How To Groom A Shih Tzu

Whether you have a shih tzu, or are considering adopting one, it's important to know how to groom a shih tzu if you are going to take the best possible care of your dog. With a name that literally translates to "little lion," shih tzus are very sweet, headstrong dogs that can be a challenge to care for. Due to their human-like hair, the shih tzu must be combed thoroughly each day to maintain a beautiful, tangle-free coat. Professional grooming once every six weeks in an option, but the cost of professionally grooming the shih tzu can become weighty, so learning to groom your shih tzu at home is advantageous.

To groom a shih tzu, you will need:

  • Comb
  • Slicker Brush
  • Dog Clippers
  • Scissors
  • Nail Clippers
  • Spray bottle
  • Shampoo
  1. Lightly spritz your shih tzu with warm water. This is important before brushing because dry hair attracts static electricity and brushing dry hair will cause breakage.  Make sure not to get your pup too wet, as this could make tangles worse. In lieu of water, try using a detangling spray to loosen mats and tangles before brushing.
  2. Brush the shih tzu with a slicker brush and comb. Start with the head and gently brush around the eyes, ears and under the chin.  Work your way down the body, brushing in sections, and be sure to brush all the way down to the undercoat. Brush the belly and under each armpit where the leg meets the body.  Areas prone to tangles include facial hair, behind the ears and around the top of the legs. Carefully brush the hair around the pads of the dogs feet.
  3. Cut the shih tzu's hair. Carefully, with round nosed scissors, if possible, clip the hair around the dogs eyes and mouth.  Take extreme caution with scissors around the shih tzu's face that you don't cut them or hurt their very sensitive eyes. Clip between toes and around the pads of their feet carefully.
  4. Clipper your shih tzu (optional). If you're going to clipper your shih-tzu, now's the time, before they're bathed. Start with the back of the head and shave the pup from front to back, with the grain of the hair, not against.
  5. Cut the shih tzu's claws. Clipping the claws is easy, but requires practice to get right. When the dogs nails are white, look for the pink area beneath the nails and clip a quarter to a half inch above the pink area.  When the nails are black, take caution and clip them conservatively, only about half-way down, so you don't strike a cuticle.
  6. Give the shih tzu a bath. After brushing, bathe the shih tzu in warm water. Use a shampoo formulated for dogs as shih tzu have sensitive skin.  A small tub with a non-slip surface or mat, such as a baby tub or sink is ideal for grooming a shih tzu.  Larger tubs are daunting to the dog and make the owners job harder. If the shih tzu resists, speak firmly but don't yell at them.  Yelling at a scared shih tzu will only result in behavioral problems and the dog will still be scared, accomplishing nothing.
  7. Towel dry or blowdry the shih tzu. Towel drying removes excess wetness and allows the dogs hair to begin drying naturally.  Use a blow dryer on low heat to finishing drying the shih tzu, combing the hair out to avoid tangles.
  8. Give your shih tzu a top knot. The topknot is simpler than it looks and completes the groom. To tie a top knot, part the shih tzu's hair on top of the head down the middle with a comb. Gather the hair in the front, just above the eyes into an inverted V shape and tie with small rubber bands.

While home grooming saves money, it's important to take your shih tzu to the vet or a professional groomer every three to six months.  Professional groomers and vets can pluck the excess hair from the ears and express the anal glands, both important to the dogs health and things that should not be attempted at home.

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