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10 Tips on How to Groom a Shih Tzu: Make Them Look Gorgeous!

Gregory Iacono

By Gregory Iacono

groomer brushing shih tzu dog's fur

The Shih Tzu is an adorable, affectionate little dog that is exceedingly friendly and easily gets along with almost everyone. Shih Tzus makes fantastic companions and therapy dogs because of their compassionate and loving nature. Shih Tzus need their fair share of grooming, thanks to their long hair and double coat.

Some of the grooming needs should be taken care of by a professional groomer, but several can be done at home, saving you time, energy, and money. Read on for 10 tips on how to groom a Shih Tzu.

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The 10 Tips on How to Groom a Shih Tzu

1. Create a Brushing Schedule (and Stick to It)

pet groomer combing hair of shih tzu with hairbrush
Image Credit: Vlad Antonov, Shutterstock

Shih Tzus has a double coat which, if left unbrushed even for a few days, will start to mat horribly and be a huge pain to brush back to normal. Rather than facing that furry disaster, create a brushing schedule for your Shih Tzu, and make sure you stick with it. Many groomers will tell you that brushing your Shih Tzu once a day is preferable, but at the very least, you should brush them every other day.

2. De-Mat Your Shih Tzu When They’re Calm and Relaxed

Most dogs, including Shih Tzus, are Ok with being brushed, and some enjoy it. Removing mats, however, is a different story because of the pain it can and usually does cause. Trying to de-mat your Shih Tzu if they are already upset or anxious is not a good idea and adds insult to injury, which is why the process is better left for when your pet is relaxed or tired.

3. Decide Who Will Express Anal Glands

All dogs have anal glands on the two sides of their rectum and, in many cases, can empty or “express” these scent-filled glands on their own. Smaller dogs, including the Shih Tzu, often need help in this relatively off-putting process. If you’re OK with expressing your pup’s anal glands, it’s easy to learn and perform at home. If you’re not, a groomer will gladly do it for you. As their pet parent, you should decide who will do this essential activity for your Shih Tzu and then ensure it is performed regularly.

4. Don’t Forget to Use Hair Conditioner

To keep your Shih Tzu’s coat looking clean and fluffy, you will need to bathe it regularly. One thing many new Shih Tzu parents don’t think about is that, with the type of hair they have and its propensity to mat and tangle, Shih Tzus need shampoo and conditioner. If you forget to use conditioner, brushing your Shih Tzu after its bath will not be as pleasant as it could be (and could be a complete and painful disaster). Groomers recommend using a high-quality conditioner to prevent painful tangles and matting when you bath your Shih Tzu.

Our Recommendations

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5. Clean Your Shih Tzu’s Face Once a Day

groomer washing shih tzu dog's face
Image Credit: Vershinin89, Shutterstock

Most Shih Tzus love pleasing their pet parents, but some don’t like to have their faces washed. Washing their face and eyes is essential, thanks to the Shih Tzu’s big, bulging eyes. Because of those eyes, Shih Tzus tend to make a lot of tears, which can lead to hair stains. If left unwashed, those extra tears can also lead to bacterial skin infections and eye infections, which is why cleaning their face daily is recommended.

High-quality wet wipes can help you keep your dog clean from head to tail. Our Hepper Wash Wipes are infused with natural, moisturizing ingredients that will soothe your dog's skin while effectively removing dirt and grime. These soft, hypoallergenic wipes are made in the USA and safe for dogs and puppies of all breeds.

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6. Use a Cotton Ball to Clean Eye Gunk

This tip is simple but a good one; use cotton balls to clean your Shih Tzu’s eye gunk and around their eyes. Cotton balls are easy to use and can be thrown away after each use without creating a lot of waste. They’re also ecologically sound since they’re 100% natural. Cotton balls are also safer than Q-tips, which should never be used near your Shih Tzus eyes, and are stronger than tissues, which can break apart.

7. Make Cleaning Ears a Habit

cleaning dog's ear with cotton
Image Credit: Vershinin89, Shutterstock

Because of their adorable but also long, floppy ears, Shih Tzus need more ear attention than many other dog breeds. If your Shih Tzu is a swimmer or a big fan of the outdoors, cleaning their ears will be especially critical, as wax, germs, bacteria, and more can cause problems. To make sure this doesn’t occur, turn cleaning your Shih Tzus ear cleaning into a habit, like brewing your morning coffee and checking your email. The more you check and clean their ears, the fewer ear problems your Shih Tzu will have and the fewer trips you’ll make to your local vet.

8. Ask for Help Cleaning Your Shih Tzu’s Ears

Habitual or not, most Shih Tzus don’t enjoy having anything put in or around their ears. Because of this, most Shih Tzus will be anxious and jumpy when you try to clean, swab, or otherwise check their ears, which could lead to an injury. To ensure it doesn’t, ask a family member or friend to help you hold and comfort your Shih Tzu when doing anything with their ears.

9. Learn to Brush Your Shih Tzu’s Teeth

teeth of shih tzu puppy
Image Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock

For some reason, many dog owners overlook the need to take proper care of their dog’s teeth. That includes Shih Tzu pet parents, of course, and if it’s you, the best thing to do is learn how to brush your pup’s teeth. That way, you can brush them often and get better at it. When you do, it will be an easier experience for both of you and reduce your Shih Tzu’s bad breath. Regular brushing also prevents gum disease and prevents dental infections that can spread to other parts of your pup’s body. By learning how to brush their teeth, you will be doing your Shih Tzu a wonderful service that will keep your vet bills lower.

10. Express Your Shih Tzu’s Anal Glands in the Bathtub

We talked earlier about the need to express your Shih Tzus anal glands. While expressing isn’t a huge job, it can be messy (and gross), so it is best done in the bathtub. One good part about using the bathtub is that, after expressing their anal gland, your Shih Tzu will already be in the tub and ready for a bath.

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How Often Should You Groom Your Shih Tzu?

For most, grooming a Shih Tzu is an everyday occurrence, with certain body parts that need daily attention and some that need less. Eye and face cleaning should be done daily, for example, while expressing your Shih Tzu’s anal glands might only be a few times a year. To help you keep track, here are the primary grooming needs the average Shih Tzu will have and when they should be performed.

  • Anal gland expression: Occasionally, when needed
  • Baths: Every 2 to 3 weeks
  • Brushing and combing: Daily or every other day at minimum
  • Ear cleaning: Once a week
  • Eye and face cleaning: Daily
  • Hair cutting: Occasionally, when needed
  • Nail clipping: Every 2 to 4 weeks
  • Teeth brushing: Daily but, at a minimum, once a week

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Final Clips

If you love your Shih Tzu, you’ll have to learn to love grooming them because they will need it often. Many grooming needs can easily be taken care of at home, although some, like expressing, nail clipping, and trimming, you might want to leave to a professional groomer. If you keep your Shih Tzu groomed, it will be happier, healthier, and more beautiful.

Featured Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

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