Do Shih Tzus Have a Double Coat? Yes, Here’s How to Care For It


When it comes to dogs there are many things we take for granted, and this of course includes their fur. Shih Tzus for example are so compact that most people they have a single layer of fur and that’s all. However this is wrong, and it happens to be wrong on various levels.

If you’ve ever wondered if Shih Tzus have a double coat, the answer is a direct yes. Shih Tzus have double layered hair that is both useful and can be striking if properly groomed. And likewise, the words I used matter, as Shih Tzus are a breed that have “hair” instead of “fur”.

We’ll take a closer look all of these details below, and don’t miss out on the bathing video near the end of this article!

A Closer Look At A Shih Tzu’s Coat

The first thing we need to understand is what exactly does it mean for a breed to have a double coat?

A double coat in a dog simply refers to two distinct layers where each one has a different texture of hairs. These usually come down to a dense undercoat of short hairs and a coat of longer hairs above.

A double coat grants dogs an extra layer of protection, both from the heat and cold. But it also means extra grooming will be required for the coat to fully shine. And Shih Tzus fully fall into this double-coated category.

If you haven’t paid close attention to their coat, something you can do is to dig a little bit into the hair of your pet with your fingers. Before too long you’ll come across two different kinds of hairs with unique textures and lengths.

This is all the proof required to confirm that these small pups are blessed with their own specialized coat.

What’s most unique about Shih Tzus coats is that we classify their coats as “hair” and not “fur”. This means that overall they shed very little, making them ideal for people with allergies, but also that the texture is a little different.

Additionally, since their undercoat is considerably softer than the topcoat, sometimes both layers can tangle. It won’t happen on all dogs, and it’s not a huge problem. But it’s a good reason to prioritize the proper grooming of your friend.

Growth Stages Of A Shih Tzu’s Coat

Unlike us humans the growth process of dogs’ coats are very specific and can be divided into clear stages. For Shih Tzus you can always classify their coat process in one of these 3 steps:

  • Anagen Phase: In simple words the growth stage. In this stage hair can continue to grow to reach floor level.
  • Telogen Phase: A resting phase so to say. Hair stops growing but remains firmly in place meaning the coats remains the same.
  • Catagen Phase: The falling stage, where part of the hair starts falling naturally on it’s own.

While these stages are present in all Shih Tzus they can be a little bit hard to properly see with the breed. Something really common with Shihz Tzus is for hairs to fall off… but not exactly fall into the floor.

Depending on the length of your dog’s hair, any hair that falls out might just end up stuck in their coat. And if you couple this with their low shedding it can be easy to assume their hair just doesn’t fall.

Thankfully grooming does not rely heavily on these stages and can be done largely at your own pace.

How To Properly Groom Shih Tzu Hair

If you want to properly groom your Shih Tzu then consistency is the main thing you need to keep in mind. Shih Tzus can use a lot of brushing and regular baths in order to keep their coats in the best shape possible.

It’s hard to be fashionable all the time, but the look and joy of your pet will be it’s own reward.

Proper brushing is the basis of a good grooming regime for the breed and you should do it roughly every 3 days if the coat is short. But based on the length you might even need to do it on a daily basis.

You should start and finish any grooming session by combing and checking for any of those possible tangles I mentioned before. Once that is clear, you should carefully brush their hair to both improve the look and the health of their coat. We also recommend spritzing to avoid hair breakage.

Going for bath every 3 weeks or so can also help with those stubborn hairs that are still refusing to properly fall off. And in general bathing will also refresh your dog.

Should You Opt For A Short Cut?

Generally speaking, something we should understand as owners is that if a breed has certain traits then they are needed.

As you read earlier in this article, a Shih Tzu’s double coat can help them deal with both ends of the weather range and as such is vital for their every day life. Therefore, you should never fully shave them.

If you insist on changing their look, keep in mind that you should mostly focus on the outer coat. While the undercoat can be trimmed a bit it should never be shaved, and generally you should aim to keep both coats.

Ultimately, haircut is largely a matter of fashion for them and while trimming it down can refresh your Shih Tzu, you really shouldn’t take it overboard.

Issues With Your Shih Tzu’s Hair?

While Shih Tzus are naturally fluffy, that doesn’t mean they will have perfect softness without proper care. Certain factors can affect their natural texture and we’ll list them right here.

  • Dirt and grease
  • Stray hairs
  • Tangles
  • Diet

In most cases if your Shih Tzu isn’t as fluffy as it should be, you can easily fix it with a good bath. Dirt is usually the biggest issue so a proper shampoo and bath should bring back their glorious hair to the spotlight.

Occasionally their diet can affect the quality of their hair, but this isn’t as common nor likely as issues with daily grooming.

Give a good bath a try, and if it doesn’t work it might be time to reconsider their food.

If you’re interested in learning how the double coat of a Shih Tzu affects their ability to swim, check out this article I wrote on this very website.

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