Shih Tzu Makeover | Groomer to Groomer Magazine

Bread & Butter Grooming: Fast & Easy Pet Trims for the Salon

shih tzu makeover

Shih Tzu Makeover

By Kathy Rose

shih tzu before

A sporty and cute trim on the Shih Tzu can take a variety of forms. For this segment, we will focus on a short body with slightly longer leg coat and a short and easy-to-manage round face.

The fundamentals of good preparation are essential. The shampoo and conditioning choices will vary depending on the skin and coat condition of the individual. I would like to emphasize the importance of thoroughly rinsing whatever products you choose, and no cage drying, please. It is virtually impossible to achieve a professional finish on cage-dried pets. The fluff dry blow out will save you grooming time and will make the difference in the final outcome.

Before beginning the following steps, make sure to complete your preparation procedures such as nail trimming/filing, ear cleaning, and trimming of the pads and underwear (sanitary area).

For figures 1-3, I used a #4 blade.

shih tzu fig 1

Standing to the rear of the dog, begin clipping about two inches behind the occipital bone. Clip the entire back, following the coat growth direction and natural contour of the dog.


Still working from the rear of the dog, clip the sides of the neck and the shoulders.

Fig. 1: Following the coat growth pattern, clip the flanks, “falling off” below the spring of rib (widest part of the rib cage). Clip over the rump and the rear portion of the thigh, “falling off” before you get to the hock.

shih tzu fig 2

Fig. 2: Moving to the front of the dog, lift the ear and beard and clip the neck and throat.

Fig. 3: Clip the front of the shoulder, “falling off” just below the point of shoulder or just about level with the elbow. This will help to place the dog’s legs well under him, which will enhance the shoulders.

Fig. 4: Still working from the front of the dog, clip the underline with an “O” snap-on comb over a #30 blade. Clipping against the coat growth direction on the undercarriage helps to blend to the shorter side coat and smooth cowlicks.

For figures 5-6, I used super blenders.

Fig. 5: Tidy the underline by following the natural undercarriage of the dog. The underline should appear natural, not exaggerated or too straight.

Fig. 6: “Erase” the clipper “chatter marks” with super blenders on the front and rear legs. The front legs should appear as columns, and the rear legs should follow the natural outline, showing angulation. The bottom of the legs should be proportionately balanced with the upper and middle thighs.

Use blenders or thinning shears to create parallel lines when viewing the rear legs from the back.

shih tzu fig 3-8

Fig. 7: Create tight, round feet with small curved shears. Place the scissors at a 45° angle to help create a “bevel.”

Fig. 8: Trim the tail to create a soft flag using a long curved shear. You can “soften” the look with thinning scissors.

The Head

You will need a variety of tools to create a soft, round head. For this head, I used long curved shears, short curved shears, super blenders, and fine thinning scissors.

Fig. 9: Clip the inside corners of the eyes and the front of the lips with a #15blade.

Fig. 10: Using a small curved shear, trim from the outside corner of the eye to the stop. Do the same from the other side.

Fig. 11: Open up the dog’s expression by exposing the eye from the side. Thinning scissors used here will keep the expression soft. It is a matter of personal preference with regard to they eyelashes. However, long dark lashes on a lighter coated dog can be endearing. To leave the lashes, place the thumb of the hand opposite your scissoring hand over the lashes, holding the eye in a closed position. Then using a small shear or fine thinning scissor, carefully trim the coat over the eyes.

shih tzu fig 9-14

Fig. 12: Lifting the top knot coat up between your finger, use blenders to trim it to about an inch and a half to two inches. Trimming in this manner will help you to create a soft top knot that falls naturally into the ears.

Fig. 13: Fold the ear back and trim the coat directly in front of the ear (ventilation strip). Pull the cheek coat through your index and middle fingers, and using blenders, trim the cheek coat.

Fig. 14: Using curved shears and starting from the ear, trim the beard into a quarter-circle. From the muzzle and going back toward the ear, trim the other quarter-circle to form the lower semicircle of the beard.

shih tzu fig 15

Use fine thinning scissors to soften the face.

Fig. 15: Finish the face by trimming slightly rounded ears.

This simple, easy-to-complete trim can look great on any drop-coated breed. You can adapt the blade lengths to suit your bread and butter clients’ needs. A good rule of thumb is two or three blades lengths longer on the legs than the body. I recommend the following: 4 body/0 legs, 5 body/ 1 legs, 7 body/2 legs. For an all over longer look, you can use snap-on combs such as the “A,” “C,” and “E.” Keep in mind that a longer coat will require more scissor finishing.

Complete the look with ear bows or even better… colored feather extensions! ✂

shih tzu after
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