The Shih Tzu is unmistakable with that long, lush, human hair-like coat. Most people take one look at the Shih Tzu in a formal show coat and think they must shed constantly.
But the truth is quite different. Because just like the Shih Tzu dog breed, the Shih Tzu coat is unique.
If you have been thinking about getting a Shih Tzu for your next canine companion but are worried about shedding, this is the article you need to read.
Do Shih Tzu Shed
Yes, Shih Tzus shed their hair, although usually not in large amounts. Most owners only notice shedding when washing or brushing the coat. They are known to be hypoallergenic because of their low level of shedding and typically do not cause major allergies or other problems.
When Does the Shih Tzu Coat Shed A Lot
There is only one time when you will see a lot of shedding in the Shih Tzu coat. That time is during the transition from the puppy coat to the Shih Tzu full adult coat.
Shih Tzu dogs are like all other dogs in this particular way. All puppies are born with a single-layer coat. The puppy coat is always softer, finer, and sparser than the adult coat.
This is because the puppy coat doesn’t have to serve the same purpose as the adult dog coat. Puppies live a more sheltered life and don’t need the entire coat of the adult dog.
But as experienced Shih Tzu owners on the Dog Forums explain, Shih Tzus will start shedding out their puppy coat as early as six months old.
This process can last for three to six months. During this time, the puppy coat is slowly shedding and replaced by the new double-layer full adult hair coat.
This is a time when you may experience chronic shedding from your little Shih Tzu puppy. But do not worry – this period will not last. By one year old, your Shih Tzu should have finished transitioning to the adult dog coat.
How Much Do Shih Tzu Shed?
There are two reasons adult Shih Tzu dogs do not shed as much as most other dog breeds, especially dogs with double-layer coats.
The first and foremost reason the adult Shih Tzu dog doesn’t shed that much is because of the texture of the coat. This is especially true for Shih Tzus, kept in the long show coat.
The surrounding long straight fine coat catches the shed hairs before they can fall to the ground. So while the dog is shedding out hair, you don’t see it falling.
The critical fact to remember here is that if your Shih Tzu has a long coat and you do not brush and groom your dog daily, those shed-trapped hairs can quickly form tangles and mats. Mats can be uncomfortable and damaging to delicate skin.
Some dog breeds shed more than other dog breeds. In general, Shih Tzu dogs do not shed as much or as often as many other dog breeds. Here, genetics does play a part in the frequency as well as the amount of hair shed.
Learn About the Adult Shih Tzu Hair Coat
The American Shih Tzu Club states that a proper adult Shih Tzu coat is always long, straight, silky, and double-layer.
So why does a Shih Tzu need two layers to their coat?
A dog with a double-layer coat has two coat layers with two completely different functions.
Shih Tzu outer coat layer
The outer layer of the adult Shih Tzu coat has a protective purpose. This coating layer blocks the rain and elements to keep the skin dry. The outer coat layer protects the skin from abrasion, dirt, debris, and pests.
Shih Tzu inner coat layer
The inner layer of the adult Shih Tzu coat is an insulating layer. While today Shih Tzu dogs live worldwide, the breed originated in ancient China, where the winters were quite cold.
The inner layer is like a winter coat for your dog, keeping them warm and dry.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), even the biggest Shih Tzu rarely tops 16 pounds. That inner insulating coat layer is particularly essential when temperatures drop.
Your Options for Shih Tzu Coat Haircuts
Vetstreet states that the Shih Tzu coat requires a lot of daily maintenance and care.
However, this only applies if you keep your Shih Tzu in the long full-show coat. This coat might look very impressive in the show ring, but keeping up with a pet dog can be challenging.
Luckily, there is no reason to keep your Shih Tzu in a long show coat unless you like how it looks.
Many owners prefer to clip the coat short. The puppy cut and the teddy bear cut are two popular easy short haircuts, although these are far from your only options.
When you choose to clip your Shih Tzu’s hair short, this not only makes it easier to groom and brush the coat, but it can also control shedding.
Regardless of which haircut you choose for your longhair, Shih Tzu, it would be best never to shave the coat down to the skin.
The two separate layers will no longer differ when you shave the coat to this degree. They will grow together, destroying each layer’s individual protective properties.
How to Care for the Shih Tzu Coat
The UK Shih Tzu Breed Club explains that an adult Shih Tzu dog will shed far less when brushed and groomed daily.
This is especially true when your Shih Tzu puppy is transitioning between the puppy coat and the adult dog coat. During this brief period of months, you will see quite a lot of shedding.
The more you brush your dog daily, the more shed hair you can catch before it falls to the ground, and the less sweeping and vacuuming you have to do.
You can use a de-shedding rake made for small dogs to pull out any dead hair trapped in the surrounding coat, then follow up with a comb to work out any remaining tangles or mats.
Many owners like to finish with a pin and bristle brush, which adds shine to the coat, helps distribute the natural skin oils throughout the coat, and stimulates circulation.
Is a Shih Tzu An Allergy-Friendly Dog Breed
Shih Tzu dogs are a popular choice for dog lovers who suffer from allergies because they do not shed as much as many dogs.
However, it is still possible that you might have allergy symptoms even if you have a lower-shedding dog,