Q: I sent my seven-year-old Shih Tzu for a groom recently and was told that her fur was heavily matted. As a result, she had to be shaved down. Why can’t the groomer just brush the tangles out?

A: A heavily matted coat can restrict movement and is likely to hurt as the groomer pulls at the skin while trying to comb it out. It is a slow and delicate process to groom such a coat and often results in a tedious and agonising experience for the dog. Therefore, choosing to do so can be painful and cruel for your furkid. If your Shih Tzu’s coat is severely tangled, I would have to agree with your groomer’s decision to shave her down.

Here are some considerations a groomer will have prior to making a decision:

  • How badly matted is the fur? If the knots are loose and easy to work on, dematting will be a possible option.
  • Is the skin healthy? Heavy tangles can cause the flesh to become irritated and inflamed, adding to the discomfort of the animal. It is thus important to avoid further aggravation of the condition through grooming.
  • Is your dog cooperative? A nervous or impatient canine will certainly not be fond of having a person tug and pull on her coat for an extended period of time.
  • Is it going to be time-consuming? A good groomer would not want to put your furkid through a long painful process.
  • Will there be any repercussions? Pet owners need to understand that there is a possibility a dog can develop a phobia of grooming after a traumatising session. Depending on the severity of the matting, shaving the coat might be a more humane option.

Like many other long-haired breeds, a Shih Tzu has to be groomed regularly. Start with a pin brush, followed by a metal comb to go through the coat, before using a slicker brush to finish off the process. Remember to do it in batches and layers by lifting the coat. This will help you spot all the knots and untangle them before they become mats. Alternatively, you can choose a puppy cut for her for easy maintenance.

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