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The Correct Shih Tzu Bathing Frequency: Full Guide

I understand how important it is to maintain our furry friends’ health and hygiene, and after bathing and grooming Shih Tzus for several years, I’ll share some tips that will definitely help any owner out there!

When it comes to bathing, it’s crucial to find the right balance in frequency and technique.

In this article, I’ll share everything you need to know about bathing your Shih Tzu, including the ideal bathing frequency, proper techniques, and the best shampoos to use.

shih tzu bathing (1)

How Often Should You Bathe a Shih Tzu?

The exact answer will vary from Shih Tzu to Shih Tzu depending on their lifestyle, routine, where they walk, and how dirty they get.

But, in general, the answer for most Shih Tzus is 4-6 weeks.

This is the best frequency to bathe the average Shih Tzu to keep them clean, without running the risk of overbathing.

If your Shih Tzu gets dirty often then bathing every 3-4 weeks may be necessary, but if yours doesn’t then 4-6 weeks will be perfect.

Bathing Frequency: Why Every 4-6 Weeks?

Shih Tzus have a unique double coat that requires special care.

Bathing Shih Tzus every 4-6 weeks is the sweet spot to keep their coat clean, fluffy and healthy. Here’s why:

  • Natural oil production: Shih Tzus produce natural oils that keep their coat healthy and shiny. Overbathing can strip these oils, leading to dry skin and a dull coat.
  • Prevent matting: Regular bathing helps prevent matting and tangles within their double coat, which can lead to skin irritation and discomfort.
  • Reduce allergens: Bathing your Shih Tzu every 4-6 weeks helps remove dirt, dander, and allergens from their coat, reducing the risk of skin allergies.

Remember, it’s essential to adjust the bathing frequency depending on your dog’s lifestyle, environment, and individual needs.

For example, if your Shih Tzu spends a lot of time outdoors or has a skin condition, you might need to bathe them more often. Consult your veterinarian for personalized advice.

➡️ Tips for a Soft Fluffy Shih Tzu Coat

Bathing Techniques: How to Bathe Your Shih Tzu Properly

Bathing your Shih Tzu can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. Follow these steps for a successful bath:

  1. Brush their coat: Before bathing, brush your Shih Tzu’s coat thoroughly to remove any loose hair and tangles. This will make the bathing process easier and more effective.
  2. Prepare the bath area: Fill a bathtub or sink with warm water (not too hot or cold), and have your shampoo, conditioner, and towels ready. You can also use a non-slip mat to prevent your Shih Tzu from slipping in the water.
  3. Wet their coat: Gently wet your Shih Tzu’s coat with the warm water, avoiding the face and ears.
  4. Apply shampoo: Use a gentle, pH-balanced dog shampoo specifically designed for Shih Tzus or other breeds with a similar coat type. Lather the shampoo into their coat, being extra gentle around the face and ears.
  5. Rinse thoroughly: Rinse your Shih Tzu’s coat completely, ensuring no shampoo residue remains. Any leftover shampoo can cause skin irritation.
  6. Apply conditioner: A dog-specific conditioner can help keep your Shih Tzu’s coat soft and manageable. Apply it evenly and rinse thoroughly.
  7. Dry their coat: Gently squeeze the excess water from your Shih Tzu’s coat and wrap them in a towel. You can use a hairdryer on a low, cool setting to dry their coat, but be cautious not to overheat or scare your dog.
  8. Final brushing: Once your Shih Tzu’s coat is dry, give them a final brushing to remove any remaining tangles and distribute the natural oils evenly.

➡️ The Best Brushes & Brushing Routine for Shih Tzus

Choosing the Right Shampoo for Your Shih Tzu

Using the wrong shampoo can have negative effects on your Shih Tzu’s coat and skin. Here are some tips for choosing the right shampoo:

  • Avoid human shampoos: Human shampoos can be too harsh for your Shih Tzu’s sensitive skin and can strip their coat of essential oils. Always use a shampoo specifically designed for dogs.
  • Look for gentle, pH-balanced formulas: Shampoos with a neutral pH (around 7) are best for your Shih Tzu’s skin. Look for shampoos with natural ingredients and avoid those with harsh chemicals, dyes, or strong fragrances.
  • Consider coat type and skin conditions: Some shampoos are specifically designed for dogs with double coats like Shih Tzus. Additionally, if your Shih Tzu has a skin condition or allergies, look for a hypoallergenic or medicated shampoo. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations based on your dog’s specific needs.

Some reputable dog shampoo brands you can trust include Earthbath, Burt’s Bees for Pets.

Negative Effects of Overbathing and Using the Wrong Shampoo

Overbathing your Shih Tzu or using the wrong shampoo can lead to several issues, such as:

  • Dry, irritated skin: Overbathing or using harsh shampoos can strip the natural oils from your Shih Tzu’s skin, causing dryness and irritation.
  • Dull, brittle coat: A lack of natural oils can also make your Shih Tzu’s coat appear dull and brittle, prone to breakage.
  • Increased risk of infections: Dry, irritated skin can be more susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Aggravated skin conditions or allergies: Overbathing or using the wrong shampoo can exacerbate existing skin conditions or trigger allergies in your Shih Tzu.

To avoid these issues, always stick to the recommended bathing frequency of every 4-6 weeks and choose a gentle, pH-balanced dog shampoo suitable for your Shih Tzu’s coat type and skin condition.

Extra Tips for a Happy, Healthy Shih Tzu

Here are some additional tips to help you maintain your Shih Tzu’s hygiene and overall health:

  • Regular grooming: Brush your Shih Tzu’s coat daily to prevent matting, tangles, and the accumulation of dirt and debris. Regular grooming also helps distribute their natural oils, promoting a healthy coat.
  • Keep their ears clean: Shih Tzus can be prone to ear infections due to their floppy ears. Clean their ears regularly with a gentle ear cleaner and cotton balls, and always dry their ears thoroughly after baths or swims.
  • Trim their nails: Regular nail trims are essential to prevent overgrown nails that can cause discomfort or injury. Use a dog-specific nail trimmer and be cautious not to cut the quick.

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Additional FAQs

Let’s run through some additional questions Shih Tzu owners might have about bathing their dogs that hasn’t been covered above.

  1. How can I make bath time less stressful for my Shih Tzu? Tips on making bath time a positive experience specifically for Shih Tzus can be helpful for owners.
  2. How do I clean my Shih Tzu’s face and ears during bath time? Proper techniques for cleaning a Shih Tzu’s face and ears without causing discomfort or harm are essential.
  3. How can I bathe my Shih Tzu if they have a wound or surgical site? Specific instructions on bathing a Shih Tzu with a wound, injury, or recent surgery without causing harm or infection are important to know.
  4. Should I bathe my Shih Tzu puppy and how often? Puppy-specific bathing guidelines, such as frequency and the appropriate age to start bathing Shih Tzu puppies, can be valuable information for new puppy owners.
  5. What can I do if my Shih Tzu has a strong odor even after bathing? Shih Tzu owners may want to know the causes of persistent odors and how to address them.
  6. How do I deal with fleas and ticks during my Shih Tzu’s bath time? Guidelines on using flea and tick shampoos specifically for Shih Tzus, as well as proper techniques for removing these parasites during baths, can be useful.
  7. Are there any home remedies or alternatives to commercial Shih Tzu shampoos? Some Shih Tzu owners might be interested in natural or homemade options for cleaning their dogs.
  8. How do I bathe a Shih Tzu that is too large for a bathtub or sink? Tips on bathing larger Shih Tzus or those with mobility issues can be helpful for owners of bigger or senior Shih Tzus.
  9. What are the best tools and accessories for Shih Tzu baths? Recommendations for brushes, combs, towels, and other bathing accessories specifically designed for Shih Tzus can help dog owners make bath time more efficient and enjoyable for their pets.
  10. How do I dry my Shih Tzu properly after a bath? Proper drying techniques and the pros and cons of various drying methods, such as air drying, towel drying, or using a hairdryer, can be informative for Shih Tzu owners.

Last thoughts

In conclusion, bathing your Shih Tzu every 4-6 weeks is the ideal frequency to maintain their coat and skin health.

Use the proper bathing techniques, choose the right shampoo, and follow the additional grooming tips provided in this article to keep your furry friend happy, healthy, and looking their best.

For more information on Shih Tzu care, check out resources from reputable pet websites like The American Kennel Club (AKC) or PetMD.


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.