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How to Groom your Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu Breeds

Author: Chris Chamberlin

How to Groom your Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu - The Lhasa and Shih Tzu are similar in many respects. While the Lhasa is larger without the pushed-in nose, it has the same amount of grooming required as its small counterpart. Both have a glorious topcoat and an undercoat that is every groomer's nightmare, especially if the owners don't do their part at home to keep these wonderful little guys looking as they are meant to.

Ideally, a groomer would like to see these clients once every couple of weeks to maintain their beauty; however, there are few who can afford the luxury, so training yourself and your dog at home will help keep the cost down when professional services are required. You must be willing to invest time and energy into growing out your dog's coat because you will need plenty of both to get that gorgeous look. If not, consider the shorter puppy clips that maintain healthy skin and coat without the hassle.

Lhasa-Apso & Shih-Tzu Grooming

One the first things to make your job easier, and in fact possible at all, is to train your dog to lay on its side to be brushed. Brushing and combing out tangles and mats is much less a chore for you and the dog if you are able to get underneath the legs to the belly without a battle. Take hold of his front and rear legs and cradle his torso against your arm as you lay him down on his side. He might balk or try to get up at first, but keep your arm along his ribs, and, if necessary, hold his head down, too. Some might even protest with dramatic whimpers and cries, but don't be fooled by his theatrics; he is not being hurt, just restrained against his will. Talk softly and reassure him he will not die, and soon he will come to realize it's quite relaxing and enjoyable to be petted in this new method.

Once he has learned to lay still and be brushed, use your fingers to pull apart tangled hair. Cutting the mat will only lead to broken hair and more mats to come with the shorter hair. Also, too much hair can be lost if the mats are cut open, which is not desirable if you are contemplating showing your dog. Concentrate on the underbelly and be sure to remove any tiny tangles with a fine-tooth comb, as any left unchecked will develop into huge mats later.

Once the body is mat-free, work on the head with a good steel comb, being sure to remove debris from the corners of the mouth and eyes. Sometimes you might need to soften these areas by washing with warm water first.

Essentialls for Grooming A Toy Dog

Don't forget to clean away, with a pair of blunt nosed scissors, any hair a good half inch around the anus. This will help to keep the area free from odorous stool particles from collecting on your dog's back end coat.

Clip away any hair under his feet between the pads with a good clipper and #15 blade or scissor it away if it is difficult to clearly see the bottom. Check to see if there are mats between the toes and remove the mats with scissors, as this is a common spot to have trouble arises.

Remove any excess hair from the ear canal and clean with a good ear cleaner. Because these dogs have fold-over ears, moisture can be a precursor to ear infections and can make a prime area for breeding ear mites.

Bathing A Shih-Tzu or Lhasa-Apso

Now you are ready for the bath. Thoroughly wet the dog and apply a good conditioning shampoo. Don't rub the coat; rather, gently squeeze the shampoo through to the ends. Be sure to completely rinse the suds away. A crème rinse can be used as a further aid to prevent mats and tangle from forming again soon or to aid in removing tangles missed.

Drying the coat thoroughly is very important. A wet coat left to dry on its own will tighten and become near impossible to detangle. Brush or comb a wet coat ONLY while using a blow dry and only on the spot being dried. Brushing or combing a wet coat will break the hair and be very uncomfortable for the dog.

Finish the brushing once the dog is dried with a slicker brush, and part the coat down the center of the back. Apply a spray dressing to hold in place. A Lhasa Apso has the topknot parted without bows for showing, but most owners opt to tie the long hair of a Shih Tzu from the eyebrows into one or two bows gathered in the center or stayed close to the ears. A pet option is to show their beautiful big eyes by scissoring the topknot to about one inch all over and put the bows in the ears.

No trimming on the beard is done, but it can be shortened to preference.

A puppy clip is done following the above procedures and using only scissors to trim the hairs evenly one inch all over for a low maintenance look. Brush both trims daily to keep the dog looking and feeling his best.

Happy grooming! Chris