Picking out a new dog is always exciting, especially if you’re looking for a low-shedding dog after having a canine companion that sheds frequently.
So it might get you wondering—do Shih Tzus shed?
Yes, Shih Tzus shed, but minimally. So, they’re an excellent pet if you don’t want excessive amounts of fur strewed across your home.
I’ll explain the nuances of Shih Tzu shedding and why they might be a good fit for people with allergies.
Why Shih Tzus Don’t Shed Much?
According to the American Kennel Club, the Shih Tzu falls under the “no shedding” category. That’s the lowest category there is, with “hair everywhere” reserved for the biggest shedding dogs.
But here’s the truth: Shih Tzus do shed. They just don’t shed as much as many other dog breeds, giving them a misleading reputation as non-shedding dogs.
Shih Tzus don’t shed much because they have hair instead of fur. It’s easy for well-meaning dog owners to confuse these terms.
Unlike fur, hair grows continually. It often extends to the ground and beyond unless you keep your Shih Tzu on a grooming schedule (which you should do). Hair is also thinner than fur.
If you’re still having trouble picturing this, think of human hair. Our hair grows continuously while still dropping some strands.
But you won’t walk around your house encountering strands of hair everywhere as you do with dogs that have fur; combs catch most fallen hair, or you might work some fallen hair out when you run your fingers across your head.
Hair Growth Cycle
As with humans, Shih Tzu’s hair has a three-phase growth stage. The stages include:
Anagen is the growth stage and state in which most of your Shih Tzu’s hair is in at any given time. So, as long as you’re giving your Shih Tzu proper nutrition and they’re not in situations that could break off their hair, you can expect them to grow hair that reaches the floor and beyond.
During the telogen phase, the hair follicles hold individual hair strands so that they can’t grow anymore. That’s in preparation for the catagen stage, which is when the hair falls out through the follicle shrinking so much that it prevents blood from reaching the hair shaft.
Although you might feel disheartened to learn that Shih Tzus shed despite being told otherwise, there’s a silver lining: Shih Tzu shedding is minimal, and doing so helps keep their coat looking fresh.
After all, how would you like to have the same set of hair you had a decade ago? Humans would walk around looking like a disgruntled mess.
The Controversy Behind Hypoallergenic Dogs
Shih Tzus are hypoallergenic dogs, thanks to them having hair instead of fur. But contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t mean you can bring home a Shih Tzu to your allergic family member and expect them to have an allergy-free experience.
Although many dog allergy-prone people can cohabitate with hypoallergenic dogs with few or no problems, some people end up having the heartbreaking experience of giving away their Shih Tzu because of allergies.
Hypoallergenic dogs like Shih Tzus are suitable for some people with allergies because a protein in a standard dog’s dander often sparks an allergic reaction. Since Shih Tzus shed little, there’s less of this protein around the home.
But that doesn’t mean the allergy-inducing protein is non-existent.
For this reason, if you’re interested in getting a Shih Tzu both for their low shedding properties and because there’s someone with allergies in your household, that person should spend time around Shih Tzus to get a feel for how they react to them.
Are Shih Tzus Seasonal Shedders?
Even though we’ve established that Shih Tzus shed little, you might be wondering—do Shih Tzu shed according to the season?
No, Shih Tzus aren’t seasonal shedders. Seasonal shedding often occurs in the spring and fall in dogs with fur to prepare for the changing weather.
Even though Shih Tzus don’t normally shed extra hair because of seasonal changes, you might notice some extra hair on your floor in the summer and winter. The reason is that excessive sun exposure can damage their hair in the summer. And in the winter, a dryer environment can cause dry skin and weakened hair follicles.
So, while you won’t have to pull out your heavy-duty vacuum to scoop up your Shih Tzu’s hair at certain times of the year, you might want to use conditioner to help their hair remain healthy despite external factors.
Situations That Cause Shih Tzus To Shed
Shih Tzus usually don’t leave loads of hair wherever they walk and lay. So if you see this start happening in some capacity, it could be because there’s a harmless or illness-inducing reason for it.
1. Puppy Stage
Did you know Shih Tzu puppies arrive into the world with hair and all the hair follicles they’ll have for life? They continue to grow their hair as they develop, as puppies only have their inner layer of hair at first.
As they age, Shih Tzus grow an outer layer of hair, making up their iconic double coat.
From around four to 12 months of age, Shih Tzus will grow their double coat and shed their puppy coat. So, you can expect a higher-than-average volume of hair. Even then, it’s a gradual process, so you shouldn’t have to worry about too much hair on your floor.
Adult Shih Tzu hair has a relatively thicker and coarser feel to it. On the other hand, Shih Tzu puppy coats have softer and extra-fine hair.
If you have a pregnant female Shih Tzu that’s shedding more than usual, it’s likely because she’s on the brink of giving birth. Alternatively, she might shed shortly after giving birth while nursing.
The reason for this is a change in hormone levels.
The good news is that such shedding in female Shih Tzus is temporary. So, you can expect your dog to grow back her coat after her hormones regulate.
3. Lack of Nutrition
Not receiving a proper balance of nutrition is one of the most common reasons why Shih Tzus start losing excess hair. Puppies, adults, and senior dogs all have unique nutritional needs.
So, one of the most common mistakes that Shih Tzu owners make is feeding their dog food unaligned with their age.
If your dog doesn’t receive the right balance of macro and micronutrients, you might notice alopecia—hair loss that can happen in patches or evenly around the body.
If you’re unsure about the ideal nutrition for your Shih Tzu, I encourage you to speak with your veterinarian. It’s also crucial to feed your dog high-quality dog food. Otherwise, even if you’re giving them food with the right nutrient balance, your pet could also suffer from excess hair loss if those nutrients come from poor sources.
Bacterial and fungal infections are other situations that often lead to excess shedding. These situations happen for several reasons, such as if you don’t fully dry your Shih Tzu after bathing them or if they get a cut.
Although localized hair loss is one of the signs of an infection, there are often other symptoms your dog might have. Examples include:
- Red skin
- Flakey, dry skin
If you discover a skin irritation or infection on your Shih Tzu, take them to the vet. Most of the time, bacterial and fungal infections are easy to treat.
External parasites can be another reason for excess hair loss in Shih Tzus. Some common types of external parasites that can cause shedding include:
These parasites can be a headache to get out of your home. So, in addition to having your veterinarian treat your Shih Tzu for their parasite infestation, you may need to follow their instructions for eliminating the parasite from your house.
A Shih Tzu’s Grooming Needs
If you’re asking, “Do Shih Tzu shed?” because you think it could equate to fewer grooming sessions, I’ve got bad news for you—it doesn’t.
On the contrary, because a Shih Tzu’s coat grows so fast, you should take them to the groomer every four to six weeks.
Furthermore, it’s crucial to brush their coat regularly. I recommend doing so two or three times per week. Make sure to dampen their hair with a spray bottle of water before starting, as this will help reduce breakage.
Other Ways To Reduce Shih Tzu Shedding
There’s no way to prevent your Shih Tzu from shedding fully. And as I mentioned earlier, you wouldn’t want to; that would lead to an old, worn coat.
Nevertheless, below are some strategies aside from regular grooming that can help a healthy Shih Tzu shed even less than they already do.
- Brush them regularly.
- Give them a fatty acid supplement.
- Bring them to annual vet appointments.
- Stay up-to-date on flea and tick medicine.
You can also consider bathing your Shih Tzu, which will help wash away loose hair before it lands on your floor. That said, I recommend speaking with your groomer before doing so.
That’s because Shih Tzus produce natural oils in their skin that help protect the hair follicles. So by bathing them frequently, you could dry out their skin, making their hair fall out more instead of less.
Are You Ready To Bring Home a Shih Tzu?
Shih Tzus are some of the most loving and cuddly dogs. Although Shih Tzus shed, they do so much less than many dog breeds. So, they make excellent lap companions without you having to worry about pulling out the lint roller.
By ensuring your Shih Tzu has a nutrient-rich diet and keeping them on a regular grooming schedule, you can feel at ease knowing you shouldn’t have to clean up too much hair off your floor.