Shih Tzus are one of the most instantly recognizable dog breeds, and with good reason. In addition to their stocky bodies, adorably short snouts, and affectionate, outgoing personalities, the Shih Tzu's flowing locks give them their distinctive look.
First bred thousands of years ago by the Chinese, they are thought to have been used as lapdogs and even foot warmers for Tibetan emperors. (Maybe that's why these little dogs are so accustomed to being treated like royalty!)
Shih Tzus are, to put it simply, pretty hairy dogs. But you may be surprised to learn that all that hair doesn't equal a lot of shedding.
Do Shih Tzus shed? Yes. But they're generally considered light shedders; your Shih Tzu sheds only a small amount despite their long coat of hair. It's just another one of the reasons Shih Tzus make great pets for so many families.
Let's learn more about the Shih Tzu's coat, how much they shed, and what you can do to keep your dog's coat in good shape throughout their life.
What Kind of Coat Does a Shih Tzu Have?
Shih Tzus have what is known as a double coat, just like other breeds such as the Lhasa Apso, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and the Golden Retriever. That means their coat is made up of two distinct layers: the undercoat and the topcoat.
Your pet's undercoat is soft, feathery, and made of short hair, while the topcoat is made up of longer hair that is fine and silky to the touch. So, why do Shih Tzus shed so little? It's actually the undercoat that does most of the shedding, and a lot of the loose hair from the undercoat ends up trapped in the longer topcoat. That results in less hair falling all over your home.
The Shih Tzu breed has hair instead of fur. Hair strands are thinner than fur, and hair can grow much longer. Hair also has a longer growth cycle than fur, which means it takes longer to die and fall out. This is another reason why Shih Tzus don't shed that much.
How Much Do Shih Tzus Shed?
So, how much do Shih Tzus shed, exactly?
If you own a Shih Tzu, you probably won't see more than the occasional bit of dog hair here and there around your home. There are two instances in which you'll notice your pooch's hair coming out more than usual:
- When you're brushing them: This is because the act of brushing dislodges that loose hair trapped in the topcoat. That's one reason why regular brushing is recommended for Shih Tzus to maintain clean, healthy coats.
- Coat transition: Shih Tzu puppies go through a particular stage of life — around 10 months to one year of age — when their coat changes from the puppy coat to the adult coat. During this time, they'll shed quite a bit — this is perfectly normal, and it should only last a few weeks.
Are Shih Tzus Hypoallergenic Dogs?
Do Shih Tzus shed enough to cause allergies? The answer is ... maybe. Because of the fact that Shih Tzus shed very little, they're generally considered hypoallergenic. And it's true that a Shih Tzu may be a good family pet for someone who is allergic to dogs. However, it's important to understand that even low-shedding dogs like the Shih Tzu can still cause allergies.
Most people are allergic to pet dander, which are microscopic dead skin cells, not the hair itself. Pet dander tends to attach itself to hair, so when loose hair falls out, it exposes allergy sufferers to the allergen. That's why even hairless breeds can still cause allergies since the allergen comes from the skin, not the hair or fur.
If you are allergic to dogs, a Shih Tzu will probably be easier to spend time around than other dog breeds that shed more.
Did you know that dogs, Shih Tzus included, can have allergies to pet dander themselves? Your pet could react to another pet's dander, as well as other substances like pollen, dust, dirt, and mold. Build your dog's defense against allergens with Native Pet's Allergy Chicken Chews, which provide an all-natural antihistamine and even aid in long-term immune support.
How Can I Keep My Shih Tzu's Coat Healthy?
Do Shih Tzus shed a lot? No, and that's one of the things their owners love about them. But just because these lovable pups don't shed their hair doesn't mean you shouldn't take steps to keep the coat healthy. Just like other dogs, Shih Tzus benefit from a few hair-care best practices.
Most dogs can benefit from regular and even daily brushing. Brushing helps to smooth out any tangles in the fur — especially important in a long-haired breed like the Shih Tzu since tangles are more likely — and it spreads your pooch's natural skin oils throughout the hair to moisturize it naturally. Brushing also gets rid of any dirt, grime, or foreign objects hiding out in your dog's coat to keep them looking their absolute best and prevent any infection issues.
Did you know that what your dog eats has a direct impact on their skin and coat health? Feeding your Shih Tzu a proper diet is one of the best ways to keep the skin healthy, which in turn makes for a healthy, smooth, and shiny coat. Make sure your dog's food is formulated specifically for their size, breed, and age, and look for ingredients like omega-3 fatty acids that help boost skin and hair health.
Another way to give your dog omega-3 fatty acids is with a supplement, such as Native Pet's Omega Oil. Our formula promotes a healthy coat and skin and helps alleviate joint pain and inflammation at the same time.
Many Shih Tzu owners take their pets to a professional dog groomer to have their hair trimmed on a regular basis. Some owners prefer to do their own grooming at home. The choice is entirely up to you. Just make sure you're aware of the proper safety protocols and hair-cutting methods if you're trimming at home. In either case, regular grooming is a great way to make sure your dog's coat stays in good shape, and it keeps your Shih Tzu looking like the beautiful dog they are.
Watch for Skin or Coat Issues
Paying close attention to your dog's skin and coat is another important step for keeping their coat — and their overall health — in order. When grooming your pet or simply while petting them, take some time to examine the skin and fur. Do you notice dry skin or red, irritated, or flaky areas on the skin? Bald patches or noticeable hair loss? Perhaps your dog's coat has suddenly become more coarse or dry. Changes like these could indicate skin health issues or wider health problems, so you'll want to have your veterinarian take a look as soon as possible.
Do Shih Tzus Shed? Yes — Here's What to Remember
The Shih Tzu is one of the best dog breeds to choose from if you like a small dog with a lot of beautiful hair. We think these loyal, affectionate, adorable dogs make wonderful pets for many families.
Do Shih Tzus shed? Yes, but minimally. You're not likely to find a lot of shed hair all over your carpets and furniture — the Shih Tzu is a light shedder and their double coat further reduces the amount of loose hair that comes off of them. Because of this, the Shih Tzu is considered hypoallergenic.
Remember that your Shih Tzu needs regular grooming and hair care, like many dogs. If you don't have them professionally groomed you should be brushing them regularly. Also, be sure to feed them well to benefit the skin and health, and keep an eye out for any health issues so you can let your vet know ASAP.
Want to keep learning about your dog's health and nutrition? Visit the Native Pet blog to read more articles.