How to Groom a Shih Tzu Puppy

how to groom a shih tzu puppy

Grooming a Shih Tzu puppy is never an easy task.

Regularly grooming your Shih Tzu puppy is essential for keeping him happy and, most importantly, healthy.

That is why, in this article, we will thoroughly talk about grooming your Shih Tzu puppy at home; Why is grooming your Shih Tzu puppy important; What are the pros and cons of home grooming and taking your dog to a professional groomer, and how to groom your Shih Tzu puppy in 11 easy steps as well as what grooming kits you can look into, our suggestions, some hairstyles, and advice.

So, let’s jump right into it!

Why is Dog Grooming and Skincare Essential to Their Health

The primary function of the dog coat is to protect its skin and serves as an insulating coat.

Your Shih Tzus skin and hair are the best gateway to its inner health and well being.


Well, the answer is quite simple. A shiny and silky coat full of lustrous sheen is the best indicator that your puppy is in perfect health. On the other hand, if your puppy’s coat is dull and lacks any luster, that’s a good indicator that there might be some problems with its health.

A shiny coat of hair promotes increased contact between you and your dog. This, in turn, strengthens the bond between you and your dog.

Changes in the texture and the appearance of your dog’s coat are, as we said before, an excellent indicator that something might be wrong with your dog’s health. However, haircoat changes are NOT specific for any illness or condition.

Dull or brittle hair coat can be caused by a simple dietary imbalance, but it can also be caused by diseases of hepatic, renal, thyroidal, immune, or any other origin. It is important to note that changes in the coat appear in the late stages of the disease because hair grows quite slowly.

And when it comes to diet changes, it takes up to four weeks before a dietary supplement starts taking any positive effects.

The sheen and shine of your dog’s coat are mostly due to multiple groups of fats that are secreted by the glands in the skin. These sebaceous glands function as a natural hair conditioner that keeps your dog’s hair shiny and healthy.

Now that you’ve got a thousand-mile view of how important your dog’s coat is, let’s get into more detail.

Dog Skin and Hair 101

Your Shih Tzus skin and coat serve as a barrier that protect it from infections, parasites, and the elements.

If you didn’t know before, dog hair is classified into three types:

  1. Primary hairs – or guard hairs form the outer coat of the dog and provide protection from the elements such as sunlight and moisture.
  2. Secondary hairs – also known as the undercoat or wool hairs, forms the inner coat of your dog and provides temperature insulation.
  3. Tactile hairs – or whiskers provide sensory functions. These hairs are essential for your puppy’s balance as well as hunting since predators are farsighted and need some way of detecting prey in close quarters.

Most, if not all, dogs have long primary hairs and short secondary hairs. However, the ratio between these two types of hair varies from dog breed to dog breed and also depends on the age of the dog.

What’s interesting is that some dogs have no undercoat at all, or it’s incredibly short. Dogs with this type of coat are referred to as single coat breeds and include Boxers, Dalmatians, and Greyhounds. Another race with this type of coat is Yorkshire Terriers, even though they have an undercoat.

Dog breeds that have both the primary and the secondary hair coats are called double-coated breeds. Shih Tzus fall into this category of double-coated breeds. This type of breeds has a long coarse coat of primary hair and a dense layer of soft under-coat.

When it comes to puppies, they come into this world with soft secondary hairs only. Sometimes the puppy’s coat color is the same as the one in adults. However, in some instances, the coat darkens and spots as the puppy grows older. For example, Dalmatians are born with a pure white coat and develop dark spots as they mature.

Dogs of different breeds and individual animals within those breeds develop their fur coats differently. Most dogs develop a full coat of hair by six to eight months of age. The development is mostly influenced by hormone levels and by environmental factors such as temperature, length of the day, moisture.

This is all well and good, but what’s dog hair made of, and how does it grow? Well, just like most mammals, dog hair is made out of a hard substance called keratin. Keratin is an insoluble protein that contains high amounts of sulfur (in the form of amino acid cystine) and a lesser amount of amino acids tyrosine and leucine.

When it comes to hair growth, hair emerges from follicles located just under the outermost layer of skin. Unlike humans that grow only one hair out of each follicle, dogs have multiple hairs growing out of each follicle (compound follicles) in addition to follicles that grow only one strand.

Dog coat coarseness and thickness varies greatly and is dependant on the thickness. Fine hears measure around 75 microns in diameter, while coarse hair can exceed even 200 microns in diameter.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that healthy hair relies on a balanced diet. Your Shih Tzu has to eat enough proteins, especially sulfur-rich amino acids such as cystine as well as other amino acids such as tyrosine and methionine.

Of course, amino acids aren’t the only essential thing in your Shih Tzus diet, other macronutrients are just as crucial. You also have to make sure your Shih Tzu pup gets enough fatty acids, copper, and B Vitamins. Not only that, but up to 30% of your dog’s daily protein uptake can be used for the renewal of its skin and hair.

But what if your Shih Tzu has a shoddy coat even with a balanced diet, then you might want to take it to your vet. Why? Well, hormones are also responsible for your Shih Tzu’s coat development. Thyroid and growth hormones stimulate the hair follicles while corticoids and sexual hormones slow it down.

One thing we haven’t mentioned yet is shedding. This is why we’re going to address it now in the next section.


Every dog breed sheds. The only thing that’s different between dog breeds is the amount of hair they shed.

Dogs like Shih Tzus that mostly live indoors, with little to no exposure to natural light or cold temperatures, tend to shed continuously.

In contrast, dogs that live outside and are exposed to natural light and cold temperatures shed for several weeks in the spring and fall. In the fall, the dog’s short, light coat sheds and gets replaced by a thick, warm undercoat and long, weather-resistant primary coat. In the spring, they shed their winter coat and replace it with a short, lighter coat.

Despite popular belief, there are no dog breeds that don’t shed. There are only breeds that shed less. Each and every hair shaft produced by the follicle will eventually wither and fall off. However, there are dog breeds that grow hair more slowly, which in turn causes them to shed less.

There are a few phases in the activity of the hair follicles. The first phase, when the hair is growing, is called the anagen. After the hair is fully developed, the follicle enters a resting phase called telogen. In this phase, the hair is basically dormant and is getting pushed by the new hair growing beneath it.

Even though spring and fall cause prolific hair growth, your dog’s hair is no in the same phase at the same time, which is a good thing because your dog won’t go completely bald.

Humans also shed but much less than other animals. Human hair spends most of its time in the anagen phase, which can last for years. In contrast, the telogen phase only lasts for a couple of weeks. Shih Tzus are similar to humans, their hair is predominantly in the anagen phase, and it can grow so long that it requires cutting.

This is why you have to groom your Shih Tzu every couple of months, so their hair doesn’t overgrow and become matted. Overgrown hair can also obstruct your doggy’s vision, essentially making him blind.

Most dog breeds have a telogen predominant cycle. These dog breeds have a very short anagen phase that only lasts for long enough to achieve the genetically desired length of coat. The hair then goes into a dormant stage for an extended period. The hair is tightly held by the follicle and will not easily fall out until the seasons change.

Before we finish off with this section and continue to the illustrated grooming guide, you still have to learn about hair loss in dogs.

7 Common Causes of Dog Hair Loss

Humans are not the only animals that can go bald. Dogs are also suspect to this issue. However, it’s rarely caused by hormones. So let’s take a closer look at what causes hair loss in dogs!

1. Flea-associated dermatitis

A dog that’s suffering from flea infestation commonly has brittle and broken hair coat, especially in the area in front of the tail head since that’s the place where bloodsuckers like to reside.

If your Shih Tzu somehow catches fleas, you have to keep in mind that less than 10 percent of these insects actually reside on its body. This means that killing the little pests only partly solves the problem.

The most significant task involves removing larvae and pupae from your Shih Tzu and from areas where it likes to spend time.

2. Canine Atopy

Canine atopy is an allergic syndrome that involves itching and subsequent loss of hair. Scientists think this syndrome is genetic in origin, which means there’s no cure for it. You can control this illness by enhancing your dog’s immune system and regular visits to the vet.

3. Pyotraumatic Dermatitis

Pyotraumatic dermatitis, commonly referred to as hot spots, involves intense itching in one or two areas of your dog’s trunk or limbs. These hot spots can become inflamed and raw in a matter of hours and are mostly caused by stress.

You can treat this issue with natural remedies such as calendula tea or herbal immune system enhancers such as Echinacea.

Another cause of this illness is a misaligned spine or limb joint. If that’s the case, then you should consider chiropractic adjustments.

4. Mange

A demodectic rash is caused by a parasite Demodex canis. This parasite lives in the oil glands and hair of most healthy dogs. The problem arises when this parasite starts multiplying rapidly. Menge tends to occur in young puppies with a weakened immune system.

If this happens to your Shih Tzu, we recommend you immediately take him/her to the vet and pick up a vial of Echinacea. The vet will prescribe the necessary antibiotics, and Echinacea will boost your dog’s immune system.

5. Stress-induced Dermatitis

This illness commonly affects Nervous Nellies, who can’t sit still. Affected dogs will just chew on themselves if they can’t find anything else fun to do.

The primary treatment for this “illness” is providing your doggo with plenty of exercises and challenging tasks. We recommend training games, food-dispensing toys, and changes in activity to help distract your furry friend and engage him in something more productive.

6. Food Allergies

Even though food allergies may be the cause of some itchy dogs, research indicates that skin cases are not often caused by food allergies. Food allergies are in dogs are commonly related to gastrointestinal upset

7. Miscellaneous conditions

Excessive bacteria in the hair follicle (pyoderma) can cause circular areas of alopecia or generalized excessive shedding. You can treat this issue with natural topical remedies with antibiotic effects.

Some breeds like the Chow-Chow may suffer from an arrest in hair growth after clipping. This illness resolves spontaneously after a couple of months of no hair growth.

Many health conditions associated with hair growth cycle abnormalities, including endocrine diseases such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s syndrome. There are many more, but we won’t get deeper into it.

The point we are trying to make is that while grooming your Shih Tzu, you will have an excellent opportunity to take a look at its skin and fur condition and note any changes.

This is why regular grooming is so important. Not only will it strengthen the bond between you, but it will also allow you to spot any emerging health conditions.

Now that we have that out of the way, it’s time to jump into the good stuff!

How To Groom Your Shih Tzu At Home In 11 Easy Steps

This guide will be useful to anyone who owns a Shih Tzu and wants to groom it at home. The reasons for this may vary. Some of you want to do it to strengthen the bond between you and your beloved Shih Tzu. Some of you just want to save money.

Either way, this section of the article will give you a full understanding of how you should groom your little Shih Tzu.

Because Shih Tzus grow their hair quite quickly, a professional groom is usually the best option. A professional groomer won’t just give your Shih Tzu a basic cut, but a fashionable one too.

However, there is no reason why you shouldn’t groom your Shih Tzu friend yourself. It’s normal to feel anxious about grooming your fluffy friend by yourself, but with the right equipment, knowledge, and just a tiny bit of confidence, you’ll become a professional Shih Tzu groomer in no time!

Let’s start this guide with the list of necessary equipment.

1. Grooming Equipment

To groom your Shih Tzu pup, you’ll need a couple of pieces of dog grooming equipment. Some of these pieces of equipment are more expensive than others, but it will all eventually pay off after one or two grooms since you’ll save money you would’ve spent on a professional groomer.

Some of the necessary equipment you probably have lying around your house, and even if you don’t already own it, you can easily find it at your local pet store or on Amazon.

Here’s a list of the equipment you’ll need:

  1. Dog brush
  2. Dog comb
  3. Nail trimmer and a nail filler
  4. Electric trimmer or electric clippers
  5. Scissors
  6. Puppy shampoo
  7. Hairdryer
  8. Towels

As you can see, you already own at least four of the items from the list, so getting the rest won’t be much of a hassle.

Now that we have equipment out of the way, let’s continue onto the first step!

2. Prep The Space

Before you get into grooming proper, you will have to find a suitable place to groom your little Shih Tzu pup. Most doggies don’t like bath time. In fact, if you didn’t start bathing your doggo at an early age, chances are he’ll never get used to bath time.

This is why you need to use a place that they can’t escape from while in the middle of the grooming process.

You can groom your Shih Tzu in your backyard or garden, but that will undoubtedly go sideways since it’s too open, and your puppy will make a dash the second water touches him.

This is why the bathroom is the perfect place for grooming. Not only will you have easy access to flowing water, but you can also use the bathtub and the shower curtains as a way to contain your Shih Tzu. And even if he manages to wriggle out, you still have the door to stop him from running away.

There is very little chance you own a perfectly calm Shih Tzu who’s eager to take a bath and endure a bit of grooming. You should expect the absolute worst and take necessary precautions. We recommend you cover the floor with towels because it will save you time tidying up after the whole ordeal. The towels will also prevent you from accidentally slipping on wet tiles.

Even though it’s not necessary, you should consider purchasing some kind of non-slip floor mat. It will save you the trouble of washing all the towels.

3. Ease your puppy into grooming

Bathing and grooming can be quite stressful for your Shih Tzu friend. This is especially true for first-timers. Your first time grooming will be quite horrid, but don’t worry; after a couple of grooming sessions, your doggo will become more relaxed.

It’s only natural for your Shih Tzu to feel scared the first time, but it will become more relaxed once it realizes there’s no threat to its life.

One calming strategy you can try is to sit on the sofa with your Shih Tzu and brush him with his favorite brush while talking to him in a calming and soothing tone. There is a high chance that this strategy will calm him down and put him in the right state of mind for grooming.

4. Remove matted hair and tangles in your Shih Tzus coat

This is an essential step you have to take before bathing your furry friend. Why? The answer is quite simple. Any knots or matted hair will only become thicker and denser once soaked with water. This will make it impossible to get rid of them.

Before you start bathing your little Shih Tzu, you should be able to run the comb through his coat with zero resistance. Then, and only then should you start with the bathing.

Don’t rush this step, take your time. Brushing your Shih Tzu will calm him down and put him in the right mindset for the bath.

If it takes more than half an hour to brush through your puppy’s coat before bathing, you’re probably not brushing him enough. We know life can be complicated at times, but you need to make time for regular brushing. If you don’t brush your Shih Tzu regularly, it can lead to some horrible skin conditions.

5. Wet your Shih Tzu

Before you start with the shower, make sure the water is lukewarm and not scolding hot since you don’t want to burn your beloved Shih Tzu pup or make him uncomfortable. Likewise, you have to ensure the water is not too cold since Shih Tzus are very sensitive to changes in their body’s temperature.

When bathing your doggo, make sure you don’t get any water in his face or up his nose. This can be quite tricky because Shih Tzus have a flattened face. They don’t like water splashing in their faces, but areas around the eyes and mouth are critical to clean. Try your best to mate it as less unpleasant as possible for your dog. After a couple of baths, you will devise a working strategy.

The best way to give your Shih Tzu a bath is to use a shower nozzle. Thanks to the shower nozzle, you won’t have to fill the bathtub with water. Not only that, but you will also minimize spillage, effectively reducing the amount of tidying up after the whole ordeal.

Make sure the water spray is not too strong, and you might even consider running the water from your hand onto your doggo’s body. This technique is excellent for anxious dogs.

5. Wash your Shih Tzu puppy with a puppy shampoo and conditioner

Before you even start with the grooming process, make sure you have bought a high-quality shampoo that’s suitable for use on Shih Tzus. Follow the instructions on the back of the bottle so you can judge which is the right amount of shampoo you should apply.

Start from just behind the back of the head and start working your way back. Gently massage the shampoo into your Shih Tzu’s coat and skin while making sure all the hair gets covered.

You want to double-check the belly area and the back legs since those are the body parts that tend to be the dirtiest. We recommend you be careful when rubbing in the shampoo on your doggo’s head because you don’t want any of that stuff to get in his eyes. It won’t be easy, but you will get the hang of it after a couple of home grooming sessions.

After you’ve thoroughly massaged the shampoo into the entire coat of your Shih Tzu, you can start to rinse it out. It’s essential to do this as thoroughly as possible since any shampoo that doesn’t get rinsed off will cause some irritation and itching.

Since Shih Tzu coat hair is much denser than your hair, you will have to repeat the rinsing process a couple of times before the shampoo gets wholly washed off. A good indicator that there’s no shampoo left on your puppy’s body is clear water.

After you’ve rinsed the shampoo off, it’s time to apply the conditioner. Just follow the same steps described above, and you’ll be okay.

6. Learn how to clean your puppy´s eye stains

When it comes to the Shih Tzu´s eyes, they are more sensitive to tear stains and eye drips than other breeds. So this is the area where you should place more of your attention daily. If not cleaned properly and every day, your puppy´s eyes might develop a strong strain that is going to be very hard to wipe out and you will have to cut it off.

To wipe the eyes and tear stains, use warm water and a gentle cotton cloth. Wipe around the eye and under it in particular with gently motions until you clean the brownish areas.

7.  Dry your Shih Tzu’s coat

To avoid split ends developing you your Shih Tzu’s coat, it is essential to pat him with a towel rather than rubbing it up and down his coat.

Once you’ve given him a good pat-down, you can finish drying with a hairdryer. As you move the hairdryer along your Shih Tzu’s hair, pass your hand and fingers through the coat to avoid leaving any damp patches.

Make sure the hairdryer is set to the lowest possible heat setting as you don’t want to damage your Shih Tzu’s skin and avoid any stress on him (dogs don’t like hairdryers).

8. Comb Your Shih Tzus hair

After you’re done with bating and drying, you can begin to groom your Shih Tzu pup. When he’s nice and dry, you can take a brush and start combing the hair untangling any knots that may have occurred during bathing and drying.

The best way to remove a knot in the coat is to start from the base of the hair and work your way up to the tips.

This part of the grooming process is an excellent opportunity to calm down your Shih Tzu and prepare him for the next step.

9. Trim your Shih Tzu’s nails

When it comes to cutting your Shih Tzu’s nails, it is vital to have the right kind of nail cutters. We recommend you purchase a nail cutter that features a hole where you insert the nail. This type of nail cutters is easier to use than regular ones, and they also minimize the risk of accidentally hurting your furry friend.

Make sure you make a swift, clean-cut and only cut the white part of the nail. The pink part of the nail contains live tissue that will start to bleed if you cut it. Not only that, but it will hurt your dog, so be careful.

If you feel insecure about cutting your Shih Tzu’s nails, you can take him to a professional dog groomer. And while you’re there, you can ask for a couple of pointers on how you can cut your dog’s nails.

An alternative to nail clippers is a nail grinder. Even though nail grinders are considerably more expensive than nail clippers, they reduce the chances of you accidentally hurting your dog. We personally prefer nail grinders over nail trimmers and our suggestion is LuckyTail™ Dog’s Nail Grinder.

10. Cut your Shih Tzus hair

Cutting Shih Tzu hair is part of the grooming process that people get the most nervous about. However, it is not that difficult.

Before you start cutting your Shih Tzus hair with the clippers, it’s essential to make sure they are completely dry since wet hair can get stuck in them and cause mild pain to your doggo.

You can groom your Shih Tzu in two steps. First, you can use the clippers to remove the hair on the body and legs and then use a pair of high-end scissors to cut the hair around the face and other parts of the body that are difficult to cut with clippers.

The right length to start is the number 8 setting on your clippers since it’s short but not too short to hurt your dog. If you feel insecure or want to be extra cautious, you can start with the number 10 setting on the clippers and then work your way down as you build confidence over time.

Take up a position behind your Shih Tzu and start shaving the hair from the neck down to the base of the tail. Press the clippers down gently and move in the direction the hair grows. You will be a bit jittery at first, but it won’t take too long before you figure out what’s the correct amount of pressure you can apply.

After you’re done with the neck and body, you can start shaving the legs. Apply the same technique as described above. Move the clippers from the top of the legs down to the feet.

Next, you can start shaving the belly and the groin. This part of your dog’s body is a bit more sensitive, and there might be some dangly bits you definitely don’t want to accidentally nick so be very careful.

You can periodically stop shaving and give your Shih Tzu a quick brush over to remove any loose hair.

After you’re done with the body, it’s time for the second step, which is shaving the head. You can use electric clippers to cut the hair on top of the head, but we recommend you hold your dog’s head and use a pair of scissors since you’ll have more control.

It is essential to use the right pair of scissors for this step. We recommend you use a pair of rounded end scissors since that will minimize any accidental injuries. Don’t forget to cut the hair from the inside of the ears. This is very important because it can prevent ear infections.

11. Cleaning your puppy’s ears and teeth

After bathing and a haircut, it’s time to clean your Shih Tzus ears and teeth.

Cleaning the ears is quite simple. All you need is a proper cleaning solution and a ball of cotton. Pour a couple of drops of the cleaning solution onto the cotton ball and gently massage the inside of the ear. After you’re done, use a clean cotton ball to clean any excess solution that might be left inside the ears.

After you’re done with the ears, you can move on to brushing teeth. If you don’t own a dog toothbrush, don’t worry, you can still use your fingers. Don’t use human toothpaste! There are many brands of dog toothpaste on the market which you can use.

Put a small amount of toothpaste onto the finger brush and start gently rubbing over your Shih Tzu’s teeth. Rub his teeth for a minute or two so you remove as much plaque and other debris.

Brushing your dog’s teeth will eliminate bad breath and yellow teeth. What’s more, it will also keep your puppy’s teeth strong and healthy and minimize any risks of dental issues.

Haircut ideas for a Shih Tzu puppy

The Puppy cut

One of the most known haircuts for a Shih Tzu puppy is definitely the puppy cut. This cut is not only suitable for a Shih Tzu puppy but is commonly used for many small breeds out there as the small dogs end up looking quite adorable.

So to learn more about this cut, we wanted to mention and intrigue you more by telling you that not only will this cut be easy enough to do, it is also easy to maintain yourself and keep it neat.

What are the essentials?

First and foremost we should mention that if you need some good grooming kit, you can check our suggestions below in our article. Now, all you need will be a good set of clippers, some scissors, brushes, and a comb.

As we mentioned this cut is not a hard one to do, but it will take some back and forth between the grooming kit tools. To better understand what and how to do this cut, you might want to ask for a piece of advice from a professional or try googling and watching some videos with instructions on YouTube.

So if you decided to do the cut yourself, and you watched a few videos, you will know that the average length for this cut is about #10 frame for the body and to see just how long you want to keep the face. Some people want it short while others love to leave some fur falling longer.

Anything you decide will definitely be more than perfect as it will have your puppy looking adorable in no time.

Another thing you can do is start from the body following the hair and going right until the legs and tail. Our advice is to leave those for now and focus on trimming down the hair with the clippers you chose.

Of course, you can continue to the feet and legs but for these, you will need the scissors more as these will require more precision and the clippers just don´t do the job as well as these. Have in mind that if you are a beginner you should ask someone to help hold your dog while you finish.

Throughout the whole grooming session, it is important to keep brushing and clipping your dog´s hair constantly. It simply won´t be enough to just clip it and leave it like so. By brushing your dog´s hair in an opposite way of the hair growth you will see any area that needs further clipping and brushing.

Once you are finished you can continue to other areas just repeating what you did. A little disclaimer would be to not cut your dog´s fur so short, especially if you are a beginner as you might end up cutting too short and hurting your dog. And that is not your goal.

The teddy bear cut

Just like the previous one, the teddy bear cut is quite easy to do and also easy to maintain. You will not regret seeing your dog with this cut as it will almost look exactly like the little teddy bear.

For starters, asking your groomer to give your dog a teddy bear cut is not at all a problem. Once you go pick up your puppy, the groomer might explain all how you can maintain this cut yourself. For example, one piece of advice may be to continue brushing your dog´s coat regularly and if you notice some mats, to go through them until they are gone.

As this haircut does require the style to be more rounded around the head, then this teddy bear cut is going to require you puffing up the hairstyle around the head from time to time just so it remains looking somewhat similar to the day when you took it out of the groomers.

On the other side, if you decide to cut your dog´s coat yourself, as we mentioned you should know that this cut will be entirely the same when it comes to the body, but just rounding up the paws and the head of your puppy. This is with the intention of the dog´s looking more like a bear’s head rather than just having a puppy cut.

Ponytail cut

As far as this hairstyle goes, it might be one of the most popular ones, especially if you decide to show off your dog a little bit. This ponytail hairstyle is probably the cutest one you can choose. You can go as far as deciding if you want one ¨palm tree¨ ponytail on top of your dog´s head or if you want a couple of smaller ponytails on there.

Regardless of what you choose, you can play around with this look and gain a sense of direction as you keep grooming it. Another reason, besides looking cute, why groomers use this haircut is because this is a perfect and easy way to remove the hair from your Shih Tzu´s eyes and face. It will just be easy for them without all that hair in their face.

Now if you decide to give your dog this haircut yourself, there are a few things you should have in mind.

First being the haircut itself: make sure you don´t cut way too short otherwise you won´t be able to do the ponytail and will just end up pulling your dog´s hair way too ¨thin¨.

Second, make sure that the cut is fairly neat once you put it in a ponytail, and if you have to trim some parts with the scissors once you have the hair in the tiny ties you can go back and forth until you have a finished look.

Long ears, short body cut

The name of this haircut already explains the whole haircut but we still want to take the time to explain it and talk a bit about it.

Usually, this look will be used for those who have some intentions of their Shih Tzu competing or attending shows, but at the end of the day, this is another haircut that is absolutely adorable when finished. It consists of leaving the body hair short or around an inch or two of length and using the #10 frame and blade with the ears left a bit longer.

Now for this haircut, this doesn´t mean that you would neglect the ears or forget to style them. You should still invest time into brushing the ears and styling them as you wish and you should definitely talk to your dog groomer pre-cutting the hair.

On the other side, if you decide to do the cut yourself, have in mind that you should do it little by little as again if you are a beginner, you don´t want to overcut the coat and hurt your dog, or simply leave bald spots over the body. As the entire haircutting experience can be a little stressful for the dog, you should invest your time into knowing and finding out exactly what you should do.

The ears should be cut or trimmed properly. Usually, that can be done by placing your dog´s ears into your hand and between the index and middle finger and just cutting the ends of the hair little by little. While some like to do it in a straight line, our advice would be to follow the way the hair is falling and do it that way, even if that means that they will be a tad rounded.

The Topknot cut

Unlike the previous four, this haircut is a little bit more high maintenance. But no worries, we are here to clarify what we mean by that and to shed some light on the whole process.

While you can start this cut as a puppy cut, finishing it up will look something like a ponytail cut, except the sides on the Topknot cut are left longer than the rest. So you could say that this is a mixture between the ponytail cut and the long ears cut.

It is clear that if you pick any of these haircuts you will have your Shih Tzu looking adorable as always. So if you decide that hiring a groomer is the way to go then by all means just go over the details of what haircut you want to have and if you want something specific and voilá. You will pick up your dog and just have to maintain the haircut you chose.

On the other side if you decide to make this one yourself, make sure you follow the instructions you find and when you start grooming the dog after the cut.

For this one, as we mentioned, you should make a top knot of the cut and style it just the way you like it. Our advice would be to use the scissors that are oval shape rather than straight as this will give you more control of the cutting as you go and round it well when you need it.

Once you finish with the top knot, you can finish the haircut with the sides and trimming them on a longer length and just styling it the way you imagined and wanted.

This haircut will definitely require you to invest some more time into maintaining this cut and into brushing your dog´s coat every day. So if you are not really interested in investing so much time into the grooming, you might want to choose a more low maintenance cut.

Grooming your Shih Tzu at home vs. professional grooming

One of the toughest decisions a Shih Tzu owner has to make is whether to take their puppy to a professional groomer or to do it at home.

Many pet owners consider taking their dogs to a professional groomer a waste of money. They think that grooming is an easy task that can be done at home, but once they try it, they realize that grooming is not that easy.

Grooming your Shih Tzu at home is quite a time-consuming task and not only that, but it also requires the proper equipment. It also takes a lot of practice, so your Shih Tzu won’t have the perfect haircut at the first try.

On the other hand, a professional groomer already has the proper equipment and skill, and all the time he needs to groom your Shih Tzu because that is his job. But this doesn’t mean that a groomer is a right choice. Many pet owners have a hard time finding a grooming salon that they can trust. Just because someone calls himself a professional doesn’t mean he really has the skill to be called like that.

You can now see why grooming at home vs. professional grooming is a big decision to make. To make the decision easier on you, we will go through everything you need to know before you make the best choice for you and for your Shih Tzu.

Professional grooming

The main thing you should know is that not all groomers, who call themselves professionals, have the same skills. Some groomers will do a fantastic job, while others won’t.

If you don’t know any professional groomer, you should first research for one that you can trust. Maybe asking your friends for a recommendation would be a good idea. A groomer that doesn’t have the skill to groom and calm your dog at the same time could cause many problems. Your Shih Tzu could end up traumatized or, in the worst case, injured. So, finding a professional, you can rely on is the main thing to consider if you choose professional grooming.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should be paranoid when it comes to professional groomers. Most of them do have the required skills and will take good care of your Shih Tzu.

Even though that trip to a professional groomer will cost you, you can be sure that the level of service you and your Shih Tzu will get is worth the cash.

There are tasks that only professional groomers can do adequately, like clipping nails. Clipping your puppy’s nails is a really challenging task. If your Shih Tzu is resisting to sit still while you are trying to cut his nails, it can lead you to trim the nails too close or even injuring your pet. So if this is the case, it is recommended that you take your dog to a professional.

In addition to that, more tasks are included in grooming than just nail clipping. Other duties include ear cleaning, bathing, de-shedding treatment, specialist coat grooming, and medical checks like expressing anal glands. All these tasks will look easy when carried out by a real professional.

A professional groomer will also make a health check on your Shih Tzu on every appointment. They will surely alert you to take your dog to the Vet if they determine some health issues.

If you don’t have the time to learn how to groom your Shih Tzu and if you don’t have the adequate equipment for the grooming, the best would be to leave the job to a professional.

Grooming at home

Grooming your Shih Tzu is a quite time-consuming job. If you think that you won’t have the time to groom your dog correctly, then grooming at home isn’t an option. Also, if you have never groomed a dog before, you’ll need to learn how to do it, which will also require dedication and time to learn.

If you want to do all the grooming by yourself at home, you will need to buy all the equipment. The equipment will cost you a good amount of money, so don’t rush into it if you think you’ll not be suited for this task.

Take note that you will be committed to grooming, so you will not have the luxury to take a day off when you aren’t in the mood or don’t have the time. Caring for your dog is a full-time job, and you could jeopardize your Shih Tzus health when skipping the grooming.

If you have decided to do the grooming yourself at home, you’ll have to invest some time to learn and money to buy quality equipment. In the beginning, it won’t be easy, and you’ll be prone to mistakes, but remember that even dogs can have a bad hair day. The errors won’t be permanent, and you will learn on them. Eventually, you’ll also become a professional groomer yourself.

By grooming your Shih Tzu at home, you’ll form a closer bond between you and your puppy. Your dog will learn to trust you with the grooming. With time you’ll realize what the best technique is when it comes to clipping your Shih Tzu’s nails or bathing him.

5 things to pay attention to while grooming a Shih Tzu puppy at home

1. Nail Clipping

This is one of the toughest jobs when it comes to grooming your Shih Tzu. If your Shih Tzu starts panicking when he sees a nail clipper, it will be a tricky task for you to get it to calm down. By trying to force it to stay still, it can end up traumatizing for both of you. It could even end up with an injury.

To avoid that from happening, try to get your Shih Tzu used to you holding his paw before you decide to clip the nails.

Make sure you have a high-end nail trimmer that is sharp to get the clipping done as soon as possible. If your Shih Tzu can’t get used to nail clipping, don’t force it upon him, it could end up in a disaster.

2. Bathing

Some dogs love bathing, some hate it, and some are frightened of water. If you are one of the unlucky with the Shih Tzu that dislikes bathing, there will be some trouble.

When bathing your puppy, make sure that the water temperature isn’t too cold or too hot. Introducing your Shih Tzu to bathing with a harsh spray of hot or cold water, you will only do worse and traumatize your dog even more. The water pressure should be set low, and the water set at room temperature, so your dog doesn’t experience a shock.

Before buying a shampoo, talk to your Vet about what kind of shampoo should be used. The shampoo should be slowly applied, starting on the back. Try to avoid shampoo getting into your Shih Tzus eyes and ears, and make sure you have thoroughly rinsed all the shampoo. Residual shampoo can lead to dandruff and skin irritations.

3. Drying

When it comes to drying, there are two options. You can dry your Shih Tzu with a towel, or you can use a hairdryer. If your Shih Tzu can’t get used to a hairdryer, don’t force it. After the bath, dry him with a soft towel and make sure you get as much water off him as possible. After the shower, the temperature in the house shouldn’t be cold to protect your dog from getting sick.

4. Brushing

This would be one of the most manageable tasks. Your Shih Tzu will maybe try to get away, but he will get used to it in some time, even if he dislikes it. If you notice some knots or mats in his fur, try to brush them slowly out without causing any pain to your dog. If the knots can’t be handled with brushing, you should cut them off or leave this to a professional.

5. Frequency of bathing

Bathing shouldn’t be an everyday activity, because it can lead to skin irritation. If you are not sure how often you should perform the grooming, consult your Vet. Depending on the skin type of your dog, your Vet will surely give you the right advice. It would be best if you brushed your Shih Tzu every day to avoid frequently bathing him.

Professional and DIY grooming combined

The best option would be to combine professional and home grooming. By combining these two methods, you can be sure your Shih Tzu will get the best care.

You should learn and perform basic grooming skills at home while letting the professionals handle the tricky tasks.

Basic grooming at home would include brushing to avoid matting, cleaning the eyes and ears to prevent infections, checking for fleas and ticks. If your Shih Tzu likes water and doesn’t have a problem with the hairdryer, you can bathe him at home.

Tasks like clipping the nails, checking the anal glands, and making a new haircut should be trusted to a professional.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. How early can you start grooming your Shih Tzu puppy?

When it comes to grooming your Shih Tzu puppy, it is always a good idea to wait at least 4 to 6 weeks. Meaning if your puppy is old enough, if you notice it might be ready for a trim, you can start grooming and brushing its little puppy hair. Just remember to be gentle, use a gentle and calming voice and approach with all tools slowly and by letting it get familiar with it.

2. How often can I groom my puppy?

You will notice in time. This largely depends on the haircut your dog has gotten or the haircut you gave it. If the coat is short, then it will take more time for the coat to fully grow out. What experts advise is to wait at least 6 weeks before deciding if you are ready for another full-groom session.

3. Is it okay if I cut my puppy´s coat short?

Although this form of haircut does offer simplicity for the owner, it is not such a good idea for the dog. Especially if the dog has double-coated fur as the Shih Tzu does. You might want to restrain yourself from giving your dog a completely shaven-down haircut. This can often do more harm than good as now your puppy would be prone to more skin issues and allergies, alongside with some other more serious conditions.


Now that you have read our article about the Shih Tzu puppy grooming at home, you are ready to pick a hairstyle for it and start grooming. Just remember to brush it down regularly so mats don´t appear and you are going to have one good, happy and healthy Shih Tzu puppy.

So, what do you think? Do you have any questions for us? Write to us as we would love to hear your advice if we missed something!

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