By Susan Kilgore
The day may come when maintaining the beautiful long flowing hair of an adult Shih Tzu or the chrysanthemum puppy face that initially attracted you to the breed becomes very time consuming. You may consider using new grooming products to help maintain or demat your pet’s coat? particularly during the dreaded coat change that takes place at about the time your dog cuts its adult teeth. Once this stage has passed, the adult coat is generally easier to maintain. You may, however, ultimately decide that your pet should have a cute haircut done by yourself or a professional groomer.
Sometimes this decision can be a difficult one. Your pet’s coat type and environment, your willingness to spend a lot of time grooming, whether you can find a mentor to teach you basic grooming skills, the types of activities you and your dog enjoy, and even such factors as diet, allergies, or the type of tap water you have in your home may help determine whether or not you cut your Shih Tzu down. Good basic grooming advice, as well as illustrated instructions for you or your groomer on various Shih Tzu haircut styles (and the types of body structure and coat type best suited to each) can be found in The Official Book of the Shih Tzu. An article on basic pet grooming and another on how to put up a pet topknot can also be found on this web site.
A fully coated Shih Tzu takes more time to maintain than one in a pet clip. Many owners enjoy the experience of sitting down and brushing out a full coat each day, but even breeders who show may cut down their dogs once their show careers are over. Grooming can be relaxing for your Shih Tzu if it is done correctly and consistently and he has been trained to be groomed. But if you prefer to take your Shih Tzu on walks in the woods or riding in convertibles, bicycles, or boats, or if you and your dog are involved in athletic activities such as agility, rally, and other canine performance events, you may discover that the hair automatically becomes a receptacle for leaves, dirt, and whatever else may be found on the ground. Shih Tzu hair will more readily and easily tangle and mat when dirty, wet, and/or windblown. Whatever you choose, full coat or pet clip, the main consideration is that you and your Shih Tzu be comfortable and happy.