How to Care for a Shi Tzu

the Shih-Tzu is an animated dog.

the Shih-Tzu is an animated dog.

Your bright, lively Shih-Tzu loves being with you. He can live 15 years or more with proper care. Caring for him requires lots of grooming, plenty of exercise, training to overcome his willfulness and care of those large, adoring eyes.

Items you will need

  • Bristle brush
  • Comb
  • Soft cloth
  • Dog toothpaste and brush
  • Conditioning shampoo
  • Hair dryer
  • Quality kibble
  • Leash

Step 1

Begin grooming your pooch when he is a pup. Even though his hair is short at this age, brush it thoroughly daily. Check his eyes, ears and mouth. Brush his legs and feet, so he gets used to the whole grooming process.

Step 2

Brush and comb your pup daily. A Shih-Tzu coat grows quickly and tangles easily. Begin at the top of the head, and using the bristle brush, brush the hair away from the eyes. Brush the ears and then his body. Take out tangles using the comb.

Step 3

Wash his eyes daily. Wet a soft cloth with warm water and wipe gently around the eye.

Step 4

Brush his teeth two to three times a week. Begin by rubbing your finger around his mouth. When he is comfortable with your finger in his mouth, use a finger brush and eventually a tooth brush. Always use dog toothpaste.

Step 5

Shampoo your pup every two to four weeks. Use a conditioning shampoo or a conditioner after shampooing to help control matting and tangles. Because his eyes protrude, consider a tearless shampoo. Begin shampooing at the top of the head and move down the body. Towel him off and then blow dry him with a hair dryer. Keep it on a low setting.

Step 6

Clip your Shih-Tzu every 8 to 12 weeks. Remind the groomer to clip around the eye area. Hair can cause infection or ulceration in the eye. Make sure the groomer plucks the hair out of his ears, and cuts the hair short around his mouth to stop food from gathering.

Step 7

Feed your pup a quality kibble twice a day. Kibble helps control tartar buildup. Look for kibble that has lean meat as its first ingredient. Avoid fillers, such as corn and soy. They can irritate the skin.

Step 8

Exercise your pup daily. Have your Shih-Tzu walk beside or slightly behind you. If he pulls ahead, give his leash a tug. Your pup has a mind of his own, so the walks will help him understand you are the pack leader. Don't walk him in hot weather. Shih-Tzus overheat easily. If you can't go for a walk, play with him in the house.


  • Begin a flea prevention program. Talk with your veterinarian about the best products for your dog. If your pup has any skin allergies, avoid flea powders.
  • Schedule visits to your vet for annual checkups, heart worm check and core vaccinations -- distemper, rabies and hepatitis. Non-core vaccinations are at your discretion. Talk with your vet.


  • Don't leave your Shih-Tzu alone for long periods. They crave human attention.
  • If your pup has severe symptoms from vaccines, such as vomiting and diarrhea, call your vet immediately. Small dogs can dehydrate quickly.

About the Author

Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.

Photo Credits

  • shih tzu dans la neige image by Jeff LEONARD from