How to Clip a Shih Tzu

Updated February 21, 2017

Clipping a Shih Tzu is easier than you might think, as long as you know how the dog should look when you finish grooming. The standard pet cut is simply a one-length fuzzy puppy look, so it is easily managed with clippers or scissors. Doing your own grooming can save you money and may be less stressful for your dog.

Bathe and dry the Shih Tzu. Attempting to clip a dog with a dirty coat will not be successful. You should also brush through the coat and carefully remove any knots or mats from the dog.

Decide how long you want the Shih Tzu's coat to be. While show coats for this breed are quite long and uncut, many people prefer to clip shih tzus fairly short for ease of grooming at home. If you want to cut your Shih Tzu shorter, a puppy cut is fairly standard. This cut is all one length all over the body.

Choose the correct guard for your clippers. If your clippers have snap-on combs available, this will work well. Make sure you do not take the Shih Tzu too short when clipping, unless the coat is too matted to save. A puppy cut on a Shih Tzu is typically between 1 and 2 inches long. You can also scissor the coat if you prefer not to use clippers.

Using the clippers or scissors as you prefer, cut the coat from the base of the tail to the neck to an even length. While some groomers do leave a longer coat on the legs, for a traditional puppy cut, trim to the same length. This will create an evenly fuzzy appearance that suits the Shih Tzu well, without leaving the owner with heavy grooming requirements. An older dog may even feel younger and perkier, so consider this if you are hesitant to clip Shih Tzu senior dogs.

With a shorter guard, clip the stomach and under the tail clean. This will prevent messiness on the coat and make for a cleaner and better-smelling pet. The stomach area is often mat-prone, and preventing these mats is the easiest choice. A beginner may forget this when grooming Shih Tzu dogs.

Using the clippers and a closer guard, trim the bridge of the nose from nose to past the eyes. This is a critical part. Use small scissors or a mini clipper to trim the lower eyelash area. Scissors may be used to trim the moustache and beard to an appropriate length. Trim hair between the paw pads when you trim the pup's nails. The topknot can be left long and fastened with a rubber band, or clipped to the length of the rest of the coat. Ears may be left long or trimmed to the length of the fur on the muzzle as you prefer.


Groom your puppy regularly to reduce difficulties. A short coat still requires regular brushing.

Things You'll Need

  • Clippers with guard
  • Scissors
  • Dog brush
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About the Author

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.