Shih-poo Puppy Grooming: How to Care for Your Poodle Mix Puppy’s Fur
When I first saw Leo, my Shih Tzu/Poodle mix puppy, I was awed by how soft and beautiful his white and apricot fur was. Touching him felt like touching a cloud. After getting him home, however, I quickly found that the soft, silky coat took a bit of work to maintain. When I realized how much consistency taking care of his fur would take, I felt a bit overwhelmed. But we fell into a routine pretty quickly, and with Leo being groomed a few minutes everyday, he is happy to be brushed and kept tangle free. Here is what works for us.
Leo, the Shih-poo Puppy
- Brush every day. I have found that in the first few days following a bath or after going to the groomer, I can actually skip a day, but this is not routine. Usually I brush him daily. It doesn’t actually take long, and it is part of our regular evening activities. He loves being brushed, like most dogs love being petted, and I love giving him the attention. It is actually relaxing, after work, to kick back on my couch with puppy, comb, and brush in hand. I play with puppy fur while my children enjoy romping in the backyard after school.
- Brush through with a pin brush first. For the longer body fur, the pin brush, a brush with metal pins, works fine. I prefer using the type tipped with rubber, like a human brush, to avoid scratching his skin too hard. Since he is small, this is a quick process, and on days when I am in a hurry, I may stop there.
- Use a comb to get down to the skin. After brushing, I follow up with a comb. The comb is much more fine toothed, which helps bring hair that has fallen out up to the surface and helps clean dirt out as well. I make sure to wash the comb on a regular basis, using warm water and a little puppy shampoo if needed, as a dirty comb tends to pull. Mats occur when the fur that falls out tangles in the coat, and they can multiply quickly if not caught early, so combing him down to the skin lets me avoid dealing with these nasty knots.
- Make sure to target troublesome areas. I make sure to pay attention to areas that tend to mat easily or are easily overlooked. Under the ears, under the chin, in the arm pits, and around the feet and legs are examples of these places.
- Bathe every two weeks, or as needed. In the rainy season, Leo may need a bath much more frequently. White Shih-poo puppy fur seems to soak mud up like a sponge. But generally, he gets a bath every two weeks. If I go longer than that, he looks like a ragamuffin five minutes after being brushed. If you would like some extra tips on bathing a poodle mix, feel free to check out my article on How to Bathe a Poodle Mix.
- Trim his fur as needed. I must confess—I hate taking Leo to the groomer. Not because he dislikes it, but because I hate to spend the money right now. So, I use a good pair of blunt-nosed scissors to keep him trimmed up between trips to the groomer. The fur on the bottom of his feet needs to be trimmed about four weeks after being groomed. If it is not trimmed, the fur gets between his foot and the floor and he looses traction, slipping and sliding everywhere. I also trim his bangs so he can see and be seen and scissor his backside for sanitary purposes. This does cut down on baths!
- Use a flea comb to comb his beard and around his eyes, to get out any gunk that accumulates. Some breeds, including poodles, Shih Tzu’s, cocker spaniels, and Maltese, are prone to getting eye stains under their eyes. There are a variety of causes, but they mostly boil down to tears keep the area under the eyes damp and a reddish yeast breeds in the damp fur. Keeping the area clean can reduce the staining. If the stains are bothersome, there are a variety of methods for treating them.
- Don’t forget to brush his teeth! Believe it or not, dogs need dental care, too, and there are special tooth brushes and toothpaste designed specifically for him. Dogs that regularly chew raw bones and only eat dry kibble may not need to be brushed as frequently, but short-nosed breeds (such as the Shih Tzu) tend to need brushing more often. Brushing reduces bad breath, reduces your out of pocked on expensive vet cleanings, and can prolong your furbaby’s life. You can brush daily, or every other day, but be sure to brush at least once a week. You may want to check with your veterinarian about your dog’s specific needs.
- Check his nails and trim if needed. Take your time and make sure you avoid the quick. As an alternative, there are special tools that grind down the nail and seem easier for some people to use.
- Give your puppy a treat when done! Treating when done will help your puppy look forward to the daily grooming.
Small puppies may not be happy with all of the grooming process. In my experience, they tend to tolerate the brushing pretty well but don’t take as well to things like having their feet handled, ears manipulated, and legs brushed. However, it is important that every dog get used these things. At some point in his life, he will need to have nails trimmed, be professionally groomed, or to be examined by a veterinarian. Keep grooming sessions short, upbeat, and heavy on treats, but don’t let your little fur ball call the shots! Don’t let him avoid having his paws handled just because he doesn’t want to, for example. Before long, both of you will have a grooming routine that you enjoy and look forward to every day.