The best tips for grooming a Shih Tzu include brushing its coat twice a week with a slicker brush and combing the hair below its ears with a metal comb. The coat of the Shih Tzu is straight, long, and silky, and can tangle and mat easily. If not maintained, mats will need to be detangled with a mat slitter or shaved off. Allowing mats to persist can cause painful pulling and twisting of the dogs delicate skin.
Grooming a Shih Tzu should include a weekly bath with warm water and a gentle dog shampoo. Since the Shih Tzu's coat is so silky, the legs should be washed twice, because this is the area where mats form the quickest and where dirt and grime build up the most. After the dog has been bathed, it should be dried with warm, soft towels and then gently dried with a blow dryer. During the drying process, the hair should be fluffed with the hands initially, then when almost dried, a slicker brush should be used to smooth the coat.
When grooming a Shih Tzu, the hair should be gathered in an elastic band or barrette on the top of the head. This will keep the hair from falling into the eyes, however, the bands and barrettes should be kept loose. If too tight, the hair will pull and cause skin irritation. Also, the Shih Tzu has large eyes, which can be susceptible to injury or irritation, so it is important to clean the eyes on a daily basis to remove tears and drainage.
Maintaining ear cleanliness is also an important part of grooming a Shih Tzu. The ears should be cleaned every time the dog is bathed with a clean cotton ball moistened with warm water or ear cleaner. The cotton ball should never be pushed far into the ear canal because this can cause an injury to the eardrum, resulting in pain, infection, or hearing loss.
The Shih Tzu breed sheds very little, so a regular grooming schedule will keep loose pet dander to a minimum. This is not only beneficial to the dog itself, but reduces the risk of allergic reaction in those with pet allergies. When grooming a Shih Tzu, the nails need to be clipped, but only when the owner knows how to clip them properly. If done improperly, an injury can occur, causing tissue damage and extensive bleeding. The veterinarian or professional dog groomer can trim the dog's nails quickly and safely.