What to know before you take the clippers to your best and smallest friend!
Shih Tzu are renowned for their stunning long silky coats. But those coats can be pretty high maintenance, and regular clips with a professional groomer are expensive.
You may well be tempted to shave the whole lot off. But is a shaved Shih Tzu a good thing? Will your small friend be unhappy or cold if you clip them very closely? Let’s take a look.
What Is A Shaved Shih Tzu?
Strictly speaking, shaving a dog could mean removing all the fur, so that they are left with just bare skin. But many people refer to a close clip as a shave.
Giving a close clip, sometimes referred to as a sporting clip, is a bit like shearing a sheep. A very short layer of fur is left intact and this helps to offer some protection against the weather.
Completely Shaved Shih Tzu – Good Idea Or Bad?
Before you take a razor to your Shih Tzu, consider the downsides of a close shave. A Shih Tzu shaved down to the skin is vulnerable to sunburn.
Even in cool weather that newly exposed skin may burn in strong sunlight. And in the summer, the risk is much greater.
Shaving can also be very irritating to soft skin, and some dogs will itch or even develop rashes if their fur is completely shaved off. So we really don’t recommend that you do this.
Don’t panic, if you are bored of brushing, you still have options!
Winter Cuts And Summer Cuts
A close clip on the other hand will help protect your dog’s skin from the summer sun and offer some protection from cold weather. It won’t last quite as long as a complete shave, but it’ll still buy you several weeks before you need to return to the groomer or get those clippers out and have a go yourself.
Some people opt for a longer cut in the winter, and an alternative is to go for a very short cut and put your dog in a dog sweater or warm jacket for outings on really cold days.
Remember that little dogs lose body heat quite quickly, so it’s important to make sure your clipped or shaved puppy is warm enough, both at home and when you are out and about.
Your Shih Tzu’s First Haircut
There’s no way around regular grooming and haircuts for most companion Shih Tzus. Their fur grows so long that left unclipped your dog will soon become dirty, matted and miserable.
That long fur doesn’t arrive all at once though. And when you bring your puppy home at eight weeks old or so, they’ll still have quite short fur. But don’t be tempted to put off that grooming routine!
Being groomed is going to be a lifelong part of your puppy’s world, so it’s important to get them used to being groomed and to the sound of clippers from the very start. And it’s also important to give them ‘play trims’ involving scissors and clippers from around ten weeks old.
What Is A Play Trim?
A play trim is a grooming session where you brush your puppy and teach them to be happy with you snipping their fur with scissors, and to hearing clippers switched on and off.
Each day, you should stand your puppy on a raised surface or table for a few seconds and feed them a stream of tiny treats. Stop feeding if they wriggle, and start again when they stand still.
After a few days you can start to brush them gently from nose to tail stopping at intervals to give them another treat.
Getting Used To Clippers
Once you can groom your puppy for a minute or two without them wriggling or squirming around, it’s time to get them used to the tools that will become a part of their lives.
The first day, just have the scissors and clippers on the table. Don’t do anything with them. Just continue your grooming routine as before.
After a couple of days you can pick up the scissors and make snipping sounds with them. You don’t need to clip off any fur if you don’t want to!
Repeat daily until your dog is not bothered by this at all, then start briefly turning the clippers on. Just hold them in your hand, switch on, and switch off again.
Increase the length of time that the clippers run for up to a minute or so, before you start to incorporate them into your daily session.
Even if you intend to eventually hire a professional groomer to clip your dog, these experiences will stand them in good stead. They will help help your dog be happy to be clipped and trimmed on a regular basis.
A Shaved Shih Tzu Can Be A Happy And Contented Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu fur grows very long and needs to be regularly trimmed. If you allow your Shih Tzu’s fur to grow you will need to be very meticulous about grooming and washing your pet. And you’ll need to keep your dog’s fur away from their face with a tie or clip.
For most companion Shih Tzus shaving is a better option. Not a close shave, but a clip that leaves your dog with short manageable fur is ideal. Remember that clipped dogs are more vulnerable to sunburn in the summer and may need clothing to keep them warm in the winter.
Provided you get your pup used to being groomed and clipped from a young age, they will be happy and content with their sporty hairstyle.
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