The shih tzu breed of dog requires extensive grooming, due to its long, flowing coat. If left unclipped, the shih tzu's hair will grow to floor-length. Its long nature, coupled with its double coat quality, make the shih tzu's coat particularly prone to tangles and mats. The double coat consists of a woolly undercoat and a silky outer coat. While this double coat looks elegant, it means double the amount of hair that needs to be groomed. In addition to coat care, you will also need to care for your shih tzu's nails, face and teeth properly. If you are crunched for time, you can always take your shih tzu to a professional groomer. You can, however, properly groom your shih tzu at home.
How to Groom a Shih Tzu at Home
Wash your shih tzu every three to eight weeks. The frequency of your washings will depend on your environment as well as the length of your dog's coat. Longer-haired shih tzus require more frequent washings as do those that spend a good deal of time outdoors.
Use a shampoo and conditioner designed for dogs when you bathe your shih tzu. While many dogs simply require shampoo, conditioner will help to keep your shih tzu's coat free of tangles. Make sure you rinse both the shampoo and conditioner completely out of your dog's coat. If left behind, the residue can lead to skin irritations.
Wipe your dog's face with a damp cloth after every meal. Due to their short snouts, it's common for food to lodge itself around a shih tzu's mouth. Clean your pup's mouth area after every feeding to prevent health issues caused by rotten food particles.
Brush your shih tzu daily. If you do not brush your shih tzu's coat, it will tangle. The tangles can cause pain, hot spots and even parasites to reside on your shih tzu's skin. Use a brush and comb to untangle the dog's entire coat. In addition to the body of the dog, brush his face, neck, ears, legs, feet, tail and belly. If you keep your dog's coat clipped short, you can lighten this brushing schedule to every few days.
Trim your dog's nails every four to 10 weeks. Some dogs' nails grow more quickly than others and require more frequent clippings. Use nail clippers designed to trim dogs' toenails and cut them after a bath as they will be softer then. Avoid cutting the quick, the red vein inside the nail. If you do, it will bleed.
Brush your shih tzu's teeth once to twice a week, using a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs. Shih tzus are particularly susceptible to plaque and periodontal diseases, so good oral hygiene is essential. Feed your dog hard, dry food rather than soft, canned food to keep teeth healthier.
Check your dog's ears for swelling or redness, as shih tzus are prone to ear infections. Observe your pup's eyes to ensure they are free of irritation, clouding or debris.
Trim the hair around your pup's face every few months. You may need to enlist the help of a friend who can hold your dog's face still while you trim the hair in this delicate area. You want the eyes, nose and mouth to be free of excessive hair so your dog can see, eat and breathe without obstruction. If you prefer, you can secure the hair over your dog's eyes into a ponytail, securing it with a dog clip or band.
Clean your shih tzu's anus with a moist cloth every two to three weeks. Fecal matter often attaches itself to the hair around the anus, resulting in blockages and discomfort for your dog. Remove dried fecal matter with a warm, damp cloth.