To Bathe or Not to Bathe Before Grooming: Learn The Truth About Shih Tzu Grooming.

Let’s talk about something that’s probably crossed your mind more than once – should you bathe your fluffy friend before DIY Grooming or when taking them to the groomer? Or is it better to let the pros handle it all?

I’ve been in your shoes, standing in front of the tub, wondering if I’m doing the right thing. After putting effort in researching, I’ve got some insights to share that might just make your life a whole lot easier.

So, grab your favorite drink, get comfy, and let’s dive into the sudsy world of pre-grooming Shih Tzu baths!

The Great Debate: To Bathe or Not to Bathe?

First things first – there isn’t a straight answer to this question. But don’t worry, I’ll break it down so you can make the best choice for your furry friend.

When to Bathe Before Grooming

Let’s start with scenarios where a pre-grooming bath might be a good idea:

  1. Your Shih Tzu is extra dirty or smelly
  2. They’ve rolled in something unpleasant (we’ve all been there!)
  3. You’re between regular grooming appointments and want to freshen up
  4. Your groomer has specifically requested it

When to Skip the Pre-Grooming Bath

On the flip side, here are situations where you might want to hold off:

  1. Your Shih Tzu has just had a bath recently
  2. They have sensitive skin that doesn’t do well with frequent bathing
  3. You’re short on time before the grooming appointment
  4. Your groomer prefers to start with an unbathed dog

The Pros of Pre-Grooming Baths

Bathing your Shih Tzu before grooming can have some definite perks:

  1. Easier brushing: A clean, detangled coat is easier for the groomer to work with
  2. Time-saver: It might reduce the time (and cost) of your grooming appointment
  3. Spot problem areas: You might notice skin issues that need the groomer’s attention
  4. Bonding time: It’s a chance for some one-on-one time with your pup

The Cons of Pre-Grooming Baths

But it’s not all bubbles and fun. Here are some reasons you might skip the bath:

  1. Double work: Most groomers include a bath in their service
  2. Skin irritation: Too-frequent bathing can dry out your Shih Tzu’s skin
  3. Stress: Some dogs find baths stressful, and you don’t want to stress them before grooming
  4. Missed issues: Groomers are trained to spot skin problems that might be masked by a recent bath

What Do Groomers Prefer?

I reached out to several professional groomers, and here’s what they had to say:

  • Most prefer to start with an unbathed dog
  • They can assess the coat and skin condition better
  • Their shampoos and techniques are designed for a thorough clean

But remember, every groomer is different. It’s always best to ask your specific groomer what they prefer.

The Middle Ground: The “Tidy Up” Approach

Can’t decide? Here’s a compromise that many Shih Tzu owners (myself included) have found works well:

  1. Brush your Shih Tzu thoroughly to remove any tangles
  2. Clean their face, eyes, and ears gently with a damp cloth
  3. Spot-clean any dirty areas
  4. Trim any overgrown hair around the paws or eyes

This approach freshens up your pup without a full bath, making the groomer’s job easier without overdoing it.

Step-by-Step Guide: If You Decide to Bathe

If you’ve decided a pre-grooming bath is the way to go, here’s how to do it right:

  1. Brush out all tangles before getting your Shih Tzu wet
  2. Use lukewarm water and wet the coat thoroughly
  3. Apply a dog-specific shampoo, working it gently through the coat
  4. Pay extra attention to often-dirty areas like paws and underbelly
  5. Rinse completely – leftover shampoo can irritate the skin
  6. Apply conditioner if your Shih Tzu has a long coat
  7. Rinse again until water runs clear
  8. Gently squeeze out excess water – don’t rub, as it can cause tangles
  9. Towel dry, then use a low-heat blow dryer or air dry
  10. Give a final brush-through once the coat is dry

Choosing the Right Products

If you’re bathing before grooming, product choice matters:

  • Use a mild, tearless dog shampoo
  • Look for moisturizing ingredients like oatmeal or aloe
  • Avoid heavily scented products – let the groomer handle the final scent
  • Consider a detangling spray to make brushing easier

Timing is Everything

If you decide to bathe your Shih Tzu before grooming, timing is crucial:

  • Bathe 1-2 days before the grooming appointment
  • This allows natural oils to return to the coat
  • The coat will be clean but not too fluffy for the groomer to work with

Special Considerations for Shih Tzus

Our Shih Tzus have some unique needs to keep in mind:

  1. Eye care: Clean around the eyes carefully to prevent irritation
  2. Facial folds: Make sure to clean and dry between facial folds to prevent skin issues
  3. Ear care: Be cautious about getting water in their ears during bathing
  4. Coat type: Long-coated Shih Tzus might need extra care to prevent tangles

Communicating with Your Groomer

Open communication with your groomer is key:

  • Ask their preference about pre-grooming baths
  • Inform them of any skin issues or sensitive areas
  • Discuss your Shih Tzu’s usual bathing routine
  • Be open to their professional advice

DIY Grooming vs. Professional Grooming

While bathing is often manageable at home, full grooming is a different story:

  • Professional groomers have specialized tools and training
  • They can achieve even cuts and style your Shih Tzu’s coat properly
  • They’re experienced in handling difficult areas like around the eyes and ears
  • Regular professional grooming (every 6-8 weeks) is recommended for most Shih Tzus


Will bathing my Shih Tzu before grooming affect the haircut? 

It might make the hair a bit more difficult to cut if it’s very fluffy. That’s why bathing 1-2 days before is often ideal.

Can I use human shampoo if I’m out of dog shampoo?

It’s best to avoid human shampoo as it can be too harsh for your dog’s skin. In a pinch, a mild, unscented baby shampoo is a better alternative.

My Shih Tzu hates water. How can I clean them before grooming? 

Try using pet wipes for a quick clean-up, or consider waterless shampoo options designed for dogs.

Should I trim my Shih Tzu’s nails before grooming? 

It’s usually best to let the groomer handle nail trimming, as they have the right tools and experience to do it safely.

How can I keep my Shih Tzu clean between grooming appointments? 

Regular brushing, spot cleaning, and occasional baths (every 3-4 weeks) can help keep your Shih Tzu fresh between grooming sessions.

There you have it – the ins and outs of the pre-grooming bath debate! Remember, the best approach is the one that works for you, your Shih Tzu, and your groomer. Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit to find what works best.

At the end of the day, whether you bathe your Shih Tzu before grooming or not, the most important thing is that they’re happy, healthy, and looking fabulous. Here’s to many good hair days for your adorable Shih Tzu!

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