Grooming Your Dog

There are several very good reasons why you should groom your dog regularly. The act of gentle grooming – the passage of a comb pulled through the hair and the brushing – gives a pleasurable feeling to the dog and it assists in the bonding process.

Why grooming is important:
Regular grooming gives you ideal opportunity to examine your pet – to look for any skin conditions, cuts, abrasions, discharges or parasites. You can prevent many common health problems developing by looking for the early tell – tale signs. Some breeds, especially long – haired ones, require a daily grooming session whereas others with shorter coats need only weekly attention. Smooth – coated dogs will require a twice – weekly brush and polish. Regular grooming, particularly when dogs are molting, will prevent their cast – off hairs covering carpets and furniture. 

Some coats tangle and matt very easily. They are uncomfortable for the dog and a hot bed of infection, an ideal place for bugs to breed. Some molting dogs experience matting and thus it is important that you gently tease out and remove the dead hair.

When to start grooming:
You should start grooming your puppy from the earliest age, especially if he has a long coat that will require a lot of attention later on. Grooming should be pleasurable experience for both of you, s keep the sessions short initially to prevent the dog becoming restless. You can extend them gradually as he grows older and more accustomed to them.

Grooming equipment:
The amount of grooming equipment you require will depend on your dog’s coat type. If you own a pug for example, all you need is a brush and comb, but if you have a poodle you must invest in some hairdresser’s scissors, electric clippers and several blades, a hair dryer and a set of specialist brushes and combs. Owner of dogs with wire coats will need stripping knives of various types and sizes plus special palm brushes with very short teeth and maybe even a rake for controlling the dog’s undercoat.

Coated types:
Strictly speaking there are as many coat types as there are dog breeds and there are different types within breeds. The first division is into three types short – haired (Doberman), medium – haired (German shepherd dog) and long – haired (Yorkshire terrier). These divisions can be sub-divided into smooth, rough, harsh different coat types demand special grooming tools, treatment and handling. However, with a few exceptions, they all have an undercoat of various textures, thicknesses and colors.

Short – haired dogs:
The hair on short-haired dogs is invariably smooth and relatively thin and it usually has a very fine undercoat. It is easiest coat to care for needing only an occasionally brush to remove and dead hairs. And a polish with a hound glove or a chamois leather to distribute the coat oils and gives it a shine.

Although these coats appear to be silky to the touch, a closer examination will show that the hair is really quite harsh. The fact that it lies flat and in the opposite direction to the way in which it lies and it is quite spiky. The short coat of a bull mastiff is said to be hard. The coat of the shar Pei is describer as short and bristly. Most of these short coats are self cleaning they do not absorb water and when they dry and mud or dirt will just fall off.

Medium - haired dogs:
Dogs with medium-length coats will require more grooming than most short – haired breeds. Most dogs in this category will only need brushing and combing two or three times a week their coats in a good condition and to remove mud and tangles. The smooth – coated collie has a medium-length smooth coat which, although dense is harsh to the touch it is waterproof by virtue of the thick undercoat.

Long – haired dogs:
Long coats are some of the most time consuming ones to keep in good condition. The softer they are, the more they are likely to tangle and the more dirt and debris they will pick up. It is not really feasible to keep a long-haired dog in full coat as an ordinary pet. The flowing white coat of the Maltese, the distinctive silky floor-length coat of the Yorkshire terrier or the sweeping locks of the Shih Tzu present countless difficulties for the pet owner. If you intend to show your dog, you will be prepared to put in the time and effort needed to groom these dogs.

Most pet owners keep their long-haired dogs in a short cut, known in some breeds as a puppy cut it is relatively simple to train the dog to stand on a table and using a pair of sharp scissors, to give him the rough shape of the breed. Dogs prefer to have short hair than to have knotted long coats. Once a year, perhaps they can go to a professional groomer to be shaped properly. Old English sheepdogs are difficult to maintain and the coats matt very easily. Therefore they are often taken to the grooming parlor to have all their hair shorn off in the manner of a sheep, especially if they live in the country and run free.

Rough-haired dogs:
This type of coat consists of harsh, stand off outer guard hairs and a soft under coat, whose thickness will vary according to the breed. Spitz- type dogs, such as the Chow Chow, have a very thick undercoat whereas rough collies have much less but their outer coat is longer and more luxurious. All these breeds molt copious amounts of hair which, if left can get knotted and cause irritation, so they need regular grooming. Dirt and dust tend to gather in the undercoat, which should be deep combed. The area surrounding the anus can become very unhygienic while male dogs coats can be stained with urine underneath, so pay special attention to these areas.

Poodles do not molt, but if their hair was left to grow it would eventually become corded or felted. Most people keep their poodles in a puppy cut, whereby the coat is scissored all over to a length of about 5cm (2in) with the face, feet and rear trimmed close to the skin. With practice, most owners can manage this but those who cannot should take their dog to the grooming parlour once every eight weeks. The dog should be brushed and combed everyday.

Wire-haired breeds:
These breeds need special attention. If the hair is cut, it trends to lose its texture and the color will gradually fade. The proper treatment for this type of coat is to hand-strip plucks it. This is an art that can only be achieved with practice and an understanding of the coat growth, for example, the hair on the body of Weish terrier should be just over 2.5cm (1in) in length the neck hair thicker, the head hair very short, and the furnishing on the legs profuse. You can hand-strip a dog anytime by pulling out a few hairs between your forefinger and thumb. Do it when you are sitting down together in the evening.

Grooming techniques:
Try to make your dog a pleasurable experience for both of you. If you develop a grooming routine while your dog is still a puppy, he will soon come to accept and enjoy this time you spend together. Depending on the breed, you can groom him on your lap, down on the floor or up on a table.

Brushing your dog:
The type of brush you use will depend on his coat type. Always be gentle and do not hurt your dog to remove really matted tangles, it is sometimes a good idea to tease them out with your fingers before gently pulling a brush or comb through them. If they are very bad indeed, you may even have to cut them out carefully with sharp scissors.

Brushing long ears:
Dogs with long ears should have them brushed every day and also checked for tangles and foreign objects especially after a walk. Begin by teasing out any thick tangles at the end of the ear flap with your fingers.

Then start at the top of the ears, slowly but smoothly ear flap at the base of the ear will prevent pulling on the sensitive skin around the ear opening. Excess hair is always best plucked out with you fingers as scissoring may allow hairs to fall into the ear.

Grooming tails and rear ends:
There are many different styles of dog’s tails, most of which do not require much attention. Very hairy hanging tails probably need the most grooming carefully the hair away from where it touches the dog’s anus with sharp scissors, preferably those with a slight curve. Otherwise give the area a routine brush and comb. Keep the folds of skin clean on very short tails, Such as the bulldogs. Wire – haired breeds should have the underside of the tail kept short.

Nearly even medium and long – haired dog needs to have his or her rear end kept clear of excessive hair for obvious reasons. Take great care as the area is very delicate; curved scissors prevent accidental digging in, bitches can suffer of the hair on the hind legs, which is known as culottes. Excessive hair growth on the male’s penis sheath should be cut very carefully for hygiene purposes.

Using a slicker:
To groom short – haired hounds and terriers, you will need to use a tool called a slicker or hound glove. Made of rubber, if glides easily trough the dog’s coat and massages the skin underneath.