Grooming Your Shih Tzu Dog At Home


Grooming your Shih Tzu dog is an essential part of keeping this or any breed, healthy and happy.

And grooming your dog at home is a great way to save a little money too.

Not only will grooming your dog be a good way to build a bond, but it will be a great time to look for any skin and coat problems.

Beautifully groomed Shih Tzu dog

The puppy that is exposed to grooming becomes the dog that accepts it.

Whether you want to learn to groom him yourself, or bring him to a professional dog groomer, your Shih Tzu will love it.

When you see a Shih Tzu at a show, you are probably thinking how beautiful his coat looks, and how it flows so elegantly across the floor, and how you would love to have your Shih Tzu look like that.

While they certainly are beautiful with their long flowing coat, grooming him to look like a show dog, is a lot work and requires quite a bit of your time.

So if you aren't showing your Shih Tzu, you may want to consider a more manageable cut like a summer or teddy bear haircut.

He will still look beautiful, but will be so much easier to maintain.

Tools Needed to Groom Your Dog at Home

Shih Tzu are double-coated with longer hair over a softer downy coat that requires the right grooming tools to do a good job.

Your basic home grooming supply kit should include at the very least:

  • A brush with flexible pins
  • A fine slicker brush
  • A comb that is fine on one end and coarse on the other (teeth spacing)
  • Scissors (blunt-tipped are used to cut around the eyes for safety, especially for wiggly puppies.)
Shih Tzu being getting professionally groomed

Additional grooming supplies you should have on hand may include:

  • A table, you can buy a complete table or just the clamp to keep them from jumping down
  • Non-slip mat for bathing
  • A spray nozzle for your sink or tub. If your shower doesn't doesn't have a handheld feature, you may be able to use an attachment like the Waterpik's Pet Wand, which makes bathing your dog in the tub super easy and convenient
  • Dog Clippers are either battery operated or corded. Personally I prefer the corded ones whereas I think it has more power and I can get through the haircuts without the clippers running out of juice, then having to wait for the batteries to recharge. However, you should always choose clippers you feel most comfortable with.
  • Nail trimmers, and maybe an electric nail sander to make the freshly cut nails smoother
  • Emollient shampoo (pH balanced for dogs)
  • Ear-cleaning solution (available from your veterinarian)
  • Cotton-tipped swaps, cotton balls and soft wipes for eye care
  • Washcloth or sponge for their face
  • Towels
  • Hair dryer - You can use a regular hair dryer on a cool to warm setting, or use one specifically made for drying pets
  • Also, ribbons and bows for his top knot

Grooming your Shih Tzu weekly, helps keeps their coat healthy and mat free and prevents parasite infestations like fleas and ticks, skin lesions and diseases, all of which I am sure not only your dog will appreciate, but you will too.

Essential At-Home Grooming Routine

Long, white-haired Shih Tzu dogPrepare your dog for grooming

The very first thing to do when preparing your Shih Tzu for a bath is to comb out his coat.

You will find that brushing or combing their hair and removing any tangles will be much easier when their hair is dry rather than trying to remove them after their hair has been washed.

Giving a Bath

You can give your dog a bath in your sink or your tub, it's all about what works best for you and your dog.

However wherever you choose keep in mind it will be much easier to wash your dog if there is a spray nozzle attachment.

After you have worked out all mats and tangles with your brush, thoroughly wet your Shih Tzu starting from the top of the head.

For now avoid their face, you'll be using a face cloth for their face, and cleaning their eyes.

Apply the shampoo in the same way, from top down.

Once they have been fully shampooed, carefully rinse them off, protecting their eyes and nose from being irritated by the shampoo, and avoid letting water getting into their ears.

Read our articles on 8 Simple Tips Bathing Your Shih Tzu and How to Clean Your Shih Tzu Without a Bath

Other tasks that should be done if you are grooming your dog at home are:

Cleaning ears

Ear cleaning solutions should be placed in the ear and allowed to sit in the canal for a few moments.

Do one ear at a time working the solution by gently massaging the ear starting from the base toward the outside of the ear.  This will help loosen all the dirt and wax.

Use a Muslim cloth or cotton pads to wipe the area and excess solution.  A Q-Tip may be used to gently wipe the folds of the ear, but never insert it into your dogs ear canal as it will cause your dog to become anxious.

Continue onto the next ear in the same manner.

Once you have completed the ear cleaning process, release your and let him shake his head.

Brushing your Shih Tzu's teeth

You may think that brushing your dogs teeth isn't a necessity, but you really should consider making this part of their weekly grooming routine.

Kibble, or treats that tout clean your dogs teeth don't always do what they claim to, so you shouldn't rely on that to keep him mouth healthy and fresh.

Plus by cleaning his teeth regularly, you may find that his next dental check up may be a positive one.

To tackle this step, begin by getting a doggie toothbrush. 

You can use a type of brush that looks similar to your own, however I find that small rubber pet brush that fits over the top of the finger gives the most control to ward off gum and teeth problems. 

Apply a small amount of toothpaste specifically made for dogs, and use light, gentle pressure, but firm enough that it will clean their teeth.

Brushing your Shih Tzu's teeth should be done a minimum of 2 to 3 times a week.  Although once a day would be ideal.

TIP:  Put the toothpaste on the brush and let your dog lick some of it off, as if it is a treat.  Then brush 1 section at a time to get your dog used to the task.  Be sure to give your dog praise as your brushing.

Nail clipping

If you hear your dogs nails clickity clacking on your floors it may mean they are too long.  

Long nails if left to grow unchecked, puts pressure on the toes and could result in problems for your dogs paws.

Nails should be clipped short enough that they do not touch the floor.

Clean and trim the hair between the pads.  Read our article on tips to cutting your dogs nails.

Expressing anal sacs

You may be thinking what the heck are anal sacs and why do they have to be expressed?!

You're not alone.  This little gem was quite a shock to me when I first learned about it too.

Because you are one smart cookie, you may have already guessed anal glands are near your dogs backside.

Anal glands are basically "scent glands" and dogs have them so they can leave their mark in the world by way of dropping a scent as a way to communicate with other dogs who happen upon their, how to say it delicately, droppings location.

Unfortunately, some dogs aren't able to expel this fluid and need a little help by either bringing them to the vet for when they have very full or impacted glands, or by us if they just need a little help in clearing their glands of this secretion.

That means squeezing them to get the fluid out.

These glands need to be expressed when it feels like two small peas on either side of the anus below the tail or you see him scooting along surfaces.

It is highly recommended to learn the procedure from a groomer or veterinarian first in order to protect your Shih Tzu from an injury or infection, also to keep yourself from being sprayed with the pungent liquid from their glands

Grooming a Shih Tzu keeps this little beauty happy and healthy which lets you both enjoy years of companionship.

Shih Tzu Haircuts

Rocky and Max, two Shih Tzu dogs laying together© Rocky and Max

The three common Shih Tzu haircuts are the puppy cut, the show cut and the teddy bear.

Shih Tzu Puppy Cut

The Shih Tzu puppy cut, also known as the summer cut, trims the hair to one to two inches in length.

It makes grooming significantly easier as it only needs to be cut every three months or so.

But in the summer months you need to be careful these little cuties don't get a sunburn.

It's also important to continue to brush her daily to keep her clean, but because it is a much shorter there won't be a many tangles.

Shih Tzu Teddy Bear Cut

Shih Tzu teddy bear haircut

The Shih Tzu Teddy Bear Cut allows the top knot, but cuts down on the amount of maintenance.

The hair on the head and face is trimmed to a normal or little longer length but the body is clipped close.

Shih Tzu Show Cut

Shih Tzu show cutShih Tzu show cut

The show cut is the signature haircut of the Shih Tzu breed. This hairstyle consists of a long flowing coat that gracefully sweeps across the floor as they walk, along with the signature top knot adorning their little heads.

This style requires the most maintenance to keep the coat flowing and tangle free.

The best way to determine which grooming style would work is to realize that it is directly related to how much time you have to commit to the grooming task.

If you have a lot of time on your hands daily, and don't mind spending hours brushing your Shih Tzus long hair everyday and love the look of the show cut for your dog, then go ahead an choose this style.

However, if time is limited and you barely have enough time to care for own hair everyday, a shorter style would likely work best.

Ultimately It's really a matter of preference.

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