One of the most eye-catching features of a Shih Tzu or Shih Tzu mix is their glorious, flowing and soft coat. In show Shih Tzus, this coat covers the eyes and reaches to the ground. In ancient China, where the breed originated, a long thick coat was necessary for survival in the drafty royal palaces. But that coat is a bear to deal with every single day.
Only show Shih Tzus should be kept in a full coat. Otherwise, the average Shih Tzu owner will go insane. Shih Tzu grooming of a full coat takes just as long as grooming the full coat of an Afghan hound (a much bigger dog). And your local climate is probably a lot more temperate than Northern China. If you live hot climates, a full coat will kill your dog. All breeding and pet Shih Tzus' coats should be kept in a Shih Tzu puppy clip.
Your Shih Tzu grooming supplies should be for daily maintenance and for giving a Shih Tzu puppy clip. They all can be found wherever pet supplies are sold. Shih Tzus really don’t need anything breed-specific in the way of Shih Tzu grooming supplies. For the puppy clip, you need electric clippers with a number four length blade and sturdy scissors you are comfortable with maneuvering around small areas.
Daily maintenance grooming equipment includes, at the least, a soft brush (that looks like a body brush for horses), a pin or slicker comb, a flea comb and nail clippers. Any white areas around the eyes, nose and mouth usually never stay white. This is normal. Just make sure these stains don’t smell and don’t have food or other material trapped in the coat. Brush with the soft brush and attack tangles gently with the slicker brush or the flea comb. Clip nails only when needed.
To achieve the Shih Tzu puppy cut hold the clippers like a pencil in your dominant hand. This may feel awkward at first, but gets easier with practice. Hold as lightly, yet as firmly, as you can and sweep over the dog’s coat. Leave the face for scissors and get someone to hold the dog if necessary. Smile and act as casual as possible to keep the dog calm. Scissors are used for the coat, but not for the nails. You need a guillotine-style nail clipper to make an efficient, safe cut on the nail.
Scissors can be used to trim any uneven areas and are especially recommended for delicate areas like the face and anal region. Lots of people like to leave a pageboy or pudding bowl cap on the dog’s head for a cute effect that balances the look of the trim Shih Tzu puppy cut well. Afterwards, give your dog a special treat and a break afterwords. Remember, this gets easier the more times you do it!
This author is currently writing a series of e-books on dog care, including Shih Tzu grooming. When not buried under a pile of Shih Tzu grooming supplies, a professional groomer can be found giving really good puppy cuts.