By Leisha Motwani*
The Shih Tzu is a head turner and is becoming very popular across the country now. ‘Awww’ – Isn’t that how everyone reacts when they see a Shih Tzu? One of the most ancient breeds, it is believed to be bred by the Tibetan Lamas to resemble a miniature lion. This adorable and irresistible looking breed is affectionate, mischievous, lively, friendly, sporty, and trusting towards most people. They are solely bred to be companions and house pets. Usually they have a docile temperament, which makes them wonderful family pets and a good fit for homes with children. But don’t be fooled by what appears to be effortless cuteness. The Shih Tzu is a very high maintenance breed when it comes to grooming. They need regular grooming, which means you need to be prepared to put in a lot of time and effort. Apart from daily grooming at home, you will also need professional help from time to time.
Here at Petagascar Pet Spa, we specialize in styling Shih Tzus. In fact, some days are just Shih Tzu days at the salon. We have also started with Asian fusion haircuts at our new state of the art set up in bandra west. This would be the best option for pet parents who prefer short hair over the breed style long and glam look, which is not very easy to manage. Having said that, all Shih Tzus, regardless of the size of their coat, will need daily grooming and here are some tips and a list of tools and products to help you with that.
Brush and Comb
Brushing isthe most important part to maintain long and luxurious coat of a Shih Tzu. You will need a slicker brush and a metal comb. A slicker brush is mainly helpful to work out mats and tangles. It also collects loose and clears out the dirt. A metal comb is equally important to check for tiny mats after brushing and to comb the face area especially around the eyes. You need to do a thorough brushing at least once a day. A Shih Tzu’s coat can be very prone to matting and tangles, if not brushed daily. One trick that Shih Tzu owners should take advantage of is Corn starch. It helps to clean hair and can make it dry faster.
This is used to mist the coat of your Shih Tzu to help minimize damages in the coat while brushing. Use a conditioning spray ora leave-in conditioner before brushing your Shih Tzu’s coat. Do not brush a dry coat as it will lead to breakage and will damage the coat. You can also use wipes before brushing. There are detangling sprays and serums available at pet shops that can be used before brushing incase of mats.
The Shih Tzus bulging eyes are very prone to eye infections. Proper eye care is essential for keeping your Shih Tzu’s eyes healthy. Even if you cannot prevent a genetic eye condition, by regularly cleaning and checking their eyes, you will know your dog’s eyes well enough to notice the warning signs of potential eye problems. The area around the eye collects eye discharge — so you should clean the hair around the eyes every day. You can use a soft washcloth, a wet cotton ball, or dog eye wipes to wash the area around your Shih Tzu’s eyes.
Shih Tzus need a bath once in a week to once in ten days. Regular baths promote coat growth. A dirty coat will mat and tangle much easier than a clean coat. A conditioner is absolutely necessary when bathing Shih Tzus.
Of course! You need a hair dryer to thoroughly dry the long hair of your dog. Keep in mind that hair should be properly dried to prevent tangles and bacterial infection on the skin.
The grooming maintenance of your Shih Tzu will depend on the type of haircut he has. It is one such breed that needs more grooming than most others. Shih Tzu is not a heavy shedder but has fast growing hair that easily gets matted if not kept short or properly groomed in regular intervals.
Hair under their paws need to be trimmed regularly. Get your Shih Tzu to wear shoes from a young age so they get used to it or the paws can get really messy and attract ticks and fleas. Apart from that, hair under their paws can also get matted and it’s easy to miss the mats between pawpads. It can be very painful for your pet to walk with those mats therefore you must keep a close watch on that.
Get an absorbent towel to cut short the drying time after every bath and paw wash. You can wipe them down with a normal towel after the absorbent one for even better results.
Toothpaste and Toothbrush
Brush their teeth everyday or atleast once a week. Add mint leaves to their water bowl if they don’t allow the brushing or use a mouth spray and other products available at pet shops.
Use ear drops once a week and cotton balls to wipe the ears clean. Do not use ear buds or dig in too deep as you may hurt them. Keep hair inside the ear short and clean. Have your groomer take care of that as it’s not advisable to do that at home.
Rubber Bands and Tick Tok Clips
You will need lots of these if you have a Shih Tzu. Use as many fancy bows as you like but try not to make them wear fancy clothes as that would definitely lead to forming mats and tangles if not followed by a thorough brushing.
Nails need to be trimmed regularly but it isn’t safe to do it at home. It’s always better to get it done every month with your vet or groomer. Incase of an emergency, use a filer to file the nails instead of trying to clip them at home.
Remember to reward your pet after every grooming session. And praise them through the whole process. Try not to change the grooming area; stick to one place preferably a table top or anything on a height to restrict their movement. These little guys need a lot of work to keep their coat in top notch condition. Start grooming your Shih Tzu while it’s still a puppy so you both get used to the hard work and it becomes a bonding activity that you and your pet both can enjoy. Along with all the tools and products, grooming your Shih Tzu will require lots of patience and dedication. It will not be easy but once you see how beautiful your dog has become, you will realize that the effort is all worth it!
*Author is the Founder & Head Stylist at Petgascar Pet Spa.