how often should you groom a shih tzu

How Often Should You Groom a Shih Tzu?

The Shih Tzu is a charming toy breed known for its long, flowing double coat. This beautiful coat requires frequent grooming to keep it free of mats and tangles. On average, most Shih Tzus need full grooming every 4–6 weeks. However, grooming frequency is determined by a variety of factors, including coat length, activity level, and personal preferences.

Regular grooming keeps the coat healthy and shiny. It also reduces shedding and hairballs. For Shih Tzus, grooming is important to maintain the breed’s distinctive long coat and tied-up top knot. Daily brushing and combing at home help prevent knots. Most owners take their Shih Tzu to a professional groomer every 1-2 months for bathing, trimming, and styling.

Why regular grooming is important

The Shih Tzu’s long, silky coat is high-maintenance and requires regular grooming. Here are some key reasons why consistent grooming is vital:

Prevents Matting and Tangling

Without regular brushing and combing, the Shih Tzu’s fine, dense coat will become a matted mess. Small mats can quickly become large, tightly wound knots. Trying to detangle a severely matted coat causes extreme discomfort and pain. Matted fur also pulls and strains the skin, increasing irritation, inflammation, and infection risk. Frequent grooming prevents painful mats.

Keeps the coat healthy and shiny.

The Shih Tzu’s luxurious coat remains much more lustrous and beautiful, with recurring brushing to distribute skin oils. This helps all hairs stay strong, supple, and bright. The skin also benefits from improved circulation and sebum distribution. Overall, diligent grooming keeps the glorious coat sparkling and healthy.

Reduces shedding and hairballs

While no dog is non-shedding, frequent grooming significantly decreases the number of the number of loose hairs in the house. It also lessens swallowed fur, causing intestinal hairballs. Brushing dead coats removes them, allowing for healthier new growth. Regular comb-outs reduce shedding and hairball problems.

Maintains the breed’s distinctive look

A key aspect of the Shih Tzu breed standard is the long, flowing coat tied up in a topknot. Without diligent grooming, the coat quickly loses shape and becomes a matted, unkempt mess, unrecognizable as a Shih Tzu. Appropriate trimming and styling every few weeks preserves the famously beautiful arched shape and abundant head hair tied into a cute topknot. Proper grooming upholds the special attributes that make the Shih Tzu a unique breed.

Factors Affecting Grooming Frequency

While most Shih Tzu owners groom their dogs every 4-6 weeks, several elements influence the exact timing between grooming sessions.

Coat Length

  • Shih Tzus kept in very full show coats with hair reaching the floor need grooming every 3–4 weeks to prevent matting and keep the coat fluffed out and flowing. The longer the coat, the more critical and frequent detangling becomes.
  • Pets with shorter “puppy cut” trims typically require professional grooming every 6–8 weeks. Less total coat causes less matting. Owners can often brush out small tangles between full grooms. Shorter cuts require less maintenance than show ring coats.

Activity Level

  • Active Shih Tzus, who enjoy running and playing outside, are more likely to pick up burrs and sticks in their fur. Higher activity also increases natural body oils and dirt accumulation on the coat. Therefore, more energetic dogs usually need grooming more often than calmer pets.
  • In contrast, less active indoor Shih Tzus often tolerate slightly longer stretches between full grooming sessions. Reduced debris buildup and skin oiliness allow for longer mat-free periods. Couch potato pups can sometimes go an extra week or two between haircuts.

Personal Preferences

  • Some owners strive to keep their Shih Tzu looking prim like a show dog year-round. To uphold a meticulous appearance, they commit to professional grooming every 3–4 weeks without fail. Others prefer maintaining a slightly more natural look and are content with standard 4-6-week grooming sessions.
  • Pets blessed with an exceptionally silky coat prone to tangling often require increased grooming frequency to prevent painful matting, despite owners’ wishes regarding stylistic preferences. Ultimately, keeping the dog comfortable must override personal hairstyle choices.

Grooming Routine

Caring for the Shih Tzu’s lush coat requires establishing a consistent routine, including:

  1. Daily Brushing
    • Using a stainless steel slicker brush, gently brush small sections of hair from tips to skin.
    • Carefully work out all the tangles. Never force the brush through the mats.
    • After brushing, run a stainless steel comb completely through the coat to catch any missed tangles.
  2. Bathing every 3–6 weeks
    • Bathing helps remove dirt, oil, dander, and debris caught in the coat.
    • Use a gentle, hydrating dog shampoo formulated for long coats.
    • Carefully work the shampoo fully into the coat and skin to cleanse thoroughly.
    • Rinse thoroughly. Air dry or use a cool-air dryer.
  3. Trimming every 4–6 weeks
    • Neatly trim excess hair between foot pads, around ears, and surrounding eyes.
    • For a shorter cut, uniformly trim the coat close to the body outline.
    • For a floor-length coat, only trim feet and head falls. Even out ends across the back, sides, and chest.
    • Collectively, aim to uphold the breed’s signature look.

Here’s our full step by step guide to groom your shih tzu like a pro: How To Groom a Shih Tzu? The Secret to a Stunning Shih Tzu

Popular Styles

Puppy Cut

A shorter, neater trim with a coat tapered close to the body ranging from 1/2 inch to 2 inches long all over. Face falls, ears, tail, and legs are trimmed to balance proportionally with the shorter body. This versatile, low-maintenance style requires professional grooming every 6–8 weeks, along with weekly brushing, to preserve skin health.

Modified Show Cut

Also called a “hot spot” or “kennel” clip, this style features a shorter body with a longer head, ear, tail, and leg coat. It enables extra coat on the signature areas prized by the breed standard while reducing overall coat maintenance. Depending on the exact length and thickness, grooming is needed every 6 weeks or so. Less coats equals fewer mats and easier home brush-outs.

Here are even more adorable grooming styles for your Shih Tzu that will turn heads!

Professional Grooming

To properly maintain the breed’s beautiful coat, most pet owners elect to have their Shih Tzu professionally groomed by an experienced dog stylist every 4–6 weeks. Reasons to utilize professional groomers include:

Expertise and Tools

Professional dog groomers possess specialized knowledge, techniques, and high-caliber tools that the average owner lacks. They expertly handle the intensive bathing, brushing, drying, trimming, and styling the abundant coat requires. Top-notch grooming tools like powerful dryers, premium shampoos, and sharp shears achieve excellent results that are difficult for novices to accomplish at home.

Efficiency and convenience

Appointments are efficiently completed in several hours, which would take unskilled owners days of an exasperating struggle trying to DIY at home. The cost pays for sore hands saved, vexation avoided, and the quick return of a gorgeously coiffed pet. Going to experts permits owners time for other obligations instead of getting mired at home endlessly wrestling to trim complicated puppy cuts.

Dog Comfort

In the hands of a skilled professional, proper grooming feels soothing. In contrast, amateur efforts typically prove stressful and unpleasant for dogs. Professionals equipped with treats, patience, and precision keep fidgety Shih Tzus content throughout the process. Owners at home often create negative experiences and occasionally even injure dogs, struggling to clip wriggling pups’ overgrown coats themselves.

Every Shih Tzu coat has slightly unique grooming needs. Seeing the same stylist regularly helps determine the ideal personalized schedule for peak coat health and beauty. While costly, professional expertise produces superior styling and dog comfort that owners can rarely duplicate at home. CHECK PRICE


The Shih Tzu’s glorious long double coat requires diligent upkeep through frequent brushing and grooming. On average, most pets need professional styling every 4–6 weeks. However, elements like coat length, activity level, and personal preferences can shift the optimal timing between appointments.

Daily brushing and combing at home helps prevent painful matting for your Shih Tzu. And providing customized trims and baths every 1-2 months helps maintain their special coat.

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