Shih Tzu Care Tips

Shih tzu care can be time consuming because they require a lot of grooming. However, they are generally good-natured and easy to train, making them great family pets.

Grooming Regime

A big part of shih tzu care is providing them with proper grooming, which should begin as soon as you bring your new dog into the home. Shih tzus have thick, double-coated hair that can be grown long or kept in a short cut.

As soon as you bring your shih tzu home, start desensitizing him to the brush since he will need to be brushed daily. Start by doing a quick brush and reward frequently throughout. Don't remove any painful mats or get too intense with the first few brushings, to make it positive. Consider rubbing peanut butter or liver paste on a wall or spoon so the dog gets rewarded throughout.

During grooming, you will need to lift the top coat of hair and first brush the undercoat thoroughly, looking for stickers and mats. Be sure to brush the stomach, under ears and between legs where mats are especially likely to accumulate.

Finally, you will have to either trim the hair from your dog's eyes or use a special dog rubber band to place the hair in a pony tail atop the dog's head. You can purchase these ribbons at dog specialty stores or from groomers.

Since shih tzus have floppy ears, you will also have to clean the ears regularly. This can be done with special ear cleaner or mild soap. Use a cotton ball to clean the ear flaps and a cotton swab to clean only the part of the ear canal that can be easily seen. If you clean too far in, you can easily cause damage to the ear drum.

Feeding Tips

Because of their flat faces, shih tzus can have difficulty eating and drinking. In fact, drinking can be dangerous. Make sure to supervise when your dog is engaging in one of these activities and intervene if they need help.

Put food and water in wide, flat pans so it's easy for them to get their whole face in and navigate how they feel comfortable. Hand feeding can also help ease the stress of eating.

Be sure to clean your dog's face after eating and drinking, because food and liquid can accumulate in the facial hair, causing mess and discomfort.

Exercise Regime

Shih tzus need regularly exercise, but they often can't sustain a long walk or jog. Shorter exercise more than once per day is a better solution, so keep walks short, especially in the summer. Shih tzus can't tolerate heat well, so it's important to keep them comfortable during the summer months and only take them outside during cooler times of day.

Shih tzus are very playful and enjoy short bouts of play, so teach your shih tzu how to fetch a toy or play hide and seek in your house and yard. This will get him moving but allow him to rest when tired.

Though shih tzus can be high maintenance, they are a great addition to a family as long as you are prepared for the work involved in keeping them safe and well-groomed.