How to Groom a Dog Correctly
The first thing to understand about dog grooming is that it is a lot more than ensuring that your dog has a fine healthy coat.Of course that is fundamental, but a dog's nails, teeth, eyes and ears also come into the equation. It is best to get your puppy used to the idea that he has to be groomed at a very early age. You do not have to actually groom, but handling your puppies gets them used to the idea. All breeds of dog have two types of hair:
- a coarse outer coat, more conspicuous in some breeds than other (an Airedale for example)
- an inner coat, which has finer softer hair
All dogs have hair that grows to a genetically predetermined length, and once this has been reached the hair stops growing. Once this happens they are pushed out by the new growth of hair, and the process is called "shedding"; some dogs such as the Dalmatian shed their hair twice a year and it's very obvious, as it is fine and white. Others like the poodle do not appear to shed at all as it is contained within the curly hairs of the coat. The American hairless terrier is the only dog breed not to shed at all.
Normally a dog sheds its fur in Spring, which is its way of getting rid of its Winter coat, but it may be that your dog does not go out enough to be exposed to the weather. If this happens then a dog can shed all the year, as it is has no indicators to tell it when to shed. However leaving your dog outside in all weathers will not stop a dog from shedding, as many breeds are meant to be kept indoors, and banishing them to the cold will not stop the process. It always appears that the longhaired dogs shed more, but like with people it is an illusion, it just appears to be more hair.
The more you remove a dogs hair in the process of grooming the less it will fall out all over the place. During your dogs shedding season if you do not remove it by brushing you are very likely to see the results for at least six weeks.
The "very light shedders" are usually the breeds that need to be clipped, stripped and/or scissored. They are named light shedders because their hair falls out at a much slower rate, examples are the Cairn terrier, the Manchester terrier, the Airedale Terrier, the Yorkshire terrier and the standard poodle. If they are not groomed correctly their coat gets matted.
Some dogs love being groomed and others hate it, unfortunately there is not much you can do, but you can familiarize your puppy with the procedure. Start grooming or pretending to groom puppies soon after you bring them home. Brush your puppy daily for at least a month after you have him, so it getsused to the feel of being handled. Gently separate the puppies' toes, if the puppy is used to the feel of this they are less likely to object to having their nails clipped.
Grooming Long haired dogs
Examples of long haired dogs are the Newfoundland, Maltese, Frise, Havanese, Coton De Tulear, and Shih-Tzu.
The longer thicker coats of these dogs need a firm brush, metal is better than plastic, to get rid of all the tangles. They need regular brushing, but not shampooing. Bathing these dogs removes the natural protective oil in their fur. Unless they have done something that needs a bath then a bi-annual bath is sufficient.
The breeds do differ, depending on the thickness of the coats, but they may need a brushing every other day whilst others can go a week without brushing. The job is easier if it is on your lap, (unless of course it is the Newfoundland!). After you have finished brushing comb the coat with a metal comb to ensure that all the tangles have been removed.
How to groom a dog:
- part the hair
- use one hand to push that part of the hair upwards
- comb through the hair below
- repeat moving upwards
- When you have finished the body of the dog comb out the face paying attention to the corner of the dog's eye and the beard. There are specialist combs for grooming a dogs face, but a flea comb can be used.
If it is important to keep the hair in show condition such as for Yorkshire terriers, moisten the hair with a commercial grooming spray before combing. This protects the hair from splitting, and helps to keep it in peak condition.
There are commercial brushes illustrated below called the slicker.
This type of brush is ideal for use with the shedding dogs, but they lethal to the delicate skin in the hands of the initiated so please ensure you know exactly how to hold them.
Long silky haired dogs need a bath once a week and then a brush if it is a spaniel then the long hair around their paws and ears should be cut.
Non shedding coats
Examples are Poodles and Bedlington Terriers.
These dogs need bathing and clipping about every eight weeks, and any excess ear hair should be pulled out rather than cut.
Examples are Dachshunds, Schnauzers and most terriers.
These dog's coats need a good brush at least three times a week, but they only need bathing three or four times a year. The dead hair in the coat needs to be stripped, but as this can take several hours an alternative if the dog is not a show dog is to clip the hair.
The smooth coats
Examples are Boxer, Whippet and Labrador.
Short hair smooth-coated breeds just need a weekly combing and brushing. Bathe twice a year. Breeders use a "stripping knife" to keep these coats looking sleek.
A Dog's Ears, Feet and Teeth
Grooming should include a regular check of the ears for infections, particularly if it is a "droopy" eared breed.
Toenails should be cut every two months, unless the dog has sufficient exercise to wear down the nails. It is harder to cut nails when they are dark, and it is always recommended that you cut them a little at a time, as it is very easy not to be able to see where the cuticle is and you can draw blood. If you have an accident and the nail bleeds the blood flow can be stemmed by using what the Europeans call cornflour and the Americans cornstarch.
Teeth care is imperative for the toy dogs particularly the Yorkshire terrier, they should have a de-scale annually.
How to clean a dog's ear:
- Pour a little cleaner in the ears
- massage the ears
- let the dog shake out anything nasty in the ear (in the case of big dogs stand well clear)
Always dry the ears after bathing and whilst washing a dog try and prevent any dirty water from entering the ear. If the head should be very dirty protect the ears with your hand before washing the dog.
When the tufts of hair grow in the ears remove them a few at a time, taking out huge clumps will hurt.
Grooming a Dog's Eyes
Every dog should have it eyes wiped on a daily basis, using a cloth, to prevent the build up of mucus. Eyes that are not cared for correctly quickly develop infections. Trim hair from around eyes using blunt-nosed scissors, if the hair is allowed to rub against the eye then bacteria can enter and infect the eye.
Some breeds such as Poodles, Spaniels, and small Terriers can't drain the tear duct. The excess tears spill down the lower eyelid causing a dark stain if it build up. Trimming hair around the eye, keeping the eye clean, and using a tearstain remover or a fine toothcomb can help to prevent this condition.
Special Notes on Dog Hairs
As humans age the hair gets thinner and more brittle, this is not a normal process for dogs if this occurs please have a veterinary surgeon check the dog's general health.