Shih Tzu - Coat Handling Basics

Published: 29th October 2005
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Use a gentle action to brush a shih tzu's coat. When you shampoo, thoroughly wet the coat with warm water, apply the shampoo and use a squeezing action to cleanse the coat rather than scrubbing the hair back and forth. There will be less damage to the coat, easier to brush out and just as clean. From what I have learned about coat handling, it is very important to maintain the epicuticle in good condition to keep the hair healthy, beautiful and of even length without broken or split ends. If your shih tzu scratches, this can absolutely destory the hair. You will need to find out why and fix the problem as soon as possible to save your shih tzu's hair. If you don't rinse the shampoo out well enough, it can cause your shih tzu to scratch, so be sure to rinse, rinse, rinse until the water is absolutely clear and you are sure all the suds and shampoo is out. It is my experience that HealthyPetNet shampoos are extremely gentle on my shih tzu's coat and skin. I can even tell a difference as I apply the shampoo, my shih tzu do not act as if something "foreign" has just been applied to their coats as with other shampoos I have tried. It is almost like they say, "oh that don't feel bad at all." And with other shampoos, I have noticed them with their body language sort of tell me, "that feels harsh to me." Not so with the HealthyPetNet shampoos.

To my knowledge HealthyPetNet does not produce a creme rinse at this time. I do recommend you using a creme rinse after each shampoo. I get my creme rinse from Lambert Kay. There are many different brands to choose from. Just experiment to see what is right for your particular shih tzu. Since using the HealthyPetNet foods and shampoos I have experienced absolutely no problems with dry skin or flakey skin or skin probems in general. That is not to say I won't or you might use the products and still come up with problems, and with a serious skin problem, your vet will need to diagnose the problem and prescribe a treatment.

If you desire to grow, beautiful long hair on the shih tzu, the kind that is in the showring, you most likely will need to confine your shih tzu most of the time in a three-foot-by-three-foot wire pen with hygienic floors. This keeps them clean and away from other dogs that can wreck their coat. Rough-housing and wrestling, running and jumping on top of each other is totally out of the question. A movie star must be kept separate in order to maintain and grow out that movie star look. Being confined like this can create problems, however. Your shih tzu could become bored, have anti-social behavior and fear of unfamiliar surroundings. You will have to devote time each day for extra companionship and to provide her with sufficient exercise on a clean floor each day. Daily brushing is almost mandatory to keep the hair from matting up. All shih tzu coats will mat, some just mat easier than others. If the mats are not tended to quickly, you will lose length of hair. Best practice is don't let the mats appear and this usually can happen only if you religiously brush your shih tzu out every day.

A clean coat is generally a healthier coat and will not mat up as easily. Healthy skin will encourage coat growth. A clean coat will not break as easily when brushing your shih tzu out each day.

If you are growing a show coat, it probably should be shampooed at least weekly if not sooner or about every 5 days. You can put a drop of mineral in each eye or some ophthalmic ointment to prevent redness to the eye or damage from the shampooing.

The pH balance in a shampoo for a shih tzu should hover around the pH 5 level in any shampoo you choose. Don't use products with a pH 7 level or above. Human shampoo can even be used if it is the proper pH level. You will need to experiment with shampoos to see which works best for your particular shih tzu.

Two sudsings usually give the nicest effect. Thoroughly rinse after the last shampoo to remove every trace of it.

The goal is to maintain the epicuticle of the hair in good condition. If this is accomplished, you should be able to grow a long, beautiful coat of hair just by brushing daily, shampooing weekly or every 5 days and using a good creme rinse in addition to all else mentioned in this article.

Read the label on your shampoos. The first ingredient is usually what the shampoo is primarily composed of. Stay away from shampoos with the first ingredient being mineral oil, or better yet, don't use any kind of shampoo with mineral oil in it for your shih tzu.

Panthenol is a highly favored ingredient.

A very common problem with coats is dryness and lack of elasticity. A moisturizer applied to the coat will be helpful. After the shampoo and creme rinse, towel dry the coat lightly, then apply moisturizer as per the instructions on the product. Some shampoos have a moisturizer already in them. You can also use a heat method to apply the moisturizer by lightly wringing out a towel that has been doused in very hot water, leaving quite a bit of moisture in the towel, so that it is almost dripping, then wrap the dog leaving only the head exposed. Follow the moist towel with a thick dry towel on top. The first wrapping towel should be hot enough so that you can barely handle it. With the dry towel placed over this it traps the moist heat in and the dog will stay comfortable. This can produce a very calm affect on your dog, almost like a "spa" treatment and is good to do for any shih tzu for this reason. It is like you relaxing in the tub with a facial on.

After the conditioning process, rinse the coat very well with warm water, followed by another creme rinse that is also rinsed out thoroughly. If you don't want your dog to remain oily, shampoo after rinsing the conditioner out. It may take two sudsings to remove all residue.

If you go to shows, you might ask a handler to share some of their secrets with you on shih tzu coat care. Try to make it brief and ask them if there would be a good time for you to talk to them for 10 or 15 minutes.

Connie Limon publishes a FREE weekly newsletter. a professional newsletter with a focus upon health and wellness for you and your pets. Discounts on shih tzu puppies are offered to subscribers. Weekly updates of available puppies. Sign up at:

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