How To Remove Matted Hair from Your Shih Tzu

(And How To Prevent it from happening)


One of the regal Shih Tzu's most iconic features is its long, flowing coat.

Although you can opt for various hairstyles for your pup, a long coat that skims the floor is a breed standard. However, it's also a lot of work to keep it in good shape and free from mats.

Long haired Shih Tzu dog laying in the grass - How to keep Shih Tzu from matting

Matted hair is a thick, tightly tangled clump of hair found in your dog's coat that can range from mild to severe. The absolute best way to keep your Shih Tzu's coat free from mats is daily combing or brushing, starting at the undercoat closest to the skin and moving outward.

Using the right tool is also a must. Pin brushes and special de-matting combs are essential components for your pup's grooming kit.

Luckily, with a consistent grooming schedule, patience, and the right tools, you can keep your Shih Tzu's coat shiny, beautiful, and healthy!

Still, there are several tips worth knowing to keep things (like your pup's coat) as smooth as possible, and here you will learn how to remove those pesky mats from your dog's hair once they have formed.

But first, let's take a look at how matting occurs in the first place.

What Happens When Your Shih Tzu's Hair Gets Matted?

There's no doubt that your Shih Tzu's flowy coat is one of her most striking features, but it's also what makes maintenance for this breed so time-consuming. However, proper grooming is critical to keep your dog happy and healthy!

Your Shih Tzu has a lovely double coat, consisting of a thick outer coat and a softer inner coat.

The outer coat is the one that needs extra-special attention because if neglected, it can quickly get out of hand. The hair can get tangled, plus hair that sheds and falls onto the inner coat can get intertwined with the healthy hair and cause even more matting.

Some of the most common spots for mats to form are around the legs and belly, behind the ears, and in the armpit region.

Mats aren't just unsightly; they are a pain for your pup, literally!

For one thing, matted hair make your dog uncomfortable, and she will likely scratch at the area. Too much scratching can lead to skin issues like dermatitis and overly tender and raw spots.

In more severe cases, an infection could develop, causing even more problems that require medical attention.

Tips for Brushing Your Shih Tzu's Coat

As mentioned previously, one of the best ways to keep your Shih Tzu's coat from becoming matted is regular brushing.

For routine brushing, ensure that you and your pup are both comfortable, and use a conditioning spray to help soften the coat and release tangles. Plus, using multiple types of brushes is best, since your pup's hair has varying textures.

Begin brushing your Shih Tzu by working your way from head to tail with a wide-toothed comb to eliminate any minor knots.  Next, use a slicker brush to work out all of the dead hair, especially in the undercoat. Your final step should be to smooth out the coat with a pin or bristle brush.

How to remove matted hair from your shih tzu

First things first, even with proper daily brushing, you're bound to encounter a mat at some point in your ShihTzu's hair. Therefore, it's always wise to know the best way to get rid of them and creates the least amount of stress and headaches for you and your dog.

Here is a short list of the tools you'll need to tackle those mats!

  • Stainless Steel Comb
  • Pin Brush
  • De-matting Tool
  • De-tangling Spray

Get Comfy!

Make sure that you and your pup are comfy and ready for this adventure!

If your Shih Tzu is most at ease in your lap, you can try sitting her on your lap for your de-matting session.

However, if she's too squirmy, you may need to try a few tricks.

Position your pup on a slick surface, like the top of your washing machine or dryer

Next, on a nearby wall or other surfaces, tape a piece of paper and place some peanut butter on it. Your pup will focus on eating the peanut butter and standing on the slick surface, which will help keep her distracted from what you're up to.

If the peanut butter is enough and your pup has a lot of difficulty standing on the smooth surface, then let her sit or stand on a towel.

Spray and Spritz!

Give your dog a spray down with the conditioning spray to help relax the tangles and mats in her fur. Follow the directions on the product's label, but be generous with your spritzes!

Part the Hair

Use the pin brush to try and part your pup's hair as much as possible, working on small sections at a time. Start at the paws and work your way up to your dog's body and head.

Work Through the Mats One by One

Use your hands first to locate each mat and try to loosen it up a bit with your fingers.

Grasp the fur close to the base, nearest your pup's body, and use the steel comb to start to work at the tangle. Holding the hair in this way will keep the tugging to a minimum, making it more comfortable for your dog.

If you're finding the mat is particularly stubborn, you may need to move on to another area and return to that one later. If you spend too much time in one spot, it can get tender, and your pup will have had enough.

If your dog has a lot of mats, be prepared to take several breaks throughout the entire process.

Instead of a regular steel comb, you can use a special de-matting tool, like this dual-purpose brush. One side features 22 teeth, perfect for getting out mats and tangles, while the large side thins out the hair and de-sheds.

You can also use the de-shedding side a couple of times a week during your regular grooming routine to help keep loose hair at bay.

However, make sure you don't use the de-shedding side to work at the mats. It's important to use grooming tools correctly, so you don't inadvertently hurt your pet.

What If My Shih Tzu Has a Puppy Cut?

While keeping your pup's do on the shorter side can help to minimize the risk of matting, it doesn't mean you get a free pass.

You still need to engage in regular brushing to keep your dog's coat healthy, although you won't have to do it every day when your pup sports a shorter hair-do.

Even Shih Tzu's with puppy cuts can get mats, and if she does, you would get rid of them just as you would if she had longer hair.

Don't let frustrating and painful mats get in between you and your pup having a fun time together.

Make sure to brush your Shih Tzu regularly to maintain her coat correctly.

And always be sure to brush those mat-prone areas like the legs, belly, armpits, and behind the ears.

If mats do form, use these tips to work them out as painlessly and quickly as possible. And when you're done, make sure you give your pup a lot of praise and a tasty treat for a job well done!

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Posted 12/3/2020