Understanding Your Shih Tzu’s Coat Type and Bathing Needs

When it comes to taking care of your furry friend, understanding their coat type and bathing needs is crucial. This is especially important for Shih Tzus, as their coats are a defining characteristic of the breed. But with so many different coat types to choose from, how can you know what’s right for your pup? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the different Shih Tzu coat types and their unique needs. From there, we’ll dive into the best bathing and grooming practices for your Shih Tzu to ensure their coat stays healthy and shiny. Let’s get started!

Shih Tzu Coat Types

Shih Tzu Coat Types
As a responsible pet owner, it’s essential to understand the coat types of your Shih Tzu to provide them with the necessary care they require. The Shih Tzu breed has a variety of coat types, each with their unique characteristics and maintenance requirements. Whether you have a single coated, double coated, or corded Shih Tzu, it’s crucial to know how to keep their coat healthy and clean for their overall well-being. In the following sections, we’ll explore different Shih Tzu coat types and their unique features. For more information regarding frequency of bathing your Shih Tzu, visit our article on shih-tzu-bathing-frequency.

Single Coat

The single-coated Shih Tzu type is known for having hair that is similar to human hair, rather than fur. This means that their hair just keeps growing, and it doesn’t fall out like a double-coated dog’s fur would. This also means that they are less likely to cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to dogs.

Coat Characteristics:

  • The single coat has a soft texture compared to the double coat
  • It is less prone to mats and tangles
  • It sheds less and better for people who have allergies

While they may not need as much grooming maintenance as other coat types, it is still important to take care of their hair regularly. Regular brushing and occasional trimming will help to keep their hair healthy and prevent matting.

Bathing Needs:

  • Single coated Shih Tzus should be bathed as needed, usually every 3-4 weeks.
  • Use a gentle shampoo that won’t strip their natural oils.

It is important to properly dry your Shih Tzu after their bath to avoid any skin irritation or infections. Check out our article on proper drying techniques for Shih Tzus to ensure you are doing it correctly.

The single coat is a low-maintenance option for those who want a Shih Tzu with less shedding and easy grooming requirements. Just remember to keep up with their regular brushing and bathing needs for optimal health and appearance.

Double Coat

A Double Coat is a type of shih tzu coat that consists of two layers: a thick, soft undercoat and a longer, coarser topcoat. This type of coat is common in shih tzus and is typically found in show dogs. The undercoat keeps the dog warm, while the topcoat protects the dog from the elements.

The Double Coat requires regular grooming to maintain its health and appearance. If not maintained properly, the coat can become matted and tangled. Brushing the coat several times a week with a slicker brush and a metal comb is essential. It helps to remove loose hair, dirt, debris, and tangles. Start by brushing from the head down to the tail, and then work your way up from the belly. Be gentle while brushing, as shih tzus have sensitive skin.

Trimming and clipping are also necessary for a Double Coat. It is recommended to take your shih tzu to a professional groomer every six to eight weeks for trimming and clipping. However, you can also do it at home with proper tools and techniques. Use scissors and clippers that are specialized for dogs and have safety guards to prevent injuries. The hair around the ears, paws, and tail should be trimmed short for hygiene purposes.

When bathed, a Double Coat requires a bit more attention than a Single Coat. It is crucial to choose the right shampoo that doesn’t dry out the skin or strip the natural oils from the coat. Look for shampoos that are specifically designed for shih tzus or dogs with Double Coats. Bathing should take place every six to eight weeks, or when the coat appears dirty or greasy. For proper drying techniques, visit proper drying techniques for shih tzu.

The Double Coat is a beautiful and luxurious coat that requires regular maintenance and care. Be proactive in your grooming routine to prevent matting and tangles, as it can lead to more severe health issues in the long term. For more information on general shih tzu bathing and health, please visit shih tzu bathing and health.

Puppy Coat

As the name suggests, the puppy coat is the coat of a Shih Tzu puppy. This coat is usually softer and finer than the adult coat and may have a different texture altogether. However, the puppy coat is also prone to tangling and matting, so it’s important to start grooming your Shih Tzu from a young age.


  • Regular brushing is important to prevent tangling and matting of the coat.
  • Avoid using shampoo too frequently as it may harm the puppy’s delicate skin.
  • Trimming of the coat may also be required to keep it neat and tidy, but it’s best to leave this to a professional groomer for safety reasons.


  • Use a mild puppy shampoo that is specifically designed for puppies and avoid getting water in their ears.
  • Be gentle while bathing and drying as their skin is sensitive and prone to irritation.

Additional tips:

  • Feed your puppy a healthy and nutritious diet to promote a shiny and healthy coat.
  • Handle your puppy regularly to get them used to grooming and brushing from a young age, making it a pleasant and bonding experience for both you and your furry friend.

Remember, the puppy coat is just a phase and will eventually be replaced with the adult coat, which will have different grooming and bathing needs. But by starting good grooming practices early on, you will be setting your Shih Tzu up for a lifetime of healthy and beautiful coats.

Lion Cut Coat

The Lion Cut is a favorite look for many Shih Tzu owners. This haircut gives a Shih Tzu a bold and majestic appearance – just like a lion! Unlike other coat types, the lion cut is a specific cut style that can be done on any type of Shih Tzu coat.

Lion Cut Coat Characteristics

The Lion Cut is a particular style that involves shaving the fur from the hindquarters, including the tail, and leaving the fur long on the front legs, chest, and head. Here are the characteristics of a Shih Tzu with a Lion Cut:

Shaving of HindquartersThe fur on the back half of the Shih Tzu’s body, from the waist down, is shaved very short.
Long Fur on Front Legs, Chest, and HeadThe fur on the front legs, chest, and head is left long and often styled in a fluffy and luxurious way.
Neatly Trimmed TailThe Shih Tzu’s tail is trimmed into a neat and tidy plume.

Pros and Cons of Lion Cut

If you’re considering getting a lion cut for your Shih Tzu, you should understand both the pros and cons of this cut:

Keeps your Shih Tzu cool in hot weatherMay not look as appealing on Shih Tzus with certain facial features
Requires less grooming maintenanceMay not protect your dog’s skin as well as longer coats
Can add a dramatic and regal look to your Shih Tzu’s appearanceThe Shih Tzu may appear smaller and skinnier without its full coat

Caring for a Shih Tzu with a Lion Cut

Even though a lion cut requires less maintenance than other coat styles, you still need to groom your Shih Tzu regularly. Keep in mind that the hair on the front legs, chest, and head will still grow, and you’ll need to trim it to maintain the look. You should also be aware that your Shih Tzu’s skin will be more exposed with a lion cut, so you should apply sunscreen or dog-safe lotion to protect it from sunburn.

The Lion Cut is a stylish and regal haircut for your Shih Tzu, but it’s important to understand both its pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision. With proper grooming and care, your Shih Tzu can look and feel its best with a Lion Cut.

Corded Coat

The Corded coat is a unique and distinct coat type found in Shih Tzus. This coat is well-known for its rope-like strands which make it look distinctively different from the other coat types. If you have a Shih Tzu with a corded coat, it may require more attention and care than other coat types.

Caring for a Corded Coat:

Corded coats are formed by matting the fur together and allowing it to form into cords. These cords can vary in thickness and length, and it can take up to months to achieve full maturity of the cords. Here are some tips for caring for a Shih Tzu with a corded coat:

Regular BrushingEven though the coat is corded, it still requires regular brushing. Use a slicker brush or a comb to remove any tangles and debris stuck in the cords.
BathingIt is important to bathe your Shih Tzu often, but not too frequently as overwashing can damage the cords. Gently massage shampoo into the coat and avoid pulling on the cords.
DryingAfter bathing, it is important to dry the cords thoroughly. Use a gentle, low heat setting on a hairdryer or let your Shih Tzu air-dry naturally, but be sure to prevent any rubbing or rough handling that may damage the cords.
TrimmingTrimming and cutting the cords are not recommended, as it can damage the coat and the cords may not grow back the same way. Instead, trim any stray ends or fraying with scissors and continue regular brushing to keep the cords looking tidy.

Benefits of Corded Coat:

While corded coats require more attention and care, they do have some benefits. Here are a few:

  • The cords protect the Fur from dirt and matting.
  • The cords can make your Shih Tzu stand out and look unique.
  • The cords can be styled in different ways, such as top-knots or ponytails.

Final Thoughts:

Caring for a Shih Tzu with a corded coat requires time and effort, but it can be a rewarding experience. With regular brushing and attention to bathing and drying, you can keep your Shih Tzu’s coat looking healthy and beautiful. Remember that each cord is a work of art that requires maintenance and appreciation.

Bathing Your Shih Tzu

Bathing Your Shih Tzu
As much as we love our furry friends, regular bathing is an important aspect of keeping them fresh and healthy. But when it comes to our Shih Tzu, with different coat types and individual bathing needs, it can be perplexing to determine the proper techniques. With the right information and a little patience, though, bathing your Shih Tzu can be an enjoyable bonding experience for you and your pup. Let’s dive into the key factors to consider, from how often to bathe to choosing the right shampoo and bathing techniques.

How Often to Bathe

When it comes to bathing your Shih Tzu, the frequency of baths will depend on the type of coat your pup has. Here’s a breakdown of how often different Shih Tzu coat types should be bathed:

  • Single Coat: Shih Tzu with a single coat can be bathed every 4-6 weeks. Bathing too frequently can strip their skin of natural oils, which can lead to dryness and irritation.
  • Double Coat: Dogs with double coats, like the Shih Tzu, should be bathed every 6-8 weeks. More frequent bathing can disrupt the natural shedding process and may cause skin irritation.
  • Puppy Coat: Puppies and young Shih Tzu with puppy coats should be bathed more frequently than adult dogs. Aim for a bath every 2-4 weeks to keep their coats clean and healthy.
  • Lion Cut Coat: Shih Tzu with a lion cut coat should be bathed every 4-6 weeks. However, it’s important to ensure their coats are fully dry before trimming or clipping to avoid any matting or tangling.
  • Corded Coat: Shih Tzu with a corded coat should be bathed every 6-8 weeks, but take care to avoid getting the cords wet as this can lead to matting and tangling. Instead, focus on using a dry shampoo or powder specifically designed for corded coats.

Keep in mind that over-bathing your Shih Tzu can lead to dryness, irritation, and other skin issues. It’s important to strike a balance between keeping your pup clean and maintaining the health of their coat and skin. If in doubt, consult with your vet or a professional groomer for advice on the best bathing schedule for your individual Shih Tzu.

Choosing the Right Shampoo

When it comes to choosing the right shampoo for your Shih Tzu, there are a few things to keep in mind. It’s important to select a shampoo that is specifically designed for dogs, rather than using human shampoo which can be too harsh for their sensitive skin. Here are some factors to consider when making your choice:

  • Skin Type: Determine if your Shih Tzu has dry, oily, or sensitive skin. This will help you choose a shampoo that is tailored to their specific needs.
  • Hypoallergenic: If your Shih Tzu has sensitive skin or allergies, look for a hypoallergenic shampoo that is free of harsh chemicals and fragrances.
  • Medicated: If your Shih Tzu has a skin condition or parasitic infestation, such as fleas or ticks, a medicated shampoo may be necessary to treat the issue.
  • Conditioning: Some shampoos contain ingredients that can help moisturize and condition your Shih Tzu’s coat. Look for products that contain ingredients like aloe vera, oatmeal, or coconut oil.
  • Flavor: Some shampoos come in flavors like lavender, almond, or vanilla. While this may not affect the shampoo’s effectiveness, it can make bath time a more pleasant experience for your furry friend.

Keep in mind that even if you choose a shampoo that is specifically designed for dogs, you should still be cautious when using it. Don’t apply the shampoo directly to your Shih Tzu’s face, and be sure to rinse thoroughly to avoid any irritation or dryness. Additionally, if you notice any redness, itching, or other signs of discomfort, discontinue use of the shampoo and consult with your veterinarian.

The Bathing Process

When it comes to bathing your Shih Tzu, there are a few key steps to follow to ensure that your furry friend is clean and comfortable. Here’s a breakdown of the bathing process:

Step 1Prepare the bath. Fill the tub with warm water, making sure it’s not too hot or too cold for your Shih Tzu. Place a non-slip mat on the bottom of the tub to prevent your dog from slipping.
Step 2Wet your Shih Tzu’s coat. Use a handheld showerhead or a plastic cup to wet your dog’s coat thoroughly, taking care not to get water in their eyes or ears.
Step 3Apply shampoo. Use a dog-specific shampoo and apply it to your dog’s coat using gentle, circular motions. Be sure to lather up their entire coat, including their belly and legs.
Step 4Rinse thoroughly. Use the showerhead or cup to rinse your dog’s coat until all the shampoo is removed. Any shampoo residue can cause skin irritation or dryness, so make sure to rinse thoroughly.
Step 5Condition (optional). If your Shih Tzu has long hair or a double coat, you may want to use a dog-specific conditioner to help detangle and soften their coat.
Step 6Rinse again. Make sure to rinse out all the conditioner as well, as shampoo and conditioner residue can cause skin irritation and itching.
Step 7Dry your Shih Tzu. Use a clean towel to gently pat your dog’s coat dry, being careful not to rub too vigorously or cause any tangling. You can also use a blow dryer on a low, cool setting, taking care not to get too close to their skin or face.

Tip: Always praise and reward your Shih Tzu for good behavior during the bathing process. This will help them associate bath time with positive experiences and make future baths easier for you both.

Drying Your Shih Tzu

Once you have washed and rinsed your Shih Tzu, it is essential to dry them thoroughly to avoid any discomfort or potential health issues. Here are the different ways you can dry your Shih Tzu hair, depending on their coat type:

| Coat Type | Drying Technique |
| Single Coat | Towel dry gently and let air dry or use a hairdryer on a low heat setting. Do not vigorously rub their coat with a towel, as it may damage their hair. |
| Double Coat | Use a towel to remove as much moisture as possible, then follow up with a blow dryer on the low heat setting. Use a slicker brush to brush out their coat while drying to prevent mats from forming. |
| Puppy Coat | Use a towel to gently pat dry your puppy’s coat, then use a hair dryer on a low heat setting. As with double-coated Shih Tzus, use a slicker brush as you dry their hair to prevent tangling. |
| Lion Cut Coat | Use a towel to pat dry their coat, then follow up with a hair dryer on a low heat setting. Be sure not to get too close to their skin, as it may cause discomfort. |
| Corded Coat | Use a towel to pat the coat dry, then allow the coat to air dry. Do not use a hair dryer or brushing techniques as it may damage the delicate cords. |

Remember to use a low heat setting on your hairdryer, as Shih Tzus have sensitive skin prone to burns. Also, make sure the hairdryer is not too close to their skin or face to avoid any danger. If you are unsure, consult with a professional groomer or veterinarian for guidance. Proper drying techniques are crucial for keeping your Shih Tzu happy and healthy!

Grooming Your Shih Tzu

When it comes to grooming your Shih Tzu, there are several things that need to be taken into consideration. Not only is grooming important for maintaining a clean and healthy coat, but it also helps to promote bonding between you and your furry friend. From brushing techniques to trimming and clipping, there are many different aspects of grooming that require your attention. In this section, we will provide you with all the information you need to keep your Shih Tzu looking their best. So, grab your grooming tools and get ready to make your pup feel pampered and loved.

Brushing Techniques

When it comes to grooming your Shih Tzu, brushing is an essential part of the process. Brushing your dog’s coat regularly can help to prevent tangles and mats, as well as keep the coat looking shiny and healthy. However, it’s important to use the right brushing technique for your Shih Tzu’s specific coat type. Let’s take a closer look at the different brushing techniques for each coat type.

Coat TypeBrushing Technique
Single CoatUse a pin brush to gently remove any tangles or mats. Brush in the direction of hair growth to avoid causing discomfort.
Double CoatUse a slicker brush to remove any tangles or mats. Focus on the dense undercoat, brushing in the direction of hair growth.
Puppy CoatUse a soft brush or comb to gently remove any tangles or mats. Puppy coats are delicate, so be sure to use a gentle touch.
Lion Cut CoatUse a slicker brush to remove any tangles or mats in the mane and tail. Use a comb to maintain the length of the hair on the body.
Corded CoatUse your fingers to gently separate the cords and remove any tangles or mats. Avoid using a brush or comb, as this can damage the cords.

Remember to be gentle when brushing your Shih Tzu’s coat to avoid causing discomfort or pain. It’s also a good idea to reward your dog with treats or praise during the grooming process to make it a positive experience for them. By following the right brushing technique for your Shih Tzu’s coat type, you can help them look and feel their best.

Trimming and Clipping

Regular trimming and clipping is crucial for maintaining a Shih Tzu’s coat, regardless of the type. It not only keeps their fur looking neat and tidy but also helps to prevent mats and tangles. If you’re not comfortable with trimming your Shih Tzu yourself, it’s best to take them to a professional groomer.

Tools You Need for Trimming and Clipping

Before you embark on trimming your Shih Tzu’s coat, you need to have the right tools for the job. Here are some essential tools you’ll need:

ScissorsTo trim fur around the ears, paws, and tail.
ClippersTo cut the main coat or trim longer hair.
CombTo remove tangles and mats before trimming.
BrushTo smooth out the coat and remove loose fur after trimming.
Clipper bladesTo adjust the length of cut for different areas.

Trimming and Clipping Techniques

When trimming and clipping your Shih Tzu, it’s important to be gentle and avoid injuring them. Start by combing out any tangles or mats before trimming. Use scissors to trim around the ears, paws, and tail. When using clippers to cut the main coat, start from the neck and work your way down to the tail in small sections. Use clipper blades to adjust the length of the cut for different areas.

Dealing with Difficulties

If your Shih Tzu’s coat has severe tangles or mats, it may require more than just trimming and clipping. In some cases, it may be necessary to cut the tangle out entirely to prevent it from getting worse. If you’re not sure how to deal with a specific issue, it’s best to consult a professional groomer who can provide you with guidance.

By following these trimming and clipping techniques, you can keep your Shih Tzu’s coat looking healthy and beautiful all year round. Don’t forget to be gentle and patient, and always reward your furry friend for their cooperation during grooming sessions.

Dealing with Tangles and Mats

Keeping your Shih Tzu’s coat tangle and mat-free can be a challenge, but it’s essential for maintaining their overall health and appearance. Mats and tangles can be painful for your dog and can lead to skin irritations, hot spots, and other skin problems. Here are some tips and tools that can help you deal with tangles and mats on your Shih Tzu’s coat.

Flea combUse a flea comb to gently separate the matted hair. Starting at the edges, work your way inward until you can untangle the mat or remove it. Avoid pulling too hard as this can hurt your dog.
Slicker brushSlicker brushes are great for removing loose hair and preventing tangles. Brush your Shih Tzu’s coat regularly, especially in areas prone to matts such as behind the ears, under the legs and around the tail. Brush gently and be sure to remove any excess hair from the brush to help prevent tangles.
Mat splitterA mat splitter is a specialized tool that cuts through tough mats and tangles. Be careful when using a mat splitter as it can cause injury to your dog if not used properly.
Detangler spray A detangler spray can be used to help ease the brushing process and prevent further matting. Spray the detangler onto the matted area and gently comb through it with a slicker brush or flea comb.

Preventing mats and tangles is easier than dealing with them once they’ve formed. Daily brushing, regular grooming, and keeping your Shih Tzu’s coat clean and healthy are key to preventing mats and tangles from forming in the first place. If you do notice a mat, don’t wait too long to deal with it, as it will only get worse and harder to remove over time. Using the right tools and techniques can make mat and tangle removal a manageable task for you and a pain-free experience for your Shih Tzu.


After reading this article, you now have a better understanding of the different coat types your Shih Tzu can have and their corresponding bathing needs. It is essential to remember that each Shih Tzu is unique, and their grooming requirements may vary from dog to dog. It’s crucial to pay close attention to your Shih Tzu’s coat type and take the necessary steps to maintain its coat’s cleanliness and health.

Bathing and grooming your Shih Tzu should be a bonding experience filled with love and care. Remember to use gentle shampoos, avoid over-bathing, and always reward your furry friend with treats for good behavior during grooming sessions.

With proper grooming and care, your Shih Tzu can live a happy and healthy lifestyle, with a beautiful and shiny coat. Don’t be afraid to consult a professional groomer or your veterinarian if you’re unsure about any aspect of your Shih Tzu’s grooming routine.

Investing time and effort into your Shih Tzu’s grooming and bathing needs can make a significant difference, not only to their physical appearance but also to their overall health and well-being. By giving your Shih Tzu the love and attention they deserve, you can ensure that they stay happy, healthy, and comfortable for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I bathe my Shih Tzu too often?

Yes, it is possible to over-bathe your Shih Tzu. They only need to be bathed every 4-6 weeks, unless they get very dirty or smelly in between.

2. How often should I brush my Shih Tzu’s coat?

Shih Tzus should be brushed at least every other day to prevent tangles and mats from forming. Daily brushing is even better.

3. Can I use human shampoo on my Shih Tzu?

No, human shampoo should not be used on Shih Tzus as it can cause skin irritation and dryness. Use a shampoo made specifically for dogs instead.

4. What is the best brush for a Shih Tzu?

A slicker brush is the best type of brush for a Shih Tzu’s long, silky coat.

5. How do I trim my Shih Tzu’s nails?

You should use pet nail clippers to trim your Shih Tzu’s nails, being careful not to cut into the quick (the pink part of the nail). If you’re not sure how to do it, ask your vet or groomer for help.

6. What is a puppy cut?

A puppy cut is a simple, short haircut that keeps the Shih Tzu’s coat short all over. It’s a low-maintenance option for people who don’t have time for regular grooming.

7. Can Shih Tzus swim?

Shih Tzus are not strong swimmers due to their small size and short legs. You should never leave your Shih Tzu unattended near a pool or body of water.

8. How do I deal with mats in my Shih Tzu’s coat?

The best way to deal with mats is to prevent them from forming in the first place by regular brushing. If you do find a mat, use a detangling solution and a slicker brush to gently work it out.

9. What is a corded coat?

A corded coat is a rare and unique coat type where the Shih Tzu’s hair forms cords (or dreadlocks) that hang down from the body. This coat type requires special grooming and maintenance.

10. Should I take my Shih Tzu to a professional groomer?

If you’re not comfortable grooming your Shih Tzu at home, or if your dog has a particularly challenging coat type (like a corded coat), it’s a good idea to take them to a professional groomer for regular grooming sessions.


Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DoggoLab, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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