Grooming your Shih Tzu

By Cheryll Ann Limso

NOTE: PLEASE READ my other article first called GROOMING ITEMS

Your shih tzu MUST be trained  to lay on his back and/or side and being groomed when he is young. The best time to train is when he is tired and willing to lie quietly or rest. You need to train him when he is young, before his coat starts getting mats and tangles so he will accept the grooming that will become a necessary part of his life. If he gets used to it at an early age, he will be more cooperative during grooming sessions, and you will both be HAPPIER! YES - even pets must be trained unless you want an ILL GROOMED STINKY PET! Even if you plan to send the dog to a groomer, the groomer will be HAPPIER to have a well behaved dog to groom rather than one that SNARLS and BITES!

My dogs grooming sessions start when they are 6 weeks old, when they leave for new homes at 12 or 16 weeks, they are usually pretty happy about being groomed.

Grooming Supplies

Do not under estimate the importance of using good supplies and equipment. THE LIST IS SHOWN AT MY OTHER ARTICLE! It also has PHOTOS!

Brushing Techniques

Brushing your dog is the single most important thing that you can do to keep the coat looking nice and mat free, and YES, the way you brush matters! DO NOT FLIP your wrist as you brush or you will keep breaking tiny amounts of hair and your dogs hair will NEVER grow long!  You must brush at least everyday, better 2x a day if you have your dog in full coat. When brushing continually mist the hair with a conditioning spray  The conditioning mist helps avoid breaking the coat. DO NOT spray with conditioning mist if your dog is in oil!

Start brushing at the underside and work up to the rest of the coat.  DO NOT COMB your whole dog! Use ONLY a brush and only use the comb to CHECK for tangles!

Removing Mats

If you find a mat, gently separate it with your fingertips.  Then Spray some coat oil or conditioning spray and then slowly comb out! DO NOT CUT the matt if its a show dog! WORK ON THE MATT SLOWLY!

Vellus has a GREAT De Matter its VERY EXPENSIVE but WORTH IT!

If its a pet and not a show dog and you are sick and tired of loosening the matt, go ahead and cut the matt off BE CAREFUL and do not cut the dogs skin!

The coat should be free of all mats before you bathe your Shih tzu, water only serves to set mats in tighter.


I like to bathe my show dogs, those in oil or not every 3-4 days, but that is personal preference! My pets are bathed only when they get dirty which is every 1-2 weeks.

Have everything necessary towels, shampoo, conditioner etc. ready before you put your shih tzu in the tub.

Make sure your Tzu is completely wet to the skin before applying shampoo.  Care should be used during the shampoo process. Excessive rubbing can cause breakage and matting. The best results will be achieved by pouring the shampoo over the coat and gently cleansing. (In other words put some shampoo in jug put water in it and mix then pour that over the dog) Take great care to avoid the getting shampoo in the eyes, if you are NOT the best groomer use a TEARLESS shampoo for the face!. Tip the head up to rinse. RINSE every part of the body until all traces of shampoo are gone and the water runs perfectly clear.

Put conditioner on the dog. Allow it to stay in the coat for the time recommended by the manufacturer and then rinse from the coat. When the bath is finished, squeeze all the excess water from the ears, legs, and tail before removing the dog from the tub. Blot the coat with the towel to remove as much moisture as possible. Do not rub the coat with the towel as this can cause tangling and mats.

Blow Drying

Following the bath a Tzu should be blow dried, DO NOT use a fan, hair will dry curly and I suspect your dog will get chills!. An inexpensive stand that holds a human hair dryer that works well for many people is one called the HAIR MAID. This stand will sit on a table or counter and allow the use of one hand to brush the dog and the other hand to hold your dog! Use only the cooler setting of your dryer. Using high heat can cause the coat the break more readily and FRY the hair . As you direct the heat from the dryer of the coat use a long firm grooming stroke. Continue with one section until it feels dry to the touch and then move on to another.  The face furnishings should be dried last using a small metallic comb. NOTE: If dog is in oil it will feel wet even when already dry, so use your common sense and do not keep dog under dryer forever!

If you have more than 2-3 shih tzu you may want to buy a STAND DRYER! It makes life SO MUCH EASIER!


HAIR UNDER THE PAS MUST BE TRIMMED REGULARLY! Or the tzu will slip and not be able to walk well!

Shaggy feet make show Tzu  look "unfinished." The unkempt appearance of those feet can be improved simply by trimming and rounding the coat around the feet.  Do all four feet in the same way.


Have a QuikStop, flour or cornstarch on hand in case you accidentally nick a quick.

Use dog nail trimmers and trim every week or every 2 weeks!


Apply ear powder or cornstarch to the inside of each ear, making certain the hair is thoroughly covered, then start plucking ear hair by hand or using hemostats!

Dogs DO COMPLAIN when you do this, but its been said they have no nerve endings or whatever at that part of the ear so actually it does not hurt!

After this clean your dogs ear with a cotton ball moistened with an ear cleaner.

Parting the back

Stack your Tzu on a table and stand directly behind him. Using the end tooth rat tail comb and beginning at the base of the tail, run the tooth of the comb straight up the spine, allowing the coat to fall to either side. NOTE: If you do it when the dog is lying down I CAN ASSURE YOU the part will not be straight!

You only part from root of tail to occiput. On a Lhasa I think you do it until the nose.