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Are Shih Tzus Double Coated?

Yes, a Shih Tzu does have a double coat. The Shih Tzu’s coat is made up of both an outer layer of longer hair and an undercoat of shorter, softer hair. This double coat helps to protect the Shih Tzu from the cold and provides insulation.


In this article, you will learn about what a double coat is, the characteristics of a Shih Tzu’s coat, and the pro and cons of a double coat.

Article Contents

What Is A Double Coat?

A double coat is a type of coat that many dog breeds possess, which includes two distinct layers of fur. The outer layer is typically comprised of longer, coarser hairs that are meant to protect the dog from the elements, such as wind, rain, and snow. This outer layer also helps to repel dirt and moisture and prevent matting.


The second layer is a soft, dense undercoat that grows close to the dog’s skin. This layer of fur is designed to keep your Shih Tzu warm in colder weather and cool in warmer weather, by regulating their body temperature. This layer is also known to trap allergens and parasites, such as fleas and ticks, away from the dog’s skin.

silver shih tzu

The thickness and density of the double coat can vary among different breeds, with some having a very thick and fluffy coat, while others have a thinner and more wiry coat.


Double-coated breeds are typically found in colder climates, where they need the extra insulation provided by their double coats to stay warm and comfortable.


It’s important to note that not all dog breeds have double coats, as some breeds have single coats or hairless coats.


Understanding the type of coat a particular breed has is important for proper grooming and care, as different coat types require different levels of maintenance.


Double-coated breeds, for example, require more frequent brushing and grooming to prevent matting and to maintain the health of their coat.

Shih Tzu Coat Characteristics

Introduction To The Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus, originating from China, are a small toy breed of dog that has gained popularity worldwide for centuries. Their name means “lion dog” in Chinese, as they resemble lions in appearance.


Shih Tzus were bred as lap dogs for royalty and nobility and are known for their long, silky, and dense coats that come in various colors, including black, white, brown, and gold. Some have solid coats while others have patterns or markings. This breed typically weighs between 9 and 16 pounds and stands between 9 and 10.5 inches tall at the shoulder.


Shih Tzus are affectionate and friendly dogs that thrive on human interaction. They have playful personalities and enjoy spending time with their owners.


However, they may experience separation anxiety and may not do well if left alone for extended periods. Training a Shih Tzu can be challenging, as they can be stubborn and may require patience and consistency.


Like any other breed, Shih Tzus can be prone to certain health issues, such as hip dysplasia, eye problems, and dental issues. To keep a Shih Tzu healthy, owners need to provide regular checkups and preventative care.


Overall, Shih Tzus make excellent pets for those who are willing to put in the time and effort to care for their unique appearance, meet their training and health needs, and provide them with plenty of affection and attention.

Characterstics Of A Shih Tzu Coat

The Shih Tzu’s double coat is one of the breed’s most distinguishing features. It is composed of an outer layer of long hair and an undercoat of shorter, softer hair. The outer coat is thick, silky, and dense, while the undercoat is fluffy and dense.


This double coat is advantageous in colder climates, providing insulation to the dog.


In contrast to other breeds with double coats, like the Siberian Husky or Alaskan Malamute, the Shih Tzu’s undercoat grows continuously and doesn’t shed seasonally. Regular grooming and maintenance are necessary to keep the coat healthy and free from tangles.


To prevent the outer coat from becoming excessively long and difficult to manage, it may require trimming.

shih tzu

The double coat of the Shih Tzu is less prone to cause allergies than other breeds’ coats since the soft and fluffy undercoat is less likely to shed dander and allergens into the air. People with dog hair allergies or sensitivities may find the Shih Tzu to be a suitable pet.


Shih Tzu coats have a variety of colors, including black, white, brown, and gold. Some have solid coats, while others have markings or patterns. The texture of the coat ranges from fine and silky to slightly coarse, and the growth pattern of the coat is similar to that of human hair.


In conclusion, the Shih Tzu’s double coat is a distinguishing and attractive characteristic of the breed. While it requires regular grooming and care, it provides insulation from the cold and can be a source of pride and joy for both the dog and their owner.

Shih Tzu's Hair Growth And Shedding Patterns

A Shih Tzu’s hair growth and shedding patterns are unique due to its double coat. The outer coat of a Shih Tzu can grow quite long and is typically silky and shiny, while the undercoat is thick and fluffy.


The hair on a Shih Tzu’s head can grow particularly long, often covering their eyes, which can be uncomfortable and impair their vision if not regularly trimmed.


One of the unique features of a Shih Tzu’s coat is that it does not shed seasonally like other double-coated breeds. Instead, the undercoat grows continuously and can become matted and tangled if not properly groomed. This means that regular brushing and grooming is essential to keep a Shih Tzu’s coat healthy and tangle-free.


Shih Tzus can also be prone to skin issues due to their long, dense coats. Moisture can get trapped in their fur, leading to skin irritation and infections.


Additionally, Shih Tzus can develop hot spots, which are areas of the skin that become inflamed and infected due to excessive licking or scratching. Regular grooming and bathing can help to prevent these issues and keep a Shih Tzu’s skin healthy.


Overall, a Shih Tzu’s hair growth and shedding patterns require regular maintenance and attention to keep their coat healthy and prevent skin issues. However, with proper care, a Shih Tzu’s coat can be a beautiful and unique feature of the breed, adding to their charm and appeal as a beloved companion animal.

Pros & Cons Of A Shih Tzu's Double Coat


A Shih Tzu’s double coat provides insulation against the cold, helping the dog to stay warm and comfortable in chilly weather. The undercoat traps warm air close to the dog’s body, while the outer coat repels water and snow, keeping the dog dry.


Another benefit of a double coat is that it offers protection against the sun’s harmful rays. The thick fur helps to prevent sunburn and skin damage, which can be especially important for dogs with light-colored or sensitive skin. The outer coat also acts as a barrier against insects and other irritants, helping to keep the dog’s skin healthy and free from bites and rashes.


In addition to these functional benefits, a double coat can also contribute to a dog’s overall appearance. The longer outer coat can provide a unique texture and coloration that sets the dog apart from other breeds. Some double-coated breeds, such as the Siberian Husky and the Samoyed, are known for their stunning coats and striking appearance.


Overall, your Shih Tzu’s double coat can provide several benefits, including protection from the elements, defense against insects and irritants, and a distinctive appearance. However, it’s important to note that proper grooming and maintenance are essential to keep the coat healthy and free from tangles and matting.


For owners who are willing to put in the time and effort, a dog’s double coat can be a source of pride and joy for both the dog and their owner.


While a double coat provides several benefits for dogs, there are also some drawbacks to consider. One of the main disadvantages is that double-coated breeds require more grooming than dogs with single coats. This is because the thick undercoat can become matted and tangled if not brushed regularly. Neglecting the coat can lead to skin problems and infections, as well as an unpleasant odor.


Another downside of a double coat is that it can make dogs more susceptible to heatstroke in warmer weather. The dense undercoat is designed to insulate the dog and protect it from the cold, but it can also trap heat against the skin on hot days. This can cause the dog to overheat and become dehydrated quickly, which can be dangerous if not addressed promptly.


Double-coated breeds can also shed more than dogs with single coats, especially during seasonal shedding periods. This can be a problem for owners who have allergies or asthma. The shedding can also be a nuisance in the home, as it can accumulate quickly on carpets and furniture.


Finally, double-coated breeds may not be suitable for everyone, as they require a certain level of dedication and commitment to grooming and maintenance. Owners who are not prepared to invest the time and effort required to keep the coat healthy and tangle-free may find themselves with a dog that is uncomfortable and unhappy.

Further Reading

If you would like to dig deeper into all areas of caring for your Shih Tzu we recommend you check out the book below.

shih tzu complete guide book cover

Using interviews with 17 top Shih Tzu breeders, author and experienced Shih Tzu owner Molly Weinfurter has created an in-depth look at what it takes to successfully live with, raise, and train a Shih Tzu.


This book has a 4.5 out of 5 rating on Amazon with over 220 reviews.


In conclusion, the Shih Tzu is a beloved breed with a unique double coat that sets it apart from other dogs.


The double coat provides a number of benefits, including insulation from the cold and a reduced likelihood of causing allergic reactions in people with sensitivities to dog hair. However, it also requires regular maintenance and grooming to prevent tangles and mats from forming and to keep shedding under control.


While a Shih Tzu’s coat may present some challenges, it is ultimately one of the most distinctive and appealing features of the breed. With proper care and attention, a Shih Tzu’s coat can be a source of pride and joy for both the dog and their owner.


If you’re considering getting a Shih Tzu or already have one as a pet, understanding their double coat and how to care for it is an important part of keeping them healthy and happy for years to come.

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