Shih Tzu Grooming: DIY vs Professional – Which Is Better for Your Wallet and Your Pup?

Looking to keep your Shih Tzu looking fabulous without breaking the bank? You’re not alone. As a Shih Tzu owner I love DIY Grooming, and I’ve also seen both sides of the grooming game. And let me tell you, there’s more to consider than just the price tag.

Over the years, I’ve groomed Shih Tzus, both in professional salons and in my own home. I’ve used top-of-the-line equipment and makeshift tools from the kitchen drawer. I’ve seen DIY disasters and professional miracles (and vice versa).

If you don’t want to waste your money or risk turning your furry friend into a canine fashion disaster, keep reading. In this post, you’ll learn the real costs – both financial and otherwise – of DIY and professional grooming for your Shih Tzu. Let’s dive in!

The True Cost of Grooming Your Shih Tzu

DIY Grooming: Initial Investment

Before you can start grooming your Shih Tzu at home, you’ll need to invest in some tools. Here’s a basic list of what you’ll need:

  1. Dog Clippers: $30 – $200
  2. Grooming Scissors: $20 – $100
  3. Slicker Brush: $10 – $30
  4. Metal Comb: $5 – $20
  5. Nail Clippers: $5 – $25
  6. Dog Shampoo and Conditioner: $10 – $40
  7. Grooming Table (optional): $50 – $200

Total Initial Investment: $80 – $615

Professional Grooming: Per Visit Cost

The cost of professional grooming can vary widely depending on your location, the groomer’s experience, and the services included. Here’s a general range:

  • Basic Groom (bath, brush, and trim): $40 – $75
  • Full Groom (including haircut): $60 – $100
  • Additional Services (teeth brushing, de-shedding, etc.): $10 – $30 per service

Average Cost Per Visit: $50 – $130

Breaking Down the Costs: DIY vs Professional

Let’s crunch some numbers to see how DIY and professional grooming compare over time. We’ll assume you’re grooming your Shih Tzu every 8 weeks (6-7 times per year).

Year 1 Costs


  • Initial Investment: $80 – $615
  • Ongoing Supplies (shampoo, etc.): $50 – $100
  • Total: $130 – $715


  • 6-7 Visits: $300 – $910

Year 2 and Beyond


  • Replacement Tools: $50 – $100
  • Ongoing Supplies: $50 – $100
  • Total: $100 – $200


  • 6-7 Visits: $300 – $910

As you can see, DIY grooming can save you money in the long run, especially after the initial investment. But is it really that simple? Let’s dig deeper.

Beyond the Dollar Signs: Hidden Costs and Benefits

The Time Factor

DIY Grooming:

  • Time per session: 2-4 hours (including setup and cleanup)
  • Learning curve: Expect to spend extra time in the beginning as you learn

Professional Grooming:

  • Time per session: 15-30 minutes drop-off and pick-up
  • No learning curve required

The Quality Question

DIY Grooming:

  • Quality depends on your skill level
  • Improves with practice
  • Risk of uneven cuts or accidents

Professional Grooming:

  • Consistent, high-quality results
  • Trained to handle difficult situations
  • Access to professional-grade products and tools

The Bonding Experience

DIY Grooming:

  • Great opportunity to bond with your Shih Tzu
  • Builds trust and strengthens your relationship

Professional Grooming:

  • Less hands-on time with your dog
  • But professional handling can help socialize your pup

DIY Grooming: Pros and Cons


  1. Cost-effective in the long run
  2. Flexible scheduling
  3. Bonding opportunity with your dog
  4. Complete control over products used


  1. Significant time investment
  2. Learning curve can be steep
  3. Risk of mistakes or accidents
  4. May be stressful for you and your dog initially

Professional Grooming: Pros and Cons


  1. Expert results
  2. Time-saving for you
  3. Access to professional products and tools
  4. Includes services like nail trimming and ear cleaning


  1. More expensive over time
  2. Less control over exact style and products
  3. May be stressful for some dogs
  4. Scheduling can be inconvenient

Making the Right Choice for You and Your Shih Tzu

Deciding between DIY and professional grooming isn’t just about money. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Your Schedule: Do you have time for DIY grooming sessions?
  2. Your Confidence: Are you comfortable handling grooming tools around your dog?
  3. Your Dog’s Temperament: Is your Shih Tzu patient enough for home grooming?
  4. Your Desired Look: Are you aiming for a specific style that might require professional skills?
  5. Your Budget: Can you afford regular professional grooming, or does the long-term savings of DIY appeal to you?

Mixing and Matching: The Best of Both Worlds

Who says you have to choose just one option? Many Shih Tzu owners find success in combining DIY and professional grooming. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Professional Grooming for Haircuts: Visit a pro every 2-3 months for a full groom and haircut.
  2. DIY Maintenance: Between professional visits, maintain your Shih Tzu’s coat with regular brushing, bathing, and minor trimming.
  3. Learn from the Pros: Pay attention to how professionals groom your dog and ask for tips you can use at home.
  4. Start Small: Begin with simple DIY tasks like brushing and bathing, and gradually work up to more complex grooming as you gain confidence.

DIY Grooming: Tips for Success

If you decide to try your hand at grooming your Shih Tzu, here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Start Early: Get your Shih Tzu used to being handled and groomed from a young age.
  2. Go Slow: Don’t try to do everything in one session. Break it up into manageable parts.
  3. Use Positive Reinforcement: Treats and praise can make grooming a positive experience for your dog.
  4. Invest in Good Tools: Quality tools will make the job easier and safer.
  5. Learn Proper Techniques: Watch tutorials, read guides, or even consider taking a pet grooming course.
  6. Be Patient: Both with yourself and your dog. It takes time to develop grooming skills.
  7. Know Your Limits: If you encounter a difficult situation, don’t hesitate to call in a professional.

When to Call in the Pros

Even if you’re a DIY grooming pro, there are times when it’s best to seek professional help:

  1. Matted Coat: Severe matting can be painful and dangerous to remove without proper training.
  2. Skin Issues: If you notice any skin abnormalities, a professional can provide a closer look.
  3. Nervous Dogs: Some dogs may be too anxious for home grooming and need a professional’s experienced touch.
  4. Special Occasions: When you want your Shih Tzu to look extra special, a professional groom can work wonders.
  5. Time Constraints: If life gets busy and you can’t keep up with grooming, a professional can help you get back on track.

The Bottom Line: What’s Best for Your Shih Tzu?

At the end of the day, the choice between DIY and professional grooming comes down to what works best for you and your furry friend. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

If you have the time, patience, and willingness to learn, DIY grooming can be a rewarding and cost-effective option. On the other hand, if you value convenience and professional results, the cost of professional grooming might be worth every penny.

Remember, the most important thing is that your Shih Tzu is clean, comfortable, and happy. Whether you’re wielding the clippers yourself or dropping your pup off at the groomer’s, your Shih Tzu will appreciate the love and care you’re showing.

So, are you ready to take on the grooming challenge, or will you be booking that next grooming appointment? Whatever you choose, your Shih Tzu is sure to look pawsitively adorable!


How often should I groom my Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzus need brushing 2-3 times a week and a full groom every 6-8 weeks.

Can I use human shampoo on my Shih Tzu?

No, human shampoos can be too harsh. Always use a dog-specific shampoo.

How long does it take to learn to groom a Shih Tzu properly?

It varies, but expect to spend several months practicing before you’re fully confident.

Are there any risks to DIY grooming?

Yes, risks include accidental cuts, stress for your dog if not done properly, and potential skin irritation if wrong products are used.

How can I make professional grooming more affordable?

Look for package deals, groom your dog at home between professional visits, and keep your dog’s coat well-maintained to reduce the work needed at each grooming session.

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