How to Take Care of a Shih Tzu

By Britt Kascjak

The Shih Tzu is an adorable, happy-go-lucky little breed that is loved by people across the country. But, like every dog breed, Shih Tzus do have some unique needs. Their beautiful coat will need to be groomed and cared for regularly. Plus, they are affectionate dogs that need lots of love and attention!

Grooming Needs of a Shih Tzu

While the Shih Tzu isn’t the most demanding breed when it comes to grooming, it is important.

When grooming needs are neglected, your dog’s coat can become matted. Matting is an extremely uncomfortable and painful situation and should be avoided.

A Shih Tzu’s coat can be kept at a variety of lengths. While some owners like the long, flowing coat, others prefer to keep it clipped short.

If you are keeping a longer coat, your dog will need to be brushed several times each week.

For owners with a short-coated Shih Tzu, weekly brushing is often enough. But, make sure to stay on top of trims and clips to keep your dog looking and feeling great.

Your dog should be bathed 1-2 times per month. Between baths, you can use grooming wipes to spot clean any messes.

On top of caring for his coat, you should trim his nails every 3 weeks, clean his ears regularly and brush his teeth daily.

What do Shih Tzus Eat?

Shih Tzus are a flat-faced breed known as a Brachycephalic dog breed. This can make it harder for your dog to breathe when he is trying to eat.

To allow your dog to enjoy his meals,  you need to select a food that is easy to pick up, chew, and digest.

This breed is prone to skin problems including redness, dry, flaky skin, and inflammation. You can help to address and prevent these problems by choosing a food that is rich in omega fatty acids.

Many fish-based food formulas will naturally provide this benefit. Another option is to supplement your dog’s food with salmon oil.

There are many great foods that are formulated for small breeds. This includes both dry foods and wet foods.

Or, if you prefer, there are specialized diets available specifically made for Shih Tzus.

Whichever option you choose, be sure to read the recommended serving size. Shih Tzus are at a high risk of being overweight or obese.

Can Shih Tzus be Left Alone All Day?

A common myth about small or toy breed dogs is that they don’t need exercise. But, these dogs also have pent-up energy that they need to release

If you do need to leave to go to work for the day, make sure to exercise your dog before and after.

Another option is to hire a dog walker to come in partway through the day. This will give your Shih Tzu the attention he wants and also offer a much-needed bathroom break.

The Shih Tzu breed is also known to be barkers. They bark at everything from people passing them on the street to a squirrel in a nearby tree.

This can create a problem for those that live in apartment buildings or other situations where neighbors can hear.

Exercising your dog before you leave is a great way to reduce barking. A tired dog is more likely to curl up and ignore the daily sounds and sights.

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Britt Kascjak
Britt Kascjak has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. Her ‘pack’ includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx.