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Hair Styles

Shih Tzu Hair Styles


One of the great things about having a breed that is capable of growing a long coat is that the hair style options are only limited to your imagination. That said, there are several styles that are seen more than others. 

While some owners find one look and essentially keep it forever, others like to experiment. And as long as your Shih Tzu's coat is healthy, it will grow back relatively quickly, allowing to you choose a new hair style quite often.

Here we go over some quick Q&A, have a look at many of the different hair styles for Shih Tzu dogs, and talk about a few things to consider before choosing a style, whether to try to achieve it on your own or have a groomer to do (and how to choose that groomer).


1. How long does it take for a short, clipped puppy cut to grow out long into a show coat? If you have the coat clipped rather short into a puppy cut (also known as a summer cut or Teddy Bear style, more ahead) and if your Tzu is capable of growing his coat that long (also see ahead) it will take anywhere from 12 to 24 months for it to reach floor length again. So, do factor this into your decision before the clippers are taken out. 

2. How long does it take for a Shih Tzu coat to grow one inch? In regard to how fast the coat of a Shih Tzu grows, with the dog being in good health and the coat being taken care of (more ahead), expect the coat to grow 1/2 inch every 1 month. 

3. Can all Shih Tzu dogs grow a long coat? Most can. However, whether the coat will ever touch the floor, as is expected in the show ring, depends quite a bit on genetics and upkeep. For show, long coats are wrapped to protect the hair and near constant checking for small mats must be done.

4. What can I do to  help the coat grow? Keeping it tangle free, using high quality products including shampoo, conditioner and a great leave-in spritz are key. If your Shih Tzu struggles to grow his hair or has hair loss, there are some methods to help with this. 

Examples of Adorable Shih Tzu Hair Styles

Puppy Cut Short

white and black shih tzu 9 weeks old
Charlie, at 9 weeks old, 
photo courtesy of David Johnson
Lando, at 1 year old; courtesy of Alyson and Finbarr
There is a very good reason why this very popular cut is called the puppy cut; as you can see photo left (top on mobile), this is the length that a young pup has seen on Charlie at 9 weeks old; photo right (2nd top mobile view) shows Lando, 1-year-old, with a clip to keep this short length.

This is the hair cut that you really need to trust your groomer to do. With this, the coat is just about as short as it can be without actually being clippered down. If a groomer gets too enthusiastic, you'll have a shaved Shih Tzu instead (which, is an option with hair cuts). 

Many owners choose this hair style for their Shih Tzu because the coat is very easy to maintain, washing and brushing are easy as well and even with hair growing about 1/2 inch each month, a puppy or dog can go without a trim for quite a while before it starts to look messy. 

Puppy Cut Moderate

The Puppy Cut - Moderate

This is a classic style for the Shih Tzu breed. You'll notice that the entire coat is rounded, including the entire head (forehead, beard). It is undeniably cute and relatively easy to take care of. The one con is that it grows out rather quickly. Upkeep to keep this hair style is a trim every 2 months. 

Shaved, Ears & Tail Left Long

Penny, 1 year old; Photo courtesy of Annie
Bobby, at 5; Photo courtesy of Gary Howell
If any breed can pull of this look, it's the Shih Tzu. The body is shaved close. Adorably, the ears and the tail are left long, which creates a really pretty silhouette. This particular cut keeps a dog rather clean and of course, other than the tail, tangle free.  

As you can see photo left (top on mobile) the main body is shaved uniformly. With Bobby, photo right (2nd top on mobile) the chest is left a tad longer, which creates a nice shape as well. 

Full Shave

Misty, at 10 months old; Photo courtesy of Carolyn Hammond and Steve Vienneau
With this full shave hair style, the ears that were hidden in the previous photos can be seen! You never have to worry about tangles with this cut and the coat stays rather clean. Bathing is easy as well, since the coat dries very fast. 

Short Coat, Full Top

Rusty, Photo courtesy of Maxine
Mojo, at 2 years old; Photo courtesy of Renee Maney
What a unique hair style. The coat is moderately short, yet the top is full and long. As you can see with both of these little cuties, the forehead is layered and the sides and ears are long. With Rusty (photo left; top on mobile) the sides are scissored. With Mojo (photo right, 2nd on top on mobile), the hair is left to grow naturally. 

Medium Length

Hachi, Jana & Winston; Photo courtesy of Lori G.
Modification: Thick bangs. This short of style needs major upkeep, as it just about blocks vision. 
It's short, it's long, it's both! This medium length coat fits the bill for those who are like Goldilocks, wanting to choose something in the middle of the two extremes. This hair cut is short enough that hair is not touching the floor and it's relatively easy to keep up with brushing sessions and keeping tangles away, but long enough to see some great volume for a super cute look. 

Long Styles: 3/4 Length

Most owners are not able/do not want to do all that is involved with keeping their Shih Tzu in a full length show coat. And no one can blame them! But, that does not stop you from being able to allow your Shih Tzu to have a long hair style. This is what is known as the three-fourth. The coat is indeed long; however, it is about 3/4 of its ultimate potential.

Having this sort of hair cut allows for lots of body and fluff; yet, the coat is still slightly off the ground. This can be layered. The ends can be left natural or squared off. 
Snickers, at 5 years old; Photo courtesy of Tracy Sweet
Gabbi, at 5 years old 
Gabbi is a certified Medical Alert & Therapy Dog
Photo courtesy of Charise 
Dea at 1.5 years old; Photo courtesy of Fris Laygo
Minnie Pearl and Mia Karma; Photo courtesy of Tomi Clements

Before and After - Letting the coat grow out

Shih Tzu short coat pic 1
What a difference! This is Dolly with a one length long coat (top), after having had a moderate length (right; below on mobile). Photo courtesy of Karen White 

Before and After - From fluffed coat to shaved

Maggie, at 1 year old, seems to love her new shaved hair cut! Photo courtesy of Donna Bowles

Face Clips

In addition to the various lengths that you can keep the main body on a Shih Tzu, there is lots that you can do with the face in particular. The way in which the hair is or is not clipped around the face can have a huge impact on this breed's overall appearance and perceived expression. 
Rounded Clipped Face
Ozzie at 4 years old; Photo courtesy of Terry Cohn
This is a cute option, where the hairs are all clipped short, and as you can see the chin is rounded off. With this, keeping a Shih Tzu clean is easier than with some other options; especially around the eyes and hairs around the mouth.
Westie, Modified
Sandy, at 7 years old (5/3/99-6/28/15) Photo courtesy of Ted & Max
This cute face cut is similar to a Westie with short chin hairs and longer cheek hairs allowed to fall into place. The modification element is a huge one: the longer top and ear hairs flowing down and then snipped straight for a nice angled look. 
Squared Face

This is a highly popular clip for the Shih Tzu. The squared face is done by scissoring the beard, in which there is a straight horizontal line on the chin. Sides may be squared as well or slightly rounded off. This is a very 'neat' look that can give a dog a nice, clean appearance.

Keep in mind that the more angled the cuts, the more upkeep to maintain the style. If you wish for your Shih Tzu to have this sort of face shaping, the rounded version allows for more growth in between touch-ups. 
shih tzu hair style, square off face
Precious Joanna, at 4 1/2 month old
Photo courtesy of Debra Albright
Tootles, at 3 years old
Photo courtesy of Rick & Linda Johnson

Things to Consider Before Trimming/Clipping the Coat

1. Hindsight is 20/20. We have to remember that just like us humans, you can always take more off, but once you cut the hair short, you're in for a wait. If you are thinking about making a big change from a moderately long coat to a short or shaved coat, you may want to do this incrementally. 

2. Don't go it alone. Unless you can forgive yourself for a major error and you have the right equipment, very stylized, angled cuts are best left to the professionals. You may, however, want for both you and your Tzu to get accustomed to having touch-ups at home, since this can save quite a bit of money.

3. If your Shih Tzu has had a bad grooming experience or your dog acts strange after a visit but you aren't sure why, you may want to look into a facility that offers viewing windows. This is becoming a popular offering at doggie salons around the country. 

4. Never assume that the groomer knows what you are envisioning. The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words never fit better than when speaking about a hair cut (human or canine family member). Your idea of 'shortish' or 'longish' may be completely different than what someone else is thinking. If you're taking your Shih Tzu in for a new hair cut, bring along several photos that some as close to your ideal cut as possible. 

5. If you are looking for a new grooming salon, word-of-mouth is better than anything you may read on a website. If you see another owner whose dog has a pretty style, don't be shy... ask where they have it done. And Yelp reviews are also a good place to get a general vibe of any particular place. 
Does your Shih Tzu have a cute & unique hair style? We'd love to see it and add it to this page. Just email us a few photos to: Do please be sure to let us know your Tzu's name & age and your name, as you wish for it to appear. 
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