Shih Tzu shedding – do they shed and how to stop the shedding? These are two questions we’ll answer in this article. In addition, we’ll also cover a lot more about the Shih Tzu coat and hair.
If you are looking for answers to questions like, Is a Shih Tzu a non-shedding dog, as some breeders claim, what does hypoallergenic mean, and what are the facts about non-shedding dogs, they are all coming up in this article. So, stay with us, and we will answer, beyond any doubt, your most pressing questions about Shih Tzu shedding.
In this article:
How much do Shih Tzus shed?
Shih Tzus are undoubtedly one of the cutest and most lovable dogs you’re ever likely to come across; you’ll find it challenging to find a dog that loves humans more than a Shih Tzu.
Shih Tzus shed hair like every dog, but you can classify a Shih Tzu as a low-shedding dog breed. However, they are not hypoallergenic, as breeders often claim. First of all, I should address claims that this dog breed or any dog breed is hypoallergenic. The simple truth is no dog is truly hypoallergenic, and I’ll explain why.
Are Shih Tzus Hypoallergenic
Dog allergies are a severe concern for many would-be dog owners and are essential in choosing the best dog. I doubt that anyone with a love for dogs wants to select a breed they cannot get close to because they end up with severe breathing difficulties.
While it’s perfectly accurate to say certain dog breeds cause fewer allergy concerns and symptoms than most other dog breeds, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog; that also includes the Shih Tzu.
Most people believe they have an allergy to their pet’s hair or fur; however, the genuine source of the issue is a protein in the animal’s urine and saliva. The protein gets onto the dead skin cells (pet dander) and ends up in the air, on furnishings, and the pet owners.
Many dog breeds are marketed as hypoallergenic because they are low-shedding, which is true, but entirely misses the point that the cause of allergies from dogs is Can f1 and Can f2, both lipocalin proteins found in dander and saliva.
Cat owners are not immune from this problem, either. There is a major cat allergen Fel d1 which is saliva, skin, and tear protein.
Some dog breeds, such as the Shih Tzu, are a better choice for allergy sufferers because they shed so much less than a majority of other dog breeds. Less hair in the air and on your furnishings means less contact with the protein-causing allergies.
Why Do Shih Tzus Shed Less?
Shih Tzus have two coats; a top coat of hair (not fur) and an undercoat of thick, woolly fur that helps to keep them cool during hot months and cool during winter months. Dog hair has a longer growth cycle than fur, so it takes longer to die and shed.
A Shih Tzu’s undercoat sheds, but the dead fur gets caught up in the hair of the topcoat. If you brush your Shih Tzu regularly, you’ll collect the dead fur in your brush before it ends up on you and your furnishings.
If you leave off brushing for some time, you’ll notice this fur will eventually end up on your furnishings. I’m not suggesting you stop brushing your Shih Tzu because a Shih Tzu’s hair will tangle and mat very severely when it doesn’t get brushed.
A Shih Tzu’s hair will continue growing if you don’t clip them, which makes grooming a whole lot easier and quicker, but means there’s less of a top coat to catch the dead undercoat hairs.
Shih Tzu Grooming Needs
While we can consider a Shih Tzu as low-shedding, they make up for this because they have pretty high maintenance grooming needs.
Get comfortable with clipping Shih Tzu hair
Clipping your Shih Tzu is something you need to get comfortable with because their hair almost seems as though it grows in front of your eyes. I know that’s inaccurate, but when you have a dog such as a Shih Tzu, you always seem like you’re working on one area or another of their coat. Perhaps it’s because they are such tiny dogs that their hair appears to grow quickly.
How often does a Shih Tzu need groomer?
While visits to a groomer might be necessary every six to eight weeks, the small trims around their face, paws, and anus need frequent attention, which is why I suggest you get comfortable using the clippers.
In addition to that, every time they go outside, their low body attracts plenty of dirt and mud, particularly on wet or snowy days. You have to dry the hair immediately you bring them inside, or it’s unpleasant for the dog and will also smell.
Brush your dog on a daily basis
By and large, because hair weighs less than fur or short dog hairs, it’s more flyaway and can quickly get into tangles and mats. To prevent this from happening, you’ll need to brush your Shih Tzu every day, or at the very least every other day.
Once a Shih Tzu’s hair starts to mat, it’s virtually impossible to brush through, and it can be harrowing for the dog if you try too hard; the only way then is to cut out the mats, and that will end up looking unsightly.
Unless you particularly enjoy grooming long hair and like the look of your Shih Tzu this way, which looks beautiful, I do agree, you might like to opt for a puppy cut to limit some of the work involved.
While your brushing through your Shih Tzu’s hair, you’re not only ensuring it stays free from matting, you’re also removing loose and dead hair, which of course, will help with any shedding.
Be carefull with brushing
If you find your Shih Tzu has dry and flaky skin, this can lead to excess shedding; brushing can help alleviate the problem because it helps circulate the dog’s natural body oils.
Why Does My Shih Tzu Shed So Much?
As I mentioned, a Shih Tzu has a double coat, a thick short undercoat, and a long outer coat of hair. However, if there have been any irregular breeding practices, over breeding would be one, some Shih Tzus might not have undercoats, and if they do, it won’t be particularly thick.
Baby Shih Tzus are not born with outer coats; however, the hair follicles are in place, and as the young dog matures, the long hair will begin to grow.
Shih Tzu Seasonal Shedding
If you have a dog that sheds seasonally, you know how much fur they can lose during spring and fall. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen with a Shih Tzu because they have hair and lose minimal amounts throughout the year.
Admittedly, you might see a slight increase in hair loss in winter and summer; this will almost certainly be because of skin health.
Cold air in the winter months can cause a Shih Tzu’s skin to dry; should it get bad enough, this can have a knock-on effect and cause more hair loss than usual. Similarly, in the summer, hot weather and sun exposure can also cause excessive hair loss.
Shih Tzu Pregnancy Shedding
Very often, after giving birth, female Shih Tzus might go through a period of hefty hair loss. There are many hormonal changes a female dog has to endure when pregnant and giving birth; this frequently gives rise to heavy shedding.
Most importantly, the mom’s hair will regrow without any problem.
Shih Tzu Health Problems Leading To Heavy Shedding
Excessive shedding is something else entirely, a Shih Tzu may lose hair all over the body, or you might begin to notice patches of thinning hair. Shih Tzu’s heavy shedding hair loss is typically over the whole body; however, it’s rarely on the dog’s face and head.
There tends to be an underlying health concern in most cases, and excessive shedding might be the first sign that there’s something wrong.
Excessive hair loss can be the result of any of the following health reasons:
Allergic Dermatitis In Shih Tzus
Should your Shih Tzu begin suffering from allergies, these can affect both coat and skin; the cumulative effect of dry and irritated skin causes weakening of the hair follicles, hence excessive shedding. Coat hairs can also turn overly dry, eventually causing them to break.
Getting to the bottom of allergy causes can be tricky and necessitate numerous tests. However, the usual culprits are environmental (pollutants, poisons, etc.), diet (artificial colorings, additives, fillers such as certain grains, etc.), contact allergies (the wrong shampoo & conditioners, cheap air fresheners, carpet and floor cleaners, etc.).
Allergic reactions can also cause sneezing, rash & scratching, retching, vomiting, etc.
Finding the root cause of the allergens is crucial to prevent further allergic reactions. An immediate vet’s visit is necessary so the necessary testing can take place.
If allergic reactions are bad enough, your vet might prescribe antihistamines or steroids to prevent symptoms while the vet continues with allergen testing.
Shih Tzu Cushing’s Disease
Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism) is a severe health condition that can affect Shih Tzus. The disease is a result of the dog’s adrenal glands producing too much cortisol. Excessive cortisol can place a Shih Tzu at risk of illnesses such as kidney damage and diabetes; the disease is life-threatening.
The disease results from a tumor in the dog’s pituitary gland; in rarer cases, the tumor may be situated in the dog’s adrenal glands.
Symptoms Of Cushing’s Disease In Shih Tzus
- Excessive hair loss
- Skin thinning
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of energy
- Constantly panting
- Swollen Stomach
Needless to say, if your Shih Tzu begins to exhibit any of the above signs, you need to contact your vet immediately.
Hypothyroidism In Shih Tzus
In Shih Tzus, hypothyroidism is typically caused by two diseases:
Lymphocytic Thyroiditis: The most common cause of hypothyroidism and is an immune disease. This disease is inherited, and while it’s unclear why it occurs, the dog’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland.
Idiopathic Thyroid Gland Atrophy: Doctors have not thoroughly investigated this condition, so the cause is unknown, but the result is the thyroid gland is replaced by fatty tissue.
As high as 95% of all cases of hypothyroidism in dogs are a factor of these two diseases.
Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism In Shih Tzus
- Total or near baldness
- Excessive shedding
- Dark pigmentation of the skin
- Hair fails to regrow after cutting
- Slow heart rate
- Constant skin infections
- Cold intolerance
- High blood cholesterol
How To Stop A Shih Tzu From Shedding
It’s impossible to stop your Shih Tzu from naturally shedding. If shedding is excessive, I have discussed the reasons for this and what you can do to help your dog.
However, there are some things you can do to limit Shih Tzu shedding. First off, let’s be honest, a Shih Tzu is a minimal shedding dog, so it really shouldn’t be too much of an issue for any owner.
- Brush your Shih Tzu every day. Brushing will collect any dead hairs before they fall out.
- Feed your Shih Tzu the best nutritious diet you possibly can, including additional Omega 3 fatty acids to help them maintain a healthy coat.
Providing your Shih Tzu has no health concerns like the ones I discussed earlier, and you feed a nutritious diet plus daily grooming, I am sure you’ll not even notice any hair fall on your furnishings or clothes from your Shih Tzu.