Styling up the Shih Tzu Shave-Down - Groomer to Groomer Magazine

Styled Up

Styling up the Shih Tzu Shave-Down

We all get those clients that just want their dog shaved down as short as possible. I get many of those requests during the hot, humid summer months at my salons in Florida. This tutorial will walk you through adding style to your shave–downs, while offering the client what they requested.

This dog was bathed, dried and prepped before the tutorial. 

To begin this groom, clip from right behind the occiput over the entire back of the dog. You can use whichever length you or the client desires for this.

Fig 2) Next, clip down to the elbow and then glide off. We will leave the leg coat for now. 


Fig 3) Continue clipping the coat off the entire body.

Fig 4) Clip to the top of the thigh muscle and then lightly skim off, leaving the leg coat. 

Fig 5) Finish the body work by clipping from the throat directly down in between the front legs. You can also clip the belly as well.

Fig 6) Clip the leg coat off with a guard comb of your choosing. You want to take enough length off so the coat is short, but leave enough so that you can add style to the shave–down. I prefer to go at least two lengths longer than what I use on the body coat. To help achieve balance, you will clip the top of the leg with the attachment comb and slowly skim off as you get closer to the ground. Ideally, the top of the leg should resemble the same size as the bottom of the leg to create a column.

Fig 7) Once the clipper work is completed, continue the groom by scissoring around the feet. I prefer to scissor the foot with the paw on the table and rotate my shears around it; this allows me to see and control the shape of the foot as I am scissoring, as well as adjust how tight the foot is.

Fig 8 & 9) Next, blend the body into the leg by using a thinner and taking the bulk out of the coat. I prefer to scissor feet before scissoring the leg, because if you set the length on the top of the leg and then you set the length of the foot, you can connect the dots between elbow and foot to achieve your straight column legs.

Fig 10) Make sure to check the column from all sides and angles to ensure it is not thicker on one side. You do not want to create a bow–legged appearance when viewing from behind, rather a seamless blend between the short coat of the body and the longer coat of the leg.

Fig 11) Begin the head by clipping out the hair in front of the eyes and on top of the nose. Be sure to always clip toward you and away from the eye.

Fig 12) Set the length on top of the head with a guard comb. Be sure to clip in the direction of the growth of coat. For this dog, I started in the center of the head and clipped outward in each direction (side to side, then forward and backward).

Fig 13) Scissor the visor by trimming from the outside corner of the eye to the center in each direction.

Fig 14) Set the length of the chin by blending the clipped area of the throat into the longer coat of the beard.

Fig 15) Clip the sides of the face starting from the bottom of the chin then up and around the top of the head. When you scissor one side of the face from the bottom up and around, be sure to mirror that on the other side and scissor from bottom to top. This helps the sides look symmetrical. As with the legs, I prefer to set the length on the top of the head and then the chin before scissoring cheeks as it helps “connect the dots” in terms of length.

Optional: Trim the ears and tail per owner request.

Now this little guy is ready to hit the beach in his short, stylish trim. I hope this article will help you achieve a little more pizzazz in your Shih Tzu shave–downs this summer. ✂️

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