APRIL 19, 2019 | WRITTEN BY MOLLY
If you have ever seen a dog show competition, you have most
likely seen a Shih Tzu with it's long, flowing hair gracefully gliding across the
I always believed that a long coat was the norm for this breed. That is until I met someone who said their Shih Tzu's hair never grows.
So, I did a little research to find out, do all Shih Tzu have long hair? Here's what I found.
adult pure bred Shih Tzu have long hair. However, some are cut to shorter lengths as it is much
easier to maintain. If left
uncut, a Shih Tzu's hair would continue to grow to the ground, and would become
matted if daily brushing and detangling were not done.
Puppies are a different matter, they have short hair until they lose their puppy coat. Only then are they able to grow their hair long.
A Shih Tzu bred with a different dog breed, may not be able to grow a longer coat. This would explain why some people will only see short hair on their Shih Tzu.
So, if growing long hair is important to you, take a look at it's coat.
Have you have ever seen a dog shake their entire body and saw a lot of fur flying off them?
It reminds me of the Pigpen character in Charlie Brown, where dirt just follows him around wherever he goes.
This fur gets all over the carpets and furniture. And it seems you are constantly wiping a bunch of it off your clothes.
One of the biggest differences between hair and fur is that hair has a slower growth cycle which results in less shedding.
Fortunately, the Shih Tzu coat is made up of this human-like hair and not fur.
This hair is dense, as well as soft and silky, and can be straight or have a slight wave to it.
Shih Tzu also have what is called a double coat. A double coat is a thick undercoat beneath a longer, smoother layer on top.
The few hairs that do fall off will usually get caught in the undercoat, and will need a good brushing to remove them.
This is what makes the Shih Tzu a low-shedding dog breed.
Long hair that is left long and flowing is called a full coat and is very high maintenance. It will require several brushings a day to keep the hair from tangling.
This full coat is known as a “show cut” as it often found on Shih Tzu that compete in dogs shows.
In competition, the breed standard will always
be in a full coat.
As a puppy, a Shih Tzus coat is very fine, soft and fluffy.
It isn’t until they reach between 6 to 12 months, when they lose their puppy coats and begin to develop their mature coat.
Once they have their mature hair, it should grow at a rate of a half inch per month.
If a Shih Tzu has been shaved down, it can take between 12 to 24 months before they will have a nice long coat that touches the ground.
But, be prepared to brush it daily while it is growing out, to keep it from tangling.
Also feeding them quality nutritional diet will help grow their coat back healthier
Omega fatty acids are excellent for coat and skin health. Find foods that contain them , or use an omega 3 supplement. Talk to your vet about how much to give them.
One good thing about long hair is that it won’t have to be cut as often.
And unless they get very dirty, bringing them to the groomers for a bath and a trim can be done every 5 to 6 weeks.
But it can take hours of daily brushing to keep that beautiful full coat from getting tangled.
As this long, flowing coat will be sweeping along the ground collecting all kinds of dirt and debris.
When kept long, daily brushing is needed to remove all the accumulated debris. If not brushed, matting will result.
Once matting starts it can take a long time to get them out, if at all.
Some people will opt to use a de-matting tool while others will choose to just shave it instead.
A Shih Tzu should not be bathed too often. No more than every three weeks, unless of course, they become very dirty or stinky.
Bathing them too often can remove the natural body oils needed to keep their skin and coat healthy.
You can begin see how a Shih Tzu with a full long coat will take a lot more time to maintain than one with a shorter cut.
So, if you like to take your Shih Tzu for walks in the woods, or swimming in the pool, you may want to reconsider the long coat.
It may be a wiser decision to go with a shorter haircut if your Shih Tzu likes to do these outdoor activities with you.
As elegant as the “show cut” looks, it just isn’t practical for the majority of people.
This is why many Shih Tzu owners will choose a shorter cut.
A Shih Tzu still looks adorable with a short cut, but the time it takes to care for their hair is greatly reduced.
Let's take a look at the differences between these Shih Tzu haircuts.
These three are the most common of Shih Tzu haircuts. But you can use a combination of each cut to get a desired result.
For instance, you can add a top knot to a teddy bear cut, or leave a fluffy tail and head on a summer cut.
The skies the limit when styling a Shih Tzu.
The Top Knot
A top knot on a Shih Tzu is typically used when the hair on their head is longer.
Basically it's used to keep the hair out of the dogs eyes. But also adds a little oomph to whichever cut is chosen for them.
To get a top knot, comb all the hair around their forehead up to the top of their head.
Secure with a clip, a ribbon, or a small elastic band, giving the Shih Tzu a pony tail appearance.
Loosen it a bit if it seems too tight.
Instead of a pony tail, some owners will make a braid to keep the hair back for a different look.
It’s really a matter of personal choice whether to leave a Shih Tzu with long hair, or short.
The best haircut is one that a pet parent has the time to maintain.
So if having long hair on your Shih Tzu is what you want, be prepared to spend a lot of your time keeping them clean and tidy.