Pantops Pet Salon
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Pantops Pet Salon & Spa
Charlottesville's Professional Dog Grooming

It's what we do -- it's all we do.

(434) 293-2424
Fax: (434) 293-8231
504 Pantops Center
Charlottesville, VA 22911

The Shih Tzu

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006 by Mike Cronk

Country of origin: 

Group:  Toy

Lifespan:  10-12 years

Height:  11 inches

Weight:  9-16 lbs

AKC Rank 2006: 9

The Shih Tzu is quite a popular breed.  We have 95 that come to us (not counting the many Shih Tzu mixes that we also groom). Why are so many people interested in this little ball of fur? While many of our breeds have a working relationship with man, the Shih Tzu has been bred to be a companion dog for hundreds of years. This “lion dog” was at times spiritual (tied to Buddhism) as well as a prized possession of Tibetan and Chinese emperors.

Our experience at the shop is very positive—they really are wonderful pets. Yes, we get the shy, snappy ones now and then but this is more an indication of a bad breeder than a judgment on the breed as a whole.

Most of our Shih Tzus are kept in short coats—anywhere from a ¼ inch to 1 inch clip with bangs instead of a tied up ponytail. A 6 to 8 week schedule for grooming should maintain this coat quite well. The longer cuts will require brushing twice a week and ponytail adjustments daily (maybe this is why we do so many short cuts!) At the bottom of this page, we explain the Shih Tzu cuts in more detail.

Shih Tzus are very friendly and good with children if trained properly but I’ve never owned one myself so we asked a few of our customers what they thought of the breed:

Deborah Wishart owns Lucy and says that her dog is so cute and lovable that people stop her in the street to comment! She enjoys the look and ease of the short cut but warns that no matter what you do, grooming costs are high! She’s had Shih Tzus in the family and even though she thinks Lucy is stubborn, she would definitely get another!

Leitzle Ford owns Tori and says that she also loves the “look” of the Shih Tzu and how sweet and loving the breed is. “They are truly a companion dog—loving to be in your lap, by your side, or at your feet.” She also agrees on the short haircut and adds that it keeps Tori comfortable. When she kept the hair longer, she did her best to brush the coat every day. Additionally, she is very emphatic that a dog’s personality is a reflection of the owner–don’t rely entirely on the breed to make your dog…you’re part of the process too!

Tiffany Adams loves her Shih Tzu, Daisy! “If I had one word to describe a Shih Tzu, it would have to be lovable! Shih Tzus are born to please their owners; they make the best companions. Shih Tzus are very low maintenance given their small stature and ‘no-shed’ coat of hair, but are very ‘high’ in the joy they bring to all.” Daisy has one of our long personality cuts with a shorter face–not too short, but not too long either!

Danielle Denega owns Quigley and says “I can’t recommend the breed enough: no shedding, almost no barking (only when someone knocks at the door), very affectionate, alert and curious, easy to travel with, he’s even a good “guard dog”!” She says that the only downside to Shih Tzus is that they’re so people-oriented that they don’t like to be left alone. “He makes sad Quigley faces when he sees me leaving the house without him.” When he’s home, all attention is on Danielle: “I call him my shadow because he literally follows me around the house from room to room. If I’m on the couch, he wants to be on the couch.

If I’m doing laundry, he’s laying at the foot of the machine. If I’m working at my computer, he’s either in my lap, under my chair, or sometimes sitting right on the desk. I was just mopping the floor, and he was chasing the mop around!” She went to the AKC for a breeder referral and was recommended Viki Lemke ( ).

We offer four basic haircuts for the Shuh Tzu.


Breed Groom

  1. The Breed Groom calls for brushing and combing with very little clipping involved. The hair on top of the head is put in a pony tail by parting the hair from the corner of the eye to the ear opening on both sides and then from ear to ear on the back of the head. This gathered hair is centered on the top rear of the head and tied with a rubber band—often followed with a bow. The groin area is clipped, hair in the ears removed and bottoms of the pads clipped. The pads are scissored “natural.” Do a thorough weekly brushing at home and check your work with a comb. Bring your Shih Tzu in to us every four weeks for a professional brushing, combing, and bath.

    Puppy Cut

  2. The Puppy Cut. Very few of our customers keep their Shih Tzus in full coat because of the maintenance involved and the matting that can develop without frequent and proper brushing. This clip essentially maintains most of the coat but thins it uniformly to about 1.5-2 inches all over. This is a nice clip if you want a full fluffy look and don’t mind some brushing weekly—about half of that required by the Breed Groom. This can be accompanied by bangs and clipping the top of the nose instead of using a pony tail. The length of the coat is established by a lot of hand scissoring which involves much more time and skill on the part of the groomer (this translates to a higher price!). Schedule an appointment with us every 4-6 weeks to maintain this length.

    Benji Cut

  3. The Benji Cut. If your Shih Tzu has a nice chest (not skinny) then the Benji Cut could be for you. The body is clipped between ¼ and 1 inch in length—leaving the legs and tail long. The legs are scissored into cylinders and blended into the shoulders. The pads are rounded. This is relatively easy to maintain by weekly brushing of the legs, ears, and tail. A professional grooming can be scheduled every 6 to 8 weeks.

    Personality Cut

  4. Personality Cut. This is by far the most popular groom. The body and legs are clipped uniformly to between ¼ to 1 inch in length. The tail is scissored to half the leng from base to tip and the head is scissored short with bangs. Brush the ears and tail at home weekly and come to see us in 8-10 weeks!

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