How to Clean a Shih Tzu without a Bath


Keeping your Shih Tzu clean and healthy is just part of being a pet parent.  This includes taking them to the groomers or bathing them at home, every two to four weeks.

Of course, regular bathing is necessary, but there are other ways to clean your Shih Tzu that can greatly make your grooming regimen much more manageable between those visits.

Small dog lathered up with soap during his bath

There are several things that you can do to clean your Shih Tzu without giving him a bath.  Using pet wipes, freshening sprays and dry shampoos, along with regular brushing, can significantly cut down on the number of baths that your pup needs, although baths will still be necessary.  

One of the traits that is a stand-out among the Shih Tzu breed is a long, silky coat, but as beautiful as they are, Shih Tzu’s coats can make grooming very time-consuming.

Their coats can take forever to dry and brush out to avoid matting, and many Shih Tzu aren’t fans of water, which can make bath time stressful for both the dog and owner.

So, make things easier by intermittently cleaning your Shih Tzu without the hassle of a bath!

How Do You Clean Your Shih Tzu without a Bath?

There’s no doubt that your Shih Tzu is a part of your family, so it’s natural that you want to do everything you can to take the best care of her.

Practically speaking, you probably have a lot of things to do, and if there is any way that you can ease up on your pup’s grooming requirements to devote some extra time to other things, then you would welcome the opportunity.

You don’t need to feel guilty if you aren’t giving your dog a bath every week.

In fact, weekly bathing might even be too much for your Shih Tzu (more on that below).  The important thing is that you keep your dog clean, and therefore healthy.

Here are some ways to ensure you’re keeping your Shih Tzu clean without a bath:

Pet Wipes

Your Shih Tzu’s coat is a magnet for anything and everything that you would not want inside of your home.

Every time your Shih Tzu plays outside or goes out for a walk, her coat picks up some extra bits along the way and carries them around with her.

Pet wipes are a useful tool to decrease the amount of unwanted items in your dog’s coat before she starts to roll around in your house.

Pet wipes help to remove a good portion of the dander and dirt that accumulate in your pet’s coat. You can even use baby wipes in a pinch, but pet wipes are specifically designed with dog odors in mind and can help soothe dog’s skin.

These handy cleaning tools are also a great way to keep your pup clean on the go, and for a quick wipe down to reduce the allergens that come into your home.

You can keep a pack near your door and also in your car, so that they are always within an arm’s reach.

Use a pet wipe on your Shih Tzu at least once a week and as needed.

Regular Brushing

If you are not going to give your pup regular baths, when it comes to Shih Tzu, regular brushings are non-negotiable.

The feature that makes your dog’s appearance so impressive, her long silky coat, is also the feature that can cause her to have a not so impressive smell.

Many of the odors and allergens that your Shih Tzu carries around are because of her beautiful coat.

Dirt, dander, and all sorts of “treasures” find their way onto your pup’s hair and cling there, until they are deposited onto your carpet, clothes, furniture and all other types of places that you don’t want them to be.

Regular brushing helps get rid of all of these unwanted items in your pet’s coat so they don’t build up over time.

The result is a cleaner and happier pooch, without the need for numerous baths.

Brushing your dog’s coat regularly is the best practice to prevent it from matting and to keep it in tip top shape.

Brush your Shih Tzu daily if she has a long coat, twice a week if she has a medium coat and once a week for a short “puppy” cut.

Dry Shampoos

Waterless shampoos can be a great alternative to a bath if you are in a bind, although they are not meant to completely replace a true bath.

Dry shampoos help to remove excess oil from your pup’s coat and also help to reduce odor.

Since your pup needs some of these oils in her coat for it to remain healthy and shiny, it’s critical to not overuse dry shampoos.

If you are worried about the added chemicals that can be found in some dry shampoos, don’t fret!

A home made mix of equal parts baking soda and cornstarch will do the trick.

For a little extra “bow WOW” add a couple drops of an essential oil for a pleasant scent, or try lavender if your pup could use a little extra calm, for example, before a big thunderstorm.

Use a dry shampoo on your Shih Tzu as needed; no more than once a week.

Colognes and Freshening Sprays

Okay, so admittedly cologne and freshening sprays do not actually clean your pup, but they can offer a quick relief from doggy odors in between cleaning sessions.

Some sprays even serve an added bonus of detangling your pup’s silky coat, which can be very helpful to keep up with regular brushings.

Give your Shih Tzu a freshening spritz as needed and at every brushing.

Paw Wax

You’ve probably heard of waxing your car, but what about your dog’s paws?

Your Shih Tzu picks up a lot of dirt, dust and other debris on her paws, which of course tracks into your house, but can also make its way up into her coat.

You can help prevent this from happening, as well as give your pup’s paws another layer of protection from irritants, by using a good paw wax.

Paw wax will also help moisturize your Shih Tzu’s paws and heal any dryness or peeling.  Apply paw wax to your Shih Tzu’s paws once a week.

Don’t Forget to Wash Behind Your Dog’s Ears!

Were you told to wash behind your ears a lot as a child?  Well, when it comes to your dog, it’s not so much about behind the ears, as inside of them.

Dogs have hair in their ears, and just like the hair on their coats it can trap all sorts of hidden yuckies.

Regularly (and gently) plucking the hair from inside your dog’s ears can help.

Of course, you need to be careful, just like when you clean your own ears, and don’t put anything down inside of your dog’s ear canal. Instead, use some ear cleaning drops to help loosen wax and then wipe away using a damp cloth or baby wipe.

Carefully wipe the inside of your pet’s ear, or under her ear flap, and then use the opposite side of the wipe for her other ear.

There are also special ear wipes you can get for your pup, but take note -- they are not the same as the wipes used on your pet’s body for cleansing.

Clean your Shih Tzu’s inner ear flaps at least once a week (more often if they tend to get dirty), and clean out the ear canal using drops about every three weeks.

Look Into Your Dog’s Eyes!

Shih Tzu are prone to several eye issues, so it is especially important to take good care of your pup’s peepers.

There are special, you guessed it, wipes for cleaning dog’s eyes, but even a warm, damp soft cloth will work wonders.

Gently use the cloth to wipe from the inside of your Shih Tzu’s eye to the outside and then repeat on the other side using a different wipe or cloth.

You don’t want to use the same cloth in each eye in case, for example, there is an infection present, so you don’t spread the infection to the other eye.

Another thing that can help keep your Shih Tzu’s eyes clean is to make sure to keep the hair around her eyes trimmed.

This is beneficial for several reasons: it not only keeps pesky hairs from poking your dog in the eye and irritating her, but it also keeps her eyes from tearing which can cause staining on the fur around the eyes, as well as cause your Shih Tzu’s face to have an odor.

When you clean your dog’s eyes, use a damp cloth to wipe her whole face, too.

Your Shih Tzu’s face can see a lot of action between sniffing around outdoors, lapping up water and digging around in her food dish.

Clean your Shih Tzu’s eyes and face every day.

Wash Your Dog’s Mouth Out!

No, this tip has nothing to do with your Shih Tzu barking a bad word.  It has everything to do with taking care of her teeth and gums.

A dog’s oral health, just like humans, can have a large impact on her overall health -- not to mention it can greatly reduce unpleasant doggy breath!

Daily brushing of your pup’s teeth is ideal, although not always practical, so a good alternative is to offer daily dental chews (chews specifically designed to help remove tartar and clean teeth as your dog chews) in addition to regular brushing of some kind - even if it is weekly

You will also want to make a yearly dental check-up and cleaning part of your pet’s regular vet care routine to ensure optimal results. Brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth every day, and use daily dental chews.

Don’t Forget Your Dog’s Stuff

So, if you regularly brush your pup; clean her ears, eyes and mouth; wipe her down, and even give her regular baths -- you might still notice a lingering odor.

What is the deal?

Well, your pup comes into contact with a lot of stuff every day.  She most likely has her own bed or blanket, soft toys, a harness and collar that she wears, maybe even her own wardrobe!

Well, all of these items hold onto doggy dander and doggy odors.

If your pup is sleeping in a dirty bed, then it’s going to be pretty “ruff” for her to stay clean.  Therefore, don’t forget to make washing your Shih Tzu’s belongings a part of your clean routine.

This will help to keep your pup clean, and your house, too. Ideally, wash your Shih Tzu’s belongings once a week.

Can My Shih Tzu Skip Baths Completely?

Black and white Shih Tzu dog laying in dirt

The biggest reason your dog needs a bath is her health.  Bathing helps prevent your dog’s skin from becoming infected and also helps to keep your dog’s coat healthy.

Is a bath necessary, though? If there are so many great ways to keep your Shih Tzu clean without a bath, then why not just skip baths completely?

Well, think about yourself for a moment. You probably get a bath or a shower every day, but there are times when you also probably decide to skip it -- you’re too tired, too busy, don’t plan on going anywhere, didn’t do too much that day, etc.

The day after you skip your shower, you aren’t too active, so you decide, what’s one more day?

The next morning, you wake up and before you can hop into the shower, you get a phone call from a friend asking you to meet for an impromptu cup of coffee.

You peek at the clock, you have ten minutes to get there and no time for a shower, so what do you do?

As a human, you most likely do the following: brush your teeth, run a comb through your hair, splash some water on your face, put on clean clothes, put on deodorant and spritz on some cologne or perfume.

In a pinch, this routine makes you presentable and non-offensive when it comes to the smell department.  To most people you appear clean, but it’s doubtful that you decide to just ditch showers completely and wear perfume instead.

Eventually, you would want an actual shower or bath because nothing is going to completely replace the benefits you get from those things.

This same theory applies to dogs.

There are definitely a lot of different ways to reduce the number of baths that are needed and keep your dog clean and fresh in between, but your dog still needs a bath now and then.

How Often Does a Shih Tzu Need a Bath?

No two dogs are alike, so not every dog has the same needs in terms of bath time.  For example, while weekly bathing might be necessary for some dogs, other dogs might do just fine with a bath once a month.

A Shih Tzu, with its lovely double coat, needs more frequent brushing over bathing.  Lucky you!

The typical Shih Tzu needs a bath about every three weeks, but you can use some of these pointers to keep your pup clean and extend that time as long as your pup seems happy and healthy.

The exception to this is if your dog has any skin conditions; a doctor might suggest more frequent bathing using a medicated shampoo.  When in doubt, consult with your vet.

Too much bathing can leave your dog’s skin overly dry and flaky because it strips your dog’s coat and skin of essential oils, and too much bathing can also dry out the skin.

Of course, if your dog starts to get extra smelly, that’s always a good indicator that it’s time for a bath.

If the thought of a Shih Tzu’s elaborate grooming routine has you a little hesitant, hopefully, this has given you a little more food for thought.

Grooming your dog does not have to be exhausting.  It should not be a time-consuming affair that makes you (and your pup) want to run for the hills every time that it’s bath time.

Of course, if you find yourself unable to keep up with your pup's beauty routine, then you might want to consider regular visits to a professional groomer.

For more fun facts and resources to help you get the most out of your time with your Shih Tzu, make sure to check out the rest of our blog!

We wish you much future happiness with your furry and clean canine friend!

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