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The Ultimate Guide to Shih Tzu Haircuts & Styles

If you’ve ever wondered, “What does my client really mean when they ask for a puppy cut?” you’re in the right place. In this post, we'll be exploring some of the best Shih Tzu haircuts out there - from classic top knots to trendy teddy bear cuts - that will impress even the most discerning pet parents. 

Jump Ahead: 

How often does a Shih Tzu need a haircut? 

To keep your Shih Tzu healthy and comfortable, it's important to consider their size and coat type when determining the frequency of grooming visits. As a general rule, scheduling an appointment once a month or every six weeks is recommended. 

During warmer months, more frequent grooming sessions are advised to prevent overheating, and opting for shorter hairstyles like the puppy cut can help achieve this goal. In contrast, longer haircuts such as the top knot may be preferred during winter when sun exposure is limited. 

By customizing your grooming schedule and hairstyle choices based on your Shih Tzu's unique needs, you can promote their well-being throughout the year.

Tips for Grooming Shih Tzus 

Regular baths and grooming are important to promote coat growth and prevent matting and tangling. Here are some tips for grooming Shih Tzus: 

  • Apply shampoo in a downward motion to minimize tangling.
  • Thoroughly shampoo and condition the coat to build a strong and manageable coat.
  • Rinse the coat well with slightly cooler water for the final rinse to ensure all products are removed.
  • After bathing, blot the coat with a towel and squeeze excessive water from the ears, legs, and long furnishings using downward motions.
  • You can dry a Shih Tzu using a fluff or stand dog grooming dryer, systematically drying each section down to the skin before moving on to the next area.
  • Once completely dry, use a metal comb to double-check for any tangles or mats that need attention.

Shih Tzu Grooming Challenges 

Grooming Shih Tzus can be a bit tricky due to their unique hair (not fur!) texture. This can make it challenging to achieve a smooth, polished look, especially around the face. But don't worry - it is possible!

Some groomers prefer using scissors for most of the cut to create a sculpted look, opting for minimal use of dog grooming clippers. Another great tip is to brush the hair around the muzzle forward and then trim away any stray hairs with small scissors. This technique not only enhances their appearance but also helps avoid mouth odor.

But let's be honest, finding your personal grooming style with Shih Tzus can still be challenging. Don't get discouraged if you feel stuck - it's not just you! Grooming this breed requires patience, practice, and a keen eye for detail. Fortunately, they are extremely popular so you’ll get lots of practice and be an expert in no time!

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Popular Shih Tzu Haircuts

When it comes to Shih Tzu haircuts, there are countless popular styles and variations out there. From the classic top knot to the more modern teddy bear cut, each style can be interpreted in many different ways. As a result, it can be challenging to define these styles and cuts precisely. However, this also allows for plenty of creativity and experimentation when it comes to grooming these adorable pups. Here are a few common styles for Shih Tzus: 

Puppy Cut

shih tzu puppy cut

The Puppy Cut (als called a Summer Cut) is a popular and easy style for Shih Tzus during warmer months. This cut involves trimming the hair to 1-2 inches all over the body while leaving facial hair slightly longer. It requires less maintenance than other cuts, but regular brushing and trimming are still necessary to keep it looking sharp. 

For clients who prefer longer hair, this cut can be customized with additional brushing to achieve a longer length. One popular adaptation of the puppy cut is leaving both the ears and tail longer than the rest of the body. By offering the Summer Cut as an option, professional groomers can provide a stylish and practical solution for their clients' pets during hot weather.

Teddy Bear Cut

shih tzu teddy bear cut

This adorable cut is named appropriately because it resembles the snuggle-worthy shape of a teddy bear. The style involves trimming the hair to create a rounded face shape that's sure to make any dog look cute and cuddly. 

To achieve this look, trim the hair to about 2 to 2 1/2 inches all over the body (including the ears) while leaving the face longer at around 4 inches. Make sure to shorten the chin hair so that the dog's eyes appear in the middle of their head- just like a teddy bear! The goal is to sculpt the hair around the face so that the dog’s head appears as perfectly round as possible. 

While this style is fairly simple to maintain, pet parents will need to watch out for tangles since the hair is left a bit puffy. As with any cut, regular brushing is still needed to avoid mats and tangles as the style grows out. 

Top Knot Show Cut

shih tzu show top knot

The Top Knot Show Cut is a beautiful but extremely high-maintenance style that's almost exclusively found on show dogs. If you're up for the challenge, this cut involves long hair that falls all the way down the dog's back to their feet. If your client is open to something more practical (but still glamorous), try a practical top known instead.

Regular brushing and trimming are essential for this cut, so owners will need to set aside some time for daily grooming. In fact, owners may need to brush their coat a few times a day! This style can be challenging to keep up, but it's definitely worth the effort if you're aiming for a show-stopping look and have the time, patience, and dedication to maintain it at home.

Just keep in mind that this style may not be the best choice for summer months since it can make dogs quite warm.

Practical Top Knot

shih tzu practical top knot

This cut features a medium length coat all over the body, with just enough hair on the head to create an impressive top knot. With your expert grooming skills, you can add some flair to this look with snazzy clips, ribbons or barrettes that showcase your unique style.

For this cut to remain practical and true to its name, be sure to keep hair on the face trimmed short enough to avoid any hair hanging into their mouths or eyes. Your furry clients will thank you for keeping them comfortable and stylish at the same time!

This cut is a great option for pet parents who want a chic and stylish look with some maintenance required, but not as much maintenance as a true show cut. 

Short Coat, Long Top (Lion Cut) 

shih tzu lion cut

As its name suggests, the lion cut gives your furry clients the regal appearance of a miniature lion. This cut is aptly applied to Shih Tzus  because the breed name actually means “little lion.”

The Lion Cut is particularly suited to heavy-bodied dogs with plenty of mass. It's also easy to maintain, and will require less brushing and will dry faster after bathing compared to other cuts (with the exception of the teddy bear cut).

How to do a lion cut on a Shih Tzu: 

Here is a step-by-step guide for achieving the Shih Tzu Lion Cut:

  1. Begin by shaving the body, including the chest, fore-skull, legs, and bottom. Leave the hair 1-2 inches in length for optimal results. Shorter hair is recommended for hot weather as it will help keep the pup cool and active.
  2. Next, move on to the head of the dog. Use scissors to trim the hair to a length of 3-5 inches, or experiment with different lengths to find what looks best for your furry friend. It's important not to cut or shave all the hair at once as even small changes to the face/head can entirely change the appearance of the dog.
  3. Finally, tackle the tail by shaving almost all of it up and leaving just a small amount of hair at the tip (3-5 inches in length). This look is reminiscent of an "lion dog" and pays homage to this breed's rich history.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best haircut for a Shih Tzu?

The definition of “best” depends on what the dog's owner wants to achieve. Generally speaking, though, a puppy cut is considered one of the best cuts because it is cute and functional. 


The puppy cut involves trimming the hair to a uniform length all over the body, making it easier to maintain and reducing matting and tangling of the hair. This is particularly important in Shih Tzus as they have long, thick hair that can easily become matted if not groomed regularly. 


Additionally, the puppy cut helps in keeping them cool during hot weather while also providing a soft and fluffy look. It's also an ideal choice for pet owners who prefer their dogs to have shorter haircuts without sacrificing their adorable appearance. Ultimately, a puppy cut is an excellent solution for both practicality and aesthetics when it comes to grooming a Shih Tzu!

Is it okay to cut Shih Tzu hair short?

Generally speaking, avoid cutting Shih Tzu hair shorter than one inch. A short haircut can be beneficial for Shih Tzus during hot weather as it helps them stay cool and comfortable. It can also make grooming easier by reducing matting and tangling of the hair. 


However, it's important to note that a Shih Tzu's coat serves as protection against both heat and cold, so trimming it too short may leave them vulnerable to temperature changes. Additionally, if the hair is cut too short or unevenly, it can result in skin irritation. 

What is the difference between a puppy cut and a teddy bear cut on a Shih Tzu?

The main difference between a puppy cut and a teddy bear cut on a Shih Tzu is the length and style of the hair. Puppy cuts involve trimming the hair between 1 and 2 inches all over the body and leaving the hair around the ears and tail a bit longer. 


On the other hand, a teddy bear cut involves trimming the hair a little longer around the dog’s body and focusing on a fluffy, rounded appearance similar to that of a teddy bear. This is achieved by trimming the hair around the face and chin to make the dog’s face appear as circular as possible. 

While both cuts are popular for Shih Tzus because they are cute and easy to maintain, the puppy cut is a bit shorter and generally more practical for summer months. 

Should Shih Tzus be shaved in summer?

Shaving a Shih Tzu during summer or any other time of the year is not advisable. This is because their coat provides insulation against hot and cold temperatures, and shaving it off can leave them more susceptible to these changes. 


Moreover, if a Shih Tzu's hair is shaved too short, it can lead to exposure of their skin to harmful UV rays from the sun, which could cause skin damage or sunburn. Instead of shaving them, consider opting for a summer cut (also called a puppy cut) that is easier to maintain and keeps your pet cooler.

Should you trim the hair around a Shih Tzu's eyes?

To prevent their Shih Tzu's hair from obstructing their vision and causing discomfort or injury, groomers should trim the hair around their eyes. (And pet parents should opt for hair cuts that accommodate this.) 


However, it is essential to exercise caution when trimming this area since a Shih Tzu's skin around the eyes is sensitive and prone to injury. Some groomers may prefer using scissors for this task, while others may choose electric clippers.


It is also advisable for pet parents to clean their Shih Tzu's eyes regularly with a damp cloth to eliminate any discharge or debris that may accumulate in the corners of their eyes. Doing so can help prevent eye infections and other eye-related issues.