How to Groom a Shih Tzu Puppy

Updated February 21, 2017

Start grooming your shih tzu puppy while his coat is still fuzzy and doesn't tangle easily. The brushes and combs will feel good, and he'll learn to enjoy grooming and be prepared for the shedding that happens at about the age of 10 months. When the adult coat starts growing in, the shed puppy fur will get caught and cause mats. For a month, daily brushing, combing and snipping will be needed to keep him groomed.

Place your puppy on the counter or grooming table.

Dampen your shih tzu's coat with a spray of water or conditioner.

Praise your puppy while you gently brush him. Make sure you don't miss any parts.

Cuddle and reward with treats after the grooming session for a job well done.

Check the puppy's rump and tail after a potty session by running a tissue around the area while giving him a treat.

Gently brush and comb your shih tzu to remove all mats before the bath.

Put the drain filter in the sink to prevent your puppy from stepping into a hole.

Lay a nonskid mat in the bottom of the sink.

Praise your puppy while you place him in the sink.

Adjust the water temperature coming through the spray nozzle until it's slightly warm on your skin.

Continue praising your puppy as you wet his coat, avoiding getting water into his eyes and ear canal.

Massage shampoo into your puppy's hair.

Rinse the shampoo completely out of your dog's coat, gently squeezing the suds out of the hair.

Praise your puppy as you apply the conditioner.

Rinse the conditioner out of your puppy's coat.

Rinse your dog again.

Rinse your puppy for the third time to make sure any shampoo or conditioner that may cause later itching has been removed.

Pick up your puppy in a towel and place him on the counter or grooming table, telling him what a good dog he is.

Gently squeeze the puppy's hair with a towel to remove the water.

Place your puppy on the counter top or grooming table.

Gently brush all areas of the puppy, paying special attention to the areas of the elbows, tummy and behind his ears.

Comb out your puppy's coat, looking for any mats the brush may have missed.

Trim away hair and mats around the shih tzu puppy's toes.

Turn the dryer to its lowest setting and slowly bring it close enough to your puppy to dry him.

Point the airflow from the dryer in the direction you want the puppy's hair to lie.

Gently brush the coat as it dries, brushing in the same direction as the dryer is blowing.

Reward your puppy with praise and a treat.

Prepare your puppy for a foot groom well in advance by getting him accustomed to having his paws handled and rubbed each time he's cuddled.

Pick up the puppy and hold him in your lap.

Show your puppy the nail clippers.

Touch the clippers to a paw and give the puppy praise and a treat.

Firmly but gently grasp the paw, supporting the nail.

Trim the very end of the nail.

Reward the puppy.

Repeat the steps, giving praise throughout the process.

Gently brush the hair on the puppy's floppy ears.

Sniff the ears to be sure they smell clean.

Clean any accumulated earwax with a cotton ball.

Reward you shih tzu puppy with praise.

If the hair on the inside of the ear needs to be plucked, make an appointment with the groomer.


If you're not showing your shih tzu, you may want to consider a shorter, easy-to-handle pet clip. If you cut into the quick while trimming your puppy's nails, press your fingertip to the end of the nail to stop the bleeding. If this doesn't work, use the styptic powder. Build up a nail trimming routine by trimming one more nail than you trimmed the day before until your puppy's accustomed to having all of his nails trimmed at one session.


If you cut into the quick of your shih tzu's nails, it will hurt him and bleed. Avoid the trauma that will make nail clipping difficult in the future by asking a professional groomer to show you the correct way to trim his nails.

Things You'll Need

  • Puppy treats
  • Spray bottle of water or conditioner
  • Soft grooming brush
  • Scissors
  • Comb
  • Damp cloth
  • Sink with spray nozzle
  • Sink drain filter
  • Nonskid mat
  • Towel
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Hair dryer with low setting
  • Cotton balls
  • Nail clippers
  • Styptic powder
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