The small but loveable Shih Tzu is known for having a sweet nature, long hair and beautiful dark eyes. Many people believe that Shih Tzu’s do not shed and are therefore suitable dogs for people with allergies but is this really true? Let’s find out.

Do Shih Tzu shed? Despite popular belief, they do shed. A Shih Tzu is different from many other dog breeds as they have hair instead of fur which means, like humans, they lose a small amount of hair each day rather than go through periods of intense shedding. Most of this loose hair gets caught in the dog’s long coat so is often unnoticed which leads to the belief that they do not shed. 

A simple, daily grooming routine is enough to keep a Shih Tzu’s hair under control. With that said, a puppy will shed as it transitions from its puppy coat to its adult coat. Some say that Shih Tzu are hypoallergenic dogs, however, this is not strictly true as they do still lightly shed. 

Understanding your dog’s coat type, establishing a good grooming routine and knowing when shedding is likely to occur will make managing allergies and expectations considerably easier.

Shih Tzu Shedding: What To Expect 

Shih Tzu Hair Type

SheddingLow frequency
CoatDouble Coat
Grooming RequirementsHigh

You have probably heard rumors that Shih Tzu’s do not shed at all, while this would be great it is just a misconception. They are light shedders, they lose a very small amount of hair each day. Many people believe that they do not shed at all because the loose hair gets caught up in the coat rather than falling to the floor, meaning it is only really noticeable when you stroke or groom the dog.

Some Shih Tzu owners decide to clip their dog’s hair so it is shorter and more manageable. It’s personal preference whether you like your pup with long or short hair. Many people think Shih Tzu’s are cuter with long hair but there is no denying that they are far easier to maintain with short hair. Let’s face it, if you skip brushing a long haired Shih Tzu it won’t be long until knots and tangles begin to form.  

If you suffer from allergies you may think it’s a good idea to clip your dog’s fur to reduce your allergies but this will actually make the light shedding more noticeable because the hair will fall out rather than getting caught in the dog’s coat. This could even cause your allergies to be worse. Either way, your dog will shed the same amount but a long coat makes it appear as though they are shedding less.

Shih Tzu Grooming Routine

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to Shih Tzu’s coat care is matting. This is because mats and tangles seem to occur quickly in certain breeds (Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians to name a few). Matted fur can cause your dog pain and discomfort and can increase the likelihood of skin infections occurring. The best way of handling this is to brush your Shih Tzu on a daily basis.

Not only will daily brushing prevent tangles, it is also necessary to remove any loose hairs from their coat. The best thing about establishing a regular routine is that it doesn’t take much time to brush your dog on a daily basis but it makes a world of difference to their coat condition. By choosing the right brushes and combs it will be even easier; I recommend using a wire pin brush and a comb for a Shih Tzu.

Bathing your dog will also help with handling the shedding but if your pup has a knot or mat, be sure to comb it out before bathing them as water can cause a knot to tighten and worsen the situation.

Without regular brushing your Shih Tzu’s coat will become tangled, if you don’t have time for a frequent grooming routine you may want to consider clipping their hair short as this minimizes the grooming required.  

What is a Double Coat?

Shih Tzu have a double coat, this means they have a short inner layer of hair (undercoat) and a longer outer layer (top coat). This means overall their coat is quite thick and often appears fluffy. Dogs with a double coat require frequent grooming to prevent mats from forming.

Examples of Dog Breeds with a Double CoatExamples of Dog Breeds with a Single Coat
AkitaYorkshire Terrier
Siberian HuskyPoodle
Australian ShepherdBedlington Terrier
NewfoundlandWhippet
PomeranianAfghan Hound
Shih TzuMaltese

Is a Shih Tzu Hypoallergenic?

No dog is truly hypoallergenic. However, many people consider Shih Tzu’s to be one of the more suitable dog breeds for people with allergies. This is because, if your allergy is specifically to fur, there is a good chance you are not going to be allergic to a Shih Tzu’s hair. In addition to this, they shed a lot less than many other breeds so you may not react as severely to them.

With that said, many people are allergic to dander (a dog’s dead skin cells) and saliva rather than fur. This means if you are allergic to dog dander or saliva then you will still be allergic to Shih Tzu’s. The idea that Shih Tzu’s are hypoallergenic comes from the fact that a Shih Tzu does not trigger people’s allergies as much as other breeds.

Some people’s allergies are still set off by even the most allergy-friendly dogs. If you have allergies and are considering introducing a Shih Tzu into your family, first spend some time with the breed at a rescue center or reputable breeder so you can discover whether or not they will trigger your allergies before committing.

How to Deal with Allergies

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, as many as three in ten people are allergic to cats and dogs in the U.S.  If you are suffering from allergies you may find the following tips useful:

  •  Wash your hands after playing with your dog
  •  Keep your Shih Tzu out of your bedroom
  • Try to keep your pets off of the furniture
  • If possible, avoid having carpets in your home or if you do have carpets clean them frequently (once a week)
  • Get your dog into a grooming routine: if possible, ask a non-allergic family member to carry out your dog’s daily grooming. In addition to this, weekly baths can also help to reduce allergies
  • Ensure your dog has a well-balanced diet (a good diet will help reduce dry skin and in turn will reduce shedding and dander)

Related Questions

Shih Tzu’s make wonderful companions; they are adorable, sweet-natured and affectionate. Make sure you know about the breed and what to expect before you bring a Shih Tzu into your family. Below are some common questions asked by owners and soon-to-be owners:

Why Is My Shih Tzu Shedding So Much?

If your Shih Tzu is still a puppy you will notice that they have relatively fine, thin hair and this is because they don’t have their adult coat yet. As they go through the transitional period from their puppy to adult coat there will be an increase in the amount of hair being shed.

While you may be finding it difficult to keep your Shih Tzu groomed and free from tangles during this shedding stage, keep at it. This is just a temporary struggle, I promise! Once your Shih Tzu has its adult coat it will be far easier to care for.

You may also see an increase in shedding after your Shih Tzu has given birth, this is because of hormonal changes that occur.

Will a Shih Tzu Mix Shed?

The amount a Shih Tzu mix sheds will depend on what breed it is mixed with, for example a Pomeranian Shih Tzu mix will likely shed slightly more than a pure Shih Tzu.

BreedShedding LevelKey Characteristics
Maltese Shih Tzu (Mal-Shi)Low shedGood temperament
Poodle Shih Tzu (Shi-Poo)Low shedStubborn
Chihuahua Shih Tzu (Shichi)Low shedVery sassy
Pomeranian Shih Tzu (Shiranian)Medium shedPlayful and energetic

How Often Should I Bathe My Shih Tzu?

Every week or two is enough for a Shih Tzu. Regular baths can help to prevent dry skin and reduce the amount of dander present. 

Why is My Shih Tzu Always Hungry?

Shih Tzu’s have very healthy appetites, a balanced diet is important for your dog’s health. If you are worried they are never satisfied when it comes to food, a trip to the vet can help you make sure they are getting all the nutrition they need.