Shih Tzus are one of the most popular breeds of small dogs. Though their name means “little lion” in Chinese, there’s nothing fierce about a Shih Tzu. Once kept by the Royals in the Ming Dynasty, they are known for their soft hair, round eyes, and playful yet gentle disposition. Unlike most dogs, their bodies are not covered in fur; in fact, they are covered in hair that more closely resembles human hair. It is fine and straight and needs to be brushed daily, sometimes more often for longer haircuts. They need to be brushed often because mats easily form, which could end up leaving bald spots if left untreated. This trait gives the Shih Tzu a reputation for being high maintenance. A good way to make it easier to maintain their hair is to give Shih Tzus regular haircuts. One great method of Shih Tzu grooming Teddy Bear Cut. This style is very cute, and there are many variations on it available to suit any style.
Teddy Bear Cut: The Basics
There are several elements that make up the standard teddy bear cut, and in a lot of ways, it is similar to the popular puppy cut. The puppy cut is considered the standard in Shih Tzu hairstyles. It is a good summer cut that is easy to maintain, but because all of the hair is trimmed to the same length, it can leave a Shih Tzu looking a little disproportionate. The teddy bear cut helps stylize the hair to make the Shih Tzu look more filled out. There are three areas that will be cut with different size clippers in the teddy bear cut: body, neck and chest, and legs.
The body area is the shortest part of the cut, with the suggested clipper size being 1/2 inch. A downward motion towards the back and sides should be used when performing this cut. The stomach should be trimmed at this length as well. This short body cut helps make daily grooming easy for pet owners.
The neck and chest area is left slightly longer, with a suggested size of 3/4 inch. Use the same clipper size on the back of the dog’s neck, first going with the grain to get the length even and correct and then going against the grain in order to thin the hair and help to keep the dog cooler. Be sure the pet’s ears are not in the way when working on this area. This gives the pet a bit of a “lion’s mane” look, giving the face a rounder shape.
The legs are cut slightly longer than the neck, with the suggested clipper size of 1 1/4 inch. Having longer fur on the legs keeps the Shih Tzu’s legs from looking disproportionately skinny compared with the body and face. Leaving the fur longer on the legs is sometimes referred to as a “lamb cut”.
After the Shih Tzu is trimmed with the clippers, shears can be used to clean up the look and put the final touches on to the style. The hair under the ears should be cleaned up so it does not look scraggly. The tail should be trimmed to remove any excess fur but left long to give a pom-pom type of look. Trim the facial hair in a rounded shape. The tips of the ears should be rounded to give a teddy bear like appearance. Always make sure the fur is clear from the eyes and mouth of the Shih Tzu. Sharp scissors are the best choice for trimming the eyelash area of the Shih Tzu.
Variations to try with the Teddy Bear Cut
The teddy bear cut is a great basic cut to get started with Shih Tzu grooming. Here are some fun variations to try out to suit any style.
The top knot– a very distinctive style for the breed is the top knot. While show dogs have long hair that needs to be brushed several times a day including a top knot, an owner can do a top knot with any haircut. The teddy bear cut looks great with an additional top knot. To make a top knot, the hair on the top of the Shih Tzu’s head is brushed and gently tied up in an elastic before the trimming begins so that it is out of the way of the clippers. Scissors can be used to trim the top knot to the desired length and style. It is important to remember to remove the top knot and brush the pet’s hair at least once a week to avoid forming mats. If too much time passes between brushing, the top knot can become matted and would then need to be cut off for the pet’s health.
Long ears– Leaving the fur on the ears long instead of trimming it into the rounded shape can give the dog’s face a totally different aesthetic. Make sure to trim the face underneath the ears by gently moving the ears back to reach the cheeks. Scissors can be used to make the ears look nice and tidy. Remember to gently brush the ears several times a week.
Stylized Teddy Bear– This style keeps the ears long and adds a variation on to the shape of the chin area. The topknot area is kept short and fluffy, enhancing the rounded shape of the dog’s eyes. Instead of keeping the chin area round on this cut, it is cut straight across.
Lion’s Tail– Instead of leaving the entire tail long, leave only the tip long and trim the length of the tail to the same length as the body. This will make the tail’s end look like a cute little poof and is a more edgy style than leaving the entire tail long.
Caring for Shih Tzus
In addition to grooming, there are a few things to know when caring for a Shih Tzu.
Since they have flat faces, Shih Tzu’s are not very tolerant of heat or cold. Their short noses do not warm or cool air well before it reaches their lungs, which makes it more difficult for them to regulate their body temperature. These dogs are great for apartments or houses and should be kept in a temperature-controlled space for optimal health.
Shih Tzu’s tend to think that they are good jumpers. However, since they are so small, something as low as a chair or a bed is high enough to cause injury in these front-heavy small dogs. Being front-heavy causes them to crash forward when they land, which if severe enough, can cause concussions. It is best to be aware of this and keep an eye on your dog if it is in a high location such as a chair or bed.
Though they are relatively smart dogs, they can be a little stubborn and difficult to train. Most notoriously, they are difficult to house-train. It is recommended that a kennel is used when leaving the Shih Tzu at home alone until it is trained to do its business outside. Don’t let a young Shih Tzu wander the house alone unsupervised. Shih Tzu’s can be prone to coprophagia, so it is best to clean up any poo immediately to curb this behavior. Some Shih Tzu owners even train their dog to use a litter box, so they don’t have to walk it in bad weather or rush home to take them out.
Another nice feature of owning a small dog is that they don’t need to eat much. An adult Shih Tzu eats only about 1/2 to 1 cup of food a day. This varies by dog size, metabolism, and activity level. They will eat what they are given, so it’s important to monitor them for weight gain to keep them at a healthy weight.
Shih Tzu’s are good family pets because of their docile personalities, but may not be great for families with babies or toddlers. Because of a Shih Tzu’s small size, it may be prone to be unintentionally injured by well-meaning small humans. Shih Tzu’sthat are properly socialized when young are great with other dogs. They are also not afraid of strangers and will be docile with house guests as well. Shih Tzu’s are great dogs all around.
In addition to Shih Tzu grooming teddy bear cut, Shih Tzu’s are a relatively healthy breed. Because of their flat faces, they could have breathing difficulties or dental problems, but often these problems are minimal and do not matter much because these dogs are kept indoors.