This article has been provided courtesy of Susanne Crossley.
Care and grooming of the clipped Shih Tzu does have some similarities to that of the Shih Tzu in full coat. Keeping the coat clipped short does reduce grooming time although there is still grooming required depending on the style that your Shih Tzu is groomed in.
If you wish to keep your Shih Tzu’s coat clipped short it is still important that your puppy becomes used to being groomed as early as possible. Although the coat will not require to be clipped for the first few months it is important to get your puppy used to being brushed regularly. Spending around 15 minutes daily just gently brushing with a bristle brush will help the puppy to become used to this. The best time of day to do this is when your puppy has had time to eat and play and also when you have time yourself to spend with your puppy. Grooming can be done on a table with a firm non-slip surface as this will enable the puppy to become used to the table when attending the grooming parlour for clipping and when grooming yourself as it will prevent you from crouching.
You will need a bristle brush and comb.
Starting at the head, taking extra care around the eyes, gently brush the hair away from the eyes with the bristle brush. If the hair is falling into the eyes this can be trimmed with scissors or if you are going to take your puppy to a grooming parlour, your groomer will do this for you. Care must be taken when working around the eyes at all times. It is important that the hair is kept away from the eyes as it can irritate the eye and cause infection or ulceration.
The next stage is to brush your puppy’s ears, tangles do occur more frequently here so it is important to brush this area regularly. Again the hair can be trimmed short and if you prefer again can be carried out at the grooming parlour. The hair inside the ear must be removed also, again this should be carried out by someone who is experienced.
When grooming the face it is good to get into a routine of checking eyes, ears and mouth for any sign of irritation. If you do discover anything unusual do contact your veterinary surgeon as soon as possible as this may prevent any infection setting in. The hair around the mouth should also be kept short as this will enable your puppy to eat and drink more easily; it also prevents the hair around the mouth gathering food.
On completion of grooming the face continue first with the bristle brush and then comb down the neck and body ensure there are no tangles. Getting your puppy used to having its legs and feet groomed is important as nails and hair between the pads needs the most frequent attention. Start by gently brushing the legs with the bristle brush then comb ensuring the inside of the legs is also groomed will help your puppy get used to this. It will also make life easier for everyone including your puppy if this is done, especially when at the grooming parlour it causes less stress for everyone. Nails and hair between the pads must be kept short at all times. Care must be taken if you trim the nails yourself as they can bleed if trimmed too short. This task is better being carried out by someone who is experienced.
The last stage is grooming around your puppy’s bottom area and tail. The tail should be brushed through with the bristle brush followed by the comb and again the hair can be trimmed short. The hair around your puppy’s bottom should be kept short so that your puppy can go to the toilet easily. The hair can be trimmed with scissors to keep this area free from hair. It is a good idea to check this area daily to ensure that no excrement has become attached to the hair.
Deciding when to have your puppy clipped for the first time does depend a lot on how quickly the hair has grown. It is better even if a whole body clip is not required to call in and let your puppy get used to the atmosphere in the parlour. My local grooming parlour encourages this from a very young age as it results in less stress for everyone including your Shih Tzu in years to come.
How often will clipping be required? Again this depends on the rate that the hair grows and what style you like to have your Shih Tzu trimmed in. On average probably about every eight to twelve weeks and your dog will still need to be bathed and brushed in between times.
How often should I bath my Shih Tzu? Again this is dependant upon a number of factors. For example if your Shih Tzu is walked across fields and countryside, bathing will be required more frequently compared to a Shih Tzu who is walked in town lands. On average probably a full bath would be required every couple of weeks and is again dependant on the style your Shih Tzu is groomed in, the longer the clip the more frequently the dog will require bathing.
How To Bath
I have always found it easier to bath my Shih Tzu using a small tub set within my bath but as long as you have a non-slip mat in the bath, this will do the job also. Start with soaking the Shih Tzu’s coat all over taking care not to get any water near your dog’s nose. For puppies I always use a tearless shampoo as they can wriggle and if the shampoo does accidentally get into the eyes it will not hurt. Otherwise a good conditioning shampoo for adult dogs is required. Begin by gently lathering the shampoo into the hair on the head and face taking great care to avoid eyes and nose. Dilution of shampoo may be required depending on which shampoo you decide to use, make sure and read the label first. Continue to shampoo down the body paying particular attention to feet and around the bottom area. Then rinse. Always check the temperature of the water before using it on your dog. You may wish to use a conditioner after shampooing, I like to condition as it makes life easier should you come across any tangles while drying. Again following the same procedure as with the shampoo and ensure all traces of shampoo and conditioner have been rinsed until the water runs clear. Next squeeze any excess water out of the coat with your hands then wrap your Shih Tzu in a towel. My dogs love this part when they get a good rub with the towel. You will need a second towel which can be placed on your grooming table to absorb any more water.
Getting your Shih Tzu used to a hair dryer can be problematic. Again if they are used to this from an early age it makes life easier. My own dogs use it as a time for a nap and really enjoy this part. Make sure the temperature is not too high on the hair dryer and gently with the brush, dry your dog all over brushing at the same time will help your dog dry more quickly. Once all the hair is dry using your comb ensure there are no tangles remaining.
When removing a tangle, first begin by using the bristle brush and then holding the tangle firmly between your fingers gently begin to tease it out using the comb, beginning at the bottom of the tangle working towards your Shih Tzu’s skin. NEVER pull the tangle as this causes great discomfort to the dog and will result in your Shih Tzu objecting to being groomed in future. I always believe in treating their hair the same way as I would treat my own!
It is important to make grooming as pleasant an experience as possible. It is an opportunity for you give your dog one to one attention so always ensure that you have the time to spend rather than making it a rushed job. Making it as pleasant an experience as possible will cause less stress for everyone, your Shih Tzu included.