Shih Tzu

Grooming Advice

Known sometimes as the Chrysanthemum faced dog due to the facial hair growing in all directions, this study little companion dog has proud ancestry and noble beginnings. A hard to beat contender one has to appreciate that all that glamour comes from diligent and long planned months of work. A good coat does not just “happen”. Genes do play a big role but at the end of the day, this coated breed is the result of someone’s investment into long range planning.

Maintenance for this breed is a key issue and to keep that required double coat, luxurious and long and flowing be prepared to do the work. This is not a wash and wear breed. For those loving the discipline of grooming and able to keep to a well planned schedule then this breed will give you lots of rewards with achievement.

There are key things to learn such as the intricacies of that top knot and many hours of practice will see this done correctly. Some countries allow more “bouffant” and contrived head pieces than others but the basics stay the same. One sections into two areas with the front section running horizontally to mid skull and the rear section to a V just behind the occipital. The front section is as wide as the outer corner of the eye.

There are many ways to do this and each will have their own “secret” technique but here’s one for you anyway - Front section first - gather up into a band the area between eyes down to a line above the stop bearing in mind that this has to be done right otherwise you could build an illusion of lengthening or shortening the nose. Some backcomb lightly at this stage, others don’t. If you do, then I recommend a Lady Jane brush which is a narrow brush for safety around eyes or a tail comb. Lightly backcomb - get an old hairdresser to show you how to do this properly so it is not a matted mess - and gather the hair into a band once all the top layer is smooth. Try not to twist the hair when putting the band in, centreing at the first turn of the band. Otherwise pull out and start again.

Second section , gather into a band - this is the part that supports the front section - Both ponytails ought to be right on the dividing line between the sections. Now the artistic bit begins by pulling out with fingers or the tail of the brush/comb, the front section into a puffy bubble in front. Now join the two ponytails into one with another band and add a bow or section further for more support. Apply Plush Puppy Puffy Dog ¼ Puffy Dog to ¾ water in a spray bottle and dry, finishing off with small curling irons to give shape and support. Puffy Dog will add texture and hold as it is a special mousse designed for show dogs. Pull into shape and tuck ends in and under. Use Hair Spray if your country’s rules allow it.

The coat is not permitted to be curly or sparse. Prepare with Plush Puppy Conditioning Shampoo if dry or the Body Building Shampoo on sparser areas. The All Purpose Shampoofor shine or the Whitening Shampoo for toning unwanted warm tones and white areas. Use all at 3:1 (3 parts water to one part shampoo). Condition with Plush Puppy Silk Protein Conditioner at 5:1. Rinse lightly.

Now for the drying - use Plush Puppy Swishy Coat either on it’s own for the smoothing process or with Blow Dry Cream added. They are wonderful together or used singly. The Blow Dry Cream will flatten and soften and help the brush to slide easier. Add a tbspn of each to 6 - 8 cups water depending on the coat texture and how much has to be done to achieve results. You can dilute or strengthen this mix as coats are individual even within their own breed and lines.

Dry with an oval Plush Puppy Pin Brush section by section till ¾ dry finishing the drying with the Plush Puppy Porcupine or Metro Brush. Both these are mixtures of bristle and nylon and enhance the smoothing process. Your pin brush will not smooth well enough but won’t rip the coat when wet. Small sections dried properly from root to end is the key to success.

In between shows, oil. Use Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil - especially important for puppies changing coat - at 1 tbspn to 1/2 gal/2 litres water and saturate the coat. Dry thoroughly (without all the straightening attention) and band face, ears, top knot, tail if required or wrap using Plush Puppy Revivacoat at 1 tbspn/ golfball to 1 cup water in a spray bottle.

For show day you have done the long slog with the preparation of drying and have banded lightly to keep neat for the show. Use straightening irons - I like these new ceramic irons or the wet to dry irons which are very new and very effective. Contact us for these if you have difficulty getting any to suit. Make sure you have power for show day with this breed. Buy a generator if necessary. Section and lifting with the pin brush, spray with the Revivacoat mix (as this moisturises and doesn’t change texture) and slide the irons gently down the hair shaft till smooth. This is laborious so make sure you don’t do this in a rush.

Trim feet removing all underneath hair and neatening the foot shape not to distort - don’t do this like an Am Cocker foot. It is just to tidy the excess and shape.

A light dusting of Plush Puppy Pixie Dust onto the Metro Brush and through the top layers will give hints and glints of light to the coat and finish with a light application of Plush Puppy Shine & Comb to your hands and applied down from the centre part to keep down the “fluffies”. Don’t keep reapplying this - one light touch of this is all that is needed on this coat. For the flyaways on windy days and to keep static under control, use the Plush Puppy Protein Coat Balm and you can use this as much as you like. It won’t go greasy. Apply to hands and wipe down from mid lengths to ends adding extra to ends to weigh them down and hold into place.

Do not continue using your bristle brushes once the coat is dry - this just encourages the static. Use the pin brush or a metal comb. Frankly, if you have done a good and thorough job, your light touch with the pin brush ought to be enough as long as you apply the Protein Coat Balm just prior to ringtime.

Now move that Shih Tzu out like a Spanish galleon with full wind in the front sail and motor around that ring showing the pads of the back feet to full advantage. This is an arrogant, proud breed. Look the part!

- Cheryl Le Court