.

If your dog is anxious when it comes to grooming, a good groomer will be able to help work with your dog and keep him calm.

Finding a groomer that you really trust and like is essential because you will want to use the same person as much as possible so that your dog can build a relationship with that person.

This will help keep the experience positive for your pup.

It is also wise to go with a professional if you opt for a cut that requires precision; unless you are prepared to handle a mistake if you go it alone.

If you are nervous about your fur-baby being away at the groomers, then you can look for a facility that offers viewing windows.

You can watch your pup get beautiful and maintain your peace of mind at the same time.

Finding a Dog Groomer

Before you decide on a groomer, ask around to trusted friends and fellow dog owners. Read lots of reviews.

Look for professionals that come highly recommended and who have a proven track record of satisfied customers.

Once you have your groomer selected, it is still imperative that you communicate clearly.

Just because the groomer is a professional, that doesn’t mean she knows exactly what you want.

It is always helpful to provide pictures of the haircut you want for your Shih Tzu; this takes the guesswork out of the equation.

Think about it, even people bring pictures to the salon when they go in for a new style, so do the same for your dog.

If you’re not planning to show your Shih Tzu, there’s no reason to maintain the long show cut, unless you just really like it.

There are many other haircuts that offer lower-maintenance and still look cute on your pup.

The best thing to do is to assess your individual situation.

Consider things like

  • how much time you have to devote to grooming
  • if you can afford regular professional grooming services
  • if you plan to show your dog, or
  • if your Shih Tzu’s personality is a good match for certain hairstyles.

For example, if your Shih Tzu tends to really feel the heat, then she might prefer a shorter, cooler cut.

One thing that is for sure, no matter what decision you make regarding your Shih Tzu’s haircut, he’s sure to be adorable as ever.

Looking for some more resources to help you learn about grooming and caring for your Shih Tzu?

Check out the rest of our blog

You’re sure to find lots of great tips and information to help you take care of your furry pal!

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