How To Groom a Shih Tzu At Home Featured Image

Do you own a Shih Tzu? Or are you planning to adopt one?

Well, you should know that grooming is one of the most crucial aspects of owning this dog breed.

Grooming is just as important as exercise and training, and this blog can be your ultimate guide on how to groom a Shih Tzu.

Learning how to groom a dog properly is important!

Pet owners should know the basics even if it isn't a full-service groom.

Shih Tzus are renowned for their thick, flowy hair.

They have a soft, long, double coat of hair that needs regular grooming, especially if kept long and flowy instead of short.

They have various coat colors and different patterns.

Below, we'll guide you step-by-step to ensure your Shih Tzu is clean and healthy.

But first, let's talk about why you need to learn how to groom a Shih Tzu.

Shih Tzu

Why Learn How to Groom Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus has a beautiful coat that only sheds minimally, which is great, especially for pet owners with a sibling, parents, or children with allergies.

But why learn how to groom a Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzus's silky long hair must be regularly groomed to avoid getting tangled and prevent matting.

If you're a long-time Shih Tzu owner, you'd know that this breed needs to be trimmed, particularly during the hot or warm season.

And regular visits to a professional groomer can be costly.

On the other hand, grooming at home can be very difficult, especially if you're doing it alone with no help.

But with this guide, you can learn how to groom a Shih Tzu at home, and you'll be able to save huge amounts of money for not regularly booking appointments to the grooming salon.

RELATED: How To Groom A Dog at Home by Yourself: Introduction to DIY Dog Grooming

Shih Tzu Grooming Kit: What are the Tools Needed?

Now that we've convinced you to start learning how to groom a Shih Tzu, you'll need the proper tools to do it!

Buying a high-quality grooming kit is a great investment.

A good grooming kit generally comes with various tools like hair clippers, a comb, nail clippers, extra clipper blades, scissors, clipper oil, and sometimes, a de-shedding brush.

But having an at-home grooming kit doesn't need to be lavish. You can just start with a simple kit.

Start familiarizing yourself and wait for your pup to feel more comfortable with grooming, and then you can add to it.

In addition, regularly brushing your Shih Tzu will not only keep your dog's coat healthy and mat-free, but it can also prevent parasites such as fleas and ticks, skin lesions, and other possible illnesses.

Basic Grooming Supplies Needed

Your basic home grooming kit should have, at the very least, the following:

Hair Brushing Bathing Cleaning the Eyes, Ears, and Teeth Puppy Cut Nail Trimming
A brush (preferably with flexible pins) Non-slip mat Soft wet wipes Battery-operated or corded Dog Clippers Dog nail trimmer
A fine, slicker brush Clean towels Ear-cleaning solution Blunt-tipped scissors
Dematting Comb Hair dryer/blower Cotton balls
Steel Comb Spray nozzle for sink/tub Washcloth
Dog shampoo and conditioner Cotton-tipped swabs

RELATED: Pro Groomer's Favorite Dog Grooming Products for Home Grooming

Shih Tzu

Groomer Vs. At-Home

Many pet owners bring their Shih Tzu to their most trusted groomer. And for some of the tasks below, it's the best choice to do so.

So, what are the advantages of having an appointment with a groomer vs. doing it all by yourself?

Professional Groomer

A professional groomer can give your Shih Tzu proper trims and cuts.

This dog breed's coats grow fast, and an experienced groomer can be the best option for trims and creating specific hairstyles.

There are also dog owners who feel nervous when it's time to clip their dog's nails.

Understandably so. Who would want to hurt their dog's paws accidentally?

And as discussed above, some pet owners go to the salon to get their dog's anal glands expressed.

However, some owners avoid going to groomers since their puppy or dog is uncomfortable or anxious during visits.

A dog usually takes 3 to 5 visits to feel somewhat relaxed or acclimated to the salon or the specific groomer.

You can always choose a grooming salon that offers visitor windows where you can watch your Shih Tzu be groomed.

This way, you can monitor everything being done and how your dog reacts.

Grooming At Home

Easy tasks such as brushing, bathing, eye and ear cleaning, nose care, and more are easily done at home.

Dogs get accustomed to these since these tasks are done regularly.

Brushing, baths, eye care, face wiping, paw, nail trimming, and nose care will all need to be done at home since these need to be done frequently.

How To Groom A Shih Tzu At Home: Step-by-step Guide

Before starting, it's important to help your dog feel comfortable first.

You should know that the skin and hair of a dog are sensitive, and just one minor mistake can hurt Fido.

Remember that dogs remember these things, and future grooming sessions can be much harder than the last one due to a bad experience.

Be patient and take extra care when grooming.

Start by brushing his hair with your hands just like you're petting him. Compliment how good he looks and give him lots of love.

Once he starts to feel comfy, begin the grooming process.

1. Prepare your workspace and grooming tools

Breeze Touch Dog Grooming Arm, Pet Grooming Table Arm 35" Adjustable with Clamp Grooming Loop Noose, Dog Grooming Stand for Small Medium Dogs at Home,2023 Upgrade Design

Before you start your grooming process, you must find a comfortable place to have your session.

Find a clean area and a flat table that can serve as your grooming workspace.

But if Fido tends to be fidgety, try getting an adjustable grooming arm, preferably with an adjustable clamp and a haunch holder.

We recommend this Pet Adjustable Grooming Table Arm from the Breeze Touch Store.

Grooming arms greatly helps pet owners, especially if you'll groom your Shih Tzu alone.

It is comfortable, and it can help control excessive movement.

How To Groom A Shih Tzu: Brushing Your Shih Tzu

2. Brushing a Shih Tzu

Now, let's get rid of matted and tangled hair by brushing.

Removing matted or tangled hair can help make bathing easier (which we'll do later, so prepare for that!).

Dogs' thick knots of hair will be denser when wet and harder to remove. Also, tangles in their coats can hook the clippers.

You'll need to find the right grooming tools to groom your pup effectively.

Choosing the right dog brush will help make the grooming experience more enjoyable for both of you.

Choose the right kind of brush.

Using the wrong brush for your dog's coat type will still cause problems such as shedding and matting.

Well, there are several different kinds of brush, each with a specific use.

Let's discuss them!

Slicker Brush

A slicker brush can be used for short-haired, long-haired, double-coated, hypoallergenic, wire-haired, and curly coats.

Used best for removing mats, dirt, and debris. It can also help prevent knots and tangles.

Bristle Brush

A bristle brush can be used for short-haired, long-haired, hypoallergenic, and curly coats.

It is best for eliminating dirt and debris on your Fido's coat.

Tick and Flea Brush

As the name indicates, the Tick and Flea Brush removes ticks, fleas, and their eggs. It is suitable for almost all types of dog coats.

This brush can help eliminate these parasites in their larvae stage or when they are not easily visible to the naked eye.

Pin Brush

It is best used for daily brushing, removing tiny knots and mats, freeing tangles, and massaging.

De-shedder Brush

The de-shedder brush is best for reducing shedding and removing old or damaged fur.

Double-sided Brush

A double-sided brush can be used for short, long, double-coated, hypoallergenic, wire-haired, and curly coats.

It removes mats, dirt, and debris and prevents knots and tangles.

“So, Mitch, what would you recommend I use?”

Well, we recommend using a pin brush for long-haired adult Shih Tzus.

For short-haired Shih Tzus, try a slicker brush to eliminate debris and loose strands without causing harm to your pet.

A slicker brush can also help remove mats and tangles.

How To Groom A Shih Tzu Bathing a Shih Tzu

3. Bath Time!

After successfully removing tangled hair and mats in your Shih Tzu's hair, the next step is to bathe Fido to ensure he is clean.

Follow these tips when bathing your dog:

  1. Ensure that your dog is comfortable
  2. Place Fido on a non-slip mat to avoid slipping
  3. Use lukewarm water
  4. Avoid getting water on your Shih Tzu's face, especially up the nose. But be sure to cleanse areas around the mouth and eyes.
  5. Hold your Shih Tzu's head upward to prevent water into their eyes, then massage them with shampoo.
  6. Use a shower head to avoid spillage. Ensure that the spray is not too strong.
  7. Rinse thoroughly

Healthy Breeds Shih Tzu Chamomile Soothing Dog Shampoo 8 oz

“What shampoo should I use?”

Use quality dog shampoo and conditioner to keep your Shih Tzu’s stunning, healthy coat.

Nowadays, some shampoos are specifically made for dogs.

All-natural dog shampoos and conditioners are free from chemicals or artificial dyes.

Some shampoos are made to help relieve itching and dry skin, and some are for sensitive or irritated skin.

If you're struggling to pick what shampoo to buy, try Healthy Breeds Shih Tzu Chamomile Soothing Dog Shampoo.

When drying your Shih Tzu, do gentle pats. Don't force it or harshly rub your pet!

Use a hairdryer on the lowest heat while lightly brushing the coat with your hands.

How To Groom A Shih Tzu Eye Cleaning

4. Keeping the Eyes Clean

Shih Tzus can develop discolored areas around the eyes due to normal eye discharge. That's one of the reasons why it's important to clean your Shih Tzu's eyes.

It is best to add this to your daily grooming process for your pup.

Shih Tzu's large eyes are more prone to excessive tearing, which can lead to tear stains and bacterial infections.

Use pet wipes for dogs and gently wipe them around your Shih Tzu's eyes. You can also use a clean, damp cloth.

Remove mucus, dried tears, or debris around the eyes. And while doing it, you can also clean their whole face.

Regardless of your dog's breed, cleaning a dog's eyes and checking for any problems is important.

RELATED: How To Remove Dog Tear Stains Naturally and How To Prevent Them

Ear Cleaning a Shih Tzu

5. Clean the ears

Next, you'll need to clean your Shih Tzu's ears. This process is best done with an ear-cleaning solution.

Pick a gentle ear cleaner to clean and deodorize a dog's external ear canal.

Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleanser for Dogs & Cats, 8 oz

Try out the Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleanser for Dogs.

Virbac Epi-Toic Advanced Ear Cleanser is a non-irritating solution used during the routine cleansing of dogs with sensitive ears.

It helps remove debris and excessive wax and dries the ear canal.

This product is recommended for pets with chronic otitis externa, which is chronic inflammation of a dog's external ear canal.

But whatever product you choose, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

If you still need clarification, consult with your vet.

We recommend pouring a few drops of ear cleanser over a cotton wool ball.

Gently rub it into your Shih Tzu's ears, then wipe away any leftover solution with a dry cotton ball afterward.

Ear cleaning solutions should be placed in the ear and let sit in the canal for a few seconds.

Regularly cleansing your dog's ears can help prevent ear infections. Clean your Shih Tzu's ears around one to two times weekly.

RELATED: The Importance of Cleaning Dog's Ears

Shih Tzu Teeth Brushing

6. Brushing your Shih Tzu's teeth

Of course, don't forget to brush your Shih Tzu's teeth. In fact, this should be included in their weekly grooming routine.

Even daily brushing of teeth is good for preventing tartar buildup and removing bacteria lurking inside their mouths.

Don't rely on treats or kibbles that say they can clean your dog's teeth because the truth is, it is not enough to keep your Shih Tzu's mouth healthy and clean.

Try using a dual-headed toothbrush for small dogs, as it helps simplify cleaning heart-to-reach areas.

Put a small amount of toothpaste specifically for dogs and gently and lightly apply pressure but firm enough to clean their teeth.

Nail Trimming a Shih Tzu

7. Nail Trimming

Now for your pup's pedicure! Nail trimming is also part of Shih Tzu's grooming process.

Regular nail trimming prevents overgrowth, discomfort, and potential injuries.

When trimming their nails, a good rule is never to let them touch the ground.

If you've recently adopted a puppy, it's best to expose them to the sounds and feelings of having his nails trimmed so that he can get familiarized while they're still young.

But before you start, you can prepare a first aid kit with a clotting agent like styptic powder.

If you hit the quick, which is the vein in the middle of the nail, you should immediately dab styptic powder to stop the bleeding.

Finding a position where your Shih Tzu feels relaxed or comfortable is important.

Start by lightly touching your dog's paws. Touch the areas around and in between their toes.

You can also give your Shih Tzu his favorite treats while doing this so he'll be more accepting and associate the activity with a positive experience.

However, remember only to reward your pup when they display good behavior. Don't give them treats when they are excessively moving, biting, or resisting.

Once your Shih Tzu is calm, obedient, and still, you can start clipping Fido's nails. Take it slow and be soft.

Make small cuts on the nail and only cut the white portion of the nail. Once you see the black dot, it's your cue to stop cutting since it indicates the start of the quick.

If you want to make things easier, use a nail grinder instead of a nail clipper. However, this tool is usually more costly.

RELATED: How To File Your Dog's Nails Instead of Clipping

8. Expressing the Anal Glands

“Expressing the what now?”

Anal sacs or anal glands are the scent glands found on both sides of the dog's rectum.

Dogs use these glands to mark their territory and communicate with other dogs.

They actually regularly express or empty their sacs in small amounts because if they don't, it can be painful, and possible health problems can occur.

If you see your pup scooting all over the floor, it may be time for these glands to be expressed.

And let me give you a heads up: expressing anal glands can be smelly and messy.

That's why many pet owners prefer to have it done by a professional groomer or at the clinic.

Bring Fido to the vet, especially if he has full or impacted glands.

But we can do the job ourselves if they need help clearing their glands.

It sounds intimidating, sure, but it's easier than you might think.

Just gently squeeze them to get the fluid out.

But it's still best to learn this procedure from a professional groomer or your most trusted vet to protect your Shih Tzu from injuries or infections.

RELATED: How to Drain Anal Glands on Dogs

9. Shih Tzu Haircuts

Last in the grooming process is haircuts.

If you own a Shih Tzu or plan to adopt one, you should know there are three common Shi Tzu haircuts: puppy cut, show cut, and teddy bear.

Shih Tzu Puppy Cut

Shih Tzu Puppy Cut

First, we have the puppy cut.

This is where the Shih Tzu's hair is cut to one to two inches long.

Grooming a Shih Tzu with the puppy cut is easy and must only be done at least every three months.

Even though this is the perfect style for them during the summer, be careful not to let your Shih Tzu get a sunburn.

Continue to brush their hair daily to keep it clean and beautiful.

Shih Tzu Show Cut

Shih Tzu Show Cut

Next, the Shih Tzu show cut is the signature style of the breed.

The haircut includes a long flowing coat that elegantly sweeps across the floor when they walk.

It also has a signature top knot at the top of their heads.

However, the show cut requires the most maintenance to keep the coat healthy and tangle-free.

If you need help to pick which hairstyle is best for your pup, relate it to how much time you have to commit during grooming.

For instance, you can choose the show cut for Shih Tzu owners who are always at home and have lots of time on their hands.

But if your time is limited, opting for the shorter hairstyle or puppy cut might be the best.

Shih Tzu Teddy Bear Haircut

Shih Tzu Teddy Bear Haircut

On the other hand, the teddy bear haircut is my favorite since it's the cutest style for the breed (well, at least for me, it is).

It is also the perfect low-maintenance hairstyle that shows the playful personality of a Shih Tzu.

A teddy bear haircut is all about being round. Trim a round face, round legs, and round paws.

The hair on the head and face is trimmed, but the body is clipped close to give that extra fluffy and cute appearance.

For more Shih Tzu haircut options, check out this article: 12 Best Shih Tzu Haircut and Hairstyles to Try

How Often Should I Groom My Shih Tzu at Home?

Every dog is unique, and many dog breeds have different or special grooming needs.

So, how often should you groom your Shih Tzu?

You can adjust the times of doing each task based on your dog's specific needs.

Grooming Tasks Frequency
Brushing Recommended daily for long coats and at least three days for short coats
Bathing Once every 2 to 3 weeks (depending if your dog is suffering from any skin or coat issues)
Nail Trimming Once in 3 to 6 weeks
Brushing Teeth Daily/Weekly
Cleaning Eyes Daily
Cleaning Ears Weekly
Clipping Hair Once every 4 to 8 weeks 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you groom a Shih Tzu yourself?

Yes! The Shih Tzu's cute physiques are usually maintained by regular grooming and haircuts.

And if you plan to depend on professional groomers, it'll cost you a ton of money.

That's why many Shih Tzu owners learn and groom their Shih Tzu at home.

How often should a Shih Tzu be bathed?

It is advised to bathe your Shih Tzu once every three weeks.

However, if your Shih Tzu just recently played in your muddy yard, then it definitely needs a bath.

Is it okay not to cut Shih Tzu's hair?

Generally, Shih Tzus should be groomed every 4 to 6 weeks. Without regular grooming, their coat will become severely matted.

Shih Tzus will have difficulty seeing and walking due to the mats on their coats.

Shih Tzu chasing after a ball - Best Dog Toys for Shih Tzu

How To Groom A Shih Tzu At Home: Before You Go…

Grooming is a very important aspect of maintaining your Shih Tzu's health.

Regular brushing, bathing, nail trimming, ears and eyes cleaning, and teeth brushing help your dog keep their adorable aesthetics and promote healthy skin and fur.

You can learn how to groom your Shih Tzu at home with the right tools, procedure, and patience.

Initially, it won't be easy, and your dog might get anxious.

That's why it's best to be calm and do everything possible to help them feel relaxed and safe.

Proper grooming can go a long way. It can help keep your Shih Tzu happy, healthy, and beautiful.

Want to learn more about taking care of your Shih Tzu? Check out our recommended articles below!


Toby loves spending time with his dog and two cats. They are the best stress reliever and affectionate pets, especially his Belgian Malinois, Shawie. Shawie's favorite activity is running or jogging. But their go-to spot is to chill and swim around a nearby river.