How Often Should You Bathe A Shih Tzu?

how often should you bathe a shih tzu
(Last Updated On: December 15, 2022)

Owners of long-haired dogs have to spend more time and pay a lot more attention to the bathing and grooming of their dogs to keep their coats looking healthy and in top condition. 

This is important for several reasons, which will be explored in this article. 

If you have ever found yourself wondering – how often should you bathe a Shih Tzu? 

Keep reading for some useful insight and information into the upkeep of your beautiful dog.

In this article, we will discuss:

  • Why is regular grooming important for Shih Tzu dogs?
  • How to prepare for bathing your dog
  • Dog bathing tips for your Shih Tzu
bathe a shih tzu puppy

Why Is Regular Grooming Important For Shih Tzu Dogs?

All dogs should receive regular grooming and bathing to help keep them clean and healthy, but some dogs need more care and attention than others. 

Long coated dogs like Shih Tzu dogs, for example, may find it more difficult to keep themselves clean because dirt can get tangled and matted into their long fur. 

This can become painful and unhygienic for them, and therefore a regular grooming routine is needed to avoid problems. 

See Also: Can you bathe a puppy at 8-weeks old?

Short-coated dogs may not need to be bathed as often as a quick brush, and a wipe or hose down is enough to remove any visible dirt from their coat and paws after walks.

It can be challenging to keep a dog clean, especially if they are the type that likes to wade through muddy puddles or roll in unspeakably smelly substances in the grass. 

More often than not, you may find yourself having to bathe your dog more often just so that they won’t ruin your home by bringing in dirt and unpleasant smells that will turn all of your guests away.

Regular bathing is something of a debate in the dog community, though, as some people argue that bathing a dog with shampoo too often can harm the dog’s skin, drying it out by washing and stripping away the natural oils from the skin, and therefore contributing to itchy skin conditions. 

When you wash a dog’s coat too often, you should also keep in mind that because you are essentially removing their natural oils, the fur is left less weather-proof and less capable of protecting the dog from the sun and adverse weather such as heavy rain.

Saying this, you will want to keep your dog clean and presentable, especially with long-haired dogs, so you should come up with a reasonable bathing routine, and never be afraid to bathe your dog in between if they need it. 

How Often Should You Bathe a Shih Tzu?

A useful guide is to wash your Shih Tzu every 3 – 4 weeks, and then rinse them or do spot cleans in between if they get particularly dirty on walks.

With puppies, it is more important to bathe them regularly. This is because they tend to get themselves in a mess much more frequently, especially with toilet training. 

Related Topic: Why does my puppy have bad breath?

Many positive bathing experiences also set them up for the future so that bath times are an enjoyable and comfortable activity for you and your dog instead of a stressful or traumatic one. Aim to bathe your puppy weekly or whenever they need it.

washing a shih tzu

How To Prepare For Bathing Your Dog

When preparing to bathe your Shih Tzu, you will need to make sure that you have several items ready to use.

Here is a list of the basic things you will need to bathe your dog:

  • Dog shampoo – Be careful not to use a shampoo that is intended for humans to use, as these may be harmful to your dog. Always go for high quality, a gentle, pet-safe product from a reputable brand. When you choose high-quality products for your pet, you can be assured that their coat and skin will be looked after and stay moisturized and clean. Things to look out for when choosing products to use to clean your dog are tearless varieties so that you can clean your dog’s head thoroughly without worrying that you are hurting their eyes. Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free shampoos are great for puppies or dogs with sensitive skin too.
  • Dog conditioner – Many dog owners don’t bother with a separate conditioner, but it can make all the difference, helping to seal the hair shaft and keep it clean for longer, locking in moisture too, which helps to prevent breakage. It replenishes the moisture that shampoos often strip out of the coat, and this will help to avoid dry and itchy skin. Dogs with long fur-like Shih Tzu dogs benefit significantly from good quality conditioners designed especially for them. You can also get conditioning sprays that are perfect for adding an extra layer of shine and protection once your dog’s coat is dry. These also help to protect the elements, including wind, rain, and sun damage again.
  • Brush & comb – you will need to choose a suitable detangling tool for your Shih Tzu to tease out knots and tangles. Some suitable types of a brush to look out for are pin brushes or bristle and nylon mixture brushes, which are used to detangle your dog’s coat before bathing. A double-sided stainless steel comb will also be needed for after your Shih Tzu has dried.
  • Cotton balls and wash clothes – These can be useful when carefully cleaning your dog’s ear and ears. You should never use cotton earbuds that are designed for cleaning human ears because these can be dangerous and can cause severe damage to your dog’s ear if he does not keep still when you insert them. You also risk pushing dirt and wax further down into the ear canal and potentially rupturing the eardrum. All cleaning of the ear should be kept to the parts of the ear that are on display only.
  • Towels and a pet blow dryer – Towels will be used to blot the water and excess moisture from your dog’s coat, so you should choose high absorbency towels that will do the job and be most effective in wicking the moisture out of the fur. You may need several towels to lay some down on the ground for your dog to stand on. When using a blow dryer, it is essential to make sure that you use one that is specifically designed for pets. If you use a human blow dryer, the temperature and speed settings are likely to be too high and result in thermal damage to your dog’s skin.
  • Nail clippers & styptic powder – After bathing, it is a good idea to take the opportunity to trim your dog’s nails. Dull nail clippers that are designed for dogs may be used, and styptic powder should be on hand to blunt any bleeding caused if you happen to cut the nail too short into the quick. You can also train your dog to get used to using an electric filing tool called a Dremel, specially designed for dogs, on their nails, which can sometimes be more natural and offer a subtle, smooth finish.
how often should you wash a shih tzu puppy

Dog Bathing Tips For Your Shih Tzu

Acclimatize Your Puppy

If possible, you should start to bathe your puppy as early and frequently as possible. 

This is just so that they can get used to the routine and know what to expect, making the experience less stressful and familiar for them as they get older. 

Don’t forget that all the sights and sounds of the bathing experience will be new to your puppy and so you must make time to help them acclimatize to each stage of the bathing process. 

The more time you take to do this, the better, as you will be less likely to form bad memories and associations from scary experiences.

Make Sure You Pay Attention To Safety

Taking the time to prep your space before you introduce the dog will allow you to pay attention to safety aspects. For example, laying down towels so that your dog won’t slip on wet surfaces. 

Testing blow dryers for the most appropriate settings for your dog. Figuring out how to keep your dog in position so that you can access all angles without the dog wriggling or trying to escape, and potentially falling out of the tub or sink depending on where you have chosen to bathe your dog. 

You may decide that an extra pair of hands will be useful if you don’t have professional harnesses used for dog grooming, or if your dog is a bit skittish. 

When you prepare ahead of time, you will also be able to get used to achieving the right temperatures and speeds of water from the tap so that you don’t burn your puppy, or freak them out with cold water.

shih tzu puppy getting washed

Take Your Time And Be Confident

If you take your time and show your dog that you are confident, then they will be more likely to vibe off your energy and not think that there is anything to be afraid of. 

This is why preparation is so necessary, because when you are prepared, then you are less likely to get flustered and stressed or forget things that you need. 

See Also: How to stop my puppy from crying all night long?

A calm and relaxed approach will make the experience soothing for both you and your dog. Bathing time can be an excellent time for bonding, and if you enjoy it, your dog will look forward to his baths too.

Massage & Then Rinse Thoroughly

Applying shampoo or condition to your dog’s body is an excellent opportunity to give them a full body massage, paying attention to every section of the body as you go, and looking out for any strange lumps and bumps that may be a cause for concern and need to be pointed out to your vet

When you have finished applying the products, you must take the time to rinse your dog thoroughly, as the residue left behind can cause skin irritation. 

Thoroughly cleaning your dog may take several rinses to remove the product carefully, as their coats are so thick.

Bathe Your Dog In The Evening

You may find it a good idea to bathe your dog in the evening so that he won’t make himself immediately dirty again by going out on a walk or eating dinner. A bathing session is also an excellent way for your dog to wind down for the evening.

how often should you bathe a shih tzu?


I'm a self-employed blogger, life-long pet parent, and lover of dogs. I have always loved animals, especially puppies. So when my family got our first dog 15 years ago, it was love at first sight. We named her Sassy because she was so small, cute, and had a sassy personality! Once we got her home, I wanted to know everything about caring for her, so I researched online. Eventually, this led me to create the PUPPYFAQS website, where I write about nutrition, health, and care of puppies and the latest news in the world of puppies. In my spare time, I volunteer at my local shelter, which is run by volunteers who are passionate about helping homeless dogs find their forever homes. If I'm not working or volunteering for dogs, you can find me spending time with my family, friends, and my puppy. I have been writing professionally online since 2009. In addition to PUPPYFAQS, I also write for several other pet-related publications.

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