Possibly the most outstanding feature of the Shih Tzu besides the
long luxurious coat, is the topknot. There are two types of topknots--
the maintenance topknot and the show topknot. The maintenance topknot is worn everyday to keep the face and head hair from falling into the eyes, nose and mouth. It serves a daily function without bows or glamour. The show topknot is usually designed and coiffed to set
off the finer features of the individual dog's head. Topknot styling can be an art of sorts. It is usually finished with an elaborate bow. (For
poof at left, pull a few hairs forward in the middle of the topknot.)
For the show ring, anywhere between one and six or seven elastic bands may be used to style and section the hair. The maintenance topknot usually uses either three banks straight back (Figure 1 at right) or two sections of three to each side of the head with a center
part (Figure 2 at far right). Variations of these patterns are not unusual. Some people prefer to braid topknot hair. Others use special
wrappers or perm end papers to protect the hair and encourage growth.
Care must be taken to use only elastics that do not break hair. Elastic bands should be removed with scissors, as pulling them out causes breakage.
A puppy topknot is usually the easiest to do. It is also good practice
for you and your Shih Tzu. To begin with these topknots, part the
hair evenly with a straight part between the two eyes just above the top back of the nose. This is the area along the front side of the stop. The part is accomplished with a parting comb. This is usually a
rattail comb. A small face comb may also be used. The hair above
the nose and between the eyes is gathered up and sectioned into a
neat inverted V. It is secured with an elastic band. As the hair lengthens, more hair may be added by making the parting for the front section larger.
Eventually the hair is long enough for a second
section. Then you may have enough hair for an adult topknot. (Adult topknot at left. Back view of adult topknot at right.)Elastic bands must be coated to prevent hair breakage. They may be purchased from an orthodontist, pet supply store, at dog shows or a Shih Tzu accessory supplier.