Shih Tzus are a Chinese toy dog breed whose name means “lion dog”. They are one of the cutest dogs you’ll ever see, and absolutely love being around people who give them lots of cuddles.
How much hair do they shed?
Shih Tzus are a low shedding breed and are considered hypoallergenic, which means they are generally better for allergy sufferers than a high shedding breed. They do require a fair amount of effort to groom though, so expect to brush your Shih Tzu often to keep their coat in good shape.
Let’s take a closer look at how much these adorable little fur babies shed, what they’re like to groom, and what makes them so special.
Shih Tzu Shedding
Shih Tzus do shed some hair, but overall are a low shedding breed.
Their coat comes in a range of colors including gold, white, brown, red and black, among others. And it’s made up of soft, long top coat hairs and short undercoat fur.
One of the main reasons Shih Tzus shed so little is because they are one of the few breeds that have a top coat that is made up of hair rather than fur. Hair has a longer growth cycle than fur, so it takes longer to grow, die and fall out.
Some other well known breeds with hair instead of fur include the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer and Afghan Hound for example.
Shih Tzus also have an undercoat, which helps keep them warm in winter and cooler in summer, and this does shed. So you’re not completely out of the woods.
Their shedding isn’t very noticeable though, especially since most of the hair they do lose gets trapped in their beautiful long coat. This means that you’ll notice most of the hairs coming out when you brush, instead of ending up all over your home.
However, this is only true if you don’t clip them, which some owners do. The grooming will be more manageable if you have them clipped, but this means less coat to trap the loose hairs they shed.
What Are They Like to Groom?
Shih Tzus might not shed much, but grooming them requires more effort than most breeds. And the main reason for this is the length of their coat.
Having longer hair means that, when they go out to play, they tend to get debris stuck in their coat and end up with matts, knots and tangles fairly often. Which are not only painful for your fur baby but also kind of unsightly.
It’s not difficult to groom a Shih Tzu though, it’s just a matter of regular brushing. About once per day, or every other day, is about what you should expect.
Doing so not only keeps their coat in the best shape possible, but also helps to remove the loose hairs they’ve shed and reduce further shedding.
And the reason for this is because, when you brush, it helps to spread their coat oils evenly over the skin, which acts as a natural moisturizer for the coat. And since one of the leading causes of excessive shedding is dry skin and hair, this can be a very effective preventative.
The best type of brush to use on a Shih Tzu is a wire pin brush or slicker brush, and a comb. Which are both simple to use and very cost effective.
Start by brushing your Shih Tzu carefully with the pin or slicker brush to gently remove matts, knots and debris from the coat. Then, use a comb to finish the job by brushing with the wide tooth end and moving onto the finer tooth part of the comb. Making sure the comb reaches down to the undercoat. Optionally, finish up with a soft bristle brush.
Overall it’s fairly straightforward to groom your Shih Tzu, especially if you keep onto it regularly, but it does take time and regular effort. You may want to have her clipped to make the hair easier to manage, but keep in mind that the shorter the hair the less of the dead hairs will be trapped in the coat, and the more that will fall out.
Aside from brushing, you may want to bath your Shih Tzu once per month, or every other month, to keep them clean. Just be sure not to over bath as this can lead to dry, irritated skin.
Are Shih Tzus Hypoallergenic?
Yes, Shih Tzus are a hypoallergenic breed.
But it’s important to understand that this doesn’t mean they won’t cause allergies, it just means they will generally cause less issues for allergy sufferers than most breeds.
Even completely hairless breeds, that literally have no hair to shed at all, can upset allergies. And this is because most of the allergens come from the saliva and dead skin (dander) of the dog. Which attaches itself to the hair, and when that hair falls out, spreads all over the home.
So, generally speaking, the less hair they shed, the more hypoallergenic they are, and the less they will upset your allergies. But it’s important to understand that no dog is every completely allergen free.
Reducing Excessive Shedding
There’s not a lot you need to do to reduce shedding in a Shih Tzu, because they don’t shed much to begin with. However, there are some things you can do to reduce shedding if you notice it is becoming excessive.
First and foremost, brush your Shih Tzu regularly. This not only helps remove the dead hairs and fur from the source, before they have a chance to fall out, but it helps prevent further shedding.
How? Well, when you brush, you spread the coat oils around evenly over the skin, which promotes a moisture rich coat, which is a good thing when it comes to reducing shedding.
Aside from brushing, a healthy diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids promotes a healthy coat, and can be a very effective way to keep your home hair free.
All dogs with hair shed to some extent, but a proper grooming regime and a health diet are easy ways to keep this to a bare minimum.
Learn about other ways to reduce shedding here.
Should You Adopt a Shih Tzu?
Shih Tzus are affectionate, outgoing and alert. They’re also very loyal and are love being around people, family or even total strangers, at every chance.
They were bred by the Chinese thousands of years ago, who referred to them as “lion dogs”. They were basically lap dogs for emperors, so were well regarded as affectionate companions fit for royalty back then, and still are to this day.
Since making their way to the United States in the late 1960’s, they became part of the American Kennel Club’s Toy Group classification. Which includes breeds like the Poodle, Silky Terrier and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel among others.
Shih Tzus are best known for being friendly in nature and interact well with other dogs and children. They just love people and, while they do need exercise, don’t mind spending hours just sitting on your lap.
They’re not just cute and cuddly though, Shih Tzus actually make excellent watchdogs because they are alert and will let their master know when someone is lurking around.
So, while they do make good apartment dogs, barking can sometimes be an issue. But nothing proper training can’t fix. They can be a bit stubborn, but if you get onto training them properly from a puppy you will have a beautiful, well behaved companion. And one that doesn’t fill your home with copious amounts of hair!