The Shih Tzu is a Chinese toy dog breed that is worth having. It’s one of the cutest dogs you’ll ever see and is affectionate, loyal, outgoing, and alert, among other amazing traits. It’s known to interact well with other dogs and children, making it an excellent family dog. It can be stubborn, but you can have a well-behaved companion with proper training and early socialization.
There’s so much more about this breed that you need to learn before bringing it into your home. One area of dog ownership that most people dislike is shedding. A dog’s shedding tendencies will determine how much cleaning you have to do, not to mention it can be life-threatening to people with severe allergies.
So, do Shih Tzus shed? Yes, they do. Luckily, they are considered low shedders. You’re not likely to find hair all over your furniture, floors, and carpets as you would with other dogs, especially the double-coated ones. That being said, there are a couple of things that can affect your Shih Tzu’s shedding, such as diet, overall health, season, etc.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the Shih Tzu is their long, beautiful, luxurious hair. This makes some people assume that they are heavy shedders. Then there’s a common misconception that Shih Tzus are a non-shedding breed. I’m here to clarify this breed’s shedding patterns, including how much they shed, when they shed, and what you can do to manage it.
Shedding can be pretty frustrating for everyone. No matter how much you love your dog, finding fur everywhere can drive you nuts. This is why you must understand their shedding patterns beforehand to decide whether or not a particular breed is right for you. Without further ado, let’s check out Shih Tzu’s shedding.
How Much Do Shih Tzus Shed?
These dogs do shed some hair, but it’s pretty minimal. One of the reasons they shed so little is their hairs go through a longer growth cycle and can grow down to the floor. This means it takes longer to grow, die, and fall out. Shih Tzus do have an undercoat that sheds, so you’re not entirely out of the woods.
Luckily, shedding isn’t very noticeable since most loose hairs get trapped in the long outer coat. Rather than ending up on the floor, most of their hairs come out when you brush or bathe them. Some Shih Tzu owners decide to clip their hair to make it more manageable. But this also means less outercoat to trap the loose fur, and thus more fur on your floors.
While these dogs are generally low shedders, there are instances in which you’ll notice more shedding than usual. The first one is when they transition from a puppy coat to an adult one. This usually occurs when they are between 7 months and one year old. Secondly, when preparing for seasonal changes, which usually happen in fall and spring.
Why Do Shih Tzus Shed?
All dogs shed, and it’s usually for the same reasons. Your dog’s fur is in a constant state of renewal as it goes through three stages of growth. The first is the anagen, where growth occurs to a particular breed’s pre-determined length. In the case of Shih Tzus, their hairs can grow to floor-length and even beyond. The second stage is telogen, and it’s the resting stage.
The last stage is catagen, where hairs shrink, die, and fall out. Can you imagine if your canine kept growing fur all their life? What would they look like? So, they shed to get rid of old fur and regrow new, healthier ones.
If you have a Shih Tzu puppy, be prepared for significant shedding at around seven months old, when they get rid of their delicate puppy hairs to grow a more robust adult coat.
While these causes of Shih Tzu shedding are completely natural and are nothing to worry about, they are not the cause for all shedding. Sometimes, underlying issues could be the reason for your pup’s shedding. So, be vigilant to know when something is amiss. Keep reading to learn more about unhealthy shedding.
Shedding Seasons and Frequency
When do Shih Tzus shed? These dogs are said to shed minimally throughout most of their life. That being said, there are two instances in which they’ll increase shedding. First is when they shed their puppy coats to grow adult ones. The good news is this phase is relatively short, about three weeks, and they’ll go back to their regular minimal shedding in no time.
Secondly, all dogs go through seasonal shedding, where they grow more fur towards winter to stay warm and shed it off in spring to stay cool in summer. When people think about seasonal shedding, they envision clumps of fur falling out, especially for double-coated and large breeds, as they have more fur to shed. But this is not the case with Shih Tzus. While there will be a slight increase in shedding at these times of the year, it’s still not much that can cause a mess in the house.
Dogs that are kept indoors where there’s constant temperature regulation may not even experience seasonal shedding.
As we’ve seen, this breed is a light shedder with minimal possible increases. But natural shedding is not the only type of shedding they can experience. Sometimes, underlying issues can cause your Shih Tzu to shed. One of the biggest causes of unhealthy shedding is stress. Common stress factors include:
- Relocation to a new home
- A new addition to the family
- Death of the owner
- Loud sounds
- Lack of enough physical and mental stimulation, etc.
You’ll also notice that your canine sheds more when they are sick. Many illnesses can cause or aggravate shedding, including cancer, kidney disease, fungal and bacterial infections, allergies, thyroid issues, liver conditions, etc. There are several other causes of unhealthy shedding.
Being a low shedder, if you notice any increase in your Shih Tzu’s shedding, it would be best to visit the vet ASAP. Aside from excessive shedding, You may also want to watch out for other signs of unhealthy shedding, such as thinning hairs, bald spots, dry skin, and/or dull fur.
What Type of Coat Does A Shih Tzu Have?
These dogs are best known for their show-stopping coats, which are actually double-coated. This means they have two layers of fur: a topcoat and an undercoat. The undercoat consists of short, soft, and feathery hairs and acts as an insulator to help regulate the animal’s temperature. This allows them to stay warm or cool as needed. On the other hand, the topcoat is fine and silky and can be quite long, reaching the floor and beyond.
Overall, these dogs’ coats are quite thick and often appear fluffy. The undercoat does most of the shedding, but most of the loose hairs end up getting trapped in the longer topcoat, thus resulting in less fur falling all over your house.
How to Manage and Reduce Shih Tzus Shedding?
There’s not much you need to do to reduce this breed’s shedding because they are already minimal shedders. But there’s a lot to do to keep their coats in optimal condition and thus healthy shedding. The simplest and most effective ways to maintain healthy coats are grooming and providing a proper diet.
Shih Tzus Grooming
Grooming Shih Tzus is necessary and requires more effort than most breeds. Having long, luxurious fur means it tangles and forms mats easily. Removing mats and tangles can cause pain and discomfort and increase the likelihood of skin infections and more shedding. Needless to say, you’ll need to brush your Shih Tzu daily to keep it clean and tangle-free.
As mentioned earlier, this dog’s hairs tend to get caught in their long outercoats, so brushing allows you to capture the loose hairs before they get a chance to fall out and spread all over the house. Last but not least, brushing your doggy allows you to spread their skin’s natural oils all over their body, thus encouraging the growth of healthy skin and fur that also sheds healthily.
Using the right tools is equally vital for effective grooming. A wire pin brush or slicker brush is great for removing mats, knots, and debris from the coat. You can also use a de-shedding tool as it can get into the undercoat and remove all the loose, dead hairs.
Some owners choose to have their Shih Tzu’s fur clipped into a puppy cut to make it more manageable. If you decide to go this route, I suggest going to the groomers. Doing it yourself might cause damage to the undercoat, and we already saw that dogs need it to regulate their body temperatures.
Shih Tzus Diet
You probably know that what you eat directly impacts your skin, hair, and overall health. Well, the same goes for dogs. Providing a proper diet is vital to keeping your Shih Tzu’s fur smooth, shiny, and healthy. And a healthy coat sheds only when necessary. Include foods rich in proteins, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. While you’re at it, remember to provide them with plenty of clean, fresh water to help keep their skin hydrated. Dehydration causes dry skin that is prone to shedding.
Bathing is part of grooming, and it also helps to capture loose, dead hairs before they fall out and spread all over the house. Just be sure not to over bathe your Shih Tzu as that could lead to dry, flaky, irritated skin, prone to more shedding. You also want to use the right shampoo to avoid skin problems that could later cause shedding.
As mentioned earlier, a proper diet is needed to promote healthy fur. But perhaps your furry friend isn’t getting all the necessary nutrients from their current diet, which is possible in a pregnant or sick pup. In that case, consider supplements such as fish oils, which are known to maintain healthy and good-looking coats. Consult with your vet about other useful supplements for your Shih Tzu.
Are Shih Tzus Hypoallergenic?
Many people experience itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, and difficulty breathing, among other symptoms, when they are near dogs. In the case of severe allergies, it can be a life-threatening situation. For this reason, there’s an increasing need for hypoallergenic dogs.
With that in mind, do Shih Tzus shed enough to cause allergies? A common misconception about canine allergies is that they are caused by fur. The truth is they are triggered by a protein found in the animal’s fur, dander, saliva, and urine.
Since all dogs produce these elements, none is 100% hypoallergenic. The good news is some produce less fur, less dander, and drool less, making them less likely to cause allergic reactions. Shih Tzus are pretty low shedders, producing less fur and dander. This makes them better suited for allergy sufferers than many other dog breeds.
To limit the risk of an allergic reaction even further, ensure you regularly groom your pup and feed them a proper diet. You can also use a vacuum cleaner and a HEPA air filter to remove existing allergens in your environment. Last but not least, keep the dog out of your bedroom.