Curly Hair Shih Tzu: 4 Possible Causes (+ Coat Care Tips) (2024)


A cream Shih Tzu sitting on a tree stump.

Shih Tzus are known for their pretty, long, and straight hair, although some of them, even true purebreds, can have wavy hair. What about a curly hair Shih Tzu? Is this normal or desirable?

Wavy hair is acceptable in Shih Tzus according to the breed’s standards, but the coat should not be curly. If your Shih Tzu does have curly hair, it could be due to the dog not being purebred, repeated short trims, or a genetic-based trait resulting in an improper coat.

In the following, we’ll dive deeper into the reasons behind a curly coat, and you’ll learn how to take care of your Shih Tzu’s coat, whether it is straight, wavy, or curly. 

Shih Tzu Coat & Hair

Shih Tzus are not only cuddly and cute, but they look aristocratic and noble mainly because of their long, flowing coat.

Its appearance is as attractive as this small dog breed’s personality.  

Breed Standards for Shih Tzu Coat

The Shih Tzu is double-coated breed, meaning they have both an outer coat and undercoat.

They will have a dense and luxurious outer coat that’s flowing and can grow long paired with a moderate, but not wooly, undercoat.

Based on the perfect representation of this breed as per AKC, UKC, and The Kennel Club in the UK, a little wave in a Shih Tzu’s coat is permissible, but a curly hair Shih Tzut is considered a fault.

Do Some Shih Tzus Have Curly Hair?

When it comes to the Shih Tzu hair, wavy is good but not curly. A single coat, sparse coat, or curly hair Shih Tzu is considered a fault based on the breed’s official standard. 

While Shih Tzus are supposed to have a dense, straight coat, not all do. Many Shih Tzu mixes and even some pure breed Shih Tzus can have curly hair. 

Reasons for Curly Hair on a Shih Tzu

Some Shih Tzus may have or develop curly hair for several reasons such as:

1. Short Haircut

Having long hair on a Shih Tzu may look wonderful, but it takes a lot of time and effort to keep their long hair clean and tidy.

It’s why many Shih Tzu owners prefer to keep their Shih Tzu with short hair. Sometimes, if a Shih Tzu has naturally wavy hair, it can look wavier and even somewhat curly when short

2. Excessive Trimming 

Summer cuts in Shih Tzus, especially during the hot weather, will keep them from overheating.

However, excessive or repeated trimming can alter the coat and cause the Shih Tzu’s hair to begin to curl. 

3. Dog Is Not Purebred 

Crossbreeding can create pups with features not ideal to the breed, like a Shih Tzu with curly hair.

For example, breeding a pure Shih Tzu with another dog breed that has curly hair, like a Poodle, can result in a dog with many Shih Tzu features but with curly instead of straight hair.

Other mixes that can have curly, dense hair include the Cocker Spaniel and Shih Tzu mix or a Bichon Frise and Shih Tzu mix

A Shichon (Bichon Frise Shih Tzu mix) running along a gravel lane.
A Bichon Frise Shih Tzu mix

4. Genetics 

A certain genetic variant called Cu Locus impacts the hair curl of a puppy. If even one of the parents carries the Cu variant, the offspring could have wavy to moderately curly hair. 

Do Shih Tzus Have Fur or Hair?

Shih Tzus have hair instead of fur, although the two are often used interchangeably. However, hair tends to grow longer and has a longer growth cycle than fur.

In other words, hair coats in dogs, like that of Shih Tzus, shed less frequently than fur coats. 

Although their hair isn’t the same as human hair, it’s quite similar in the way that the hair continues to grow until you decide to cut it. 

Do Shih Tzus Have Undercoats?

Yes, even a curly hair Shih Tzu is a double-coated dog breed, meaning they have both a top coat and undercoat, which are “hard” and soft, respectively.

Their undercoat is what helps keep Shih Tzus warm during winter and cool during summer. 

Shih Tzu undercoats are short, soft, and feathery to the touch. It does shed, particularly as warm weather arrives, although the shed hair tends to get trapped in their long topcoat instead of falling out. 

A sturdy yet gentle slicker brush and a quality deshedding tool can help with shedding tremendously and prevent painful knots and mats.

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Why Is My Shih Tzu’s Hair Not Fluffy?

Shih Tzu coats are naturally fluffy, but they may lose their fluff for a few reasons.

  • Micronutrient deficiency. Lack of skin-nourishing omega-3 fatty acids can lead to a dry, dull coat in Shih Tzus.
  • Lack of proper grooming. Shih Tzus hair needs frequent brushing and often blow drying to add volume and give it a fluffy appearance. 

Are Shih Tzus Hypoallergenic?

Shih Tzus are not hypoallergenic. In fact, no dog is truly hypoallergenic.

Contrary to what people still believe, it’s not the fur or hair that causes allergic reactions but the proteins found in dander, urine, and the dog’s saliva that can cause allergic reactions in humans. 

While all dogs produce allergens, dogs with hair coats instead of fur tend to trap allergens, keeping them close to their skin instead of dispersing them into the environment. 

Caring for the Shih Tzu Coat

To keep your Shih Tzu’s coat healthy and shiny:

  • Provide your pooch with a rich diet of protein, vitamins, and skin-friendly omega fatty acids.
  • Choose the right shampoo, specially formulated to soften and moisturize their coat.
  • Keep them hydrated.
  • Brush your Shih Tzu’s coat daily or every other day.
  • Trim their hair from time to time.

Related Questions:

Do Shih Tzus Shed?

Shih Tzus do shed, although not nearly as much other breeds. Usually, you will only notice the shedding while washing or brushing their hair.

Routine brushing is recommended to remove loose hair before it becomes matted within the coat.

How Do I Know If My Curly Hair Shih Tzu Is Purebred?

The easiest way to ensure a curly hair Shih Tzu is purebred is to ask the breeder for the pedigree papers. You can also have a  DNA test done to determine the dog’s lineage. 

Final Thoughts

If your Shih Tzu has particularly curly hair, it’s most likely that your dog is not purebred.

Still, your dog’s coat needs the same amount of care and maintenance as those Shih Tzus with a proper coat to keep mats away and keep the hair healthy and luxurious. 

Last update on 2024-06-20 at 06:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API