Types Of Shih Tzu Cuts – Find One For Your Dog

Types of shih tzu cuts.

Considering The Many Types Of Shih Tzu Cuts

There are many types of shih tzu cuts and combinations thereof, the most popular of which are described in this article. They have not only evolved to make a shih tzu look good and even more cute, but the hair maintenance is also essential for the health of the dog.

The hair of the average shih tzu will grow at the rate of ½” (1.3cm) per month and left unattended it will become matted, tangled and knotted. The problem is further complicated by shed hair becoming trapped between the layers of the dog’s inner and outer coats. The mats can cause the skin to become too greasy, leading to health problems.

The hair then, must be brushed and combed regularly, from weekly for the very short cuts to more than once a day with the longer styles. It needs to be washed with pet-friendly shampoo every four weeks or so (too much washing will flush away essential oils) and cut back every so often depending on the length and intricacy of the chosen style. See my post “How Often Should You Bathe A Shih Tzu” for more information about this.

Your choice of haircut for your shih tzu will probably include factors such as what suits your dog, you and your family’s personal preference, what is practical for your environment and climate, the season of the year, the time you can spend maintaining the style and affordability.

The Full Shave

A shaved shih tzu.
ID: 275862628 © Gppets | Depositphotos

This is the most extreme haircut your shih tzu can have, the coat is clipped back close to the skin all over body and face. With this style, there are zero problems with mats, tangles and knots, plus it is easy to keep clean and dries quickly. Bear in mind though, that if you are taking your shaved shih tzu out in cold weather he or she will almost certainly need a fleecy jacket to keep warm.

Shave With Ears And Tail Left Longer

A shaved shih tzu with his ears and tail left long.
ID: 154445194 © chaoss | Depositphotos

This cut doesn’t look as severe as the full shave as that characteristic shih tzu look is largely maintained by leaving the ears and tail longer. This style is not quite zero maintenance as the ears and tail will need regular brushing,

The Short Puppy Cut

A shih tzu sporting a short puppy cut, otherwise known as a summer cut.
ID: 7816132 © feedough | Depositphotos

The short puppy cut is the shortest possible all-over trim using only scissors, which means there is no chance of any accidental nicks from the clippers. The hair is cut back to between around 1’ to 2’ (2.5cm to 5cm} all over the body. This may include facial hair but it is usual to leave this a little longer. To find the right look for your shih tzu you can try different lengths of ear hair, facial hair, chest hair and tail hair.

This is a very popular choice of style, especially for people with little spare time on their hands as there is not much brushing and combing to do to prevent mats, tangles and knots. As having the hair this short means no tangles, it is ideal for shih tzu as they move into adulthood at around one year of age as this is the time their full coats develop. At this time the coats are more prone to tangles.

This style is also known as the “summer cut” because it keeps the dog cooler during hotter temperatures and helps prevent overheating, something that many small breed, short-snouted dogs are prone to during heat waves.

The Moderate Puppy Cut

A shih tzu sporting a moderate puppy cut.
ID: 10900825 © lifeonwhite | Depositphotos

As the name suggests, this is similar to the short puppy cut but a little longer. The hair with this style is only cut back to between 2’ and 4’ {5cm and 10cm) long, including the face. The longer length means more effort will have to be made with regular brushing and combing to avoid tangles but not nearly as much as the seriously long cuts.

This is a good choice of style if you want a low maintenance cut for your shih tzu but don’t want the hair cut too short.

Teddy Bear Cut

A shih tzu sporting a teddy bear cut.
ID: 10891166 © lifeonwhite | Depositphotos

This is really a variation of the moderate puppy cut. The body hair and ear hair is cut to 2” to 2½” (5cm to 6.5cm) long, while the facial hair is left longer at 4” (10cm) and made fluffy and rounded. This gives some resemblance to the stuffed toy that gives the style its name. Because of its appearance, this is a very popular style with children.

Again, regular brushing and combing will be needed to keep this style tangle-free, along with regular trimming to keep the shape. 

The Practical Top Knot

A shih tzu groomed in the practical top knot style.
A shih tzu with a practical top knot cut.

This is perhaps the style that epitomizes the shih tzu. It affords some of the joys of having a longer-haired dog without all of the trouble of maintaining the full show cut. 

The hair at the top of the head and the facial hair is kept long as in the show cut. The longer hair tends to irritate and obstruct the eyes if left unattended, so it is gathered at the top of the head where it is secured with a clip, ribbon or tie. This top knot can be as plain or as decorative as the fancy takes you. You can even braid the hair or add pigtails if you so desire. 

TIP 1: Avoid using rubber bands to secure the top knot. Rubber bands grip too tightly and pull the hair.

The remainder of the body hair can be cut to any length you see fit, though around 1” (2.5cm) is considered the minimum for this style. A popular choice is a three-quarter length, also known as a “three-fourth”. The hair can be fashioned in the manner of a show cut but stays above the floor, unlike a show cut. With this style brushing and combing will be required at least once a day.

TIP 2: When allowing the facial hair to grow it is important to ensure that the eyes and mouth are left unobstructed for health and hygiene reasons.

Top Knot Show Cut

A shih tzu parading the top knot show cut.
ID: 292196514 © DmyTo | Depositphotos

With one exception, this is the same as the practical top knot and that one exception is that the body hair is allowed to grow to floor-length and cover the feet. The long, shiny, straight look you can see on show dogs does not happen naturally. It takes a lot of washing, brushing, combing, trimming and application of pet-friendly conditioner to make it that way and to keep it that way. Brushing and combing will be needed several times a day to prevent any tangles.

Because of the labor-intensive, time-consuming nature of this style, it is almost exclusively only found on show dogs.

Providing the dog with air-conditioning during the summer in hotter climates is a must as this thick, long.æ≤ coat can cause overheating. 

Lion Cut

A shih tzu receiving a lion style haircut.
ID: 177527972 © 160275 | Depositphotos

Despite the intricacies of this style, it is relatively low maintenance. Once you have established the shape it only needs clipping once every four to six weeks.

The body is cut short to between 1½” and 2” (3.7cm and 5cm), whereas to get the lion look the tail and face are left longer. The facial hair is fluffed and fanned out to simulate the mane. 

Flared Bottom Style

A shih tzu sporting a flared bottom style haircut.
ID: 165521986 © Taranukhin | Depositphotos

A more unusual style, the body is cut to 3” (7.5cm) or under, leaving the tail, legs and, usually, face longer. The leg hair is triangulated to resemble the flared trousers popular for human wear in the 1970s. Also, the head hair can be decorated with top knots and braids.

Japanese Cut

A shih tzu sporting a Japanese style haircut.
ID: 146008665 © son232007 | Depositphotos

The Japanese cut encompasses many different looks but what they all have in common is short body hair accompanied with extra-long ears and very hairy legs. The leg hair can be shaped in various ways such as circular or tapered as in the flared bottom style. 

Short Coat, Full Top

A shih tzu with a short coat and full top.
ID: 319203890 © Phonpipat | Depositphotos

This is very similar to the Japanese cut, save for the hairy legs. The coat is cut short and the head, ears and tail are left much longer. Again, the head hair can be styled in various ways.

Medium Length Cut

A shih tzu sporting a medium length haircut.
ID: 301132086 © camaralenta | Depositphotos

This is the happy medium between two extremes. The coat is not so long that it reaches the ground. Yet it is not too short, so it has volume and can be styled in the manner you require, but it is short enough to keep maintenance at a manageable level.

Face Styles

As well as the various body styles of shih tzu haircut, there are various options for the style of cut on the face. The way the face is styled and the length of facial hair makes a big difference to the appearance of a shih tzu.

Rounded Clipped Face

A shih tzu bearing a rounded face trim.
ID: 10900762 © lifeonwhite | Depositphotos

All the facial hair is cut short, as in the puppy cut, and the chin area is rounded at the sides. This is possibly the most hygienic option as it is easy to keep the face, eyes and mouth clean. 

Squared Face Trim

A shih tzu with a squared face trim.
ID: 191912778 © ellosdnepr@gmail.com | Depositphotos

The facial hair is left a little longer than the rounded clip with the beard cut straight, horizontally under the bottom jaw. The corners may be left square or they may be rounded off. This trim requires more maintenance than the rounded clip, the square corners more so than the round corners.

This trim is quite popular due to its crisp, clean look.

Westie Style Clip

A shih tzu with a Westie style trimmed face.
ID: 163293460 © Teeraphan | Depositphotos

Here the face is trimmed to give a similar appearance to that of a westie. It features short chin hair overlaid with long cheek hair and longer ear hair with the ends cut straight.

Things To Think About Shih Tzu Haircuts

If you are unsure about which style of haircut to choose for your shih tzu, it is probably better to begin with the longest one that you had in mind. That way you can always cut more off if you change your mind. You cannot put hair back on if you don’t like a short cut! It can take one to two years for a coat to grow to floor length. If in doubt, try out several styles and combinations until you find the one that suits you and your shih tzu.

If using the services of a groomer, do not rely on him or her knowing exactly what you want to be done from a verbal description. The picture he paints from your words may be very different from what you have in mind. Take along images, either actual prints or files on your smartphone, depicting your preferred end result.

If you are choosing a groomer for the first time, try to choose one with a good word-of-mouth reputation, perhaps recommended by other people at your local veterinary surgery. Also, but less reliable, look at online reviews if you can. Try to choose a groomer with a viewing window so that you can watch what is happening. Change groomers if you are not satisfied with your original choice. 

Are you considering cutting your shih tzu’s hair yourself? If you have no formal training perhaps it would be best to start by continuing to use a groomer for a while for the main cuts while you attempt the trims in between. That way you can get used to using the tools and your shih tzu can get used to you using the tools on him. Always use good quality, professional-grade tools. There are many videos available to watch on YouTube showing the correct procedure for cutting a shih tzu’s hair.

For further advice on grooming your shih tzu, take a look at the other posts in my Grooming section here at Shihtzuandyou.

I hope that you have enjoyed this little foray into the types of shih tzu cuts. If you have any queries or comments relevant to this, shih tzu in general or this website, please leave a comment below or use the contact us form if you don’t want to go public.

Until next time,

Shih Tzu Steve.

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