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Do Shih Tzus Have Double Coats: (Coat FAQ Guide)

After grooming Shih Tzus on and off for nearly a decade, I often get asked whether Shih Tzus have double or single layered coats.

It’s a popular question and I think the answers are important for owners of this breed. By knowing what kind of coat your Shih Tzu has it’ll make it easier for owners to properly maintain it. So in this guide I’ll cover absolutely everything you need to know!

For those in a rush…

The short answer is yes, Shih Tzus have a double coat. This characteristic is not only unique but also plays a crucial role in their overall health and well-being. In this article, I will delve deeper into this fascinating aspect of the Shih Tzu breed.

shih tzu double coat

Do Shih Tzus Have Double Coats?

Yes, Shih Tzus have double coats, which consist of two distinct layers: a topcoat and an undercoat.

This combination provides them with insulation, protection, and even a touch of glamour.

I’ll explain more about the roles of each layer below.

What’s a Single Layered Coat?

A single-layered coat, as the name suggests, is a coat that consists of just one type of fur.

This is commonly seen in breeds like Greyhounds, Boxers, and Beagles.

These coats are usually short, smooth, and require less maintenance than double coats.

➡️ Grooming Info: Tips for Fluffy Shih Tzu Coats

Do Shih Tzus Have Hair or Fur?

Shih Tzus have hair, not fur. The distinction between hair and fur lies in their growth patterns and texture.

Hair, like that of Shih Tzus, typically has a longer growth cycle, which results in less shedding compared to fur.

Additionally, Shih Tzu hair is finer and silkier, giving them their luxurious, flowing appearance.

While both hair and fur are made of keratin, it is these differences in growth and texture that lead people to differentiate between the two.

Why Do Shih Tzus Have Double Layered Coats?

Shih Tzus, like many other breeds, have double-layered coats for specific reasons:

  1. Insulation: The undercoat provides insulation, keeping them warm during colder months and cooler in warmer climates.
  2. Protection: The topcoat acts as a barrier to protect the dog’s skin from debris, dirt, and harsh weather conditions.
  3. Aesthetics: The double coat gives Shih Tzus their luxurious, flowing appearance that has made them popular as show dogs.

For many that are interested in shaving their Shih Tzu, it’s important to first understand the whys behind why they have a double coat in the first place…

Sometimes, shaving can disrupt the functions of having a double coat, and as you can see from the above points, they’re actually pretty important!

➡️ Grooming Tips: Brushes & Brushing Routine for Shih Tzus

The Different Roles of the Topcoat and Undercoat

The topcoat and undercoat play distinct roles in a Shih Tzu’s double coat:

  • Topcoat: The topcoat, also known as the guard hairs, is made of longer, coarser hairs. These hairs protect the dog from dirt, debris, and UV rays, while also repelling water. The topcoat gives the Shih Tzu its signature silky, flowing appearance.
  • Undercoat: The undercoat is comprised of short, fine, and dense hairs that provide insulation. This layer traps air close to the skin, helping regulate the dog’s body temperature.

How to Best Groom a Shih Tzu’s Double Coat

Grooming a Shih Tzu’s double coat can be a bit challenging, but with some patience and the right tools, it’s definitely manageable. Here are my top tips for grooming a Shih Tzu’s double coat:

  1. Brush regularly: Brush your Shih Tzu’s coat at least 2-3 times a week to prevent mats and tangles.
  2. Use the right tools: A slicker brush is perfect for removing loose hairs and tangles, while a comb with wide and narrow teeth can help with more stubborn mats.
  3. Be gentle: Always be gentle when brushing to avoid hurting your dog’s skin.
  4. Trim the hair: Keep the hair around the eyes, ears, and paws trimmed for hygiene purposes.
  5. Bathe regularly: Bathe your Shih Tzu every 4-6 weeks, using a gentle natural dog shampoo that won’t strip the natural oils from their coat.

➡️ Important: Ideal Bathing Frequency for Shih Tzus

Do Double Coats Make Shih Tzus Too Warm in Summer?

It’s a common misconception that a double coat makes dogs, like Shih Tzus, too warm during the summer.

However, the undercoat actually helps regulate their body temperature by trapping air close to the skin, acting as a natural cooling system.

It’s important not to shave your Shih Tzu’s double coat during the summer months, as this can disrupt the natural temperature regulation and expose their skin to sunburn and other environmental hazards.

Instead, focus on proper grooming techniques to maintain a healthy coat.

Maintenance Tips for Shih Tzus Double Coat

To keep your Shih Tzu’s double coat in top condition, follow these maintenance tips:

  1. Stay consistent with grooming: Regular brushing and bathing will prevent mats, tangles, and skin issues.
  2. Don’t over-bathe: Over-bathing can strip the coat of essential oils, leading to dry skin and a dull appearance.
  3. Choose the right grooming products: Invest in high-quality grooming tools and gentle, dog-specific shampoos and conditioners.
  4. Monitor for changes: Keep an eye on your Shih Tzu’s coat and skin for any changes, like excessive shedding, bald spots, or irritation. Consult your vet if you notice anything unusual.
  5. Maintain a healthy diet: A balanced diet rich in essential fatty acids can promote a healthy, shiny coat.

Extra tips from Wag Walking on grooming double coats.

Additional Information on Shih Tzus Double Coat

Here are some extra tidbits to keep in mind when it comes to your Shih Tzu’s double coat:

  • Seasonal shedding: While Shih Tzus don’t shed as heavily as other breeds, they may still experience seasonal shedding, especially during the spring and fall. During these times, you may need to increase the frequency of brushing.
  • Allergies: Some people believe that Shih Tzus are hypoallergenic due to their low-shedding coats. However, no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic, as allergens are found in dander, saliva, and urine, not just fur.
  • Matting: Since Shih Tzus have long, fine hairs, their coats are prone to matting. Regular grooming is crucial in preventing painful mats from forming.

Related: Do Shih Tzus Have Curly Coats?

Last thoughts

To sum it up, Shih Tzus are indeed double coated, with the topcoat and undercoat playing essential roles in their overall health and well-being.

By understanding the unique characteristics of their coat and following proper grooming and maintenance practices, you can ensure your Shih Tzu looks and feels their best.

Resource: PetMd Grooming Info

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Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.