How To Groom A Shih Poo [Step By Step Guide]

Shih Poos are the adorable result of crossing a Shih Tzu and a Poodle to create a low shedding, hypoallergenic dog with a soft coat in a wide variety of colors. While Shih Poos are not heavy shedders or large in size, they do require regular grooming at home to stay healthy and happy. But how do you do this? Well, here is everything you are going to want to know and do!

So, how do you groom a Shih Poo? Grooming a Shih Poo at home involves several distinct steps. These steps include brushing and bathing, gentle drying, inspection and wiping down of the Shih Poo’s eyes and ears, tooth brushing, and nail trimming. Brushing should be performed daily, while the other steps should be performed at least every two weeks, alongside regular visits to a professional groomer for trimming and shaving. 

That’s the gist of it, but you likely want a breakdown of each step, right?

So let’s delve into it, starting with perhaps the most important thing – a look at the Shih Poo coat!

What Type Of Coat Do Shih Poos Have?

Some Shih Poos will have coats that are short and curled like that of a Poodle, while others will have a coat that is long and flowing like a Shih Tzu. 

The one thing that is true for all Shih Poos is that they have an outer coat made of hair. This hair coat is what makes them extremely low shedders and hypoallergenic for most people. 

Many Shih Poos will have a single coat similar to their Poodle parentage. These coats tend to be thinner and slightly less fluffy. They are often curled and twisted. 

Single coats may become easily tangled. Daily combing of a single coat helps remove debris or other objects that might irritate the skin of your Shih Poo. 

Some Shih Poos will inherit a double coat from their Shih Tzu parent.

This means that their coat consists of a fluffy undercoat covered by a sleek hair coat.

This creates a dog that is soft and cuddly but is also in need of intense grooming.

Matting of the undercoat prevents the Shih Poo’s coat from working properly and also can cause painful sores and irritation to your dog’s skin.

How Often Should You Groom A Shih Poo?

To maintain your Shih Poo’s beauty and health, it is recommended they visit a professional groomer every four to six weeks. At home, between full grooms, a Shih Poo should receive a daily coat and tooth brushing. Shih Poos also benefit from nail trims along with gentle cleansing baths at home every two to three weeks between professional grooms.

Let’s discuss in more detail the frequency of at-home grooming care for a Shih Poo.

Brushing

As we discussed before, Shih Poos have coats that can easily become tangled and matted. The best way to prevent this is with daily gentle brushing.

Daily brushing with a slicker brush helps to prevent mats before they start. This means easier and shorter groom times during full grooms and a healthier coat.

Here is the slicker brush you should get:

PetEd Slicker Brush For Dogs - The Ultimate Dog Brush for Shedding Hair & Fur & Best Slicker Brush for Doodles
  • Comfortable and effective grooming - reduces shedding, detangles, removes dirt & debris, keeps coat looking shiny and healthy
  • Easy and versatile use – great size, shape and weight.
  • Automatic cleaning - Simply retract bristles with the push of a button, then wipe away collected hair
  • Smart Efficient Design - Fine, angled bristles, ergonomic comfort grip, and push-button retraction make it easy to keep your dog looking happy & healthy
  • Ideal for poodle and hybrid dog coats and doodles; Cockapoos, Cavoodles, Maltipoos, Bernedoodles, Goldendoodles, Shih Poos etc.

Daily brushing also helps our dog bond with us through a secure and predictable routine that can be done quickly and gently.

Waiting too long to brush your Shih Poo increases the risk of matting, which may, in turn, make grooming a longer or possibly somewhat painful experience for your sweet pup.

If you miss a day of brushing, don’t panic; simply add it back into your pet care routine the next day.

Read more: Best Brush For Shih Poo [Recommended Picks And Buyers Guide]

Tooth Brushing

Shih Poos can be more prone to dental decay and disease than some other dog breeds.

To help prevent dental problems, it is a good idea to brush your dog’s teeth with a soft brush and dog-safe toothpaste once per day.

At first, brushing your dog’s teeth may seem silly and take a little practice.

After it has become a part of your routine, you will find that your dog will expect to brush and let you help keep their teeth clean and healthy.

If you do not have time for daily brushing, it is recommended to try brushing your Shih Poo’s teeth a minimum of three times per week.

Nail Trimming

If your Shih Poo is on a strict four-week professional grooming schedule, it may be enough to only have your dog’s nails trimmed at their appointments.

If you tend to wait closer to six weeks to have your Shih Poo groomed, you may want to trim or file their nails a small amount at home about mid-way between grooms.

Young puppy nails are particularly sharp and may need more frequent trims with a longer time between trims as your dog ages.

Nail trimming can be done with nail clippers designed specifically for dogs or using a nail grinder to dull, sharp points. 

Nail trimming time is also a good time to look at the fur on the bottom of your Shih Poo’s paws and if it is getting long or matted, trim it gently with scissors.

Bathing

Your Shih Poo should get a deep cleansing bath during their professional grooming appointments or in-depth home grooming sessions every 4-6 weeks.

Between these sessions, a gentle cleansing bath can be useful if your Shih Poo has become muddy or smelly. 

Try to keep major soap baths at least three weeks apart to avoid drying out your Shih Poos’s skin and coat.

The natural oils a Shih Poo produces between baths are great at helping their hair stay healthy.

Rinsing your Shih Poo in a tub with plain warm water and avoiding the face and ears when they are slightly dirty is a good alternative to shampooing too frequently.

Be sure to thoroughly dry your Shih Poo with a towel and follow a bath with head-to-toe brushing.

A Note About Shih Poo Eyes

Shih Poos do have sensitive eyes that can easily tear up.

These tears help your dog release toxins from the body but may also leave behind reddish-brown tear stains on your Shih Poos’s face. 

For dogs that have tear-stained eyes, a daily wipe-down with a warm wet cloth may be necessary.

When To Begin Grooming A Shih Poo

Beginning regular grooming at an early age is crucial to help your Shih Poo become used to the grooming it will experience throughout its life. 

Try to keep grooming times short and happy to build a positive relationship between your Shih Poo and grooming.

Shih Poos can be brushed daily from the time they come home with you as a puppy.

A puppy’s first bath and visit to a professional groomer should occur as soon as they have their first set of puppy shots. 

A good guide is to visit when your puppy is between 10-12 weeks old.

How To Groom A Shih Poo

When you groom your Shih Poo at home, you will want to brush your Shih Poo, give it a full bath, check your Shih Poo’s nails and ears, and brush their teeth.

You may also want to carefully trim some areas of your Shih Poo’s hair, such as around their paws or face.

To help with home grooming your Shih Poo, follow the following steps:

Give A Thorough Brushing

Daily brushing should be a part of your Shih Poo’s routine from their first day at home. 

This can be done with a slicker brush. This can also be done with a fine-toothed comb for dogs with a single coat.

Before bathing your Shih Poo, you need to give your dog a detailed brushing. Tangles can be harder to remove once they are wet.

Brush your dog from head to tail in an orderly manner so that you can keep track of which sections you have combed. 

Brush out small sections of hair at a time to remove tangles and loosen dirt before bathing.

If you come across thick matting, do not attempt to brush this out on your own. It can be painful for your dog. Instead, visit a trained groomer who can remove the matte safely.

Remember to keep brushing a positive experience by doing it in a relaxed environment when you do not need to rush.

Consider using treats or a favorite toy to make brushing time feel rewarding to your dog.

Bathe Your Shih Poo

The first few baths of a Shih Poos life can be a wet and soapy learning experience.

Try using warm (not steaming hot) water and a wash tub with deep sides at an easy-to-reach level to encourage your dog to stay in the tub.

If your dog is soaking in a tub without a spray nozzle, only fill the tub to the bottom of your Shih Poo’s chest. 

This prevents unwanted water and soap from getting in your Shih Poo’s ears, eyes, and nose.

If you have access to a tub with a gentle spray nozzle, you can use this to gently wet your dog starting at their front feet, working up over their shoulder, along their back, and down their tail and hind legs.

Avoid spraying water in a dog’s face or over their ears as this can be quite scary for dogs.

Instead, soak a washcloth with warm water and gently rub your dog’s face and ears to clean them.

After rinsing your dog, work soap into their coat using gentle circular motions along the dog’s body.

Spend extra time focusing on your Shih Poo’s feet, sanitary areas, and any spots where they are noticeably dirty.

Use a soap designed specifically for dogs. Human soaps can have strong ingredients that can irritate a Shih Poo’s skin.

With time and positive experiences, your dog can learn to love the gentle massage of a bath.

Finish the bath with a complete rinse from neck to tail, using your hands to help the water lift and carry away any remaining soap and dirt.

Leftover soap and dirt can create a buildup on your Shih Poo’s skin that is itchy and uncomfortable.

Dry Your Shih Poo

When the water runs clear, remove your Shih Poo from the bath and use a towel to remove extra water from their coat.

Quickly helping your dog dry prevents them from feeling chilled after leaving the warm water of their bath.

At home, it is best to towel dry your dog. Home hair dryers can get quite hot and may burn or unintentionally hurt and scare your Shih Poo.

Brush Your Shih Poo’s Teeth

This step is a great one to do as you wait for your Shih Poo to finish drying from their bath. 

Tooth brushing can be done with any small soft toothbrush (children or infant toothbrushes work well), and doggy dental toothpaste can be found at most pet stores.

Do not use human toothpaste on dogs. The ingredients (especially fluoride) can be harmful to your dog.

If you do not have toothpaste, dampen your brush with warm water for brushing.

To brush your dog’s teeth, use one hand to gently pull back the lips from around your dog’s teeth and the other hand to brush up and down from one side to another with a focus on any discolored areas.

Wipe Your Dog’s Ears and Eyes

While we do not want to get water or soap directly inside a Shih Poo’s ears or eyes, we do want to carefully inspect and wipe these areas.

If the inside of your Shih Poo’s ears are overly red, have an unpleasant smell, or are excessively tangled with hair, you may need to consult with your veterinarian about an ear infection. 

For small hair tangles around the ear, a very gentle loosening of the tangle with your fingertips can be helpful. 

To clean the area, use a damp cloth and simply wipe the flaps of your Shih Poo’s ears in gentle circles. Do not stick q-tips or other objects inside your Shih Poo’s ear canal. 

Wiping under your Shih Poo’s eyes with a warm wet cloth can help remove tear stains and prevent infections.

Trim or File Nails As Needed

Feel each of your Shih Poo’s claws for sharp points or long claws that may be rolling under and preventing your Shih Poo from walking properly.

Use a dog nail trimmer or dog nail grinder to gently work back the tips of extra sharp nails.

Moderation is key in nail trimming as trimming too far can cut the sensitive inner ‘quick’ of a dog’s nail and lead to bleeding.

Give A Final Brush

Now that your Shih Poo is likely to be most of the way dry.

Work over their body one more time with a brush or comb to smooth out any tangles that may have formed during their bath and drying.

How Do You Groom A Shih Poo Face?

Grooming a Shih Poo’s face can be done with a fine single-tooth comb and a small, rounded set of sheers designed for trimming dog hair.

Start by using the fine tooth comb to carefully detangle the hair over and around your dog’s muzzle and back towards its eyes and top of the head. 

Working carefully through this process helps remove unwanted tangles and sets you up to do an even trim of too-long areas. 

Dividing the hair into three sections – left eye, right eye, and middle over the nose can keep the task organized and manageable.

Trim the eye portions first and after brushing to check for appearance, trim any extra length in the middle section.

When trimming your dog’s hair, try covering their eyes when possible to prevent loose hair from falling into them and causing irritation.

Shih Poos with a curlier Poodle coat may simply need a shaping of the hair around the eyes and over the nose with a scissor trim that cuts back any curls blocking their sweet eyes.

If a Shih Poo has extra hair around their mouth and nose, this can be trimmed back but be careful to avoid cutting off your pup’s much-needed whiskers.

Grooming a Shih Poo face must be done carefully and only with a dog who is calm. Trying to groom a Shih Poo’s face that is scared or moving too much could end up in an injured dog.

If your Shih Poo is not happy with your attempts to groom their face and ears, it may be a task best left to a professional.

What Is The Best Cut For A Shih Poo?

The most popular cut for Shih Poos is known as the puppy cut. Don’t let the name fool you; it is adorable on dogs of any age! A close second favorite of Shih Poo owners is the teddy bear cut.

A puppy cut includes a one length all over trim of ½” to ¾” in length. The exact length that is best can depend on the climate where you live and the texture of your Shih Poo’s coat.

This cut allows you to enjoy a super soft snuggle with your pup while being short enough to be managed with daily home brushing.

In a puppy cut, the head is trimmed with scissors and left to be full and round in appearance.

This gives the head a soft and snuggly profile that makes dogs of any age look youthful and sweet.

The teddy bear cut is similar to a puppy cut but includes a shave down the tail and a closer trim around the face and feet of the Shih Poo. 

Close trimming gives your dog’s features a more defined appearance and can help with dogs who frequently struggle with tear stains around their eyes or dirt and matting in their tail.

Last, some owners who have Shih Poos with hair that flows long like their Shih Tzu parent around the face may wish to have their dog’s facial hair held back in a top knot.

This style is paired with a body cut to hold long-flowing locks back out of the dog’s eyes.

This style is done with a rubber band or bow being used to secure long hair from the top of the Shih Poo’s head back into a decorative bun.

It’s a fancy twist on a classic appearance.

Finally

Grooming a Shih Poo is a blend of daily brushing routine and consistent bathing and trimming every few weeks.

Partnering with a professional groomer will help make your Shih Poo grooming experience positive for you and your pup.

At the end of the day, the time you put into caring for your Shih Poo’s coat will be more than made up for by all the love you share with your special companion.

Other grooming guides you may want to check out: