Common Grooming Mistakes Shih Tzu Owners Make: Tips for Healthy and Happy Shih Tzus

Grooming your Shih Tzu can be a challenging task, especially if you’re a new owner. While it may seem like a simple enough job, there are many common mistakes that even experienced owners make. These mistakes can lead to health problems, discomfort, and an overall unhappy pup. So, what are these common grooming mistakes? In this article, we’ll outline 10 mistakes that Shih Tzu owners frequently make and give you tips on how to avoid them. By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge you need to keep your furry friend looking and feeling their best. Let’s get started!

Mistake #1: No Regular Grooming Schedule

Mistake #1: No Regular Grooming Schedule
As a Shih Tzu owner, grooming your little furry friend is an essential part of ensuring they stay healthy and happy. However, one common mistake that many owners make is not establishing a regular grooming schedule. It’s crucial to have a routine and stick to it to maintain the overall health and appearance of your Shih Tzu’s coat. Skipping grooming sessions or not cleaning specific areas can lead to a range of issues, including matting and infections. Let’s explore some common slip-ups that you should avoid when taking care of your Shih Tzu’s grooming needs. To learn more about the right tools you need for grooming your Shih Tzu, check out our 10 essential tools for Shih Tzu grooming.

Skipping Regular Grooming Sessions

Skipping regular grooming sessions is one of the most common grooming mistakes that Shih Tzu owners make. While it may not seem like a big deal, it can have serious consequences for your dog’s health and well-being. Regular grooming sessions are important to maintain the overall health and hygiene of your Shih Tzu, and skipping them can lead to a host of problems.

To illustrate the importance of regular grooming sessions, let’s take a look at some of the common problems that can arise from skipping them.

Matting and TanglingIf you don’t brush and comb your Shih Tzu’s hair regularly, it can become matted and tangled. This can be uncomfortable for your dog and can also lead to skin irritation and infections. In severe cases, your Shih Tzu may need to be shaved, which can be a traumatic experience for him.
Eye Stains and Facial WrinklesRegular grooming sessions involve cleaning your Shih Tzu’s eye stains and facial wrinkles. If you neglect to do this, it can lead to infections, irritation, and even vision problems. Plus, it’s not very pleasant for your dog to have a dirty face!
Ear InfectionsCleaning your Shih Tzu’s ears regularly is important to prevent ear infections. If you skip grooming sessions, your dog’s ears can become dirty and infected, which can be painful and even lead to hearing loss.
Dirty Teeth and Bad BreathBrushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth regularly is important to maintain good dental hygiene. If you skip grooming sessions, your dog’s teeth can become dirty and he may develop bad breath. This can also lead to more serious dental problems such as gum disease.

As you can see, skipping regular grooming sessions can lead to a number of problems for your Shih Tzu. If you want to keep your dog healthy and happy, it’s important to stick to a regular grooming schedule. For more information and tips on grooming your Shih Tzu, check out our Shih Tzu grooming tips page.

No Cleaning of Eye Stains and Facial Wrinkles

As a Shih Tzu owner, it’s important to clean your furry friend’s face regularly to prevent eye stains and buildup in their facial wrinkles. Neglecting this grooming task can lead to skin irritation and even infection. Eye stains can be caused by excessive tearing or a blockage in the tear duct. To prevent them, you can use a tear stain remover specifically made for dogs, or a warm damp cloth to gently wipe the area.

Facial wrinkles are adorable on Shih Tzus, but they also require regular cleaning. Food and moisture can get trapped in the wrinkles, leading to bacteria growth and an unpleasant smell. To clean the wrinkles, use a soft cloth or baby wipe to gently clean the area. Be sure to dry the wrinkles thoroughly afterwards to prevent any moisture buildup.

By neglecting to properly clean your Shih Tzu’s face and wrinkles, you can cause discomfort and even health problems. It’s best to incorporate this grooming task into your regular schedule to maintain your furry friend’s overall health and happiness.

For more information on how to properly groom your Shih Tzu, check out our bathing guide, recommended shampoos and conditioners, and teeth brushing tips. You can also read up on how to handle mats and tangles, and useful summer and winter grooming tips. Don’t forget to always include ear cleaning in your grooming routine to maintain your Shih Tzu’s overall health.

Mistake #2: Using the Wrong Tools

Mistake #2: Using The Wrong Tools
Keeping your Shih Tzu well-groomed is essential to their health and overall well-being. However, using the wrong tools in the grooming process can cause more harm than good. It’s crucial to have the right tools on hand to avoid causing pain or discomfort to your furry friend. In this section, we will discuss some common grooming mistakes Shih Tzu owners make when it comes to using tools and how to avoid them. Proper grooming tools help to ensure that your dog’s coat stays healthy and shiny. Let’s dive into some of the most common tool-related mistakes and learn how to steer clear of them.

Using a Brush with Hard Bristles

When grooming a Shih Tzu, it’s important to use the right tools to avoid causing any harm to their skin and coat. One of the most common mistakes is using a brush with hard bristles. This can be painful for the Shih Tzu and even cause scratches or cuts on their skin.

To prevent this from happening, it’s important to invest in a high-quality brush that has soft bristles. A slicker brush is a great option as it can easily remove tangles and mats without causing any discomfort to the dog. Additionally, using a comb after brushing can help to ensure that there are no knots or tangles left behind.

It’s also important to regularly clean and replace the brush to avoid any build-up of dirt or debris that could damage the Shih Tzu’s coat. By using the right tools and maintaining them well, pet owners can ensure that their furry friend’s coat remains healthy and shiny.

If you are looking for inspiration for different Shih Tzu haircut styles, check out our article on /shih-tzu-haircut-styles/.

Not Using the Right Type of Comb

Choosing the right type of comb is crucial for proper grooming of your Shih Tzu. Many owners make the mistake of using the wrong type of comb, which can result in hair breakage and tangling.

Some of the common mistakes Shih Tzu owners make when choosing combs are:

Using a comb with large teeth spacingThis can cause tangling and matting of the hair, making it difficult to groom your Shih Tzu.
Not using a metal combA plastic comb can create static and cause hair to break, while a metal comb easily glides through the hair.
Using a flea comb on a Shih TzuWhile flea combs are useful for removing fleas from a dog’s coat, they are not ideal for combing a Shih Tzu’s hair. The teeth are too close together and can easily damage the hair.
Using a detangling comb on wet hairA detangling comb should only be used on dry hair, as it can cause hair breakage and tugging if used on wet hair.

To avoid these mistakes, make sure to use a metal comb with medium-sized teeth spacing for daily grooming. For more difficult tangles, use a detangling spray and a wide-tooth or slicker brush to gently work through the hair. Taking the time to choose the right comb will result in a healthier, happier Shih Tzu with a beautiful coat.

Mistake #3: Wetting the Shih Tzu’s Face during Baths

Mistake #3: Wetting The Shih Tzu'S Face During Baths
When it comes to bathing your Shih Tzu, it’s important to take certain precautions to keep them comfortable and healthy. One common mistake that many owners make is wetting their Shih Tzu’s face during baths. This is a mistake because it can cause discomfort, skin irritation, and even lead to infections.

The Problem with Wetting the Shih Tzu’s Face

Shih Tzus have a unique facial structure, with prominent eyes and a short snout. This structure makes them more susceptible to eye infections and skin irritation around their face. When you wet their face during a bath, it can trap water in the folds of their skin, leading to irritation and even infection. Additionally, water in their ears can lead to painful ear infections.

How to Avoid Wetting the Shih Tzu’s Face

To avoid getting water in your Shih Tzu’s face, you can use a washcloth or sponge to clean around their face instead of pouring water directly on it. It’s also important to protect their ears from water by placing a small amount of cotton in them. You should also avoid using harsh soaps on their face, as this can dry out their skin and lead to itching and irritation.

What to Do if Water Gets in their Face

If water does get in your Shih Tzu’s face during a bath, be sure to dry it thoroughly with a soft towel. You can also use a blow dryer on a low heat setting to make sure their face is completely dry. If you notice any signs of skin irritation or infection, such as redness, swelling or discharge, contact your veterinarian for advice on how best to treat the problem.

The Bottom Line

Wetting your Shih Tzu’s face during baths is a common mistake that can cause discomfort and health problems. By using a washcloth or sponge to clean around their face, protecting their ears from water, and avoiding harsh soaps, you can ensure that your Shih Tzu stays healthy and happy during bath time.

Mistake #4: Cutting the Hair Too Short or Unevenly

Mistake #4: Cutting The Hair Too Short Or Unevenly
For Shih Tzu owners, grooming their pets is an essential task to keep their furry friends looking their best. However, it is common for some pet owners to make mistakes when grooming their Shih Tzus. One of the most common mistakes is cutting the hair too short or unevenly.

Why Cutting the Hair Too Short or Unevenly is a Problem?

Shih Tzus have a long, flowing coat that requires regular trimming to keep their hair healthy and free from tangles. Cutting their hair too short can cause their skin to become exposed to environmental elements and can also lead to skin irritation. Uneven cuts can make your Shih Tzu appear ragged and messy.

How to Avoid the Mistake of Cutting the Hair Too Short or Unevenly?

To avoid cutting your Shih Tzu’s hair too short, it is best to use a pair of scissors specifically designed for pet grooming. These scissors often have a rounded tip to prevent accidental cuts and allow for more precise trimming. You can also use a comb to help guide your cuts and ensure that you are trimming your pet’s hair evenly.

When cutting your Shih Tzu’s hair, make sure that the scissors are pointed away from the skin to avoid any accidental cuts. It is important to trim your pet’s hair slowly and avoid any sudden movements that could cause injury.


Cutting your Shih Tzu’s hair too short or unevenly can be a common mistake made by pet owners. To avoid this mistake, it is important to use the right tools and take your time when grooming your furry friend. With a little patience and practice, you can keep your Shih Tzu looking their best with a healthy, shiny coat.

Mistake #5: Neglecting the Ears

Mistake #5: Neglecting The Ears
While grooming your Shih Tzu, it may be easy to forget about their ears. However, neglecting this important aspect of grooming can lead to some serious health issues for your furry friend. It’s crucial to take care of their ears regularly to prevent infections and discomfort. In this section, we’ll discuss some of the common mistakes Shih Tzu owners make when it comes to ear care and how to avoid them. Let’s keep our pups healthy and happy!

Not Cleaning the Ears Regularly

Regular ear cleaning is crucial to maintain your Shih Tzu’s overall health. However, neglecting to clean their ears regularly can lead to various ear problems such as infections, build-up of wax, and even hearing problems.

When cleaning your Shih Tzu’s ears, it’s important to be gentle and use a cleanser that’s specifically designed for dogs. Avoid using cotton swabs or any sharp objects that could damage their inner ear. Instead, use a soft cloth or gauze to clean the outer ear and remove any dirt or debris.

Here are some potential consequences of not cleaning your Shih Tzu’s ears regularly:

Ear ProblemSymptoms
Ear InfectionHead shaking, scratching, swelling, bad odor, and discharge from the ear.
Build-up of WaxDark brown waxy deposits inside the ear canal, itchiness, and discomfort.
Hearing ProblemsDifficulty hearing or responding to commands and not noticing sounds they would normally react to.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s essential to take your Shih Tzu to the vet as soon as possible. Regular ear cleaning sessions can prevent these problems from happening and also give you a chance to monitor their ear health.

Remember, prevention is better than cure! Clean your Shih Tzu’s ears regularly and consult your vet if you notice any concerning symptoms.

Over-cleaning the Ears

Cleaning the Shih Tzu’s ears regularly is crucial to avoid any infection or build-up of wax. However, over-cleaning the ears can do more harm than good. Here are some of the negative consequences of over-cleaning your Shih Tzu’s ears:

  • Strip Away Protective Oils: The ears have natural oils that prevent infections and keep them moisturized. Over-cleaning the ears can strip away these protective oils leaving the ear canal unprotected and vulnerable to infection.
  • Damage to Sensitive Tissues: Ears are delicate and have sensitive tissues. Over-cleaning the ears with cotton swabs can lead to damage to these tissues which can be painful for the dog.
  • Excessive Cleaning may Lead to Infection: Over-cleaning the ears may also make them susceptible to fungal or bacterial infections.
  • Causes Skin Irritation: Frequent cleaning of ears may lead to skin irritation and inflammation, especially if the cleaning solution used is harsh or not meant for use in dogs.

It’s important to clean your Shih Tzu’s ears, but you need to be mindful and avoid over-cleaning them. The frequency of ear cleaning depends on the dog’s lifestyle and breed, but generally, weekly ear cleaning is sufficient. Also, use an appropriate cleaning solution and avoid using cotton swabs, which can damage the delicate tissues of the ear canal. If you notice any unusual odor or discharge from the ears or if your dog is scratching his ears a lot, contact your vet immediately.

Mistake #6: Brushing the Teeth Too Hard

Mistake #6: Brushing The Teeth Too Hard
When it comes to grooming your Shih Tzu, brushing its teeth is just as important as brushing its hair. However, many Shih Tzu owners make the mistake of brushing their dog’s teeth too hard, which can actually do more harm than good.

Why is brushing too hard a problem?

When you brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth too hard, you risk damaging the enamel on their teeth. Enamel is the hard, protective layer that covers the outer surface of each tooth. It is designed to protect the sensitive inner layers of the tooth from damage, but it can be easily worn down over time due to excessive brushing.

What’s the proper way to brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth?

To avoid hurting your Shih Tzu’s teeth, it’s essential to use a gentle brushing technique. First, choose a toothbrush that is specifically designed for dogs. These brushes are typically small and angled, making them easy to use in your dog’s mouth.

Next, apply a pea-sized amount of dog toothpaste to the brush. Do not use human toothpaste, as it can contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs.

Gently insert the toothbrush into your Shih Tzu’s mouth and gently brush their teeth in a circular motion. Start out doing this for just a few seconds at a time, gradually working up to longer periods as your dog becomes more comfortable with the process.

What are some other tips for brushing your Shih Tzu’s teeth?

It’s important to establish a regular brushing routine with your Shih Tzu, ideally brushing their teeth at least once a day. If your dog is resistant to having their teeth brushed, you can try using dental treats or toys as a way to encourage them to chew and clean their teeth.

Finally, if you notice any issues with your Shih Tzu’s teeth, such as discoloration, bad breath, or excessive tartar buildup, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Addressing these issues in a timely manner can help maintain your Shih Tzu’s dental health and overall wellbeing.

Mistake #7: Not Trimming the Nails

Mistake #7: Not Trimming The Nails
One of the most common grooming mistakes that Shih Tzu owners make is neglecting to trim their dog’s nails regularly. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is actually quite important for your dog’s health and comfort.

Long nails can cause discomfort and pain for your Shih Tzu. When the nails are too long, they can dig into the paw pads, causing pain and discomfort when your dog walks. This can also lead to joint problems and even arthritis over time, as your dog compensates for the discomfort by walking differently.

Regular nail trimming is key. You should aim to trim your dog’s nails every 2-4 weeks, depending on how fast they grow. If you hear your dog’s nails clicking on the floor when they walk, it’s a sign that they are too long and need to be trimmed.

Using the right tools is important. Make sure to use a pair of high-quality nail clippers designed specifically for dogs. Avoid using human nail clippers, as they can crush the nail and cause discomfort or injury. Guillotine clippers or scissor clippers are good options to consider.

Be careful not to cut the quick. The quick is the live part of the nail that contains blood vessels and nerves, and cutting it can be painful for your dog and cause bleeding. If your dog has white or clear nails, you can see the quick as a pink area in the center of the nail. If your dog has black nails, it can be harder to see, so you should trim small amounts off the nail at a time and stop when you see a small black dot in the center.

If you’re not comfortable trimming your dog’s nails, seek professional help. It’s understandable if you’re nervous about trimming your dog’s nails, especially if you’re worried about hurting them. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, take your dog to a professional groomer or veterinarian to have their nails trimmed for you.

Remember, regular nail trimming is an important part of your Shih Tzu’s grooming routine. Take the time to do it properly and your dog will thank you for it.

Mistake #8: Not Using a Detangling Spray

Mistake #8: Not Using A Detangling Spray
When it comes to grooming a Shih Tzu, one of the most important steps is proper and thorough brushing. However, brushing a Shih Tzu’s long and luxurious coat can be challenging, especially if it has become matted or tangled. That’s where a detangling spray comes in handy.

What is a detangling spray?

A detangling spray is a grooming product designed to help loosen knots, tangles, and mats in a dog’s coat. It usually contains ingredients that help to smooth out the hair and make it easier to comb through. Some detangling sprays even have conditioning agents that nourish and protect the coat, leaving it shiny and healthy-looking.

Why is it important to use a detangling spray on a Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzus have a lot of hair, and it’s prone to matting and tangling. Mats can be painful for your dog and cause irritation and even infection in the skin. Additionally, removing mats without a detangling spray can be a tedious and frustrating process. Using a detangling spray will make the grooming process much easier and more comfortable for your pup.

How to choose the right detangling spray?

There are many detangling sprays available on the market, so it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your Shih Tzu. Look for a detangling spray specifically formulated for dogs, as human hair products can be too harsh and cause skin irritation. Also, consider the ingredients in the spray. Avoid products that contain alcohol or artificial fragrances, as these can be drying and irritating to your pup’s skin.

How to use a detangling spray?

Before using a detangling spray, make sure your Shih Tzu’s coat is completely dry. Spray the product directly onto the matted or tangled areas, then use a slicker brush or comb to gently work through the knots. Start from the bottom of the mat and work your way up, being careful not to tug or pull at your dog’s skin.

Not using a detangling spray when grooming your Shih Tzu can lead to uncomfortable mats and tangles, making the grooming process unpleasant for both you and your pup. By choosing the right product and using it correctly, you can make grooming a breeze and ensure your Shih Tzu looks and feels their best.

Mistake #9: Using Harsh Products on the Shih Tzu’s Skin

Mistake #9: Using Harsh Products On The Shih Tzu'S Skin
When it comes to grooming your Shih Tzu, it’s important to be mindful of the products you use on their delicate skin. Using harsh products with strong chemicals can cause irritation, dryness, and even lead to more serious skin issues. It’s important to avoid products with ingredients like alcohol, sulfates, and artificial fragrances. Using human products on your Shih Tzu can also be harmful as their skin has a different pH level than ours.

So, what products should you be using on your Shih Tzu?

When choosing products for your furry friend, look for those specifically made for dogs. There are several all-natural, gentle grooming products available that are formulated to cleanse and condition a dog’s coat without causing any harm to their skin. Some examples of safe, gentle products include coconut oil for moisturizing, oatmeal shampoo for sensitive skin, and lavender spray for a calming effect.

What signs should you look for if you’ve used a harsh product?

If you’ve used a product that is too harsh for your dog’s skin, you may notice signs of irritation such as redness, itching, and flaking. These are all signs that you should immediately discontinue use of the product and seek out a gentle alternative. In severe cases, using a harsh product can lead to more serious skin issues like hot spots and dermatitis, which may require veterinary treatment.

Using gentle, all-natural products is the best way to prevent any harm to your Shih Tzu’s delicate skin. Take the time to read labels carefully and choose products that are specifically formulated for dogs. This will keep your furry friend looking and feeling their best, while avoiding any unnecessary discomfort or harm to their skin. Remember to always consult with your veterinarian if you notice any signs of irritation or discomfort, as they can provide valuable guidance on proper grooming techniques and product selection.

Mistake #10: Rushing Through the Grooming Process

When it comes to grooming your Shih Tzu, patience is a virtue. While it may be tempting to rush through the process, doing so can lead to mistakes, injuries, and even behavioral issues in your pup. It’s important to take your time and ensure that you are being as gentle and thorough as possible.

Skipping Steps
One of the most common ways that people rush through the grooming process is by skipping important steps. This can include things like not brushing out tangles or knots, ignoring ear cleaning, or not trimming your dog’s nails. By skipping these steps, you are not only putting your Shih Tzu at risk for health issues, but you are also making the grooming process more difficult and time-consuming in the long run.

Rough Handling
Another way that people rush through grooming is by being rough with their pup. This can include yanking on hair, brushing too hard or fast, or being forceful during nail trimming. Doing so can cause discomfort and pain for your Shih Tzu, which will make them more resistant to grooming in the future.

Incomplete Grooming
Failing to groom your Shih Tzu thoroughly can also be a mistake made when rushing through the process. This can lead to missed spots or areas that are not properly cleaned, which can result in skin irritation, hot spots, and infections. It’s important to ensure that you are giving your pup a thorough grooming session from head to toe.

Injuries and Accidents
Lastly, rushing through grooming can result in injuries or accidents. Cutting your dog’s nails too short or trimming their hair unevenly can cause pain and discomfort, and may require a visit to the vet. Additionally, hurried grooming can cause unintentional injuries such as matted hair or cuts from scissors.

Rushing through the grooming process can lead to a variety of issues for both you and your Shih Tzu. Always take your time, follow each step in the process, and be gentle and patient with your pup. Remember, a well-groomed Shih Tzu is a happy and healthy pup!


In conclusion, grooming your Shih Tzu properly is vital for their overall health and well-being. Avoiding common grooming mistakes such as skipping regular grooming sessions, using the wrong tools, wetting their face during baths, cutting their hair too short or unevenly, neglecting their ears, brushing their teeth too hard, not trimming their nails, not using a detangling spray, using harsh products on their skin, and rushing through the grooming process is important for maintaining their appearance and hygiene.

Proper grooming routines involve choosing the right tools, such as a soft-bristled brush and the right type of comb for your Shih Tzu’s coat. Paying attention to detail, such as cleaning their eyes and facial wrinkles to avoid eye stains, is also essential. It’s important to wet their coat and not their face during baths, as well as avoiding cutting their hair too short or unevenly.

Neglecting your Shih Tzu’s ears can lead to infections, so regular cleaning is vital. However, over-cleaning can also be harmful. Brushing their teeth gently and trimming their nails regularly are also important for their hygiene.

Using a detangling spray and avoiding harsh skincare products will help prevent breakage and damage to their coat. And finally, taking time and not rushing through the grooming process will ensure that your Shih Tzu feels comfortable and happy during their grooming sessions.

Overall, proper grooming techniques will result in a healthy and happy Shih Tzu. With these tips, owners can avoid common grooming mistakes and ensure their furry friend looks and feels their best. Remember to always be gentle, patient, and attentive during grooming sessions to keep your Shih Tzu happy and healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal grooming schedule for a Shih Tzu?

A Shih Tzu should be groomed at least once a week to prevent mats and tangles from forming.

Can I use human shampoo to wash my Shih Tzu?

No, it is not recommended to use human shampoo on your Shih Tzu as it may cause irritation or dryness on their skin.

How can I prevent my Shih Tzu’s hair from getting too long?

You can trim your Shih Tzu’s hair on a regular basis to prevent it from getting too long.

What type of brush should I use on my Shih Tzu?

You should use a brush with soft bristles to avoid damaging the Shih Tzu’s skin.

Why is it important to clean my Shih Tzu’s facial wrinkles?

If facial wrinkles are not cleaned regularly, they could become infected and cause your Shih Tzu discomfort or pain.

Is it necessary to trim my Shih Tzu’s nails?

Yes, if you don’t trim your Shih Tzu’s nails regularly, they could grow too long and cause discomfort or injury.

Can I use a human hair trimmer to cut my Shih Tzu’s hair?

No, it is not recommended to use a human hair trimmer on your Shih Tzu as it may cause harm to their skin or hair.

What type of detangling spray should I use on my Shih Tzu?

You should use a detangling spray that is specifically designed for dogs and is gentle on their skin.

Can I clean my Shih Tzu’s ears with cotton swabs?

No, it is not recommended to clean your Shih Tzu’s ears with cotton swabs as they could cause injury or push debris further into their ear canal.

Why is it important to brush my Shih Tzu’s teeth?

If you don’t brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth regularly, they could develop gum disease or tooth decay and experience dental pain.


Britta Thygesen

Britta Thygesen

A passionate dog owner and a full-time certified dog trainer. Aspires to make DogCareHacks a go-to place for all the doggo info. Shares personal experience and professional knowledge.

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