by Jo Ann White
Most Shih Tzu exhibitors groom their own Shih Tzu (or pay a professional handler to do it), and a reputable breeder can teach you how to “do it yourself” if you wish. However, many pet owners choose to use a groomer. Their main question is, “how do I select a groomer for my Shih Tzu?”
Ask a lot of questions before entrusting your dog to any groomer. Where did the groomer learn the skills to do the job properly? Did he or she have any professional training, or apprentice to another well-regarded groomer before striking out on his/her own? How many dogs does he/she groom a day?
Check with friends/neighbors/your veterinarian/your breeder to see if they can recommend a groomer in your area that is familiar with the Shih Tzu.
Have the groomer meet your pet at the facility, and see if the two interact well.
Be sure to tell your groomer about your pet’s personality and any health issues it might have, and how you would like your pet to be groomed. There are many cute pet clips, and each works best on certain body types and coat textures. The more the groomer knows about your dog and your wishes, the less likely that there will be unfortunate mistakes.
Most important, receive hands-on basic grooming instructions from your breeder or some other knowledgeable Shih Tzu owner and read (and apply) the appropriate articles on this web site under Grooming and Training. That way your dog will be used to being groomed and be well behaved before he ever visits the groomer.
Even if you use a professional, you still need to do basic training and realize that your dog will need some care (especially keeping the face clean and mat free on a daily basis) between groomings. If you do basic maintenance and keep your dog mat free, leaving nail clipping, trimming/clipping, anal gland expression, ear cleaning, and such to the professional, a bath every three weeks or so should be sufficient. Three weeks of total neglect will probably mean that your dog will have to be shaved to the skin. It will also make your pet very uncomfortable and perhaps cause eye problems or hot spots. If you teach your dog to behave, daily grooming can be a simple and pleasurable experience for you both that will make the job easier for everyone.