The Shih Tzu's coat for the show rings requires extra care. Some show people actually keep their Shih Tzu confined and caged to preserve the coat, or they wrap the coat or oil it. Those who do keep their show Shih Tzu confined and caged pay a price in loss of muscle tone in their dogs. Not all show people practice these methods for preserving their Shih Tzu's long show dog coats. It is also a myth that all show people do not allow their show Shih Tzu to go for long walks, to play and just in general to lead a normal life. For those who do allow their show Shih Tzu do lead a normal life keeping the coat glamorous requires a lot of extra effort, and much more grooming than for the pet Shih Tzu.
Coconut oil is considered helpful as a means of preserving the coat of a show dog Shih Tzu. If you do oil the show dog Shih Tzu coat you must remove the oil completely before each show. If you do not remove all the oil the coat appear limp and feel wrong. It can also be uncomfortable to be around a Shih Tzu that has been oiled. There are good oils on the market, however, that do not have this effect on the coat and it may be worth trying them if the Shih Tzu's coat seems to need it. Wrapping the coat in tissue paper protects the Shih Tzu's coat, but you lose some of the pleasure of seeing your dog in full coat with his hair flowing as he moves. I do think this is a beautiful, beautiful sight of the show dog Shih Tzu. The tissue wrapping sort of reminds me of the days when women ran around the house for house with their hair in curlers.
Probably the best thing to do if you are just starting out taking care of your Shih Tzu show dog's coat is to experiment with different methods of preserving the coat until you find what works best for your dog. Much the same type of procedures a pet owner must go through, although a lot more intense and time consuming as the Shih Tzu show do requires so much more in the way of grooming.
One thing is for certain if you start out with "bad hair" it is virtually impossible to make it good enough for the show ring. When purchasing your show potential Shih Tzu it is wise to study the lines to find out which have good hair in their genes. This way you can just continue to keep it looking good.
The topknot and whiskers also need very special attention on the show dog Shih Tzu. The white whiskers on a parti-coloured Shih Tzu must be really, really white to look good. It seems this is especially true for the black and white Shih Tzu.
Some older methods of keeping the whiskers white was to wash them at least once a day with a solution of boracic powder, a teaspoon to a pint of water. This mixture is wiped into the whiskers, being careful to get none in the eyes and then rinsed away. One of the keys to keeping whiskers white is above all to dry them immediately and keep them dry. An older method of drying them was to work in some fuller's earth or talcum powder, brushing this out and repeating until the hair was absolutely dry. If you allow the Shih Tzu to dry his own whiskers he will rub and rub until dry doing nothing but harm to the length of the coat. Another problem you run into with all this washing is that the hair becomes dry and brittle. You will need to dress the whiskers with a little coat conditioner from time to time.
A method of preserving the hair of the topknot is to use several bands along the length of the hair to hold it to the back of the head. You can also plait the hair to achieve the same purpose. Use neither of these methods just before a show as both methods will cause kinks in the coat of which you do not want.
It is always wise to review the rules of the American Kennel Club about the use of oils and conditioners on the coat of a show dog. Any substance used to alter the natural color, texture or body of the coat is usually prohibited.