Despite the fact that the name Shih Tzu means little lion, these adorable bundles of joy are one of the most loving, caring, and compassionate breeds on the planet. Their long hair is one of the iconic characteristics of the breed, and it’s a lot of work to look after – unless you use the best Shih Tzu shampoo possible.


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Today we’re going to create a mega guide on the grooming and bathing requirements of the Shih Tzu. We’re going to share some handy hints and tips, and we’re going to answer a few frequently asked questions about bathing the breed that we regularly receive from our readers.

However, the bulk of this article is going to be looking at Shih Tzu shampoos. We’re going to talk about the kinds of things you should be looking out for in a good product, and we’re going to be recommending 6 shampoos for the breed that are the result of countless hours of impartial research and analysis.

Let’s get started.

Before we talk about specific products and why we like them, it’s a good idea for us to take a look at the kinds of issues that Shih Tzus suffer from that can be mitigated with a good shampoo.

Soothing Shampoos

Our little lions have courage much larger than their small stature would suggest. This fearless nature is an iconic part of their demeanor, and it’s one of the reasons people love the breed as much as they do.

However, despite our little bundles of joy being brave and strong in the face of adversity – they become big sissies when it comes to getting bathed. Most dogs dislike bath time, but the Shih Tzu seems to dislike it much more than normal. We don’t know if this dislike stems from stress, fear, anxiety, or simple annoyance – but the end result is the same, Shih Tzus do not like being in the tub.

Shih Tzus are not the only breed that dislikes bathing, and shampoo manufacturers know this. As a result, many of the best shampoos on the market have included soothing scents in their formulas to try and calm dogs down during bathing sessions.

The idea behind these kinds of products revolves around aromatherapy, and the principles are the same in dogs as they are in humans. How well these scents work is the subject of much debate, and scientifically there’s very little evidence to back the claims of the manufacturers up.

However, this is an extremely difficult thing to properly test, and as far as we know there have been no studies conducted on this.

That being said, there are countless anecdotal reviews online about the results dog owners have had with soothing shampoos – and they are generally very positive.

It’s important to set your expectations properly with these kinds of products, your pooch isn’t going to instantly enjoy bathing – but there’s a very good chance that they’re going to make a noticeable difference in their attitude in the tub.

Natural Shampoos

The skin of the Shih Tzu is a little on the sensitive side compared to some other breeds. We’re reluctant to classify it as a problem breed because many other breeds have much worse skin – but it’s something you should keep an eye on.

One of the most common causes of skin issues for the Shih Tzu is low-quality shampoos and conditioners. The compounds that are used in these bargain basement products are harsh and usually unnatural. While they are probably not going to cause permanent damage, they’re certainly best avoided.

The easiest way to do this is to find products that use all-natural ingredients. It’s not just the Shih Tzu that suffers from these chemical compounds, so there’s a wide range of all-natural shampoos and conditioners on the market that you can choose from.

However, you need to be careful. Many low-quality products will claim to be natural on the packaging, but once you read the label you see a long list of unpronounceable chemical compounds that are about as natural as a robot.

If you don’t want to spend your day checking the ingredient lists of dog shampoos, then you’re not alone. That’s why we’ve created the review section at the end of this article, every shampoo in there is natural, gentle, and none of them are going to harm your dog’s skin.

5 Tips On Maintaining The Perfect Shih Tzu Coat

So now we know a bit about the issues that Shih Tzus face when it comes to skin and coat care, and we know the kinds of qualities you should be looking out for in a good Shih Tzu shampoo. In this section, we’re going to give you a few hints and tips on how to groom your pooch and keep them in tip-top condition between bathing sessions.

Groom Them Daily

The iconic long hair of the Shih Tzu requires constant care and attention. It was practically custom made to tangle, and if you don’t keep on top of the grooming – things can get very messy, very quickly.

Some people try to wait a little longer between grooming sessions and do it once every two or even three days. There’s a common belief that this saves time, but that’s nonsense – because it doesn’t.

The tangling and matting that occurs in the coat of a Shih Tzu (or any breed for that matter) has a compounding effect. The longer you leave it, the more time it takes to clear the matting and tangling. By keeping on top of the grooming you’re ensuring the whole thing takes no longer than 5 minutes from start to finish (instead of spending 30 minutes every 3 days).

Or, Trim Their Hair…

If You don’t think you can keep up with the grooming needs of the Shih Tzu, then you have one option – trim their hair. Shih Tzus with shorter hair are becoming more and more popular among owners. Their appearance is very different from the iconic flowing locks the breed are well known for, but they’re still gorgeous little critters.

The best bit about short haired Shih Tzus is that you only need to groom them around once a week to keep them in good shape – which is a much lower commitment compared to their brothers and sisters with longer locks.

Groom Them From A Young Age

Unless you decide to trim your Shih Tzu’s hair, then grooming is going to be a part of your life from here on out. Every day you should be breaking out the brushes and grooming your pooch from head to tail.

Needless to say, this process is going to be much easier if your pooch enjoys the process instead of hates it. Therefore, it’s in your interest to put a lot of effort into getting your pooch used to grooming from a very young age.

Within a day or two of getting your pooch home for the first time, you should begin the grooming routine that will stick with them for the rest of their lifetime. Start by giving them treats when they stay still after that has been taught start rewarding them for allowing you to touch their paws, ears, and tail.

Sometimes the brush can be a distraction to young Shih Tzus, when this happens you need to remove the brush temporarily and use your hand to “groom” them. Grooming with your hand does almost nothing in terms of coat care or detangling, but it does desensitize them to the feeling of being rubbed during a grooming session. When they are 100% comfortable with hand brushing, bring the grooming brush back gradually until they are used to that too (remembering to reward them every time).

Train Them To Lie On Their Side While Grooming

It’s much easier to groom your pooch if you can get them to lie down on their side when you are grooming them (due to the long nature of their hair). This allows you to get at all of their hair more effectively and it’s more comfortable for your pooch too.

This should ideally be taught as early as possible, but it’s never too late to incorporate it into an older Shih Tzu’s grooming routine.

Get Good Grooming Gear

If you’re a regular reader of ours, you’ll know that it’s very rare that we recommend people splash the cash on anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. If there’s a good mid-range product with excellent performance (without a hefty price tag) then that’s almost always the one we’re going to recommend.

However, when it comes to grooming a Shih Tzu, we break tradition and recommend that you spend a little bit more than you normally would when investing in grooming gear (and trust us, investment is the right word here).

You’re going to be using your grooming kit every day for the rest of the lifetime of your Shih Tzu. Every day you’re going to break out the brush and go over your pooch from head to tail to remove matting and tangling.

There are plenty of products out there that can do a decent job of this without breaking the bank, but the increased performance you’re going to get from premium products is well worth the additional cost. They are more comfortable in your hand, they’re more comfortable for your pooch, they’ll get the job done quicker, and they are easier to clean. What’s more is that they will usually last for several years, and they’re only around $10 to $20 more expensive than a standard “mid-range” product.

They’re worth every single additional cent, and we’d be shocked if you found them to be anything other than excellent value for money.

Overall Best Shampoo for Shih Tzu

Buddy Wash Refreshing Rosemary & Mint Dog Shampoo & Conditioner

It’s now time for us to get into the review section of this article.

We put a huge amount of time and effort into finding these products to recommend to you today. Unlike some other less reputable websites we didn’t just go searching for the products that are going to give us the biggest referral commission – we’re pet experts and more importantly, we’re pet lovers.

These recommendations are our honest opinion based on countless hours of research and years of experience. We’re not biased towards any particular brand.

We found several great products that cater to the needs of the Shih Tzu, and it was difficult for us to narrow it down to the recommendations we’ve made today. We’re going to talk about some of the other products that we liked in a moment, but for now, let’s talk about what we think is the best Shih Tzu shampoo on the market in 2019 – the Refreshing Rosemary & Mint Dog Shampoo & Conditioner by Buddy Wash.

We love Buddy Wash, and whenever it’s appropriate for us to recommend one of their products we get a little bit excited inside. They’re a wholesome US brand that creates top quality products at a reasonable price.

This excellent product is no different to what we’d expect considering their reputation. It’s a natural shampoo that doesn’t use any harsh chemicals (including soap or alcohol) to provide the cleaning power it’s famous for. Instead, there’s a natural infusion of oil-based cleansers and sanitizers (over a coconut extract base) that will keep your pooch smelling better for longer in-between bathing sessions.

There’s an awesome infusion of relaxing scents in this product that will keep your Shih Tzu a little calmer throughout bathing sessions. Again, we want to point out that the efficacy of these infusions is reasonably minimal (don’t complain to us when your pooch isn’t wagging their tail through the bathing session). But despite that, they’re certainly noticeable. Two of the best scents in human aromatherapy (lavender and mint) combine with other compounds in this product to create a soothing sensation that you and your pooch are going to love.

The conditioner in this product is another huge plus point for us, it’s made from the highest quality ingredients (again they’re all natural) and they reduce tangling with impressive efficacy. The expertly chosen infusions of sage, chamomile, and rosemary leave your pooch with a stunning glossy shine (and a super straight coat) that’ll last up until your next bathing session.

We love the huge amount of aloe vera that has been included in this formula. This isn’t a special feature, to be honest, many quality brands use the ingredient in their products (as it’s cheap, and it’s super effective). You almost certainly know about the skin healing powers of aloe vera and how it helps humans – well it helps dogs in the same way. This product will moisturize their skin, prevent redness and irritation, and heal any damage that may currently be present.

The best thing about this product is the price point it’s being sold at. One of the best things about Buddy Wash (and one of the things that they are best known for) is the way that they create premium quality shampoos – without the premium price tag.

You’re going to pay around $7 for a bottle of this stuff, and considering the quality of the product and the benefits it provides – it’s exceptional value for money.

4Legger Hypo-Allergenic, Lemongrass & Aloe Dog Shampoo

Runner Up – The runner up in this article was a VERY close second. The Hypo-Allergenic, Lemongrass & Aloe Dog Shampoo by 4-Legger is an excellent product, from an excellent brand, and we strongly recommend you add it to your shortlist.

One of the things that we like about 4-Legger is that they’re a reasonably specialist brand. They like to focus their efforts on making a small number of products instead of a weird and wonderful range of different shampoos. This has allowed them to perfect their offerings, and they make some of the most natural, eco-friendly shampoos on the market.

This product, in particular, is a perfect example of that. It’s a vegan, cruelty-free, eco-friendly, completely organic shampoo that’s so organic the USDA certified it as a product that is “Organic to exceptional standards”.

There’s not a single chemical inside this bottle. Instead of using things like soap or alcohol to sanitize your pooch they use lemongrass – one of the most specialized, expensive, and effective natural cleaning agents on the planet. Lemongrass is antibacterial, antifungal, and it’s a natural pest repellent too (but you’ll still need topical pest treatments for your pooch, it’s not good enough to be used on its own).

Lemongrass doesn’t have aromatherapy style properties, so it’s not going to soothe your pooch – but it smells amazing. The zesty fresh aroma it leaves behind is arguably one of the most enjoyable dog shampoo scents we’ve ever had the pleasure of smelling.

The conditioner in this product is of an excellent quality too. The aloe vera in the formula has been included liberally, and it’ll protect and care for your Shih Tzu’s skin just as good as the product above (or perhaps even a little better). The other natural essential oils, compounds, and vitamins that make up the rest of the conditioner will reduce tangling, reduce shedding, and they’ll give your pooch the kind of glossy shine you’d expect from a product of this quality.

The formula is super concentrated, so you will need to use much less per wash compared to most other products we are going to be talking about today. We also love how thick and luxurious the lather of this shampoo is. This is something that non-soap-based shampoos regularly struggle with, but 4-Legger seemed to have nailed it here.

This stuff might sound a little bit better than the Buddy Wash product at this point, and in all honesty, there’s a good chance that it is. However, it’s also more expensive. At around $15 for a 16oz bottle, it’s more or less twice the price.

We think that it’s excellent value for money, and when you take the impressive performance it provides combined with the concentrated nature of the formula – it’s great value for money, even if it does cost more.

If you’ve got the budget for this stuff, it’s more than worthy of your consideration.

Natures Miracle Supreme Odor Control Natural Puppy Shampoo

Best Shih Tzu Puppy Shampoo – Puppy Shih Tzus have slightly different needs to fully grown dogs. As you can imagine, these tiny little critters are super delicate, with skin that needs to be looked after and cared for. There are several good puppy shampoos suitable for Shih Tzus, but we liked the look of the Supreme Odor Control Natural Puppy Shampoo & Conditioner by Nature’s Miracle.

It’s a gentle shampoo, and the performance of the product reflects that. It’s not as powerful as the adult products above, but it’s much, much softer. It’s a completely tearless formula, which is the main selling point for us.

Other brands claim to be tearless, but this stuff is the real deal.

No tears, guaranteed.

3 More Top Rated Dog Shampoos For Shih Tzus

To finish this article we are going to quickly talk about 3 other shampoos that we came across that we liked the look of but didn’t make it to the top spots.

Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo with Colloidal Oat Flour & Honey for Dogs

This is our budget pick, and we love to recommend this stuff when it’s appropriate. It’s a budget product with more than acceptable performance. It cleans really well thanks to the oatmeal and oat flour combination, and the conditioner is excellent (considering the price point) thanks to the honey infusion.

At $5 for a 16oz bottle, it’s excellent value for money, and it gets our wholehearted recommendation.

Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Dog & Cat Shampoo

This is another product that’s a little bit more expensive than the budget pick above, but at $8 for a 16oz bottle, it’s still great value for money. This was another all-rounder that was a contender for our overall recommendation. The huge amount of oatmeal in this formula (another one of the best natural cleansing compounds) is a big selling point for us, and it’ll clean as good as any other shampoo on this page.

Douxo Chlorhexidine PS Dog & Cat Shampoo

This is a medicated shampoo that we wanted to point out for those of you who have Shih Tzus with skin issues. If you’ve got a pooch with serious redness, soreness, or irritation then you should take a good look at this stuff. It’s one of the strongest shampoos that you can buy without a prescription, and if this doesn’t clear up your dog’s skin issues – you need to book an appointment with the vet.

5 Tips On Bathing Your Shih Tzu

So hopefully by now, you’ve got a good idea about a few good shampoos you could choose from to give your Shih Tzu the best bathing experience possible. In the section, we’re going to share with you a few Shih Tzu bathing hints and tips that will hopefully make life a little bit easier for you and your pooch.

Bathe Them In The Sink

For a dog the size of a Shih Tzu a human size bathtub is an inescapable prison. It’s several times higher than them, it’s made from a slippery ceramic, and they know that they cannot escape it without your help. To make things worse, they don’t fully understand the situation…

And it’s filling up with water.

As you can imagine, this isn’t a pleasurable experience for a dog. The best way to make them feel better in this situation is to avoid it all together – by bathing them in the sink.

The sink is much more suited to the size of the Shih Tzu, it doesn’t feel claustrophobic, and they’re going to be much happier being bathed there. Additionally, it’s easier for you too because you don’t have to bend over and get on your knees to complete the bathing process.

Note: Don’t try this in the bathroom sink (or any sink that has curved edges). It’s very difficult for a dog to stand on a surface like this, and there is a good chance that it’s going to cause an accident. Take them to the kitchen sink instead (as it usually has a flat bottom) and things are going to be safer and better for the both of you.

Put Steel Wool In The Plug Hole

The long hairs of the Shih Tzu can often play havoc with your plumbing and drainage systems if they make it down the hole. They will tangle around everything and anything they can, and over the lifetime of your pooch, if you’re not careful, it will almost certainly cause an annoying blockage.

The best way to sort these blockages out is to stop them from occurring in the first place. Put a piece of steel wool in the sink before bathing your pooch and all the hair that is removed during bathing will get caught up in that before entering your plumbing system.

Wipe Their Face After Eating

The long hair around the mouth of your Shih Tzu is almost certainly going to get dirty after eating their dinner. Giving your pooch a bath after every meal is obviously inconvenient (and would actually be harmful for your pooch), so instead we recommend you invest in doggy wet wipes.

When your Shih Tzu has finished eating, grab a wet wipe from the box and clean the hair around their mouth. If you don’t do this bacteria will grow, the hair will become stained, and your pooch will start to smell quicker than they otherwise would in-between bathing sessions.

Run The Bath Before Calling Them In

Shih Tzus don’t like getting wet (in general), and the experience is stressful for them. Like many things in life, when you’re waiting around for something you don’t want to happen it’s worse than the thing itself.

If your pooch is standing in the tub or waiting patiently by your feet when you’re running the bath, it’s unnecessary anxiety for them. Run the bath before, get everything ready, and then call them over. When they arrive, you can pick them up, put them in the tub, and the bathing process begins before they even realize what’s happening to them.

Reward Them After Bathing

Remember to give your pooch a treat after every bathing session if they’ve been a good boy or girl. This kind of positive reinforcement may make them a little happier during bath time. At the very least it’ll help them forgive you a little faster for putting them through the experience!

FAQ Regarding Bathing a Shih Tzu

In this final section of the article, we’re going to talk a bit about some of the most frequently asked Shih Tzu bathing questions that we receive from our readers.

How Often Should I Bathe My Shih Tzu?

Adult Shih Tzus can be bathed reasonably infrequently.

Most owners bathe their dogs once every 3 to 4 weeks. Puppy Shih Tzus may need to be bathed a little more regularly than this due to a potentially more “adventurous” (or mucky) lifestyle.

You should never bathe your pooch more than once a week, even with a super gentle shampoo. Doing this will remove many of the essential oils that your dog creates and will open the way for skin issues to rear their head.

Why Does My Puppy Shih Tzu’s Coat Tangle So Much?

When your pup reaches about 10 months to 1 year in age, their coat begins to transition from their fluffy baby coat into their silky-smooth glossy adult coat.

When this happens, you’re going to have a tough time keeping on top of the grooming, but you have to power through it. It lasts for about 3 months, and when the transition is complete, things will calm down and grooming will be much easier for both you and your pooch.

Conclusion

So there you have it, that’s all we’ve got to say (and all you need to know) about bathing a Shih Tzu.

If you use the hints and tips that we’ve shared with you today and combine them with any of the products we’ve recommended in this article, we’re certain that you and your pooch are going to have better bathing sessions together for many years to come.

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