The Shih Tzus is an adorable, loving, and gentle pet. It loves to be around people, especially children, and displays a lot of affection. The only thing that one needs to take care of apart from showering one's Shih Tzu with love and attention, is the grooming. This breed has long, flowing hair which needs careful grooming in order to keep them tangle-free. The good thing is that this dog is a low shedder and does not leave hair all over the house.
Dog grooming is an important part of dog care. The main aspect of grooming a Shih Tzu involves taking care of its long coat, which consists of a top coat and an undercoat. This can be done by a professional groomer, which can be quite expensive, or at home. Given below are some instructions on grooming your Shih Tzu at home.
Bathing is an integral part of Shih Tzu grooming, but it is not necessary to bathe it unless the coat has become dirty or the dog has become smelly. However, if you are really particular about it, you can bathe the dog once a week, either in the shower or in a bathtub. Use lukewarm water for bathing. Place a non-skid mat on the surface of the floor so that the dog does not slip when it is wet. Keep all the grooming supplies handy before bringing the dog in for a bath. Use a dog shampoo and conditioner to wash its hair. Remember to brush the coat before making it wet, otherwise any knots, if present, will set and become very difficult to remove. Once that is done, wet the dog's hair slowly. This breed likes to be handled gently and will be much more cooperative when it is not rushed. This is especially true in puppy grooming. After the dog's hair is wet, apply diluted shampoo to it and rinse. Then apply diluted conditioner, and wash the dog again. As in the case of humans, take care that the shampoo and conditioner do not get into the dog's eyes, ears, or nose. It is preferable to towel-dry a Shih Tzu as it is sensitive to the hot air of the blow dryer, but you can blow-dry if your dog doesn't mind it. In case of a puppy, wrap it in a towel to make it dry. Multiple towels might be needed to completely dry it. After the coat is dry, brush it again to prevent it from getting matted. Sometimes, you may not have the time to give your dog a bath. In such a case, you can use a dry shampoo to clean your dog.
Brushing a Shih Tzu's coat is a very important part of the grooming session. This needs to be done on a daily basis, or at least every other day. The tools required for this purpose include a wire brush, a curved comb, a metal comb, and a plastic comb. It is recommended to use a comb with teeth that are about 3 to 4 inches long to be able to comb the long hair properly. Contradictory to what one might assume, the hair should be brushed starting with the ends and then progressing towards the roots. Begin by brushing the dog's feet, then the legs, the belly, the back, and the tail. Special attention should be paid to the dog's face, ears, and armpits. This should be done gently, so as to not pull the hair where it is matted, as it can be very painful for the dog. Look out for fleas while brushing the coat.
Trimming the hair is optional. There are different hair grooming styles for a Shih Tzu. You can maintain the coat long or short. For a long coat, you can tie the hair on top of the head in a topknot, and trim it around the eyes, ears, muzzle, and paws. For a short coat, you can cut the hair in layers using dog scissors or shears. This may be difficult to do at home, so you can get it done at a dog salon which provides grooming for Shih Tzus. Some people opt for the puppy cut, which involves shaving the dog all over. A size 7 blade is recommended for doing this.
Grooming also involves taking care of the nails. Clip the dog's nails when they become long. Nails that are too long cause discomfort to the dog while walking. It is best to cut the nails after a bath as they are soft and easy to clip. Use a dog nail clipper for this purpose. Do not clip the nails too deep, otherwise the sensitive part of the skin under the nail will get injured and cause bleeding. The wound takes a long time to heal and may also become infected.
This breed has long, floppy ears which tend to get dirty. Use a cotton ball dipped in a dog ear cleaning solution to clean the ears, both inside and outside. Never use a cotton swab to clean the ear canal, as it can cause injury. Check the ears once a week as this breed is prone to ear infections. If there is any redness, swelling, or discharge from the ear, get it examined by a veterinarian.
This breed's eyes secrete tears which stain its face, making it dirty, brown, and stinky. It is therefore necessary to wipe these tears and the face to keep it white and clean. Use a moist cotton ball for this purpose. One good way of avoiding the tears from accumulating under the eyes is to trim the hair around the eyes and muzzle and keep it short.
Brushing the teeth is also an important part of grooming your pet. The teeth should be brushed at least once a week to prevent the accumulation of plaque and tartar, and to avoid gum disease. Use a dog toothbrush for this purpose. Giving the dog bones to chew also helps strengthen the gums, but should not be relied on solely.
The Shih Tzu grooming instructions given above will help you in doing the grooming task perfectly. Follow them and your dog will look well-groomed and very handsome.