How to Give a Shih Tzu a Bath
If you are the proud owner of a Shih Tzu, you already know what a delightful breed this is. Though she does need to take a bath occasionally to keep her hair looking smooth and beautiful, in this guide I will share how I pamper and bathe my Shih Tzu.
The Shih Tzu Needs a Daily Brushing
Before we even discuss giving your Shih Tzu a bath, there is something very important that you must do: First of all, her hair needs to be brushed! In fact, a daily brushing is a must!
The Shih Tzu has long, silky hair if you allow it to grow. I think this is part of what makes it one of the most beautiful breeds. If you have a show Shih Tzu, you can probably afford to take her to a professional groomer. But if you are one of us who just love their Shih Tzu as a household pet, you will probably keep the hair cut short so you can manage it yourself.
Since they are considered non-shedders, they are the perfect breed for me and other people who are allergic to dogs. However, their soft double coat needs to be brushed every day to avoid tangles.
Choose a Brush With Soft Bristles, and Don't Yank the Hair
Brush her hair the same way you like your own hair to be brushed.
Start Bathing Your Shih Tzu at a Young Age
It is extremely important to get your pet used to taking a bath. If you start when they are very young, they will not be fearful of the bath. As with human infants, the dog will love to take baths if you prepare them for it properly. They will look forward to this occasion just as we humans do!
In the past, I made the mistake of waiting too late to start giving my pups a bath. My Miniature Schnauzer, Baby, absolutely hates to take a bath. If she sees me preparing for her bath, she will run and hide, because I waited too long to begin her baths.
Where you bathe your Shih Tzu is up to you, however, depending on his/her size. I use a small tub when the dog is young. After the dog gets bigger, we graduate to my full-size bathtub.
Before Giving Your Shih Tzu a Bath
- Brush your dog’s hair well. The Shih Tzu has a silky coat, but a coarser undercoat. Make sure you go all the way down to the skin with the brush. I like a soft brush. If you feel any tangles or mats, gently work them out with your hands. Don’t just yank the hair. Hold the wad of hair with one finger while you gently pull out the tangle or knot. If you leave any of these on the dog, they will be tighter and harder to remove after the bath.
- Make sure all of your needed supplies are within arm’s reach. This will help ensure the bath runs smoothly.
- Place a towel in the bottom of the tub to keep them from slipping and sliding around. They feel more secure, because they can get a good foothold in the tub.
- I use only baby shampoo on my dogs. Some experts say to use shampoos made just for dogs, because they say baby shampoo strips the hair of natural oils. I have not found that to be true. I like the baby shampoo, because if I accidentally get some in her eyes, it won’t burn them.
- Make a vinegar rinse by filling a small spray bottle. I use about 1/4 cup of vinegar for a small spray bottle, diluted with water. You can purchase all kinds of fancy hair conditioners, but the vinegar rinse will get rid of any shampoo left on the hair and will leave the hair nice and soft.
- Some people put a large cotton ball inside the dog's ears to prevent water from going into the ear canal. This never works for my dogs, because they promptly shake the cotton ball out! Instead, I use extra care not to get any water inside the ear by holding my hand over the ear opening. The Shih Tzu has those beautiful long ears, so use extra care with them. You want to wash the hair on the outside of the ear, but any buildup of moisture in the ear canal can and will develop into an ear infection.
- Always use warm water for the bath. I wouldn’t appreciate it if someone threw me into a cold shower! Just make sure the water is warm, but not hot! Test the water before you put your pet into it.
Never Leave Your Shih Tzu Unattended in the Tub
Just like you would care for an infant human, never leave your pet alone in the tub with no supervision.
Begin the Shih Tzu's Bath
- I use a handheld shower to give my dog a bath. Gently run the warm shower water over the dog’s back. I say gently because you don’t want to “shock” the poor little thing until she gets used to the feel of the water. Avoid the face and ears.
- This is where I start the “baby talk” of praise. I tell her what a good dog she is all the time I am bathing her.
- Squeeze a small amount of the shampoo into your hand, and then onto the dog’s coat. Gently rub the shampoo into your dog's coat. I give my dog a good little massage as I do this. She loves that! Don’t forget to wash the area around the rectum. Thoroughly rinse out the shampoo and follow with the vinegar rinse. I use a light plain water rinse after the vinegar rinse. Not much, though.
- Take the time to feel your dog's body and inspect for any skin problems, abrasions, lumps or bumps, or parasites. I am always on the lookout for fleas.
- I end the doggy bath by using a facial cloth to wash her face and to go inside the ear flaps. I put some baby shampoo on the cloth and clean her little face, taking extra care around the eyes. Some dogs have more staining under the eyes than others. Spend some extra time under the eyes.
After You Finish Your Shih Tzu's Bath
As soon as my Shih Tzu hears the water turn off, she puts both feet up onto the side of the tub. I hold the towel over her back and gently lift her out. This is my dog’s favorite part!
How do you dry off your Shih Tzu?
I take her out to another room and place her on a couch while I continue to dry her off. She will root under the sofa cushions, and she has a great time shaking off the wetness and just feeling good! I give her a favorite treat and tell her how good a dog she is.
Some people use a dryer on their dog, but I personally prefer my Shih Tzu to dry naturally. If you do use a hair dryer, make sure it isn’t too hot. (They also make a special dog dryer.) If you live in a cold climate, I would never let my dog outside when she was wet.
Consider trimming their nails.
This is an excellent time to trim your Shih Tzu's nails. The nails will be nice and soft after being in the warm bathwater. I always get a little nervous when I do this, but I have never yet cut into the quick of the nail. If I ever did, she would never trust me to do that job again!
She has some white nails that are easy to see the quick, but she also has some black nails. I have to be extra careful with those. If you don’t feel secure about cutting your dog’s nails, leave them to your veterinarian or groomer.
If it is a nice, sunny day, we take this time to go for a walk.
Wash your dog's collar.
Always make sure to wash your Shih Tzu's collar with warm soap and water. Some collars can be washed and dried in the clothes washer and dryer. This removes dirt, oils, or bacteria from the collar. We don’t put on dirty clothes after our baths, do we?
Don't Bathe Your Shih Tzu Too Often
Your dog doesn't need to be bathed as frequently as you think! Your dog has natural oils on the coat, and over-bathing can dry out the skin and coat.
My white Schnauzer, Baby, needs a bath more often than my Shih Tzu. Baby likes to roll in the dirty grass and sand in the yard. My Shih Tzu doesn’t do that. She is not a “tom boy." She prefers to keep clean. For in-between bath times, in order to keep your pet clean and fresh, you can use waterless shampoo products, quick bath wipes, or freshening sprays that can be used during regular brushing.
Giving your Shih Tzu a bath should be a pleasant task, one that both of you should enjoy. It is a special time spent with your pet that serves to bond the two of you together. It’s just another way of letting your pet know how much you love her!
Do You Give Your Pet a Bath?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.