Why are you getting the dog muzzle in the first place?
With shih tzu dogs, there are 4 main reasons why you would want to buy a muzzle. The specific reason will determine a lot including the design, flexibility allowed as well as strength of materials.
If you are buying the dog muzzle to train your Shih Tzu to stop eating weird stuff off the ground, you want as limited mouth access as possible. This means that full coverage masks with no front holes are the best. To prevent chewing and biting on the other hand, you can get away with a muzzle that comes with a nose opening. This is because the design restricts their jaw movement to the point where though they may be able to pick stuff up, they will not be able to open wide enough for biting or gnawing.
Another reason you would be in need for a muzzle is to get that relentless barking under control. Young shih tzus in particular can get really loud and annoying so this would come in handy. Here you want a muzzle that offers strong jaw restraint. That way there is no room for the pooch to open their mouth and bark you into all kinds of hell with your neighbors.
Get something that fits
This is a dog training accessory that is designed to be restrictive. As a result, you want to make sure that you get something that actually fits the pooch. Otherwise, you will end up with a completely uncomfortable dog that is struggling to function properly with the ill-fitted mask.
The best way around this challenge is to ensure that you actually measure your Shih Tzu before you make the purchase. You should find a guide on how to make the measurements and their corresponding sizes. That way, you will find the best match for your pooch. And when it fits right they will be more likely to play ball whenever you have to put it on.
When considering fitting, adjustability should also be very high on your priority list. This comes in the form of straps that allow you to customize the fit. That way, even with the right size you can modify the fit to be just perfect for your furry bestie.
Factor the mane into your measurements
Shih tzus tend to have very hairy face. I mean, they didn’t land the nickname ‘Chinese lion’ by accident. While this hair definitely contributes to the overall cuteness factor that the dog has, it also makes getting an accurate fit based on measurements a little difficult.
The problem is that not many brands out there account for the extra fur padding when it comes to measurement directions. So you have 2 options.
The first is actually giving your beloved pooch a trim. The hair, though beautiful, can also be a little annoying for the little one. So you would actually be doing them a huge favor freeing them from the responsibility of having to carry those locks around. With the extra fur out of the way, you should now be able to make a more accurate estimation of size.
Maybe you actually really like the furry mane. Maybe you are shopping for a show dog and their facial hair is their signature look. It is ok. You do not have to run for the scissors just yet. Instead, take your measurements as directed by the seller. Just make sure to apply a little pressure to realistically flatten the fair. This should mimic the lie and pressure of the mask on the face so you actually end up getting something that fits just right.
Consider the extent of coverage
Holes or no holes? That is the question.
Eye and nose holes on a dog muzzle with full face coverage have their fair share of pros and cons. They offer more avenues for airflow which makes the mask significantly more breathable. The eye holes are also great for improved visibility which is particularly useful for shih tzus that develop cataracts in old age. The nose hole comes in to give a sense of peace and comfort as the dog does not feel too restrained. However, this design makes the mask less sturdy as there are several interruptions in what should be a solid and sturdy unit.
No holes, on the other hand, mean a stronger and more cohesive mask which is particularly useful if you are dealing with a very aggressive or hyperexcited shih tzu. The mask keeps the jaw closed from both below and above for better restriction. However, in order to get the most out of this design, it is best to go for a piece with wide meshing. This makes up for the lack of holes by allowing breathability and visibility for your Shih Tzu.