small dog shih tzu being groomed

Shih Tzus are known for their luscious locks.

And if you're a proud Shih Tzu owner like me, you also don't like taking walks outside with your pup's all-messed-up hair.

For me, I like to keep my dog's hair short but sometimes long enough for a practical top knot.

What's a top-knot, you ask? We'll discuss that and more in a few.

To be fair, there are dog experts who would advise against cutting your dog's hair, arguing that their natural coats keep them cool when it's hot or warm when it's cold.

It's like their own built-in thermostat if that makes sense.

But it's best to look at it like maintaining their cleanliness and making sure that they're happy and healthy.

“You see, thick, long fur can hide minor issues and discomforts in these areas,” said Marty Goldstein, DVM. “If your dog's fur is very long, you may not notice the issues until they become bigger problems.”

Grooming your Shih Tzu's hair is the easiest and most practical way to get a quick rundown of his physical state.

So, if you're looking for fun, fresh ways to cut or style your Shih Tzu's hair, this article is for you!

You can show these pictures to your go-to groomer or do it yourself!

12 Best Shih Tzu Haircut and Hairstyles

Popular Haircut for Shih Tzu

1. Puppy Cut 

This is what I often go for when having my pups groomed.

Puppy cut is the most popular option for dog owners because it's short and, therefore, easier to maintain.

Groomers would use their longest comb and blade to leave about 1 to 2 inches of fur.

They make it an even cut on the Shih Tzu's whole body, including their face, tail, legs, and underside.

However, just because a Puppy cut requires low maintenance does not mean it doesn't require daily brushing.

You would still have to brush your Shih Tzu's hair one, to keep it glossy, and two, to keep dirt from accumulating.


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A post shared by Claire Vallier (@clairethegroomer)

Shih Tzu Teddy Bear cut
Shih Tzu Teddy Bear cut | Courtesy: Pinterest

2. Teddy Bear Cut

I mean, there's nothing more cuter than getting an actual walking (albeit barking) “teddy bear,” right?

For dog breeds like Shih Tzu with long and dense fur, the Teddy Bear cut is a popular and suitable option for hairstyle.

It requires cutting a dog's body hair at a medium while keeping the face, tail, and ears slightly longer.

You'd easily spot a Teddy Bear cut by its fluffy, rounded look.

If you want to keep that ‘easy-maintenance' look but make it extra fun and cute, this cut is for your pup!


Shih Tzu with Lion Cut
Shih Tzu with Lion Cut | Courtesy: Clinica Veterinaria via Pinterest

3. Lion Cut

As you may (or may not!) know, a Shih Tzu's name means “Little Lion” in Mandarin.

Lions are technically big cats, but that doesn't mean their appearance doesn't fit a tiny and adorable Shih Tzu dog.

In the Lion haircut, the groomers highlight the fur around the dog's face, styling it in a mane-like fashion to resemble a Lion.

Then, the rest of the body is cut short, only around 1 to 2 inches in length.

As an added Lion-like feature, the dog's tail is trimmed as short as possible except for a tuft of fur at the tip.

Here's a thought. If you have a brown Shih Tzu (or, technically, a liver Shih Tzu) puppy, name him Simba and have him get this Lion cut!

Cute, right?


4. Practical Top-Knot

This cut is called “practical” for a good reason. It helps protect your dog's eyes from irritation caused by their long hair.

This is a popular hairstyle for Shih Tzus. Some even have this as their signature look!

Basically, you have to bunch your pup's hair at the top of their head and secure them with a tie or clip of your choice.

The rest of the body is trimmed short, just like in the Puppy cut.

But remember to remove that top knot every night before bedtime. Brush their hair to remove accumulated dirt and redo them in the morning!

Shih Tzu Haircut Based on Length and Season

5. Short Summer Cut

Shih Tzu Summer Cut
Shih Tzu Summer Cut | Courtesy: Pinterest

I'm sure you get your hair cut when summer comes, correct?

It should be the same with our pups!

Although dogs are generally self-regulating regarding body heat in whatever season, our Shih Tzus would still appreciate a trim in the summertime.

The short summer cut is often confused with the Puppy cut, but they're actually different.

While the Puppy cut is kept at 1 to 2 inches short, the summer cut is much shorter than that at a half to one-quarter inch.

It's also an even cut all over the body—face and tail included!

6. Long Hairstyle for Winter

When I say long, yes, I mean your Shih Tzu's fur just laid bare and straight.

Letting their hair grow long can help keep your Shih Tzu a bit warmer in the colder season.

But long doesn't mean ungroomed, alright?

It technically requires more care than the shorter cuts, so prepare your grooming tools and brush their hair daily.

“Your Shih Tzu's double-coat can easily develop mats and tangles, which can pull your dog's skin and make them uncomfortable,” said Dr. Goldstein. “So, at a minimum, your dog will need at least 10 minutes of brushing every day.”

Just think of it as you and your dog's 10-minute daily bonding!


7. Medium Length for All Seasons

Shih Tzu with medium-length hair
Shih Tzu with medium-length hair | Courtesy: Pet Insurance Review via Pinterest

The medium-length cut is basically a puppy cut, but instead of leaving 1 to 2 inches of fur, you leave it at 2 to 4 inches.

It's only slightly difficult to maintain because of the slightly longer hair. Also, you may notice a bit more shedding here than with the puppy cut.

However, this is still a good choice for a Shih Tzu haircut if the weather in your area is unpredictable.

8. Short in the Middle, Long on the Ends

This more stylized version of the Puppy cut still allows your Shih Tzu a bit more warmth when it's cold or relief when it's hot.

As the name suggests, this haircut requires the fur to be trimmed at a medium in the body, but the hair on the face and tail is left slightly long.

Obviously, your Shih Tzu will require more grooming with this style, especially on the face, as it can easily get stained and tangled.

The good thing is you can experiment with fun hairstyles here while keeping most of her hair manageable.


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A post shared by Ollie the Shih Tzu (@ollieallday)

Creative Hairstyles for Shih Tzu

9. Ponytail Hair Style

Now, this is the quintessential Shih Tzu hairstyle you're probably picturing when you hear this breed's name.

That cute puppy eyes, adorable tiny size, and the ponytail at the top of their head.

You can use hair accessories meant for long-haired dogs or little girls.

Some owners have trouble doing this (raising my hand,) especially because of how rowdy their dogs could get when getting groomed (my dog's raising his paw.)

You can just let the professional groomers do it, no worries!


10. Pigtail Hairstyle for Female Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu in pigtails
Shih Tzu in pigtails | Courtesy: Pinterest

The Pigtails is another adorable hairstyle option, especially for furry little Shih Tzu girls.

Here, you can leave the hair either on the ears only or on both head and ears to be able to style them.

Then, instead of bunching them up at the top of the head top-knot style, you can let them part naturally in the middle and tie on both sides.

You can even make cute little braids here if you and your dog are up for it!



11. Show Cut

This is the most common hairstyle for Shih Tzus on dog shows.

In the Show cut hairstyle, their hair is brushed well for that silky, smooth texture and appearance as they fall nice and long on your dog's body.

The hair also often reaches the floor, making it look like they're gliding when they walk. I don't know about you, but it reminds me of the elegant robes royal families wear!

However, as pretty as it looks, it requires a high level of maintenance that most owners aren't fond of.

Dr. Goldstein said, “Your pup's long fur will quickly pick up dust, dirt, water, and other debris from around the house and outside.”

So, it makes sense that the Show cut hairstyle will require more brushing and perhaps more bath times for your pup.

That said, you may want to reserve this hairstyle for show dogs instead of your family dog.

12. Cone Paws

Shih Tzu with Cone Paws Cut
Shih Tzu with Cone Paws Cut | Courtesy: Pinterest

This is not really a popular hairstyle for Shih Tzu but one that you may try if you're looking for something new to try.

In the cone paws style, the fur is mostly shaved from a dog's body, except for their head, tail, and legs.

Then, the hair on their legs is shaped like a cone. Some would describe this look similar to a miniature-horse (which are also cute.)


FAQs about Shih Tzu Haircuts

Is it okay not to cut Shih Tzu hair?

It's okay not to cut a Shih Tzu's hair BUT it's necessary to still trim them if you want to keep their long hair.

And of course, you can't forget about the daily brushing. Choose the best dog brush for your Shih Tzu to maintain their hair's shine and silky texture.

What is a sanitary cut for a Shih Tzu puppy?

In the sanitary cut, the groomer will shave your Shih Tzu's hair as close to the skin as possible in their private areas.

This prevents urine and poop to cling and stain their fur. It also helps to keep them clean, hence, sanitary.

Also, the sanitary cut doesn't only apply to Shih Tzu but also to all other dog breeds!

Should I bathe my Shih Tzu before grooming?

This depends on your dog's attitude towards bath time and the state of his fur as well.

Is he dirty? If yes, then it's best to clean him up first!

But if he's generally clean and you know that he's anxious about bath time, it may be best to groom him first.

When should I give my Shih Tzu first haircut?

The best advise here by professional groomers and dog experts is give him his first haircut at around 10 to 12 weeks.

This is the time where your pup is expected to be acclimated already with his new surroundings (aka your home and family members.)

In this way, you'll address a puppy's possible stressors one at a time, and let him get used to them in his own terms.

Just make sure to take them to the groomers before they reach 16 weeks or else, you might get an always-anxious pup at the sight of a clipper.

How fast does Shih Tzu hair grow?

This depends on the Shih Tzu's coat health. A healthy one should grow for half an inch every month.

If you want to maintain your dog's coat healthy and beautiful, make sure to give him food and supplements that aids this.

Shih Tzu Haircuts: Before You Go…

There are probably more Shih Tzu haircuts and hairstyles out there that didn't make it to this list which you are welcome to try and share with us on the comments section.

Really, it all depends on your creativity and preference.

Whatever haircut or hairstyle you choose, just make sure to groom your Shih Tzus regularly.

This is more important to help them looking fresh and healthy for as long as possible. Looking cute is just a bonus!

Want to learn more about caring for your Shih Tzu pup? Check out our recommended articles below!

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Jossana started as a TV writer in 2017, until her love for dogs gets the best of her and started writing about them instead for Top Dog Tips. Jossana is the proud mama to Xavier and to mixed-breed dogs Zorro, Budak, Lucky, and Lily, who she loves spoiling with toys and treats.