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Best Shampoos and Conditioners for Shih Tzu


You may be surprised how much of a difference you will see with your Shih Tzu depending on the products that you use. The 3 main bathing products of shampoo, conditioner and a leave-in spritz will all work together, either producing a silky, shiny, healthy coat... or something entirely different. Let's take a look at the important elements to be aware of. 
Don't want the details and just need to know what to use? Jump right to: Recommended Products

About Shampoo for a Shih Tzu

A good shampoo must be able to do the following:

1) Gently remove body oils and debris - All throughout the day and each day from when you shampoo your Shih Tzu to the next time that you cleanse the coat, body oils are accumulating. These are secreted from pores in the skin and are the body's natural way of keeping both skin and coat moisturized. However, when this oil builds up, it has nowhere to go.

Without the right shampoo to properly wash it away, it will start to become smelly and hair will look greasy. You probably know that water and oil do not mix, right? Well, cheap shampoo that is too much water and not even proper cleansing agents will not be able to wash away that oil. 

If you've ever shampooed your Shih Tzu only to notice that he still smelled a bit funny or that the coat really did not have that much improvement, this is the most likely reason why. 

2) But without stripping the coat - The element of cleaning without stripping is also crucially important. Sure, a product may wash away that oil and small particles of debris, but some shampoos over-clean. If a shampoo is too harsh, it takes away so much and is so rough on hairs, that the coat will be in worse condition after a bath. 

Low-grade ingredients and fillers can be terrible for silky hair, damaging the outer coating that naturally protects each strand, leaving it vulnerable to split ends. This in turn, will not only cause the hairs to lose their shine but will also affect the coat's ability to grow as it should. 

3) Must be correctly pH balanced. This is such an important element in choosing the best shampoos for Shih Tzu and will have a major effect on the skin and coat. Human shampoos and many inferior pet shampoos are pH balanced to be acidic. Humans need a 4.5 to 5.5 acidic level, canines are close to neutral and a great deal more alkaline. 

If the chemical makeup of a shampoo is too acidic or lacks in alkaline, this can have many negative effects. It can lead to dry skin, irritation and even yeast infections due to the top layer of skin (the body's natural defense mechanism) being chemically stripped away. In addition, inappropriate selection of a shampoo can affect a Shih Tzu's coloring, dulling colors and removing shine.

4) Are chemical-free. Beware of pet shampoos that contain paraben, phthalate and/or phosphate. These ingredients are notorious for being difficult to wash away. Any remaining particles can cause irritation and in some cases, if licked the shampoo is routinely used and a Shih Tzu licks excessively due to the itchiness the chemicals cause, can lead to upset stomach.  

5) Wash out appropriately - If a shampoo is too thick and its ingredients are oil-based, some residue will remain on the skin. This clogs skin pores and can leave the coat looking oily. 
Shampoos for different needs:

Basic - For Shih Tzu without issues such as itchy skin or frizzed or broken hairs, your essential basic shampoo will be best to move forward as a good foundation. Used in conjunction with the right conditioner and leave-in, you'll have all 3 products working harmoniously for a luxurious coat. 

For sensitive skin - In most cases, if a Shih Tzu has intolerance for shampoos, this is due to those products being improperly pH balanced and/or containing irritating chemicals; you'll be able to use essential basic shampoos that will resolve the issue(s). 

With allergies - Allergies can really do a number on this tiny toy breed. A shampoo for Shih Tzu with allergies will properly clean while meeting all 5 elements as listed above, but will also add soothing elements for red, itchy or irritated skin. 

For skin & coat issues - For skin yeast infection, fungal & bacterial skin infections and dandruff, you'll need specialty shampoo that are formulated for these issues while maintaining the integrity of a high quality shampoo. 

About Conditioner & Leave-in Sprays for a Shih Tzu

Why a Conditioner Is Vital

Shampoo is by no means meant to be used alone. The shampoo readies the hairs to be open to receive the conditioner. So, both of these products work hand-in-hand. 

Why A Leave-in Spritz is So Important

If you are using a really great shampoo & conditioner, you are 2/3's of the way there! If you're not using the final needed product of a leave-in, your Shih Tzu will not look his/her best. 

Quality bathing products are important for their own reasons and will have some extended benefits. However, if you are giving your Shih Tzu a bath every 3 weeks as recommended, what is being done for the coat on those 20 days in between? 

Using a leave-in spritz is the answer and can make a huge different in both how a Shih Tzu looks and the health of the skin and coat. 

A quality spritz will help prevent split ends, protect from contact friction and static, and add a layer of protection from outside elements including the sun and arid air. 

In addition, using a great leave-in will help keep hairs separated to prevent matting and will assit you when you brush the coat (since you do not want to brush a dry coat). 

Shampooing, Conditioning and Spritzing Tips

  • Once you are satisfied with your chosen products, shampoo and condition 1 time every 3 weeks, unless your Shih Tzu has an issue such as yeast or mites (more ahead on this). If you shampoo too often, even the best shampoos will not be able to keep up with the oils being washed away too often. And if you wait too long in between baths, too much oil will have accumulated. 
  • Before the bath, comb the coat to separate hairs. 
  • Thoroughly wet the coat (a nuzzle is best) before adding shampoo. Use your hands to work this into a lather, taking 5 minutes or so to scrub the entire body. 
  • When you are ready to rinse, when you think you've done this enough, do it once more. You do not want any residue to remain at skin level and you want the coat to be ready for the conditioner. 
  • Massage the conditioner in for 3 to 4 minutes. Any longer than this will be not add extra benefits.
  • Do not rub the coat dry; use a patting motion. Then, use your chosen spritz before you comb. Spritz 1 inch from the roots and use a metal two-level comb to distribute the product to the ends. 
  • Spritz the coat lightly any time that you brush. Most Shih Tzu do best with a misting every 3 days or so. 
There are some really great products that meet every requirement and go a step above.

For shampoo and conditioner, the Earthbath line is fantastic (see images below)Their Oatmeal and Aloe shampoo also contains almond and vanilla to create a super luxurious product that pampers every hair and is oh-so good for a Shih Tzu's skin. 

If your Shih Tzu has any sort of skin issue such as dry or irritated skin (that does not need a medicated shampoo - more on that ahead), their Eucalyptus and Peppermint shampoo is amazing.

Another great choice for irritated skin is their Tea Tree Oil, which lathers a dog's body in both tea tree oil and aloe vera for very fast results for soothing relief. 

To go hand-in-hand with any of these superior shampoos is their Oatmeal and Aloe Conditioner. And one reason why this is so great, is that no matter which formula you choose for bathing, you have the added benefit of the oatmeal, aloe, vanilla, and almond to bring it all together for a super silky finish. 

Please note: If you choose to take a closer look at our recommendations, the Oatmeal & Aloe will lead you to all of the wonderful formulas. 

For a leave-in, one of the best is The Stuff. It's aptly named, because you will keep saying, "This stuff is awesome!" and "This stuff makes my dog look amazing!".  

It is hypo-allergenic, smells great, helps prevent tangles, repels dirt & debris, and most importantly makes the coat look and feel incredible soft, silky, and healthy. 

Another great one are those offered in the line of Nootie spritzes. These condition and moisturize exceedingly well. And, these come in some really wonderful scents including coconut lime, cucumber melon, Japanese cherry blossom, sweet pea & vanilla, and warm vanilla cookie.
Recommended shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in sprays are below. If you do not see the images, try a refresh. On mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4 items. 

Specialized and Medicated Shampoos

If your Shih Tzu has serious skin or coat issues, you may then want to look into using a specialized or medicated shampoo. 

Let's take a look at what may be happening to your Shih Tzu and what can help.

For severe skin issues often related to allergies including:
  • Excessively dry skin
  • Flaking
  • Itchiness
  • Rashes
  • Hot Spots
We recommend Moosh shampoo. This product can offer dramatic relief almost immediately.

It has zero chemicals and is 100% organic. It contains bentonite clay which is known for its healing abilities. It also has neem and argan oil; both of these work as an antiseptic, an anti-bacterial, and an anti-fungal. But the relief is not done yet - this also has shea butter and aloe vera to soothe and moisturize. 

You will also want to use a spot-spray for 24/7 relief. If your Shih Tzu is suffering, we recommend one with hydrocortisone, which can be a great help for itching and irritation; this is sprayed onto hot spots every few hours and a good amount is spritzed on right before your Shih Tzu goes to sleep. 

For smelly skin yeast infections, Nootie's Medicated Anti-fungal is very effective. If your Shih Tzu has a sour-type smell with itchy, peeling or a grease-type issue, it may be yeast and this product works extremely well for this issue.

For serious infections like mange, parasitic infection, fungal and bacterial skin infections, SynergyLabs's medicated shampoo is a top choice. 
Recommended specialized shampoos and a super effective hot-spot spray are below. If you do not see the images, try a refresh. On mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4 items. 
You may also like:
Shih Tzu Summer Care Tips - Covering all the summertime elements that can affect this breed. 
Shih Tzu Wintertime Tips - When the weather starts to get cold and the air turns dry, be sure that you have your Shih Tzu prepped for winter. 
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