SHIH TZU   


The Chinese Shih Tzu is a double coated breed sporting dense, long, luxurious, and flowing hair. Slight wave is permissible. Hair on top of the head is tied up. All colors and markings are permissible and to be considered equally.--AKC Standard. 

Photo: CH Windsor's Golden Buda; 

Owner/Breeder: Sheila Gordon 

It is never a good idea to buy a puppy because you like how that breed looks in a dog show, and especially a long-haired breed. (This topic is discussed in Shih Tzu Rescue.) Show dogs are loved by their owners but they are not pets. They are the jet set, charismatic and glamorous stars of the canine world. Like their human counterparts, show dogs live a different life than mere mortals. They are carefully selected to be a representation of the breed; show trained; constantly pampered; have especially designed, slick surfaced, enclosed, exercise and play areas to protect them. Rolling around the backyard is out. 

Shih Tzu may not require as much grooming as some of the other long-haired breeds but they do have long hair and definitely require regular grooming. If your life style does not allow time to groom a Shih Tzu, and you cannot afford to pay a groomer, then a Shih Tzu may not the companion dog for you. The other side of the coin is that if you can spare the time or money, it will be well worth it. Shih Tzu are adorable, intelligent, beautiful dogs, who will be loyal, loving, and a wonderful member of your family for many years.

Following this section is a "how to" article that explains cutting down a Shih Tzu coat. Generally, this information is intended for persons who have several Shih Tzu and/or novice show dog owners.  The article describes three cuts:  Schnauzer, Cocker Spaniel and  a puppy cut. Excluding health reasons or your pet rolled in something unspeakable, and cutting down the coat is the consequence, a Shih Tzu is a coated breed, and should show off  a long, flowing, luxurious coat. If you cannot afford to pay a professional groomer, or are unable to bathe and groom a Shih Tzu frequently, then you should probably consider a pet with a shorter coat.

COAT Shih Tzu change coat at about 10 - 12 months of age.  During this period, they mat faster than you can brush, but keep brushing, the results are worth the effort. This is a temporary situation that lasts about three weeks to a month. Once the coat has changed grooming will be easier. Soft cottony coats will tangle more quickly and require more care than the silky type coat mentioned in the breed standard. 

MATS The most common reason a mat occurs is dead hair that drops and becomes entangled in the coat.  Never bathe a matted dog without tending to the mats, first. Dirty coats mats more easily, so be sure to bathe your dog at least every two weeks, but ideally once a week. The likely areas for a mat to form are around the neck and ears, underbelly area inside the legs, and under the foot pads. Never pull or rip at a mat because it will cause breakage. Would you do that to your hair?  Use a cap of cream conditioner in a spray bottle. Saturate the mat and leave it for three minutes. Carefully separate the hairs with your fingers, and the mat should fall out.  If a mat is dense and has significant loose hair entangled, saturate it with undiluted conditioner, and let stand for three minutes. Use your fingers to separate hairs. 

BRUSH & COMB To grow and maintain a beautiful coat, you will need a soft brush with flexible pins called a slicker, a rattail comb, a metal comb with moveable wide and narrow teeth, a plastic pick--the kind with 8 or 9 teeth about 3 inches long. The amount of brushing required for an adult coat depends on the texture of the coat--the more cottony coats will require more brushing.

Never brush a totally dry coat. This will cause breakage. Dampen the hair slightly with a spray bottled filled with warm water and a capful of cream conditioner. The coat should be brushed out in layers from the hair ends to the roots and working from the bottom up. Never rip at the coat or lift the top of the brush away and up from the coat as you reach the hair ends. This will cause the ends to weaken and break. Instead, turn the brush into the coat and twist it downward. Use your fingers or the long toothed pick to break up tangles that the brush will not go through.

Begin with the feet, legs, and belly, brushing upward to the skin. Pay special attention to the areas inside the legs and around the neck and ears where mats are more likely to form. Begin brushing the left side, right side, working up to the top coat on the back. Use a rat tail comb and part the coat from the nape of the neck to the root of the tail. Brush out tail. Brush ruff, then comb the mustache and below the ears. Pay special attention to the face and ears. Clean the inside corners of the eyes with a dam washcloth or a piece of cotton soaked in warm water. Use a comb on the mustache and below the ears. Finish with the topknot.