Best Vs. Worst Shih Tzu Grooming Practices: Are You Doing It Right?

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Are you aware of how your current Shih Tzu grooming habits stack up against expert recommendations? From the tools you choose to the frequency of baths, every decision impacts your furry friend's comfort and health. While you might be diligent about keeping their coat shiny and smooth, have you considered whether you're using the right shampoo or if you're brushing too often, potentially irritating their skin? Let's explore some common pitfalls and best practices that could make a significant difference in your pet's grooming routine. Are you perhaps overlooking an essential aspect without even realizing it? Let's find out.

Understanding Shih Tzu Hair Types

understanding dog hair types

Before delving into grooming techniques, it's important to understand that Shih Tzus typically exhibit two distinct hair types: a soft, dense undercoat and a long, flowing outer coat. You'll find that the undercoat serves as insulation, keeping your Shih Tzu warm in the winter and cool in the summer. However, it's also prone to matting if not properly maintained. This layer requires gentle, regular grooming to prevent tangles and guarantee comfort for your pet.

On the other hand, the outer coat, which often catches the eye with its elegance, demands different care due to its length and texture. It's more susceptible to picking up debris and dirt from the environment. Without regular cleaning and combing, the outer coat can quickly become a repository for unwanted elements, which could lead to skin issues and discomfort.

Understanding these hair types isn't just about keeping your Shih Tzu looking good; it's about maintaining their health. Each type plays a critical role in their overall well-being, influencing everything from temperature regulation to skin protection. By recognizing the specific needs of each hair type, you're better equipped to provide thorough, appropriate care.

Essential Grooming Tools

grooming tools for pets

Now that you understand the different hair types of a Shih Tzu, let's look at the grooming tools you'll need to maintain their coat properly. A high-quality pin brush is essential. It should have smooth, rounded tips to prevent skin irritation. You'll also need a fine-toothed metal comb for tackling mats and tangles in those denser areas.

A slicker brush is indispensable for smoothing the coat and ensuring it's free from small knots. However, be gentle to avoid brush burn. For the sensitive areas like the face and paws, a softer bristle brush is ideal to keep these spots tidy without causing discomfort.

Investing in professional-grade scissors is vital for trimming around the eyes and paws. Opt for ones with rounded tips for safety. Additionally, a pair of thinning shears can blend and thin out the coat seamlessly, especially useful during shedding seasons.

Don't overlook a good quality shampoo and conditioner specifically formulated for dogs with sensitive skin. This will keep their coat clean and hydrated, which is paramount for a healthy shine and easier grooming.

Lastly, always have a dog-specific nail clipper and styptic powder on hand for regular paw maintenance. These tools aren't just about aesthetics but also about your Shih Tzu's health and comfort.

Best Brushing Techniques

oral hygiene importance emphasized

To effectively brush your Shih Tzu, start by gently using the pin brush to detangle the outer layers of their coat. Work in sections, ensuring each is free of knots and loose hair. It's important to use long, flowing strokes that follow the direction of the hair growth. This technique not only prevents matting but also stimulates the skin and helps distribute natural oils throughout the coat.

Next, switch to a bristle brush for the finer grooming details. This brush smooths the hair and adds a lustrous sheen. Focus particularly on the areas prone to tangling, such as behind the ears and under the legs.

Regular brushing sessions, ideally daily, will keep your Shih Tzu's coat in pristine condition and significantly reduce shedding.

Common Bathing Mistakes

While regular brushing is vital for maintaining your Shih Tzu's coat, it's equally important to avoid common bathing mistakes that can compromise their skin and fur health.

One significant error is using the wrong shampoo. It's critical to select a shampoo specifically formulated for dogs, and even better, for the sensitive skin of Shih Tzus. Human shampoos can disturb the pH balance of their skin, leading to irritation and dryness.

Another frequent mistake is the water temperature. You might think a warm bath is comforting, but if the water's too hot, it can cause your pet discomfort or even burns. Always test the water with your wrist—it should be lukewarm, not hot.

You're also likely making the error of not thoroughly rinsing out the shampoo. Shampoo residue can lead to itchy skin and dandruff. Make sure you rinse every part of your dog's coat, checking twice or even thrice to ensure no soap is left behind.

Lastly, beware of over-bathing your Shih Tzu. Too frequent baths strip their coat of natural oils, which are crucial for a healthy, shiny appearance. Aim for bathing your Shih Tzu no more than once every three to four weeks unless they get particularly dirty.

Trimming Nails Safely

nail care precautions explained

Trimming your Shih Tzu's nails safely requires the right tools and a gentle approach to prevent injury. Begin with a sharp, appropriately sized nail clipper or a grinder designed specifically for small dogs. Dull clippers can split the nail, causing unnecessary pain. Before you start, make sure you're in a well-lit area to clearly see the nails. Identifying the quick, which is the pinkish area inside the nail that contains blood vessels and nerves, is essential to avoid bleeding.

Hold your Shih Tzu's paw firmly but gently to minimize movement. If you're using clippers, place a small section of the nail in the clipper and make a swift, decisive cut. Avoid cutting into the quick by making incremental trims. If you accidentally clip the quick, have styptic powder or a cauterizing agent on hand to stop the bleeding.

For those who prefer a nail grinder, it's important to acclimate your Shih Tzu to the sound and sensation beforehand. Gently grind the nails in short bursts to avoid heat build-up, which can cause discomfort.

Regularly trimming your Shih Tzu's nails, ideally every three to four weeks, prevents overgrowth that can lead to walking difficulties and joint pain. Always reward your pet with a treat and affection to associate nail trimming with a positive experience.

Eye and Ear Care Tips

eye and ear health

To begin with caring for your Shih Tzu's nails, it's important to focus on maintaining their eye and ear health to prevent infections and promote overall well-being. To start, examine your dog's eyes daily for any redness or discharge. Use a soft, damp cloth to gently wipe around the eye area. Never touch the eyeball directly. If you notice persistent redness or irritation, it's best to consult your vet.

Moving on to ear care, Shih Tzus are particularly prone to ear infections due to their floppy ears. Make it a routine to check their ears once a week for signs of infection, such as an unusual odor, excessive scratching, or a buildup of wax. Using a vet-approved ear cleaner, apply a few drops into each ear canal. Gently massage the base of the ear to distribute the cleaner and loosen any debris. Allow your Shih Tzu to shake its head, then carefully wipe away any excess cleaner and dislodged debris with a cotton ball. Avoid cotton swabs, as they can push debris deeper into the ear canal or damage the inner ear structures.

Adhering to these practices will keep your Shih Tzu's eyes and ears healthy, ensuring they're as happy as they're adorable.


To keep your Shih Tzu healthy and sprightly, invest in high-quality grooming tools and master the art of brushing. Be cautious with bathing—too much can harm their skin.

Always trim nails with care and stay vigilant about keeping their ears and eyes clean. Avoid common grooming pitfalls to guarantee your furry friend's comfort and wellbeing.

Remember, your attention to detail in grooming makes a huge difference in their quality of life.


I am the owner of Shihtzuadvice.com and the proud parent of two black and one gold Shih Tzu's. I belive that the Shih Tzu is the best all-around dog for anyone and want to share with you as much valuable knowledge as possible about this great breed!

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