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Shih Tzu Spa Talk!

Shih Tzu Puppy Coat Care

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Puppy Coat Care:

As much as I love grooming my Shih Tzu, the Puppy Blow Phase was not anything I'd want to re-live again. wow! It's a tough tough tough time. But then again, I didn't know much of what to expect, nor what to use (products). Our breeder was (and is) super! She is ready to help any time I call or email (which is frequently!), but still I had a very hard time of it. My guess is that her "show puppies" are kept in "show condition" (potty time is in a crate, not outside, etc). Whereas, I was keeping my Tzu "in show coat", yet allowing her to romp and play as a normal "pet". That wreaks a lot of havoc on a coat, which is why "pet" Shih Tzu are usually given a puppy cut. Another factor is that my Shih Tzu had an extremely COTTONY coat! (which I now know is due to her "yeast overgrowth issue" that she had since a puppy. But this is something I had no idea about before!). Cottony coats look adorable on a puppy. They are fluffy, full, snuggly, plushy ---- nightmare coats! yikes! Looks aren't everything, all the time. (LOL) So, now that I know what puppy coat blow is all about (20/20 hindsight), let's see if I can make it a bit easier for you Shih Tzu Puppy Owners.

Read about and buy all the grooming tools/products you need, even before you bring your new puppy home! There is no time to waste. Have all your tolls handy.  I have provided my trusty "must haves" on the tools page, for you.

Puppy Blow Phase:
Every Tzu is different. Most go through their first puppy blow, at about 6 or 7 mos. My Tzu was a late bloomer, and didn't blow her coat until 10 or 11 mos old. It lasted what seemed a lifetime! But actually, I think it was around 6-8 weeks of sheer HELL.  They say that Shih Tzus can have blow phases (puppy blows, NOT "seasonal blows") until 3 yrs of age. My dog did have 3, up until she was a bit over 2 yo. Each stage was a bit less severe than the first, so don't despair. When I say "puppy blow", I'm talking about the shedding of the "puppy coat", so that the adult coat comes in. Dogs will have this regardless of whether they have been spayed/neutered, or not. I do not have an intact female, so I cannot speak about "Seasonal Blows". 

What to Expect During Puppy Blow:
Imagine spending 2 hours in the morning, de-matting your Shih Tzu puppy, only to have her mat up before your very eyes. That's what Puppy Blow is like. It really seemed that she would mat up like a cotton ball, just by my gazing at her. She didn't even have to move. This was sheer torture. But I got through it, and so can you. Have some faith, and a lot of patience (some prayers wouldn't hurt, either). Back then, I didn't know a lot of what I know today, in regard to Shih Tzu haircare. I used the best shampoos, conditioners, and grooming sprays on the market, and they did get me through; but not nearly as well as what I know how to do now. 


What I used back then (and the only products that worked, out of tons that I tried) were:
-Crown Royal Biovite Shampoo #2 (smells yummy! perfumey! slightly masculine, but YUM!)
-Crown Royal Condition Plus (just one formula)
-Crown Royal Magic Touch Grooming Spray #2

-loved the smell!
-loved the texture of the coat (super super SOFT)
-did a good job at keeping down static and the only thing to help with matting. 
-super at keeping dirt OFF coat, if you used immediately after blow drying after bath. Then, use before each brushing. If you do not use immediately after the blow dry after bath, and wait a day or so to use, the coat will ATTRACT DIRT!
hair tended to get wavy, with repeated Magic Touch sprays (very wet), looked frizzy for a few hours. Never stayed straight after first day of use.
-though it was the only product that helped de-mat, it still did not completely keep mats out. Her hair still matted horribly sometimes. 

Keep some Paul Mitchell Gloss Drops on hand (beauty salon). Add a drop to a BAD MAT, and work through with fingers. Then, gently work mat out with a Gentle Slicker brush (#1Allsystems, size medium). But do NOT use the Gloss Drops all over the coat! Too much will also cause horrible matting. Only use to loosen mats. That is all.

I employed my 20+ year knowledge with people haircare, to that of Shih Tzu haircare. And I found a lot of similarities.

1- Shih Tzus have "hair", not "fur". And most dog products are made for "fur", which is coarser, and has an oily protective barrier. Whereas "hair" is much more delicate, fragile. And Shih Tzu "hair" is even more fragile than is ours.
2- Shih Tzu hair (as people hair) needs to be ACIDIFIED, to keep the cuticle closed. This strengthens hair, and adds shine. It also helps keep the hair tangle free (alkaline agents make hair more porous, and make mats happen faster).
3- yeast overgrowth issues EFFECT hair growth and texture. So, if you have a very COTTONY coated Shih Tzu, with a slow growing coat, READ the Yeast page here, and get your dog on a people grade PROBIOTIC, asap
4-avoid all silicone and heavy oil grooming products! As with people hair, they coat the hair shaft (which is good, if used properly on a person), but can lead to skin issues and dry hair, in Shih Tzus. So, check the labels! FYI: Crown Royal DOES contain silicones, and did lead to a host of hair issues in my dog. I learned the hard way, so don't you do it too!


My Puppy Blow Coat Care Regimen Suggestions Now:

The Coat Handler 5:1 Shampoo (not the 15:1, as it is too harsh)
Conditioner: The Coat Handler CONDITIONER
Groom Spray: The Coat Handler DETANGLER
Final Rinse: use sink full of water + 1/4 c distilled vinegar+ 2 tsp of CH Condtioner. Allow puppy to soak in it for 5 min. Then, blot dry. Spritz with dilluted CH Conditioner. Blow Dry. Spritz with CH Detangler. Brush through. Voila! A beautiful, SOFT, mat free puppy...if you do your daily 2 x brushing with the groom spray (detangler)! 

Urine pH testing: Get in the habit of doing this often. I'd begin testing 2 times per day, at least 2 times per week. Then, at least 1 day per week, then at least 2 times per month. Test in morning (pH should read 6.5, no eating or drinking!). Then test again the same day, four hours after a meal. pH should now read between 6.7-7.  You do not want the ph to remail too acidic (6.7 or less), nor too alkaline (7.0 or more) for too long. pH should fluctuate, but I have given you avg readings. Too acidic a pH can lead to kidney dieseases. And too alkaline can lead to bladder infection and struvite crystals (bladders stones). The MOST SEVERE is too acidic, as surgery is the only option! Yet, too alkaline can also lead to yeast and bacterial infection. So, monitor the urine pH to get an indication of your dog's overall health. Yeast overgrowth DOES affect hair quality and growth. A very very cottony, slow growing coat could be an indication of a yeast issue going on internally.  Read the Yeast page for more info.

Coat Handler Directions:
I use the Coat Handler products on my Shih Tzu now. Her hair has never been so easy to take care of. And I have reccommended this product to puppy owners, and they have all raved about it's mat-prevention abilities IF they use it correctly. So, follow these directions:
Do use all 3 products, for the best results. Never use the CH Shampoo, unless you ALSO use the other 2 CH products, as they are pH balanced (shampoo is VERY alkaline, and NEEDS the acidity of the CH conditioner to balance it! or you will get SEVERE SEVERE SEVERE MATTING! DO NOT DO THIS!). You can use a different shampoo with the CH conditioner and detangler, though. But, why would you want to? The 3 products together are great! If you do use a different shampoo, I would ONLY rec PetSilk, as it does not contain silicones or oils (CH is also silicone and oil free!). Don't think that a sans-silicone or sans-oil product is not conditioning enough! Wrong wrong wrong! You will be amazed at how conditioning the CH Conditioner is! I'd use it on my own hair, but I'm not sure if it would strip out my highlights! (LOL). It's FAB! Nothing comes close to the CH line, imho. Nothing!  I wish I had it when my Tzu was a puppy! My carpal tunnel would have been much better off!

1-Shampoo 5:1 dilluted in bottle (do NOT smush up coat! keep the coat straight. Don't later on skin. Dillute in bottle, and then apply to dog, or just apply shampoo to water in tub. Don't make a ton of suds, please! it's a little puppy...NOT a car. > Rinse thoroughly.

2-Fill tub with lukewarm water, add about 1/8 c or less of CH Conditioner to the water. Pour water over the dog. Keep coat straight. Let puppy soak for about 2 to 5 min.  RINSE with clear water.

3- RE fill tub with lukewarm water. Add 1/4 c distilled vinegar (NOT acv! as it is a bit sticky!) + 1-2 tsp of CH Conditioner (yes, again!). Allow dog to soak for 2 more minutes. DO NOT RINSE OUT! (this is a good time to brush your pup's teeth! USe only DOG toothpaste!)

4- Blot pup dry with a towel. Do NOT mush up coat! Leave straight.

5- Spritz with MORE CH conditioner mixed with water, in sprayer bottle. Follow bottle dillution instructions....15:1? or 30:1?

5- Blow dry puppy. Use only WARM setting of blow dryer, if a people dryer is used! DO NOT burn the puppy! Blow dryers for people are too hot. Better to invest in a dog stand dryer IF you plan on letting the coat grow out. A good investment! I have the Edemco 3002 and I love love love it!  Get from Cost = about $300-400, I forget which. FAB!

6- finish by spritzing with CH Detangler. Brush coat through. Use maintenance bands to band any topknot hair, etc. Voila! a GORGEOUS Shih Tzu puppy!  (instructions for other grooming issues on main grooming page).




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