The Shih Tzu is a small imperial Chinese breed with big character and a headstrong, proud nature. With a name that translates to "little lion," this longhair breed is arrogant but fun-loving. Shih tzus are very high-maintenance and have a temperament not always ideal for families with small children. This small breed has a luscious coat of fast-growing, human-like hair and must be brushed at least once per day to maintain the coat and help it grow long. Ideally, the Shih Tzu should be professionally groomed every four to six weeks.
Brush the Shih Tzu's coat thoroughly with a bristle brush and wide-toothed comb. If mats are present, spray the dog with detangling spray, wait 20 minutes for the spray to soften the mats and brush through hair with your fingers. Then use a slicker comb and a dematting comb and work through mats.
Bathe the Shih Tzu, shampooing the dog's coat with shampoo formulated for animals. While shih tzus have human-like hair, their skin does not tolerate human shampoo well. Bathe your dog no more than once a week. Washing too frequently causes the hair to dry out and break, which is counterproductive to growing a long coat.
Blow dry your Shih Tzu's coat. Brush only when the coat is damp, not wet or dry. Brushing a wet coat can hurt the dog, while brushing a dry coat can break the hair. Brushing is vital to growing and maintaining a Shih Tzu's long hair.
Brush your Shih Tzu daily, taking care to brush both the top coat and the undercoat. These dogs tangle and mat easily, and matted hair will only grow more matted and tangled. Growing long, sleek hair is highly dependent upon keeping the hair tangle-free.
Allow six to eight weeks for the Shih Tzu's hair to grow out. Puppies have very fine hair that tangles easily, but begin developing a mature coat at approximately one year. It is the adult coat that should be given attention in order to grow long.
The Shih Tzu's diet contributes to the health of its coat. Feed your dog only dog food, never human food that could hinder digestion and make the dog sick. Long hair is maintenance-intensive, and can be hot for the dog during summer months. Shorter cuts are more comfortable and require less upkeep in hot weather.
Keep the hair around the eyes trimmed so it doesn't grow into the dog's eyes. This is important because shih tzus have highly sensitive eyes. Watch for sticks, leaves, bugs and stickers that will get trapped in the Shih Tzu's long hair.