By Everything Shih Tzu October 25, 2022
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Many people consider Shih Tzu dogs to be a non-shedding dog breed, and that they are "hypoallergenic dogs."
But what's the reality of dogs that don't shed?
Having cared for multiple Shih Tzu dogs for more than a decade, I can say with confidence that Shih Tzu dogs shed very little. In fact, it is unlikely you will find more than a few stray hairs on your furniture, carpets, or even your clothes.
However, to say they are a non-shedding dog breed isn't entirely accurate.
The Shih Tzu is one of the few breeds whose coat consists of hair (like people) rather than fur; yet much like people, their hair is shed everyday as a part of the body's natural renewal process.
The difference is in what becomes of their hair that has fallen out.
One of the characteristics of the Shih Tzu breed is they have what is known as a double coat.
This second layer of hair plays an important role in preventing loose hair from collecting on floors and furniture.
The vast majority of these hairs, rather than falling onto their surroundings, will become entangled in the Shih Tzu's coat, where they will remain until they are brushed out as part of the Shih Tzu's regular grooming
This means you won't have to pull out the lint brush to clean up a bunch of hairs after these longed haired pooches have been lounging on the couch all day.
Nor will you have to worry about changing your clothes after you've cuddled with them before heading out to work.
And given that clumps of loose hair are not readily visible, this is probably why many people believe they are a non-shedding dog breed.
There are two kinds of hair on a dog: guard hairs, which are the outermost layer, and down hairs, which are the fuzzier, softer layer underneath.
A Shih Tzu has both kinds of hair.
Shih Tzu double-coated hair means that they have an outer layer of longer guard hairs and an inner layer of shorter down hairs.
Guard hairs are designed to protect the dog from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, dirt, and moisture.
They also help repel insects, so Shih Tzu dogs are always prepared for outdoor adventures.
While it’s normal to have both kinds of hair on your dog, the guard hairs should be longer than the down hairs.
Shedding is the natural process by which your dog’s old hair is replaced by new hair.
It’s important to remember that not all dogs shed: some breeds have very little shedding, while others have very heavy shedding.
Double-coated breeds like Shih Tzus are known for having lots of hair.
Shih Tzu dogs shed throughout the year as part of their natural shedding cycle, but there are also seasonal shed cycles that happen every year.
Typically, shedding picks up in the summer and as the weather gets hotter.
Then, in the fall and winter months, shedding slows down again.
The shedding process of a Shih Tzu puppy, on the other hand, is a completely different story.
You've likely noticed that a Shih Tzu puppy's hair is different from that of an adult Shih Tzu.
A Shih Tzu puppy has finer, thinner, and shorter hair. And it isn't until the puppy is about 9 to 12 months old that the puppy's coat will change into its adult coat.
It's during the development phase from puppy to adulthood that you may see the most shedding due to an increase in the volume of hair.
Here are some tips for keeping your home tidy and well-maintained with a shedding dog.
I hope this clears up any confusion about Shih Tzu being a non-shedding dog breed.
However, you've likely heard Shih Tzu's are hypoallergenic as well, but what does it mean to have a hypoallergenic dog?
To say that something is hypoallergenic is to say that it is highly unlikely that someone will have an allergic reaction to it.
Due to the fact that a Shih Tzu does not shed or more specifically sheds very little, the allergen-causing dander that clings to their hair is less likely released into the air, onto the floor, the furniture, or your clothing, as it would be with a dog who sheds heavily.
So, are Shih Tzu good for people with allergies? Yes!
As mentioned above, although the Shih Tzu is not a big shedder, their skin can still become dry and flaky.
It's the dry skin flakes, also known as dander, that could trigger an allergic reaction in some people.
Unfortunately, dry skin can happen with any dog breed and Shih Tzu are not immune to skin issues.
It's easy to tell when their skin is dry because they will be scratching quite a bit, their hair will be dull, and you'll see the tiny flakes on them, your furniture and your clothes after you've been cuddling with them.
The best way to keep his skin from becoming dry and his coat dull is to feed him the best dog food you can and brush him more often to stimulate oil glands.
Another beneficial option is to add some omega oils in his diet.
We've had pretty good luck using supplements; however, my dogs prefer the liver flavor omega oils compared to salmon.
I am particularly fond of the omega oil supplement in liver flavor that we use with our Shih Tzu dogs because they don't stink as many omega oil supplements do.
If you're less than enthusiastic about the fishy smell of typical omega oil supplements, look for the liver ones instead at your local pet supply store.
If they don't have them, you can usually find them on Amazon.
If after trying all of the above and the problem persists, have your veterinarian check him out for any underlying issues like food allergies or thyroid disease.
Regular grooming will help decrease the number of allergens on your dog, especially if your dog has dry skin.
Brushing your dog will help remove skin flakes while stimulating the skin's natural oils which act as a protective barrier against dander.
It's worth mentioning that since the Shih Tzu hair does tend to shed off into itself, and especially when the hair is kept long, brushing must be done daily.
Not only will daily brushing will help keep allergens from getting trapped in their long hair, but it will also help keep your Shih Tzus hair from getting tangled.
Tangles lead to knots. Pretty quickly thereafter, these knots become a tangled, matted mess, which is not easy to remove.
Matted hair pulls on the Shih Tzu's skin and causes pain and discomfort to them.
Even the easy-going Shih Tzu can become aggressive and nip at you, due to the mats causing them even more pain when someone touches them.
With matted hair, it becomes a haven for an insect invasion and skin infections do arise. You could try to get the mats out with a good slicker brush (like this self-cleaning brush from Amazon).
But usually, mats are so bad that brushing doesn't seem to help or could even make it worse. The only thing you can do when this happens is to have all their hair shaved off and start over.
So that's the truth about non-shedding and hypoallergenic dogs.
Keep in mind...no dog will be completely allergy-free to all people, but as far as a hypoallergenic dog or non-shedding dog breed go, the Shih Tzu comes pretty darn close.