How Often Should You Bathe a Shih Tzu?

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If you’ve had a Shih Tzu even for a short time, you know that grooming is an important part of being a good pet parent. Shih Tzus are grooming intensive, but how often should you bathe a Shih Tzu? Can you give them a bath too often? Let’s find out.

How Often Should You Bathe a Shih Tzu?

In general, you should bathe your Shih Tzu once every three weeks.

This will help keep their hair healthy and their skin in good shape.

Shih Tzus are prone to sensitive skin and skin conditions, so you don’t want to go too long without a bath.

On the other hand, you don’t want to bathe them too often.

If you do, you will eliminate their natural body oils which will lead to dry skin.

I take my two Shih Tzus to the groomer and she suggests bringing them once every 8 weeks.

That means they would need to be washed once in between at home.

They would be getting a bath every 4 weeks which is fine as well.

Of course, if your pouch has found a mud puddle and rolled around in it, you may have to throw in an extra bath and that’s okay.

In between bath times you can always use a dry powder pet shampoo to freshen them up a bit.

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What Kind of Shampoo is Best for Shih Tzus?

There are plenty of dog shampoos out there and they range from pretty cheap to pretty expensive.

You’ll want to go with one in the middle to higher price range.

You can find one here, here, and here.

If your Shih Tzu has sensitive skin or other skin issues, you’ll want to get a shampoo that is less abrasive or even hypoallergenic.

Above all, be sure that the shampoo is tear-less.

You don’t want your Shih Tzu’s eyes irritated while they are being washed.

Also, don’t use human shampoo on your dog. It could lead to irritated skin.

Should You Use Conditioner on Your Shih Tzu?

Yes, you can use conditioner on your Shih Tzu.

It will help stop hair breakage and even help with sensitive skin.

It is especially good for Shih Tzus with long hair as it will decrease tangles.

Of course, you only want to use a conditioner that is made for dogs.

Don’t share yours with your Shih Tzu.

You might also want to look for a leave-in conditioner.

It could help keep the skin healthy.

When in doubt, ask your vet what they would recommend.

I know my Shih Tzu, Truman has always had skin issues.

He has a problem with yeast build-up and while you can’t see it, you can smell it.

It smells kind of like cheese popcorn.

I have found the right shampoo and the conditioner has helped give him healthier skin.

If you’re worried about any skin condition your Shih Tzu has, it is a good idea to have him checked over by your vet.

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Where Should I Bathe My Shih Tzu?

The nice thing about Shih Tzus is that their small size makes them easy to bathe.

Most can be washed in your kitchen sink.

If you have a larger Shih Tzu you might want to try the tub, but for the average Shih Tzu, the sink works just fine.

That’s what I have done for both of my Shih Tzus their entire life.

They both weigh about 10 pounds.

You don’t want to wash your Shih Tzu outside with a hose as some people do larger dogs.

They won’t like the cold water and it will give them chills.

Can You Use Baby Shampoo on Your Shih Tzu?

No, this isn’t a good idea.

Even though baby shampoos are made to be gentle, they are still just for humans.

Human shampoo has pHs in it.

This is added to make human hair look fuller.

The pHs can irritate your Shih Tzus skin and cause itchy skin.

So, just stick to a high-quality shampoo that is made for dogs and your pup will be much better off.

Should You Groom Your Shih Tzu or Take it to a Professional?

I do take both of my Shih Tzus to the groomer about every eight weeks.

She bathes them and trims their nails and removes hair in their ear canal and trims their hair.

This is all part of regular grooming that I feel a professional is better suited to perform.

At least that’s true for me.

The last time I tried to trim Truman’s hair it was a mess. 

You can do all of this at home, and you might be a lot better at it than me, but if not, a professional is a good option.

Even if you go this route, that doesn’t mean you can’t give your Shih Tzus regular baths in between grooming appointments.

It’s really up to you if you want to take your Shih Tzu to a professional groomer and there is no one or right answer.

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How to Bathe Your Shih Tzu

If you’re going to give your Shih Tzu a bath, there are a few things you need to do first before the bathing process can begin.

Make sure your sink or tub is clean.

If there isn’t a rubber mat in the bottom of your sink place a washcloth or a mat in the sink to keep your Shih Tzu from slipping around while they are being washed.

Water temperature is going to be important.

You don’t want hot water and you don’t want the water too cold.

Lukewarm water is the best.

Just run the water over your wrist. 

If it feels warm but not hot then it should be good.

You’ll also want everything you need to give your Shih Tzu a bath at the ready.

You don’t want to leave your dog unattended.

They might jump out of the sink and hurt themselves.

You’ll want the following next to the sink before you get started:

  • A towel
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • A double-sided stainless steel comb or some other type of comb
  • A washcloth
  1. Start by combing your Shih Tzu.
  2. Get out any tangles and cut out any mats before you get them wet.
  3. Fill the sink a quarter of the way up with lukewarm water.
  4. Use a cup or the nozzle to get them wet all over.
  5. Try not to get water into their ears as they can get an ear infection.
  6. Use plenty of shampoo and get a good lather over all of their body but not their face.
  7. Use a wet washcloth to wash their face.
  8. After they are completely washed, rinse all of their shampoo off, make sure you get it all off.
  9. Use a good amount of conditioner and rub it into their hair well. Leave on for 5 minutes.
  10. Remove most of the conditioner. It is fine to leave a small amount on your Shih Tzu.
  11. Transfer your Shih Tzu to a towel. Pat them dry a bit but don’t rub.

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How to Dry Your Shih Tzu After a Bath

Now that you’ve washed your dog, you’ll need to dry them.

You’ve got a couple of options here.

The first is to air dry.

Using the towel you have wrapped around your Shih Tzu pat off the excess water.

Don’t rub. Just pat.

Then let your Shih Tzu go.

They will shake quite a bit and might even want to rub on the floor.

This is normal.

Keep in mind, if it is really cold out and chilly in your home, you might not want to go this route.

I know for me living in Illinois, the winter months get really cold.

Even inside the house, it can be chilly.

If that’s the case for you, at least in the winter you might want to blow dry your Shih Tzu which is the second option.

If you go with air drying be sure your Shih Tzu is completely dry before it goes outside.

With blow drying, you will want to use a leave-in spray conditioner.

Spray sections of your dog’s hair and then comb.

After you have completed this process for all sections, you can use your standard hair dryer to finish.

Keep the temperature set on warm and not hot.

Continue blowing until the hair as you run your fingers through it.

The hair doesn’t have to be completely dry, but it should be dry enough that it isn’t clumped together.

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To Sum it All Up:

Bathing your Shih Tzu every three to four weeks is best. If you’re taking your Shih Tzu to a groomer every 8 to 12 weeks, you’ll need to bathe them either once or twice in between. Since they are small dogs, they are easy to wash. With regular bathing, they should smell good and their skin will be in good shape.



Please Note:

This article is informational only and does not substitute for veterinary advice. Always check with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your Shih Tzu. This article should not be considered in any way as a veterinarian or advice.

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