How To Give Shih Tzu A Bath

how to give shih tzu a bath

One of the key advice we can give you when it comes to the Shih Tzu breed is that its coat has a very important function when it comes to their health. By keeping it clean you are preventing many illnesses and trips to the vet.

No shame in using the help of a groomer. But, in this post we will talk about how to give your Shih Tzu a bath, without a help of a groomer.

We will cover all the important basics of giving your Shih Tzu a bath. Starting off from all the basic things you need to know about their coat, and ending up with additional grooming advice, this is going to be a journey you will not want to miss.

Any questions you have, you can save them and write to us. But for now, keep scrolling and read on.

What do you need to know before we start?

As you might or might not know, Shih Tzu´s coat is extremely unique and important for them. Now, what do we mean when we say this?

Simply that taking proper care of its coat will give it a healthy and happy life more than you can ever know. Their little body has natural body oil all over their skin as it oozes out of their pores. This helps their body against many things that might harm their skin.

So knowing this, why would you give them a bath?

Yeah, well their body actually doesn´t get rid of the excessive oils that are over the skin. So for them, it is absolutely crucial to wash it off, otherwise, their skin might get sick and they can smell!

Some other reasons for giving those baths are the obvious ones: they will smell better, after they are dirty you might want to get rid of all that, of course, their skin will be healthier, more balanced, and it will help with potential allergies your dog might develop.

Of course, as with any breed, there comes a question of how many times should you give your dog a bath. Well, to be honest, many people say differently but the average answer and advice from any vet are that under normal circumstances, you should give your dog a bath every month or so. Just because their coat needs serious grooming. And because they will look cute, but that is expected.

 1. Which shampoo should you use?

Using a high-quality shampoo is the investment you should be putting into. Here´s why:

Dogs have a different pH level of their skin than we do and using our shampoos will cause them harm and possible allergic reactions. We, of course, don´t want that.

Our best advice would be to get a hypoallergenic shampoo as they are amazing for small and young dogs as well as older and big dogs. Today, there is a wide choice of shampoos for dogs and most of them offer a nice and neat smell for dogs without inflaming their skin.

 2. What other supplies do you need?

Some will say that just with a good shampoo you are good to go, but have in mind that Shih Tzu dogs take pride in their coat and we should invest a little more if we want them to shine. And we do.

So here are some other supplies you might want to get:

  1. A washcloth – you can use it to clean Shih Tzu´s eyes and ears as well as any other sensitive area
  2. Conditioner – as this will give its fur and coat an extra shine and softness, keep the hair from breaking and prevent dry and itchy skin
  3. Brushes and combs – the full-on grooming kit for dogs is absolutely a must-have when you have a Shih Tzu as you will need to brush the dog before and after
  4. All the essentials – towels, a smile, and a blow-drier if needed.

3. What to do if your Shih Tzu is afraid of baths?

It is known that some dogs may be afraid of water (usually clean water, because they don´t have a problem rolling in dirt and puddles). But that is another story.

For this article, we want to give you advice on what to do if your doggo is afraid of water and baths. This advice was given to us by our local vets and experts who train dogs every day.

In case you are having trouble getting your Shih Tzu inside of a tub or you are having trouble keeping it there, try peanut butter. Yeah, we said peanut butter.

Place it over the sides of the tub and you will have an obedient dog that will forget all about bath time and the stress it causes them and you.

Why peanut butter and is it safe for your dog? The answer is yes unless it contains Xylitol, a sugar substitute from sugar-free products. So if your peanut butter is free of Xylitol, smudge it all over the tub and start bathing your adorable Shih Tzu.

4. Brushing before you start

Since Shih Tzu has a long and silky coat, it is necessary to brush it before you start bathing your dog. Otherwise, it will get tangled and twist into knots.

If you are having trouble detangling, there are always products you can get which will help with that. On the other side, regular brushing and coat maintenance will prevent knotting and tangling.

If none of that applies to your case and you are looking for a simpler way to detangle the coat, try getting it a bit wet to brush it through more easily. Brushing the fur will help the shampoo get deeper within the skin and coat and wash away all the unnecessary bacteria and dirt.

How To Give Shih Tzu A Bath

1. Wet the entire doggo

Here is why we are going to ask you to focus on this part first and yes, we know it sounds silly and that, of course, you will wet the dog when bathing it. But, we mention this because of the temperature of the water.

Often, dog owners submerge the dog into raging warm waters or they turn on the cold as ice water. Neither works well for your dog´s coat and skin.

Mild water temperature will work best to wash out all the excessive oils from the skin. We have to mention that you should watch out for the water getting into his eyes and ears as they are especially sensitive when it comes to that.

2. Cleaning the eyes and tear stains

It is common knowledge that some breeds have eye problems. This includes our lovely Shih Tzu. These issues occur due to their big eyes, small nose, and accumulating tears.

Due to this issue, when giving your dog a bath, you can use a cotton cloth with warm water to clean the eyes and all the tear stains. For more information on this matter, you can check out our post about cleaning the eyes and all the tear stains here.

 3. Use shampoo, but don´t overdo it

When it comes to shampoo, there comes a question of quantity. As too much of the wrong one can cause an allergic reaction and too little might not clean the skin and coat properly, you should use enough of shampoo to clean the entire body thoroughly.

Usually, the shampoo bottles come with instructions for how much shampoo you should use, but that doesn´t always apply as your dog might be bigger or smaller than noted on the bottle.

Of course, we don´t have to emphasize that after thoroughly scrubbing your dog with shampoo, you should invest time into washing it all out with warm water until there is nothing of the shampoo left. Shampoo can cause an allergic reaction or dry the skin and cause itchiness if left unrinsed properly.

9. Use the conditioner

We understand this is not the most common advice out there, but using a coat conditioner for your Shih Tzu is exactly why their hair is so beautifully silky and soft. Although the groomers won´t share all their secrets with you (after all you have to come back for seconds), they will give you general advice on which conditioners are the best and why.

So what do conditioners do? They will nurture the skin and moisturize it by replenishing the natural oils from the skin and strengthen the hair follicles and roots. Not only this but the conditioner will make the hair look silky, shiny, and smooth until the next bath or playtime at the park.

Of course, once you are done, rinse out the conditioner and just enjoy your Shih Tzu´s wonderfully silky-smooth coat.

He will be the object of envy of the entire puppy squad.

10. Dry your Shih Tzu with a towel or blow-dry

Here you have a few options you might want to consider. First being blow-dry, second being the towel, and third being of letting it air dry (summertime and high temperatures so it cools off).

Nonetheless and no matter your choice, first and foremost, after giving your dog a bath, we suggest patting down your dog to get it to dry more quickly.

So why pat it down and not rub it dry?

To be frank, patting a dog down rather than just wiping it dry is going to help with the skin health and hair ends that have to remain silky-smooth.

Now that your dog is fairly dry, you can use the puppy blow-dry to dry it completely. Dogs have multiple layers of their coat and hair, so blow-drying just the exterior coat won´t work.

The blow-drier should be set to the lowest temperature there is so we don´t hurt our beloved Shih Tzu.

Now that you have done all of that, please send us a picture. We want to be a part of something special, and we believe your Shih Tzu is.

Now that you have washed your dog, and it is clean and bright as a day, you can brush the hair one more time to make sure it is smooth, and clean.

You will leave your dog looking like it just came out of the groomer´s hair studio.

11. Take a look at your Shih Tzu’s nails

This is an extra step you might wanna take. This should be a regular part of your Shih Tzu’s grooming routine. Having long nails can be painful for your Shih Tzu, also it carries risks of ingrown or broken nails as well as infections. Dogs usually don’t like their nails trimmed, if your Shih Tzu falls under that category, we suggest trying out nail grinder instead of a trimmer. Our suggestion is Lucky Tail Dog’s Nail Grinder.


Now that you are familiar and basically a pro with all of the above, you can start enjoying the time you spend giving your Shih Tzu a bath. While many times, this was considered to be a dull chore, now you can use your newly acquired knowledge to bond with your dog and make it easier and more fun for both of you.

In case some parts were unclear or you want more information, let us know in the comments below and we will make it our priority to respond to a.s.a.p.

After you think about all of this, send us a message and let us know about your experience with bathing a Shih Tzu dog or give us some advice in the comments below.

Until next time!

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