"Truffle" - before and after!
Matting is a problem with long haired dogs like the Shih Tzu, Truffle, above. Some are even worse!
Although the show dogs may be left with the hair long, most owners opt for a "Puppy Clip/Cut" for ease of care. The long hair requires daily combing to avoid the matting.
I have to shave them with a #10 blade if heavily matted. This sweet girl had some body hair that I saved with a #3 3/4 blade for the 1/2" look. But the belly and legs needed the #10.
I also had to shave the head and beard of Truffle due to the old food stuck to it! Most owners of this breed like a short beard with the ears the same length or a little longer. The top of the head may be 1/2" or longer, usually longer than the body.
Truffle's tail just needed a little trim and a combing with some tangle free rinse. The nails were long and curled, but she was very good about clipping them. Some Shih Tzus have dew claws and one of my regular customer's dog had ones on the hind feet too. So be careful when clipping that you don't hit the dew claws!
Speaking of paws, on the top I used the #10 and also underneath. Then, after most of the hair was off, I shampooed, rinsed & dried the dog. Then I go over with the clippers again since the clean hair makes it easier to even up, and I use the #40 blade under the paws.
The whole process takes 90 minutes or more, so be patient. Some dogs are behaved, but others may be nervous or scared, and be fidgety. I give lots of TLC and cuddling!
FMI on this breed, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shih_Tzu