Some people only see the Shih Tzu's lovely coat, never suspecting there are actually two coats. The outer coat is the one obviously seen, because of the long hair owners love to brush. There is also the inner coat, which is often wooly. Despite a lack of patience with an attention-demanding and high maintenance pet, some people want to own a Shih Tzu.
But a Shih Tzu needs to be groomed every single day; couple that with the breed's demand for attention and some owner give up on it. These dogs can live from fifteen to twenty years, and the norm is every day grooming; every other day at the least. If you want to have a bouncing healthy pet, you need to groom it, devotedly.
The dogs normally seen in dog show are often finely chosen representatives of their breeds - genuine bloodline, solid, healthy, and friendly. Because their owner trained them hard and groomed them well, those dogs behave so well and look so good. Grooming is a habit a good pet owner should develop, but that some, unfortunately, don't.
Some owners who buy or adopt this breed, after learning about the tedious grooming routine it requires, tend to give it up. But what turns off some people is exactly what other people need - a routine, a bonding session. There are pet owners who adore grooming their pet. Because of their fierce loyalty and devotion, the Shih Tzu are a hit companion pet among the elderly.
You could always take your dog to a pet hair stylist, and have your pet's hair cut stylishly, lowering to a degree the need to groom your pet. You could have your Shih Tzu's hair cut stylishly, so that your dog remains cute, only with less hair to worry about grooming.
Inconsistent grooming leads to a lot of problems for dog with a coat like that - health problems at the most, inconvenience at the least - would you feel comfortable if the hair all over your body was matter, tangled up, and insect-infested? What you want to avoid is for your pet's coat of hair to mat, get tangle up, be the home base of numerous parasites leading to skin lesions and a host of other diseases.
Establishing A Grooming Routine for a Shih Tzu Dog
Establishing a grooming routine might be the best answer to finding the time to groom your little fur baby. Let's see, bathing, brushing the coat, trimming the nails, brushing the teeth, clipping the coat, oh, so much to do, where do we start?
Brushing the coat/Combing the coat
Clipping the nails
Brushing the Teeth
Trimming the coat
Cleaning the face
Managing the top knot (if your dog has the long coat look)
Even though the grooming routine list might seem long, the mere act of writing it down starts to make the tasks seem more manageable. Next, decide how often you want to accomplish each task (once per day, once per week, etc.)
GROOMING ROUTINE TASKS:
Bathing: You can probably get away with bathing about every 2 to 3 weeks.
Brushing: This depends on your Shih Tzu's coat-are you clipping it short or letting it grow out to great lengths. If you are keeping it short, once or twice per week is about all you will need. If your Shih Tzu's coat is long, plan on brushing it once per day.
Nail Clipping: Usually about every 3 to 4 weeks is a good estimate.
Brushing the Teeth: Once per week? Once per day is more advantageous
Trimming the coat: To keep a specific look, you will need to arrange for grooming appointments about every 6 weeks to 2 months, or if you decide to do it yourself, this is a pretty good schedule.
Cleaning ears: Once or twice a week depending on your Shih Tzu. Ear hairs can be removed when you clip their hair during their normal grooming appointment.
Cleaning the Face: Once per day: Wash the face with a warm washcloth, especially around their eyes and face.
Next, get yourself a handy dandy calendar to keep track of all your Shih Tzu needs. You can also use this calendar to keep track of grooming appointments or visits to the vet. You might also want to put things such as monthly heartworm medication administration or keep track of your puppy's age in weeks until about 16 weeks of age, then monthly. If you have more than one dog, you can color code each dog so you will be able to see at a glance what is needed for each. If you have females who are likely to go into heat, you might want to jot this information down as well. This will be your official Shih Tzu Care Calendar.
Now that you know when you're going to accomplish each task, the next question to ask is where? If you have a grooming table that can be brought out-wonderful, if not you will need to decide where to groom your dog. Many Shih Tzu owners bathe their dogs in the kitchen sink and if you decide to do this, you will want to have all your supplies in the kitchen and ready to go. You could devote a kitchen cabinet drawer to your Tzu's supplies or store them in a plastic caddy that can toted around. An alternative place for keeping supplies is a plastic cube with drawers such as is found at craft store. These work well for separating items and making them easy to find. If you're not sure about what to purchase, check out our Toolbox page for basic items. If you decide to use the kitchen sink, you will probably want to find a spot somewhere in the kitchen to do your other grooming routine tasks such as brushing and combing the coat. Grooming tables are wonderful, but you can use the counter-top or table. I usually don't recommend the kitchen table, because it gives the dogs the idea that it is permissible to be on top of the table and they might take advantage of the higher status atop the table when you're not around. I also like to keep a strip of non-adhesive plastic shelf liner that grips top and bottom to put down on the counter-top to create a non-skid surface. An alternative surface is to purchase an inexpensive bathtub liner that could be used inside your sink during bath time and on the hard surface for grooming. Your dog will feel much more secure.
WARNING: Be aware that hair can fly around when brushing and combing your dog's coat and if you choose the kitchen as your grooming salon, you will want to pay close attention to cleaning afterwards. No one wants to find Shih Tzu hair in their hamburger!
So, how do you accomplish the grooming routine as efficiently as possible? I save most of the big tasks to bath day.
First I assemble all the supplies I will need including an extra towel. (For me)
Before the Bath Routine: Brush and comb the hair to be sure all knots are removed; clip nails if needed, pull out loose hairs from the ears and trim around the face if the dog has a puppy cut. You can also use a clipper with a number 15 blade to trim around the dog's genital areas and between the pads of the feet if you choose. These tasks are also performed by the groomer if you use one
Towel Dry and dry with blow dryer
Fluff out hair with brush and comb
Brush the dog's teeth
This entire process takes about one hours to complete. I often speed it up by wrapping the wet dog in a towel and doing the nails, ears, and teeth before blowing the dog dry. This saves a few minutes and for fidgety dogs, wrapping a towel around them will help calm them down so you can clip their nails. High speed dryers work wonders and cut the time in half.
Daily: I wash the Shih Tzu's face with a warm wash cloth, especially around the eyes and give him a quick brush out. In bad weather, I will also use the washcloth to wipe their paws. I also check for fleas, ticks or anything unusual on the skin or coat. For dogs that have longer coats, I fix a simple top knot. I can usually do all of this in about 15 to 20 minutes. So that's my grooming routine.
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