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Grooming Tools for a Shih Tzu

Max, photo courtesy of Jim Fleming


Grooming your Shih Tzu will be much easier when you have the right products. 

If you've ever:
  • Struggled to brush the coat
  • Not been able to remove a mat
  • Inadvertently hurt your Shih Tzu
  • Or spent tons of time trying to make your Shih Tzu look great, but things were not going as well as planned...
... this may have been because you did not have the right tools to begin with. 

No matter which grooming element you are working on, optimal results simply cannot be seen if you do not have the basic essentials. 
So, let's get your Shih Tzu looking his or her optimal best, by seeing what is needed and how to use it. 

What Needs to Be Done and Why

For the body:

When you are grooming your Shih Tzu, if the coat is medium to long, you will want to comb-brush-comb. If your Shih Tzu has a short coat, you will only brush. 

Note that even if your Shih Tzu is shaved or has a very close puppy coat, you still want to brush your dog on a regular basis. This is because brushing stimulates blood flow which sends nutrients to the hair follicles, helps distribute body oils, and removes fine debris. 
  1. A cursory combing is done to separate the hairs and check for tangles.
  2. Then, the coat is brushed. Since you do not want to brush a dry coat, you will want to use a quality leave-in conditioner product while you do this.
  3. Then, a final comb is done for a finishing touch. For this, you can use your basic comb, or a special finishing comb. 
This will be done every day for long show coats, every other day for medium coats, and every 3 days for short coats, including shaved. 

If you find a tangle (mat), you will want to try to work it out by hand, using conditioner to make the hairs slippery. If this is not successful, you will want to have an appropriately sized, effective mat remover tool. This will allow you to remove it without damaging any other part of the coat.

There are a couple of additional grooming tasks that you may want to handle at home, such as trimming hairs around the anus or plucking hairs from the ears. Alternatively, this can be handled by a groomer (more ahead). 

For the face: 

Due to the structure of a brush, it is not possible to brush a Shih Tzu's face; so, you will want a face comb in order to keep the facial hairs tidy and clean. 

The Right Tools to Use on a Shih Tzu's Coat


Face comb: This is a fine tooth steel comb that is small enough to comb the small areas of a Shih Tzu's face. With this, you will be able to go over the forehead, cheeks, beard, and chin. 

2 level comb: This comb will have a fine tooth side and a wide tooth side. The wide tooth side is used to go over the body. This is done as part of the comb-brush-comb that is done every 1, 2, or 3 days for routine grooming, and before giving baths
You will want to use the wide tooth side to check the coat for tangles as you go along. The fine tooth side is to comb over other areas of the body, such as the paws. And depending on the exact size of your Shih Tzu, you may find it easier to comb other areas such as between the ears, the armpits, down the legs, etc. 

De-matting comb: If your Shih Tzu has a coat that is long enough to develop tangles, a de-matting tool is the right method of removing the knot if you cannot work it out by hand. 

It is important to use one that is the appropriate size for this breed, and with sharp stainless steel sharp serrated blades to effectively slice out the mat - and the mat only - without damaging any other part of the coat. 
Below are recommendations for the above mentioned combs. 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. 
Brushes and Spritzes

These two coat elements go hand-in-hand. There is really never a time that it would be a good idea to brush a dry coat. This can cause quite a bit of damage. Not only would there be an immediate issue of possible static charge, but also dry brushing can cause split ends.

What a good spritz will do: Aside from working with the brush to keep hairs healthy, there are other important benefits for Shih Tzu puppies and dogs of all coat lengths. 

It adds a layer of protection again the elements such as the sun, wind, cold air, and arid air. During the summer, choosing one with a sunscreen protects a Shih Tzu from sun exposure that can lead to skin discoloration. 

It also helps stop contact friction, and it infuses the coat with moisture. Finally, if you choose a really good one, it'll keep your Shih Tzu smelling fresh and clean. 

Qualities of the best brushes: There are many types of brushes and quite a few of them are designed for dogs with coats of thick fur. So, you will want to be careful about what type of brush you use for your Shih Tzu. 

The best tool will be an appropriately sized quality pin brush with either 16 or 20 mm spacing, with polished tips. 

It will be important for the pins to be long enough to reach to the skin, else you will only be grooming the outer part of the coat. 

Finally, you'll want to have a comfortable grip. Many owners prefer a wooden handle; though a sturdy plastic can work as well.
Below are recommendations for really wonderful leave-in coat sprays and quality pin brushes. 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. 
photo courtesy of Sarah Wilson 

Additional Grooming Tools

Hemostat: Some dogs tend to get long hairs that grow out from the ear canal. If there are too many, these can cause ears to be more prone to ear infections, as the hairs are perfect places for moisture to latch upon and they hold onto wax.

For this reason, a hemostat may be used, which is a type of grooming tool that plucks out excess hairs, usually with the aid of an ear powder. 

Round Tip Scissors: When hairs grow too long around the anus, this causes feces to stick there more easier. For hygiene purposes, round-tip scissors are used to carefully snip away those hairs around the anus to keep a Shih Tzu neat and tidy. 

Extra Tips

1) Keep your Shih Tzu's grooming tools clean. 
Once you've made the investment of having quality grooming tools, you'll want to keep them clean; if not, they can loose their effectiveness. Because the brush will be picking up debris and dander (skin flakes), and both brushes and combs are being used in conjunction with coat products, this can all accumulate.

Every week or so, clean them. If you wait much longer than this, it can be really hard to clean off all of the buildup.  First, remove as much hair as you can. Then, using some of your Shih Tzu's shampoo and cool water, rinse them well under the kitchen sink. 
2) As a reminder for how often to brush, Shih Tzu with short coats (even shaved coats) should be brushed every 3 days, those with moderate coats should be brushed every 2 days, and those with long show coats will need to be groomed just about every day. 
3) Make grooming fun, relaxing, and a special time to bond with your Shih Tzu. This should never be a stressful event for either of you.

Set the tone by choosing a quiet time and a calm area. Your dog will pick up cues from you; if you are stressed about the prospect of grooming the coat, your dog may become anxious as well. So, try to relax and speak in a happy tone. 

Offer praise throughout, and have a special treat to give out at the end, regardless of how much wiggling was done. 

4) You may find that having your Shih Tzu up on a tabletop allows you to have an easier time; but this will only work if he/she sits still for you. 
5) If you have a Shih Tzu puppy, still go through all recommended grooming tasks. This will help acclimate the pup to being touched, to prepare for when he is older and has a longer coat. 
More Grooming Details

For additional details of:
  • How to deal with disasters
  • Nails & dewclaw details
  • The exact step-by-step instructions for each part of the Tzu's body
  • The difference in grooming a short cut VS a long coat
  • What ruins a Shih Tzu's coat...and Much More!.. learn more about the AllShihTzu Book. Now in both print & eBook.
You May Also Like:

My Shih Tzu Has Bad Breath - The most common causes of bad breath odor and how to resolve this from home.
How to Deal with Shih Tzu Tear Stains - Exactly how to eliminate the triggers and then keep stains away for good. 
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