Shih Tzu Grooming Tips

Shih Tzu are naturally clean dogs; however, regular baths and grooming are required. Like humans they want to always look their best and smell good. Now, I realize grooming may sound like a lot of work. However, if you keep up on it and start when your Shih Tzu is a puppy it will make all the difference in the world. Regular grooming includes brushing your Shih Tzu, bathing, cleaning your Shih Tzu ears, eyes, teeth and trimming your Shih Tzu toenails.  Finally, your Shih Tzu will need a haircut also from time-to-time.

Brushing Your Shih Tzu

The best tip I can give you is to start brushing your Shih Tzu at a very young age and make the experience enjoyable and pain free. You should also brush your Shih Tzu daily to help keep his coat tangle free.   This is how you make the experience pain free for your little one because let’s face it trying to comb through knots can be a nightmare and painful for anyone.  Try and groom your Shih Tzu in the same place every day to establish a routine.  Finally, you will want to start the grooming process after your dog has a full belly and play time to avoid distractions.

To begin with you will need a quality bristle brush. When brushing your dog, start with the feet, legs, work your way through his body, the tail, and end with his face and ears.  Always brush down and towards the back of his body.  When brushing, you should also have a spray bottle of water and perhaps some hair conditioner. Keeping the coat damp will help to avoid splitting, tangles and static.  Avoid just brushing the surface of your Shih Tzu coat.  Always brush down into the skin to get the tangles out.  If you run into a knot, pull the knot apart with your fingers.

Bathing Your Shih Tzu

How often should you bath your Shih Tzu?  Shih Tzu should be bathed at least every couple of weeks.  Shih Tzu have natural oils in their hair, so if they are bathed too often their hair can become dry and cause skin irritations.  Since Shih Tzu are so small you can bath them in a utility sink or your bath tub.  Make sure you put something down like a towel or a slip proof mat though so he doesn’t slip or lose his balance.

 How to Give Your Shih Tzu a Bath 

  • Always use pet shampoo and conditioner that is properly balanced for your Shih Tzu to avoid skin irritations.
  • Protect the ears with a sterile cotton ball to avoid water and shampoo from entering
  • Dilute the shampoo by using one part shampoo and 10 parts water.  Also dilute the conditioner with 1 part conditioner and 15 parts water.
  • Spray down your Shih Tzu with lukewarm water and avoid getting any water in his ears and eyes.  Hold his head up so the water runs down the back of his head and under his chin.
  • Lather with the diluted shampoo and rinse well with a spray nozzle.
  • Once the shampoo has been rinsed, work in the conditioner and rinse well.
  • Towel dry to get most of the moisture out of his hair.  Once most of the moisture is out, you can then take a blow dryer to finish drying.
  • Use a bristle brush and comb while drying to make sure you have all the tangles out.
  • Give him a big kiss to let him know he did a great job!

How to Clean Your Shih Tzu Ears

Since Shih Tzu are prone to ear infections it is important you clean his ears regularly and after each bath. 

  • To clean your Shih Tzu ears, pour ear cleaner into his ears and message it in.
  • Always use an ear cleaner that is recommended by your Vet.
  • Use a cotton swab to remove any debris.
  • Remove the hair from his ear canal.  If you do not feel comfortable with this have your groomer or Vet to do this for you.
  • If you notice an order or redness in his ears you should schedule an appointment with your Vet.

 How to Clean Your Shih Tzu Eyes

Those precious Shih Tzu eyes that melt your heart have a tendency to tear up.  Moreover, the tear ducks on a Shih Tzu are very small and can get clogged and infected easily. So, you must set aside time at least once a week to clean and care for your Shih Tzu eyes. 

  • Keep the hair trimmed away from his eyes.
  • If you notice an order or discharge, notify your Vet immediately.
  • Use a moist cloth or cotton swab to clean out any debris.
  • Clean around the eyes and any skin folds to avoid bacteria build up which could lead to eye infections.
  • Check your Shih Tzu for ingrown eyelashes or eyelashes growing in an abnormal spot.  Ingrown eyelashes can cause your Shih Tzu discomfort and needs to be removed by your Vet.

How to Care For Your Shih Tzu Toenails

Shih Tzu toenails should be trimmed at least once every two weeks.  You will know they need a trim when you begin to hear the “clickety clack” across the floor.  And of course, begin the process when your Shih Tzu is young.

The method used is entirely up to you.  You can use toenail clippers or nail grinders specifically made for pets.  If you do not feel comfortable with cutting your dog’s toenails then do him and yourself a favor and take him to the groomer to have it done.  You have to be careful when trimming his toenails so you do not to cut in too deep to the quick or you will hurt your precious “love of joy”.  You should also make sure the hair is trimmed between his toenails so dirt and debris does not build up which could potentially cause an infection. 

How to Care For Your Shih Tzu Teeth

Dental hygiene is just as important for your Shih Tzu as it is for you.  The recommendation is to brush your dog’s teeth at least once a week to avoid tarter and plaque buildup.  So, much like all other recommendations you should start this process while your dog is a puppy to get him used to the process.  Before bushing there are a few things you need to know. 

  • Never use human toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth. In case you didn’t know, human toothpaste should not be swallowed by humans.  So, since dogs do not know how to spit, human toothpaste should never be given to your dog.
  • Purchase a toothpaste and brush that is formulated and made for dogs.
  • Avoid pet toothpaste that is sweetened because it can cause plaque build-up after continuous use.
  • Give your Shih Tzu a dog biscuit, chewy bone, or toy bone at least once a week to help keep his teeth and gums in good health.

While I realize brushing your dog’s teeth may be a challenge, it is a necessary evil.   Fortunately, there are natural dental products on the market that can help you keep your dog’s teeth clean without brushing.