Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu's distinctive quizzical expression can give him the appearance of being snobbish, but really, these spunky little dogs just want to be loved. They live up to the expectation of a lap dog; they'll prefer never to leave your side.

Shih Tzus make interesting, earnest companion dogs for owners who are looking for a small, cuddly companion. Shih Tzus do not appreciate being neglected and prefer to be showered with affection. They require lots of affection and grooming to stay happy and healthy.

Shih Tzus were bred as companion dogs, and they love to fulfill their purpose. These little dogs rarely bark and are only outgoing and exploratory indoors. They love the comforts of their home and the company of their owners. Shih Tzus love to announce strangers, but once introduced, they get along well with other people and dogs. They are generally engaging and playful with people, but they can be indifferent and self-satisfied if they are spoiled as puppies or often left alone. Shih Tzus are not particularly active, but they love exploratory indoor play short walks that allow them to strut for an audience.

These dogs can be difficult to housebreak and are prone to accidents. Crate training and constant praise for proper behavior are the most helpful tactics to convince your Shih Tzu to behave like the prim and proper pup he is.

The Shih Tzu's long, luxurious coat is available in most colors, but it is commonly seen in black, white, gray and cream, or combinations of those variations. Shih Tzus lose their puppy coats at about 12-18 months old. Their coat loses its fluffy puppy texture and grows into the long, silky adult coat. The hair on the Shih Tzu's face grows out in all directions, which gives them their distinguished appearance, but will also require extra care to maintain.  

No aspect of home dog grooming requires as much time and regular devotion as brushing. Routine brushing keeps your pet’s hair clean and tangle-free, while keeping his skin healthy by stimulating blood flow, removing dead hair and distributing natural oils.

For the most part, breeds with long, drop coats are quite susceptible to mats and tangles. Their non-shedding coats are actually more similar to human hair than dog fur, which means that they should be brushed frequently and carefully. Brush their body several times per week with a pin or slicker brush. Pay close attention to longer hair around the legs, face and tail using a metal comb. Remember to brush the entire dog, from paws to tail. A light mist of detangling spray after brushing helps remove loose fur and leaves a great shine on the coat.

Shih Tzus require extensive brushing and bathing to help their coat keep its silky texture and soft coloring. Your Shih Tzu will need its entire coat brushed multiple times a week to avoid tangles and mats. Shih Tzus are prone to matting, especially around their ears and eyes, so combing them is not an option. They need to be combed with a pin brush or, while they are shedding, with a metal rake brush. In order to brush their entire coat, divide the hair into sections and brush from the base at the body all the way down. Shih Tzus will specially appreciate brushing and trimming around their eyes, ears and face.

What you need

  • Slicker, bristle or steel pin brush
  • 2-in-1 comb
  • Shedding blade (for heavy shedders)
  • Liquid detangler 

With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but drop coated dogs usually should be bathed more frequently, most commonly every three to eight weeks. The coat should end up fresh smelling, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry. Coat should be fresh smelling, with no loose or shedding hair.

What you need

  • Slicker, bristle or steel pin brush
  • Dog shampoo
  • Rubber tub mat
  • Towels
  • Bathing tether (if needed)

Clipping or trimming your dog’s coat is far easier than you would ever imagine. With the right clipper, trimmer and scissors, giving your dog a haircut is easy on your wallet and your schedule.

Dogs with drop coats generally require regular hair clipping because they do not shed, so their long hair grows continuously. It lessens the chances of matting, tangles and the infestation of fleas and other pests, thus reducing the risk of skin infections. There is no set timetable. Judgment should be made on an individual basis, depending on functionality and owner preference. There are a wide array of clippers and trimmers available that will make each snip a snap. It's a good idea to take your dog for a short walk to calm him down before you groom him. Thoroughly brush the coat to remove tangles and mats. Use clippers to trim excess fur off the dog's body, choosing the appropriate clip attachment to achieve desired length. Start with the shoulders and progress towards the tail. Always leave at least a half-inch of fur to protect the dog from the elements. Use a trimmer or a scissors to even out areas around the tail, paws, sanitary areas and chest, as needed. Groom the head and face last, being watchful for sudden movement. Clip with the flow of the fur, away from the eyes and nose.

Shih Tzus can be clipped or trimmed completely, but keeping their hair short will require grooming about every 6 weeks. It will also cause their coat to lose some of its silky luster and become fluffier and softer.

What you need

  • Slicker, bristle or steel pin brush
  • 2-in-1 comb
  • Shedding blade (some coats)
  • Pet clipper
  • Pet trimmer

Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.
Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.
You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

What you need

  • Sharpened nail clipper
  • Styptic powder

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Drop coated dogs have sensitive ears and long hair that tends to grow into the ear. Their ears need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. Small dogs like Shih Tzus and Havanese are prone to developing tear stains around their eyes, so clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.

What you need

  • Pet trimmer
  • Blunt scissors
  • Cotton balls or soft cloth
  • Warm water
  • Mineral oil (or olive oil or witch hazel)

Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.

What you need

  • Dog toothbrush
  • Dog toothpaste (homemade recipe of baking soda, salt and water is acceptable)