6 Best Shampoos For a Shih Tzu: 2023 Buyers Guide

Also known as “lion dogs” or “chrysanthemum dogs,” the Shih Tzu has lots of fans today.

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These clever, affectionate, playful dogs date back thousands of years to ancient China. If you meet a Shih Tzu, especially a ball-of-fluff puppy, they are hard to resist.

Most people have seen these beautiful dogs parading gracefully on television dog shows with their long, flowing coats. You may have been attracted to the breed by its beauty and silky coat. The long coat is a plus for the breed but it requires daily brushing and lots of care. Some owners prefer to keep the coat cut short for easier care but even a Shih Tzu kept in a pet cut needs regular brushing.

Just as there is no one size dog, there is no one-size-fits-all option for dog shampoo. When shopping for your dog’s grooming supplies, it’s best to look for products that offer different options based on the density and other qualities of your dog’s coat.  – Rebecca Wallwork @ akc.org

If you have a Shih Tzu, you may find yourself looking for a good shampoo, along with a conditioner and other grooming products. Professional groomers and dog handlers have their favorites but they are not always suitable for pet owners. Show dogs, especially, are usually groomed daily and get baths at least weekly. These products are not usually natural or organic. They can contain chemicals and be heavy on conditioners since the dogs are bathed so often. Professional groomers and dog handlers often have years or even decades of experience with grooming dogs so they can use some products that might not be recommended for pet owners. For example, a dog handler could occasionally use a human shampoo to cut some of the conditioner build up on a dog’s coat. This is not something you should do with your pet Shih Tzu because of the pH difference between human and dog shampoos.

Luckily, there are some great products made for pet Shih Tzu. Good pet shampoos can be gentle, natural, and soothing for dogs with sensitive skin. There are even good shampoos for Shih Tzu that need some help with fleas and ticks. Let’s look at good shampoos for your Shih Tzu.

What to look for in a good shampoo for your Shih Tzu

Your Shih Tzu has a double coat. This means that he has an outer coat with one kind of texture and an under coat with a different texture. The outer coat typically provides some protection for the dog from elements like rain and cold; the undercoat is a dense, insulating layer, keeping the dog warm close to his skin. The dog’s skin produces oil and dander or skin flakes. This oil keeps the skin healthy. Brushing your dog stimulates new hair growth and spreads this oil through the coat.

While the Shih Tzu probably looks like one beautiful breed to most observers, individual dogs can have slight differences in coat texture. The coat is usually fine, straight, and silky but some dogs have coats that are coarser or with some wave to them. This difference in texture can mean that a shampoo that works well on one Shih Tzu won’t work well on your dog.

A good shampoo will gently remove oil and debris from the coat. Your dog is constantly producing these body oils from his skin. This is a natural way for a dog to moisturize his skin and coat. However, this oil does build up. When this happens your Shih Tzu’s coat will start to look dull and dirty. The oil in the coat will attract dirt and he’ll look greasy. He may even smell bad. Your little chrysanthemum dog will look like a scrubby bush.

A good shampoo will clean your Shih Tzu without stripping all of the natural oils from your dog’s coat. You will want to find a shampoo that can clean your dog, removing the dirt, grease, and odor, plus any debris he may have picked up in his coat, without over-cleaning. A harsh shampoo can strip away all of the healthy natural oils from your dog’s skin and coat. This kind of shampoo will strip open the cuticle of your dog’s hair, leaving it in poor condition. So you need to avoid the kind of harsh cleaners that are sometimes found in cheaper shampoos. Natural shampoos and plant-based shampoos are often a good choice to avoid stripping the natural oils from your Shih Tzu’s coat.

The pH balance of the shampoo is also important to consider. Dogs need a shampoo that is much more alkaline than human shampoos. Good shampoos for dogs should be around 6 to 7 pH. By contrast, human shampoo and some lower quality pet shampoos have a pH around 4.5 to 5.5. This is too acidic for your Shih Tzu. Using one of these lower quality shampoos on your Shih Tzu can irritate your dog’s skin, make it dry, or even lead to skin infections. These shampoos can also remove the sheen from your dog’s coat or dull his coloring.

Look for chemical-free or natural shampoos for your Shih Tzu. As long as your Shih Tzu doesn’t have any special skin or health problems, it’s a good idea to look for shampoos that are chemical-free or natural. You may even want to look for organic shampoos. Chemical ingredients such as phosphates, parabens and methylparabens, and phthalate can be hard to wash out of your dog’s coat. If they make your dog itchy and he licks them, they can lead to stomach problems.

Other ingredients you may want to avoid in dog shampoos include artificial coloring such as D&C, FD&C, or Yellow 5; Cocomide DEA or MEA – from coconut, yes, but altered in a dangerous way; same with Cocamidopropyl Betaine; doazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea or quarternium-15 – these ingredients release formaldehyde; isopropyl or rubbing alcohol – turns into acetone in the body – also listed as isopropanol, 2-propanol, and propyl; Methylchloroisothiazolinone – a known carcinogen. There are others but these are some of the worst.

Good dog shampoos will rinse out easily. This may not seem like a big deal but shampoos that leave behind a residue stay on your dog’s skin and coat. That means they can clog your dog’s pores and leave the coat looking limp and oily. These shampoos are often oil-based. In addition to making your dog’s coat look bad, you don’t want your dog to lick and ingest these residues.

The bottom line here is that you want to buy a good quality shampoo for your Shih Tzu. It should be gentle with a pH that is appropriate for dogs and it should rinse out easily. Natural ingredients are a good choice unless your dog has a health problem and needs a special medicated shampoo from your veterinarian.

Different Kinds of Shampoo for your Shih Tzu

If you’ve looked at dog shampoos recently you probably already know there are more than you can count. Even though every Shih Tzu is wonderful, each one is an individual. Different dogs need different kinds of shampoo.

If your Shih Tzu doesn’t have any skin or coat problems you can use a basic shampoo complemented with a good conditioner. Along with a conditioner after shampooing, many Shih Tzu people also recommend using a good leave-in spray or detangler afterwards to keep your dog’s coat looking good longer.

If your dog has sensitive skin you should use a shampoo designed for this problem. These shampoos are often made with oatmeal or other ingredients to soothe the skin. They won’t contain chemicals that could irritate the skin. Hypoallergenic shampoos are a good choice for dogs with sensitive skin and allergies.

Dogs with allergies need shampoos that help soothe itchy, red, irritated skin. Some of these shampoos can have healing or medicated ingredients. In severe cases you may need to get a shampoo from your veterinarian. If your dog has allergies he probably scratches which leads to coat damage. This can be seen in frizzy coat with broken hairs. Some medicated shampoos will also help with itching.

Some shampoos have color enhancers or brighteners. If you use one of these shampoos, read the ingredients carefully. Some of these shampoos can strip the oils from your dog’s coat. Make sure you use a good conditioner when you use one of these shampoos. We would recommend only using them occasionally.

If your Shih Tzu has fleas or encounters ticks, a flea and tick shampoo can be a good idea. These products range from gentle, natural shampoos to shampoos with pesticides. Be careful using strong flea and tick shampoos if your Shih Tzu has sensitive skin. You may want to talk to your veterinarian about all of your options for dealing with fleas and ticks.

2-in-1 shampoos can be great if you have a dog that doesn’t like to spend much time in the bath. These products contain shampoo and a conditioner built in so you don’t have to go through a second rinse cycle with a conditioner. They’re especially good for puppies and old dogs. Waterless shampoos are another good choice for older dogs or dogs with health problems.

Puppy shampoos are formulated to be especially mild. Puppies often wiggle in the bath so it can be easy to accidentally get shampoo foam in their eyes. These shampoos are usually tearless – they won’t hurt your puppy’s eyes.

Finally, if your Shih Tzu is stinky, a neutralizing shampoo may be in order. These shampoos can get rid of bad smells. For a Shih Tzu that runs into a skunk (Yes, it can happen!), try a deodorizing shampoo.

Shampoos come in a wide range of prices but most of them are fairly reasonable. Natural and organic shampoos usually cost more. Most shampoos come in 16-ounce bottles, ready-to-use. You can purchase gallon size jugs of some shampoos if you bathe your dog often or have several dogs. These products usually need to be diluted but you do save money by purchasing a gallon.

Overall Best Shampoo for a Shih Tzu

Buddy Wash Original Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo & Conditioner

After considering lots of shampoos and looking at lots of ingredients, we chose Buddy Wash as the best shampoo for a Shih Tzu – though there were a couple of products that ran a close second. Buddy Wash Original Laver & Mint Dog Shampoo & Conditioner is a 2-in-1 product which is always nice for dogs and owners since it means half the time in the bath and half the work. It uses natural, cosmetic-grade ingredients, including botanical extracts and essential oils instead of harsh cleansers. All-natural and soap-free. It makes a rich lather that rinses out easily. It features aloe vera and tea tree oil to soothe irritated skin. Alcohol-free so it’s more soothing. It has wheat protein as a natural deodorizer and it’s safe to use often, even on puppies. Not tested on animals. Made in the U.S. Buddy Wash is a bestseller on Chewy.com and other sites. Buddy Wash is also available in several other formulas that you might like. We think this is the overall best shampoo for Shih Tzu.

5 More Top Quality Shampoos for Shih Tzu

We said that there were a couple of products that came in a close second to Buddy Wash and that’s true. Here are some of the other shampoos we like for Shih Tzu.

4-Legger Organic, Hypo-Allergenic, Lemongrass & Aloe Dog Shampoo

4-Legger Organic, Hypo-Allergenic, Lemongrass & Aloe Dog Shampoo is all natural and certified organic. It’s non-toxic, biodegradable, vegan, cruelty-free, and made in the U.S. It has no detergents or sulfates, no synthetics, and it’s naturally deodorizing and naturally moisturizing. If you’re looking for a thoroughly natural shampoo for your Shih Tzu, you can’t get more natural than this product. It uses lemongrass and aloe vera as cleansers which are good for all skin types. Suitable for dogs with dry, itchy skin and allergies. Organic oils and essential oils are also soothing to the skin. The ingredients will not remove topical flea and tick treatments. Lathers and rinses easily. This is a concentrated formula so it only takes a small amount for each bath. Safe for cats.

Filthy Friends Organic Lemongrass Pet Shampoo

This holistic, chemical-free formula is great for Shih Tzu with dry or sensitive skin. All-natural Filthy Friends conditions your dog’s coat and soothes his skin while removing dirt, dander, and oils. Made with USDA certified organic ingredients. It contains essential oils and extracts like lemongrass, aloe vera, and coconut. Contains jojoba oils for moisturizing. It helps your dog stop itching. This formula is 100 percent biodegradable, cruelty-free, and completely free of chemicals such as sulfates and parabens. Rinses out quickly and completely. Safe for cats. Made in the U.S.

Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Dog & Cat Shampoo

Earthbath products are very popular with many Shih Tzu owners. They make lots of good shampoos and conditioners and we are happy to recommend them. Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Dog & Cat Shampoo is soap-free and made especially for dogs with dry, itchy skin. This formula also deodorizes your pet without irritating the skin. And it won’t wash off topical flea and tick applications. The oatmeal and aloe work together to moisturize and heal cracked, scratched skin while it reduces itching and keeps your dog from wanting to scratch again. Safe for cats, too. This formula is 100 percent biodegradable and it’s paraben. pthalates, and phosphate-free. Made in the U.S.

TropiClean Luxury 2 in 1 Papaya & Coconut Pet Shampoo and Conditioner

If you’re looking for a good basic shampoo for your Shih Tzu, we can recommend this 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner from TropiClean. TropiClean makes lots of good shampoos and other grooming products. TropiClean Luxury 2 in 1 Papaya & Coconut Pet Shampoo and Conditioner cleans and moisturizes your dog’s coat for easy brushing. It nourishes dry skin and conditions the coat. And it leaves your dog smelling good. This formula is soap-free and it doesn’t interfere with topical flea or tick treatments. Safe for cats.  Made in the U.S.

Isle of Dogs Silky Coating Shampoo for Dogs

If you want your dog to have that show ring appearance, we can recommend Isle of Dogs products. Many professional groomers and dog handlers love these products. They are popular with people who show dogs. These products do contain the kind of chemicals many pet owners like to avoid but they give gorgeous results. If you use these products it’s important to bathe and groom your Shih Tzu frequently and take good care of the coat to off-set any damage the chemicals might cause. We would recommend following up with the Isle of Dogs conditioner. Isle of Dogs Silky Coating Shampoo creates a soft, silky feel to the coat. It removes dirt, oil, and odor. It’s ideal for dogs with coats that are intended to lie flat. This formula is gentle compared to many other formulas that use chemicals. Made in the U.S.


There are lots of choices when it comes to deciding on a shampoo for your Shih Tzu. Many pet owners today prefer shampoos with natural ingredients. When choosing a shampoo, consider your dog’s skin and coat. Does he have any issues? Can he use a good quality basic shampoo or does he need a shampoo for sensitive skin or allergies? Does he need extra moisturizing? Does he need a flea and tick shampoo or something medicated? Once you know what kind of shampoo your Shih Tzu needs, you shouldn’t have any problem finding the kind of product he needs. Then you’ll be able to keep his coat beautiful and clean!

Best Overall Shampoos for a Shih Tzu

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