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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 need 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 - Body oils are constantly 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 does not have the 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 strips the cuticle. The coat will be in worse condition after a bath. 

The biggest culprit with inferior shampoos are harsh soaping agents; canines should not be washed with soap; the shampoo must have plant-based cleansers, like coconut. 

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 (because they take the cheap way out and base their products off of human shampoo) are pH balanced to 4.5 to 5.5. Yet, canines are close to a neutral 6 to 7, and are 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 phosphates. These ingredients are notorious for being difficult to wash away. Any remaining particles can cause irritation and in some cases, if a Shih Tzu licks excessively due to the itchiness the chemicals cause, can lead to upset stomach.  

5) Wash out appropriately - If a shampoo's 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 should serve as a foundation to maintain good skin and coat health. Used in conjunction with the right conditioner and leave-in, you'll have 3 products working harmoniously for a luxurious coat and healthy skin. 

For sensitive skin - The shampoo will only serve to benefit skin and coat. It will not contain irritating chemicals. Each bath will bring about improvement in both health and appearance. 

For allergies - Allergies can really do a number on this 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 and healing elements to restore skin back to normal. 

About Conditioner & Leave-in Sprays for a Shih Tzu

Why a Conditioner Is Vital

Shampoo is by no means meant to be used alone. During the shampooing process, hair cuticles open. You need a product to soothe them closed. If not, the coat can become super-dry and frizzy.  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, help prevent tangles, and as an added bonus, help your Shih Tzu smell nice and clean. In addition, you do not want to dry-brush a coat; a light misting of a spray while brushing is best. 

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 that requires more frequent baths, like skin issues (more ahead). 
If you shampoo too often, you'll be 'wiping the slate clean' too quickly, and the body will not be able to keep up with natural oil production. 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 nozzle 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 5 minutes. 
  • 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 stainless-steel 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. 
Recommended shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in sprays are below. * If you do not see the images, try a refresh. * f your browser has a blocker of any sort, image may not show. * On mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4 items. 

Specialized and Medicated Shampoos & Sprays

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

A shampoo allows you to thoroughly saturate your dog in a soothing, healing product, covering every inch of the body, for relief. While baths are generally given every 3 weeks, to cure issues you can shampoo once a week. 

There are 2 options with shampoos:

1. A specialty non-medicated allergy shampoo can help. For a pure organic shampoo, we recommend Natural Dog Shampoo by Moosh. 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. 
2. A medicated shampoo, for severe issues. If your Shih Tzu is having severe itching, terribly inflamed skin, and discomfort, it'll be time to consider a medicated shampoo. 

Note that there is a big difference between medicated shampoos for mites (strong chemicals) and one for relief of skin issues. Soothing medications include hydrocortisone to stop itch and reduce inflammation and lidocaine, which is a numbing agent to offer relief to a dog that has out-right painful skin. 

The one that we recommend SynergyLabs Clinical Care Hot Spot & Itch Relief Medicated Shampoo, also has colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera, to heal skin at the same time.  
You may also want to use a spot-spray for 24/7 relief. Using a spray allows you to offer immediate relief directly to the areas that are bothering your Shih Tzu the most. And, a spray allows you to do this without having to touch those areas. 
There are 2 options with this:

1. All-natural, non-medicated. Do not underestimate the power of an all-natural spray. We highly recommend Bodhi Dog's Anti-Itch Oatmeal Spray , which has a very effective combination of colloidal oatmeal and baking soda, which can instantly stop itching. This ideal for hot spots, allergy-related issues, and even flea bites. Since this is non-toxic, it's great for areas that your Shih Tzu may lick.  
2. Medicated, for severe issues. If your Shih Tzu is truly suffering, you may want to consider a spray that, like the shampoo we covered earlier, has hydrocortisone to stop severe itching and/or reduce inflammation and lidocaine reduce pain. For this we recommend the same brand, SynergyLabs Clinical Care Medicated Spray.

Note that if this is applied to areas that your Shih Tzu can lick, you'll have to prevent this. For paws, small doggie socks can be slipped on. For other areas, consider a pet protection collar. 

For this sort of spray, we recommend. This is sprayed onto irritated areas every 3 to 5 hours and a good amount is spritzed on right before your Shih Tzu goes to sleep. 
Recommended specialized shampoos and sprays are below. *If you do not see the images, try a refresh. * If your browser has a blocker of any sort, images may not show. * 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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