4 Best Shampoos for Shih Tzus (Plus Our #1 Conditioner!)

These shampoos are great for moisturizing the Shih Tzu's long hair.

Written By: Gemma Johnstone | Last Updated: January 23, 2020

The Shih Tzu’s long and thin coat can quickly become knotted and tangled. The breed is also prone to skin allergies and irritation, so choosing a gentle shampoo is important. This article will help you choose the best shampoo for Shih Tzu dogs.

Best shampoo for Shih Tzus (plus tips for choosing a shampoo and conditioner)
Shih Tzus have a long coat with flowing hair, so they need regular grooming to remain looking their best. Not all dog shampoos are suitable for this breed though.

It’s important to choose a gentle shampoo that detangles and moisturizes your dog’s coat, as this keeps it healthy, shiny and mat-free. Picking a shampoo with anti-inflammatory and anti-itch properties can also be helpful if your Shih Tzu has sensitive skin.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to select a good Shih Tzu shampoo for your dog. I’ve also listed four of the best options to help you make an informed choice.

Our #1 Pick

Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo

Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Pet Shampoo

Oatmeal shampoo that's great for Shih Tzus

The Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe is our top pick for a shampoo for Shih Tzus. It contains colloidal oatmeal for its anti-inflammatory properties, plus vitamin E, aloe vera and allantoin. It’s great for long hair and all-round coat health.

What Makes a High-Quality Shih Tzu Shampoo?

Shih Tzus have a long topcoat and a shorter, fluffier and denser undercoat. This combination gives the breed its distinctive appearance.

Unlike breeds with a heavy undercoat, like Labradors or Huskies, you won’t have to deal with heavy shedding. You will need to deal with tangling though. As you probably already know, a Shih Tzu’s long coat can quickly become matted and greasy.

Regular brushing is vital, but the type of shampoo you use can also make a difference. 

The best Shih Tzu shampoos remove excess oil and dirt to prevent the coat from becoming lacklustre and greasy. The shampoo should also have moisturizing qualities to generate a good shine, help to separate tangles, and make it easier to brush the hair when dried.

Shih Tzus also have a genetic predisposition to allergies, so selecting a soothing shampoo with minimal ingredients is sensible. 

Things to Look for in a Shampoo

Some things to look for in a good shampoo for a Shih Tzu include:

  • Gentle and minimal ingredients. Selecting natural and gentle ingredients can minimize the chance of the shampoo causing irritation. Getting a natural dog shampoo doesn’t eliminate the risk of an allergic reaction, however, so you should always patch test.
  • Where possible, avoid harsh chemical ingredients. Ingredients such as artificial fragrances, dyes or parabens can strip natural oils from the coat and are more likely to cause irritation to the skin. Harsh chemical cleansers like sulfates can also cause irritation. The best dog shampoos don’t contain these ingredients.
  • Easy to rinse out. While a good lather can help cleanse, you don’t want the coat to become sticky or heavy. If a pet shampoo isn’t fully rinsed out, it could cause irritation or even sickness if licked off. Try to choose a product that doesn’t take an age to rinse.
  • Soothing and moisturizing ingredients. Look for natural shampoos that moisturize, condition and soothe the dog’s skin and coat. This can make it easier to brush out tangles and reduce inflammation if your dog has sensitive skin. Colloidal oatmeal, aloe vera and shea butter are some of the best examples. 
  • Consider a separate conditioner. If your dog will tolerate a longer bath time, a conditioner can hydrate the coat and make detangling even easier. A 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner can be more convenient, but often less effective.

For dogs that hate bath time, there’s also the option of waterless dog shampoos. These aren’t great at cleansing the entire coat, but can be useful for spot cleaning or quick washing.

When to Choose a Specialist Shampoo

Some dogs have skin issues that require specialist shampoos. If your Shih Tzu has allergies or sensitive skin, for example, it can be a good idea to select a hypoallergenic shampoo. These dog shampoos have minimal ingredients, which reduces the chance of a reaction.

You may also want to look for ingredients that strengthen hair or promote regrowth. These counteract the damage caused by excessive scratching, which is a common problem for dogs with sensitive skin or allergies.

If your Shih Tzu has dry skin or dandruff, focus on finding a shampoo that has natural moisturizing ingredients for both the skin and coat. You can also buy a medicated shampoo specifically designed for dandruff.

If you’re dealing with a skin infection, you may need to select an antibacterial or antifungal shampoo, after taking advice from your vet.

4 Best Dog Shampoo for Shih Tzu Reviews

Listed below are four of the best shampoos for Shih Tzus. Make sure you read each review carefully to find the best option for your dog’s skin and hair.

I haven’t included a medicated shampoo, as treatment for infections or other skin issues should be discussed with your vet.

1. Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe

Earthbath Oatmeal (our best pick)

The Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe is my top recommendation for a Shih Tzu shampoo. It contains a variety of gentle and natural ingredients, while helping make your dog’s coat more manageable.

This dog shampoo contains colloidal oatmeal. If your dog is suffering from allergies or irritated skin, studies have shown that oatmeal has anti-inflammatory and anti-itch properties. The polysaccharides contained in oatmeal also help to soften the hair, making it easier to brush out any tangles in your Shih Tzu’s coat.

Along with oatmeal, the Earthbath contains aloe vera for its soothing properties. It also has antifungal properties, making it a good choice if your Shih Tzu is suffering from a yeast infection.

The Earthbath dog shampoo also contains a variety of vitamins, including moisturizing vitamin E. Studies have shown that vitamin E can be helpful when treating canine atopic dermatitis, which is something this breed can be prone to developing. Allantoin is another gentle and safe ingredient, which is known for its anti-irritant and hydrating properties.

The Earthbath has a light vanilla and almond scent, so you don’t need to worry about an overpowering or artificial fragrance.

Tip: Want to learn more about oatmeal in pet shampoos? Check out our guide to the best oatmeal dog shampoos.

2. 4-Legger Organic Oatmeal with Aloe

4Legger

The 4-legger Organic Dog Shampoo is another oatmeal and aloe-based product. It could be a good alternative if your Shih Tzu has a problem with an ingredient in the Earthbath shampoo, but you still want the moisturizing and soothing properties of the primary ingredients.

Along with oatmeal and aloe, this shampoo contains coconut oil, which has fantastic natural hydrating benefits. It also contains jojoba oil and shea butter for moisturizing.

The lavender oil extract not only helps to give this shampoo a natural fragrance, but is also known for having anti-inflammatory properties. 

4-legger Organic has quite a strong scent, so it might not be a good choice for dogs with particularly sensitive noses. It isn’t as thick as some shampoos either, so care needs to be taken when administering it from the bottle.

Overall, it’s an excellent shampoo for your Shih Tzu though.

Note: If you’re looking for a sustainable and eco-friendly option, this dog shampoo uses certified organic, vegan-friendly and biodegradable ingredients.

3. Bodhi Dog Waterless

Bodhi Dog Waterless (our pick from a list of waterless shampoos for shih tzu dogs)

If you need to give your Shih Tzu a quick freshen up, or want to minimize how often you bathe them, a waterless dog shampoo can be helpful.

These spray-on options don’t clean the coat in the same way a proper bath will, but they can loosen tangles or deodorise smelly areas.

Waterless shampoos are often filled with artificial ingredients, making them unsuitable for sensitive skin. The Bodhi Dog formula, however, contains a small selection of gentle and natural ingredients, including moisturizing and soothing oatmeal.

The apple oil extract gives the Bodhi Dog a fresh fragrance, and it’s known to soften, protect and strengthen skin. It also contains a natural coconut surfactant rather than an artificial alternative.

Don’t expect miracles from a waterless shampoo. They can’t thoroughly cleanse a Shih Tzus long coat in the same way a bath will. For quick cleans or tackling smelly patches of hair, the Bodhi Dog is a great choice though. 

Tip: If a waterless spray is used too frequently, it can cause a greasy build-up in your dog’s skin and coat. You should always patch test and use sparingly between normal baths.

4. Burt’s Bees For Dogs Natural Itch Soothing

Burt's Bees Itchy Skin

If your Shih Tzu suffers from allergies that affect the skin, then selecting this shampoo from Burt’s Bees could be a good choice. It’s great for soothing dry or itchy skin with a (mostly) natural formula.

Like many Shih Tzu dog shampoos, Burt’s Bees contains colloidal oats for its beneficial properties. It also contains honeysuckle and beeswax, which both provide relief from itching and inflammation.

Burt’s Bees also contains honey. This has natural conditioning properties, which could help when dealing with tangles. Honey may also promote a natural shine and strengthen your dog’s hair.

Aside from its beneficial ingredients, Burt’s Bees also doesn’t contain parabens, sulfates, artificial fragrances and other harsh chemicals.

Note: Burt’s Bees contains beeswax and honey, so it’s not suitable for vegan dog owners.

Our #1 Pick for a Shih Tzu Conditioner

Dog conditioners aren’t essential, but can be great for preventing knots and tangles in long coats.

Shampooing opens hair cuticles and causes the coat to become frizzy. A conditioner can close the cuticle and moisturize the hair, making it easier to brush. While a combination of shampoo and conditioner can be beneficial, it’s often best to use separate products.

My favourite Shih Tzu conditioner is the Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Conditioner. It has a gentle formula that can help with tangles and soothe itchy or irritated skin. The inclusion of meadowfoam seed oil cleansers locks in natural moisture to prevent dryness, while vanilla and almond extracts provide a pleasant scent.

Your dog will also benefit from the moisturizing and anti-inflammatory effects of oatmeal, aloe vera and shea butter. If your Shih Tzu has a dry or brittle coat, the shea butter can even help to prevent hair breakage.

An interesting extra is the inclusion of wheat germ oil. This is high in vitamin E, and has been shown to soften and strengthen hair. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should I Bathe My Shih Tzu?

Ideally, you don’t want to bathe your dog more than every four weeks. Bathing your Shih Tzu too frequently can strip their coat of natural oils and lead to dry or irritated skin.

There are exceptions. If your dog has a medical condition, for example, your vet may recommend washing more often with a medicated Shih Tzu shampoo. You may also have no choice if your dog has rolled in something particularly smelly. In general, avoid shampooing your dog more than once every four weeks though.

Some dog owners bathe their Shih Tzu more frequently for show purposes. While using a mild shampoo in minimal quantities reduces the risk of dry skin, be careful to avoid overbathing and stripping natural oils.

What Are Some Other Shih Tzu Coat Care Tips?

Shampooing isn’t the only way to care for your Shih Tzu’s coat. Here are some other tips for a flowing and healthy coat.

Regular Brushing is Essential

If your Shih Tzu has a long coat, this should be brushed out at least twice a week (or daily in some cases.) This is probably the most important part of any dog’s grooming routine, but especially those with long, flowing coats.

A lack of brushing can lead to the coat becoming matted. Matts often have to be cut out and, if they’re left too long, they can cause discomfort. Regular brushing is the only way to prevent matting in the long-term.

Use a Comb to Tackle Any Tangles

It’s a good idea to run a fine-tooth comb through your dog’s hair at the start of a grooming session. This helps to separate the hairs and, if you discover a tangle, it will be easier to tease it out with a comb rather than a brush.

If the knot has formed into a mat and it can’t be teased out, it may need to be cut out. Dematting combs with a serrated edge may also work, but should only be used by professional groomers. 

You must be extremely careful not to catch the skin if you’re cutting a mat out. If your dog has severe matting, it may be better to get the assistance of a professional groomer. Sometimes your dog may need to be fully clipped.

A Detangler Spray Can Be Helpful

You may want to use a detangling spray to help moisturize and loosen any knots. These sprays lubricate the hair, making detangling much easier.

Spritz the detangler close to the roots of the tangled area, work it into the coat, and then gently comb it out.

Brush Through the Entire Coat

After you’ve got rid of any tangles, you can then use a brush to give the coat an overall lift.

Brushing will lift out any dead hairs or debris. It can also help to distribute natural body oils and even stimulate hair growth. Using a pin brush or a softer slicker can be a good choice.

Trimming and Clipping

Some owners choose to have their Shih Tzu’s coat clipped down for ease of maintenance. It can also be helpful if your dog is prone to skin flare-ups, as short hair allows you to spot any problems.

If you’re keeping your dog’s coat longer, you’ll still probably need to have them trimmed occasionally, especially around the eyes and ears. Apart from preventing their vision from being obscured, trimming can prevent a build-up of debris around these delicate areas.

Can I Use Human Hair Care Products?

It’s not a good idea to use a human shampoo or conditioner on a Shih Tzu.

Human shampoos are designed to maintain our skin’s more acidic pH balance. Using them on a dog could disrupt the skin’s protective barrier, which is called the ‘acid mantle,’ and dry the skin. There may also be ingredients that are safe for humans but could be irritants or even toxic for dogs.

What About Puppy Shampoos?

Using a high-quality puppy shampoo is a good idea for young dogs until they get their adult coat.

For Shih Tzus with sensitive skin, it may be beneficial to use a puppy product even as adults. These shampoos are usually developed with a milder formulation, as puppies tend to have more sensitive skin than adult dogs.

Summary

Choosing a shampoo that has strong conditioning and detangling properties for your long-haired Shih Tzu can minimize knots and tangles. If your Shih Tzu is prone to skin issues, selecting a shampoo with gentle, moisturizing and soothing ingredients is also recommended.

We think the Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe is the best shampoo for Shih Tzu dogs. It’s a natural shampoo that soothes and moisturizes, while making tangles much easier to brush out.

I hope this article has helped you choose the best shampoo for your Shih Tzu. If you have any questions, please get in touch below.

Image of Gemma Johnstone

About The Author: Gemma Johnstone

Gemma is a freelance writer and official dog nut. With 15 years of experience in the pet industry, she is a passionate animal welfare advocate. She has worked for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ran her own specialist dog shop for ten years, has volunteered for her local rescue shelter, and is studying towards completing an Advanced Diploma in Canine Behaviour. Gemma is currently travelling around Europe with her wonderful rescue dog, Annie.