Shih Tzus are totally people orientated. They are great with children and love human company. Shih Tzus are often mistaken for Lhasa Apsos however, the Shih Tzu tends to have a shorter muzzle and wider head – a brachycephalic trait, probably from their original breeding with the Pug & Pekingese.
The Shih Tzus coat is long and silky, with a nice beard and full whiskers. They have wide heads plenty of space between the eyes. Their ears are quite large in comparison to their heads. Despite their long coat, the coat should not interfere with their movement or vision – which is why it is common for Shih Tzus to have a top-knot.
Some pet owners may opt to have all the hair clipped off or trimmed to a manageable length. It can be a nice touch to leave the hair on the head longer and styling this individually in a top knot, plaited bun, ponytail, pigtails etc. using bright bands, clips, bows or ribbons.
Long / Flowing
Bathe & Brush Out with Minor Trimming
Pet Grooming Option
Bathe & Brush Out with Clipper Trim
Always check with the owner which groom they would prefer – all off, trimmed or long. Also ask if the coat is being trimmed whether the Top-Knot should be kept intact. Ensure owners know the extent of maintenance needed for long coats
- Shih Tzus require daily brushing if their coat is going to be kept long. You should also be prepared to regularly bath the coat areas that tend to get mucky/dirty – around the feet and longer coat. You should allow up to 30+ minutes a day to brush and groom the coat. Pay special attention to the areas between the legs and undercarriage, as these areas get dirty and tangled quickly.
- Due to the nature of the Shih Tzus short muzzle, it is recommended to bath the face with extreme care. If you are unsure, use grooming/facial wipes or a damp soft cloth. It is dangerous for brachycephalic breeds to get any water in their nasal passages.
Prior To Bathing
- Pluck hair from the ear canal only as necessary
- Comb/Brush the entire coat to ensure tangles/matts are removed. Some intensive conditioner can be applied to serious matts/tangles that can be brushed out after bathing
If you are grooming a trimmed/clipped coat, remove excess coat before bathing using a long/medium comb guide
Drying different coat lengths
Coats shorter than 3 inches (7.5 cm)
Towel dry immediately after bathing, use a fresh towel each time one becomes saturated. Once there is little/no water being absorbed by a towel, use a high-velocity blaster to remove excess water. Work from the rump forwards. Keep one hand on the dog at all times to stabilise and comfort it. Avoid adding tangles to the coat by keeping the airflow in a downward direction. When no water is being sprayed from the coat you can allow the coat to dry naturally.
Coats longer than 3 inches (7.5 cm)
Towel dry immediately after bathing, use a fresh towel each time one becomes saturated. Once there is little/no water being absorbed by a towel, use a high-velocity blaster to remove excess water. Work from the rump forwards. Keep one hand on the dog at all times to stabilise and comfort it. Avoid adding tangles to the coat by keeping the airflow in a downward direction. When no water is being sprayed from the coat, finish drying using a heated stand dryer while brushing the coat – brush only where the air is striking the coat. This will straighten and fluff the coat.
When brushing use gentle strokes to avoid brush burn. Take extra care in sensitive areas such as armpits, inner thighs, ears, neck and tail. Take extra care in tangle prone areas such as legs, armpits, collar area, ears and tail.
- Use a damp cloth to go over the muzzle after bathing, wiping away tear stains
- Leave ears long
- Clear the stop area with thinners or clippers, only on trimmed coats. On a long coat the hair should be allowed to grow long and be parted down the middle
- Line brush/comb every inch of the coat right down to the skin, starting with the legs working from the feet upwards. Next brush the body, neck, ears and tail. Hold the coat out of the way, pat the coat with the pad of the slicker and pull the slicker away from the skin. Don’t move onto the next section until one section is tangle free
- Use an anti-static spray if static is an issue while brushing
- Check your work with a wide-toothed comb
- Lightly trim sanitary areas (under tail and tummy) with thinning scissors/clippers
- Shave paw pads with a #15-#40 blade or trim using safety scissors
- Neaten the undercarriage line
- Ensure to brush the coat between the toes to prevent matting and discomfort
- Round feet by first blocking the foot to form a square. Use long curved scissors to round the outline of the foot
- Hold the hair out of the eyes using bands, ribbons, clips etc as desired.
Ensure that top knots are not pulled so tight that they cause discomfort to the dog
Grooming Tool Recommendations
- Nail Trimmers
- Hemostats (Forceps)
- Slicker Brush
- Wide Toothed / Greyhound Comb
- Dematting Tools
- Pin Brush/Bristle Brush
- Straight Scissors
- Curved Scissors
- Thinning Scissors
- Detailing/Safety Scissors
- Finishing Dryer
- Or Combination Dryer
Other Health Recommendations
Clipper Blade Recommendations
For everyday use, mild/hypoallergenic shampoos are recommended.
- Mild/Hypo-Allergenic Shampoos
- Deep Cleaning Shampoos
- De-Matting/De-Tangling Shampoos
- Conditioning & Nourishing Shampoos
- Smoothing/Silky Shampoos
- Coat Specific: Whitening Shampoo / Apricot Shampoo
A conditioner is essential for this breed to add weight to the coat, add strength and shine and help protect the coat during brushing
- Intensive Conditioners
- Repairing & Nourishing Conditioners
- De-Matting/De-Tangling Conditioners
- Smoothing Conditioners
Coat Care Recommendations
It is essential when brushing the coat that you use a detangling/conditioning spray to protect the hair and prevent further tangling/matting