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13 Simple Steps to Grooming A Shih Tzu At Home

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Perky and irresistibly cuddly, the Shih Tzu breed is one of the most adored dog breeds in the world – and rightly so! Shih Tzus flaunt glamorous, flowing coats and charming, floppy ears. 

These adorable lapdogs go back at least 1,000 years. They originated in Tibet back in the 7th century, and were offered as presents to the Chinese royalty.

Two Shih Tzus With Long Hair On A Black Background
Seregraff / Shutterstock.com

Today, Shih Tzus are known as happy little balls of fluff that just love being spoiled, and look best with a fair amount of grooming. 

And if you’re wondering whether grooming a Shih Tzu at home is possible, the answer is yes!

With proper preparation and the right tools and equipment, you can give your furry baby a snazzy cut and a professionally groomed result. 

Continue reading below to find out how you can properly and safely groom your Shih Tzu at home.

Grooming A Shih Tzu At Home

Grooming your Shih Tzu at home strengthens your bond with them and helps you learn how to care for them better.

Here’s a helpful video to help you get an idea of how to groom Shih Tzu at home and do a puppy cut haircut.

Now that you have a better idea on how grooming a Shih Tzu looks like, you can follow the exact steps we’ll discuss below so you can groom your dog at home.

For this guide, we’ll lay down the steps for the most well-known cut Shih Tzus can rock – the puppy cut.

This haircut gives your small canine buddy a clean, easy-to-maintain look and makes them appear even cuter. And depending on your preferences, you can give your Shih Tzu a puppy cut with short or long ears. 

Are you ready? Now let’s get started with the DIY grooming process! Follow these 13 easy steps to grooming a Shih Tzu at home, from start to finish. 

1. Prepare Your Workspace and Grooming Equipment

Grooming A Shih Tzu At Home
Ilina Yuliia / Shutterstock.com

Before anything else, find an area that’s roomy and comfortable enough for your grooming session. 

Do you have a table with a flat, clean surface? Then that will serve as your grooming workspace.

If your rambunctious little pet likes to squirm around, you may want to get an adjustable grooming arm with an adjustable clamp and a haunch holder.

A grooming arm will help control excessive moving while keeping your pet comfortable. Here’s one of our recommendations that you can easily buy on Amazon:

Before grooming a Shih Tzu at home, it’s important to prepare the necessary supplies to make the whole process a success. Here are all the tools and equipment you’ll need for your DIY grooming session:

For Hair Brushing For Bathing For Cleaning the Eyes, Ears, and Teeth For Nail Trimming For Doing a Puppy Cut
A dog brush with flexible pins Dog shampoo and conditioner Soft wet wipes for eyes Dog nail trimmers/filer Electric clippers
A fine slicker brush Non-slip mat Ear-cleaning solution Blunt-tipped scissors
A dematting comb A spray nozzle for the sink/tub Cotton-tipped swabs
A steel comb Hairdryer Cotton balls
Clean towels Washcloth

2. Get Rid of Matted and Tangled Hair

Groomer Combing Shih Tzu With A Wool Comb
Parilov / Shutterstock.com

When grooming a Shih Tzu at home, it’s important to remove any matted or tangled hair to make bathing easier. Thick knots of hair will be denser when damp and tougher to remove. Furthermore, tangles in the coat could also snag the clippers. 

Here are a few tools you can use to get rid of matted and tangled hair:

Pin Brush

Use a pin brush if you have a long-haired adult Shih Tzu, ideally a 16-millimeter to 20-millimeter brush.

Slicker Brush

You can use a slicker brush for a short-coat Shih Tzu. It effectively gets rid of debris and loose strands without hurting your pet. And it also helps eliminate mats and tangles.

When choosing a brush, pick one with fine bristles to deeply penetrate your dog’s coat without scratching the skin. For example, Hertzko’s Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush, which you can get on Amazon, does a great job at safely removing matted or tangled hair.

De-matting Comb

A de-matting comb, on the other hand, works wonders in de-tangling hard-to-reach spots from tips to roots, especially in the face, neck, and paw areas.

This Coastal Pet Safari de-matting comb helps remove stubborn mats. And it’s ideal for dogs with long, matted coats or coarse hair.

Alternatively, you can use a de-matting spray if your fluffy dog has stubborn matted hair. 

Steel Comb

Finally, use a simple steel comb (also called a greyhound comb) to get rid of excess hair and small mats. A lightweight comb with fine and coarse teeth, like Andis, is an excellent tool when grooming a Shih Tzu at home. 

To prevent unwanted matting, it’s best to maintain a brushing routine that keeps your Shih Tzu’s double coat looking great. 

Take time to regularly brush your canine baby’s hair to make your grooming sessions less stressful.

3. Bathe and Dry Your Dog Carefully

Woman Drying A Shih Tzu After Taking A Bath In A Bath Tub
hedgehog94 / Shutterstock.com

Now that you’ve successfully de-tangled your Shih Tzu’s hair, the next step is to give your dog a nice bath to ensure your dog is completely clean. 

Keep these tips in mind when bathing your dog: 

  • Place your Shih Tzu on a non-slip mat to prevent unnecessary slipping. 
  • Use lukewarm water so your dog feels comfortable.
  • Avoid getting water on the face, especially up the nose. Shih Tzus don’t like their faces getting damp. However, make sure to cleanse areas around the mouth and eyes properly. 
  • Hold your dog’s head upward while massaging the shampoo. This helps prevent liquid from getting into the eyes. 
  • Use a shower nozzle to minimize spillage. Run the water into your palm first to ensure the spray isn’t too strong. You could also let the water trickle from your hand onto your dog in the beginning so your dog feels less anxious. 
  • And make sure to rinse thoroughly to prevent residue buildup.

It’s important to use quality dog shampoo and conditioner to maintain your Shih Tzu’s beautiful, healthy coat.

When choosing, pick a hypoallergenic, all-natural dog shampoo and conditioner without harsh chemicals or artificial dyes. Some formulations are specially made to help alleviate itching and dry skin. And some are made for sensitive or irritated skin.

If you don’t know which shampoo and conditioner to buy, here’s an option you can try:

Furthermore, drying your Shih Tzu requires gentle pats – no harsh rubbing! Patting them dry will help prevent split ends on their coat. Then, you can use a hairdryer on the lowest heat setting while lightly brushing the coat with your fingers.

4. Keep Your Shih Tzu Relaxed

Groomer Hugging An Anxious Shih Tzu Dog
MF_Orleans / Shutterstock.com

Shih Tzus are typically playful and energetic, but they can also get easily frightened or anxious when being groomed. 

So, when grooming a Shih Tzu at home, always ensure that you’re giving them a less stressful experience by taking the grooming process slowly.

Create a soothing background sound that they’re familiar with, like turning on the TV or playing some calming music at a low volume. Or you can also try playing with your dog’s paws to help your pet feel more comfortable. 

It’s also best to incorporate simple grooming habits into your dog’s regular routine. Brush your fluffy pet frequently, play with their paws and ears, and gently massage their head once in a while.

This way, your Shih Tzu will squirm less and feel more comfortable with being touched when grooming time comes. 

Furthermore, give your pooch plenty of tasty treats and praise them a lot when grooming them. Avoid scolding them if they keep on wiggling, especially when you’re clipping their nails.

It’s important that you stay calm and patient throughout the grooming process so your Shih Tzu feels less nervous. 

5. Clean That Adorable Puppy Face

Cleaning The Face Of A Shih Tzu During Bath Time
MDV Edwards / Shutterstock.com

Shih Tzus, particularly light-colored ones, quickly pick up dirt, debris, and food particles that could get stuck in their double coat. Furthermore, moisture retention also leads to discoloration. 

To keep your perky little dog looking clean and beautiful, it’s essential to clean their face every day.

And to do this, you can use grooming wipes to effectively get rid of tear stains, dirt, and moist buildup around the eyes. 

Here is a grooming wipes option for your pooch that is unscented and gentle on the eyes:

Here are quick tips to remove stains and dirt with grooming wipes: 

  • Swipe around the eyes to remove visible stains. 
  • Swipe over your Shih Tzu’s cheeks and down the chin. 
  • Wipe their face twice daily after meals. 

6. Clean Your Dog’s Ears

The next step in grooming a Shih Tzu at home is cleaning their ears, which is best done with a cleaning solution for dogs.

Choose an ear cleaner that gently yet thoroughly cleanses and deodorizes a canine’s external ear canal. Here are our top 3 recommendations:

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. We recommend that you pour a few drops from the ear cleanser bottle over a cotton wool ball. Then, gently rub it into your pet’s ears. And finally, wipe away any leftover solution with a dry cotton wool ball. 

Routinely cleansing your Shih Tzu’s ears helps prevent ear infections. And you can do this around one to two times weekly to maintain clean, healthy ears. 

7. Brush Those Pearly White Teeth

Dental hygiene is another important part of your Shih Tzu’s grooming routine.

Brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth weekly using a dual-headed brush for small dogs like the below option.

This type of toothbrush has a small brush on one end and a bigger brush on the other end. And it helps simplify the process of cleaning hard-to-reach mouth areas. 

Alternatively, you can use a finger toothbrush with soft silicone bristles for gentle yet thorough cleaning. 

And of course, don’t forget to choose a toothpaste that’s specially formulated for dogs. 

8. Clip the Nails

Groomer Clipping A Shih Tzu's Nails
Parilov / Shutterstock.com

Now it’s time to give your fabulous pooch a paw-dicure! Part of grooming a Shih Tzu at home is keeping their nails well-trimmed. 

As mentioned earlier, when grooming, it’s best to raise your dog in a way that makes them comfortable. And when it comes to clipping their nails, it’s best to expose them to the sounds and sensations of nail trimmers while they’re still a pup. 

Before trimming the nails, prepare a pet first aid kit with a clotting agent like styptic powder. In the unlikely event that you hit the “quick” (the vein in the middle of the nail), you should immediately dab some styptic powder to stop the bleeding. Over time, this vein will recede and allow you to trim your pup’s nails shorter. 

Next, find out what position works best for your dog. Some Shih Tzus like to be held, while others prefer to sit at a table or sprawl on the floor. 

When nail trimming time comes, start lightly touching your Shih Tzu’s paws. Touch the areas around and in between the toes. 

Give your little pooch treats whenever you’re playing with their paws, so they associate the activity with a positive experience.

However, be sure to reward good behavior only. Don’t hand out treats when your dog keeps on moving, biting, and resisting. Your goal is to help them be calm, obedient, and still. 

Once your fur baby starts responding positively, you can then start clipping their nails. Be gentle and take it slowly. 

Start making small cuts on the nail with the clippers. Only cut the white portion of the nail. And stop cutting once you see the black dot, which indicates the start of the quick. 

Alternatively, you can use a nail grinder instead of a nail clipper. This tool is usually more expensive, but makes it easy to trim your dog’s nails swiftly and more safely. 

So, if you have a fussy and sensitive pooch, here’s a dog nail grinder we recommend:

After trimming your pet’s nails successfully, don’t forget to reinforce good behavior with delectable treats. 

9. Snip Hair Between the Paw Pads

Groomer Snipping A Shih Tzu's Paw Pad
BY-_-BY / Shutterstock.com

The next step to grooming a Shih Tzu at home is keeping their paw pads well-trimmed.

This helps prevent your rambunctious fluffball from sliding on slippery surfaces that could result in injury. Also, maintaining well-trimmed paw pads prevents dirt buildup and matting. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to trim the hair on your pooch’s paw pads:

  • Gently brush the bottom of your pet’s paw with a slicker brush. This makes the hair between paw pads easier to trim.
  • Glide the electric clipper lightly over your dog’s paw pads, ensuring that the hair is even with the pads.
  • Carefully cut excess hair between the toes while spreading the paw pads.

Depending on your dog’s clipper model, you can use a #40 blade to trim their paw pads.

And don’t forget that when you’re grooming a Shih Tzu at home, give them more treats as you go through every step of the grooming routine. 

10. Snip Around the Body

Groomer Snipping Around A Shih Tzu's Body
BY-_-BY / Shutterstock.com

The puppy cut, also called the summer cut, is one of the most popular hairstyles for Shih Tzus.

This haircut is when you trim the hair 1 to 2 inches in length to create a neat, low-maintenance look. And to maintain this look, you’ll have to trim your furbaby’s hair every three months or so.

To make the grooming process easier, it’s best to hold your pet in place by putting them on a flat, clean table that’s outfitted with an adjustable grooming arm.

However, you may not have to do this if you have a well-behaved pooch that’s comfortable with being groomed. 

You can use a #10 blade for your cordless electric grooming clipper to trim your dog’s hair. Depending on your chosen grooming clipper, you’ll have to use different blades when trimming specific parts of your dog. 

In our case, we love using this grooming clipper from Amazon when trimming the dog’s body:

When snipping around the body, first, lightly trim the fuzzy parts around your dog’s groin area while holding one leg up. Make sure to take extra caution when snipping hair from the belly and sensitive areas. 

Attach a clipping comb guard to protect your dog’s skin from direct contact with the clippers. Adjustable clipping combs typically come in varying measurements to suit different pet hair lengths. 

Next, hold your dog’s face upward and start trimming down the neck. Continue trimming to the middle of the body as you make downward strokes from the top of the head. 

Leave the head untouched for now, so you can later see what the body looks like and how you can make the head look proportionate to the rest of the body. 

And don’t forget to brush the body swiftly every once in awhile before continuing the haircut to get rid of loose hairs. 

When you’re clipping, you’d want to go with the grain in the hair for the most part. Repeat the process and soon, you’ll get a good sense of the right speed and pressure to achieve a smooth, balanced cut. 

11. Clip Around the Legs

Grooming a Shih Tzu at home also means clipping around the hair on their legs.

So, now that you’ve evenly trimmed the body, start clipping hair around each leg while keeping your Shih Tzu in place.

Just do the same swift downward strokes in one direction to achieve a clean cut. You could hold each leg up to trim the inner area more thoroughly. And clip from the top of the leg down to the foot. 

12. Start Trimming the Head

When grooming a Shih Tzu at home, you can’t forget trimming their head and face!

To do this properly, add a snap-on comb atop the #30 blade to give your Shih Tzu a cute puppy look while protecting sensitive areas.

Trim the top of the head smoothly with the clippers, and then use a pair of round-end scissors to create a well-balanced facial shape. You’ll have to constantly check if the size of the head fits the rest of the trimmed body. 

After trimming your Shih Tzu’s head, you can then use scissors to clip the ears and snip away any uneven hair lengths on the face. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to keep the ears short or long. 

13. Do Some Finishing Touches

The final step to grooming a Shih Tzu at home is to smooth any uneven areas. This helps ensure your charming pooch looks beautifully groomed.

You can also use a brush or comb to inspect your furbaby’s coat closely and spot any rough areas. Take your time to trim as necessary, ensuring that your dog’s new haircut looks clean, consistent, and smooth. 

How Often Should I Groom My Shih Tzu at Home? 

As with any breed, each Shih Tzu has unique grooming needs. So, we’ve compiled a list of general grooming routines below to keep your pooch healthy and lovely. 

You should adjust the frequency of doing each task based on your dog’s specific needs.

Grooming Task Frequency
Brushing/Combing Daily for long coats; every 3 days for short coats
Bathing Once in 2 to 3 weeks; more frequently if your dog has a skin or coat problem
Clipping Nails Once in 3 to 6 weeks
Brushing Teeth Weekly
Wiping Eyes and Face Daily
Cleaning Ears Weekly
Clipping Hair Once in 6 to 8 weeks or as needed
Trimming Paw Pad Hair Once in 6 to 8 weeks or as needed

Final Thoughts: Keeping Your Shih Tzu Well-Groomed at Home

Grooming a Shih Tzu at home means putting in plenty of time and effort to do it regularly. And we hope, that with these steps, you’ll be able to properly and safely do it with your pooch at home.

Don’t forget that with proper preparation and quality tools, you can keep your furbaby happy, healthy, and gorgeous at all times. 



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