Earlier we posted some information about things that you need to do for your dog no matter what kind of dog you have, such as trimming your dog’s nails, cleaning his ears, and brushing his teeth. These are grooming basics that are important for every dog’s health and well-being, whether he’s a Chihuahua or a Great Dane.
However, there’s more to grooming your dog and keeping him looking and feeling good than just the basics. Grooming your dog also involves taking care of his coat and keeping him clean. Coat care for your dog will depend on what kind of coat he has and dogs have lots of different kinds of coats.
In general, dogs have short, medium and long coats, but they can also have wirehaired coats, like many of the terrier breeds. Dogs can have single coats or double coats. A single coat means a dog has one layer of hair. Dogs with single coats, such as Poodles and Maltese, are less likely to shed, often making them good choices for people with allergies. Kerry Blue Terriers, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers, and Portuguese Water Dogs are also single-coated breeds. Most dogs have double coats. This means that they have an outer coat of harsher hair and an undercoat of softer, denser fur. The outer coat typically protects them from the elements and the undercoat keeps them warm. Dogs with double coats do tend to shed.
Many breeds of dogs today have traditional hairstyles and hair cuts associated with them, such as the Poodle’s lion cut with pom poms over the joints. These tufts of fur are said to have been left over the joints when the body of the dog was clipped to keep the dog’s joints warm when it was used as a water retriever, which was one of the original purposes of the breed. The cute Lowchen has always been clippered in its present cut since the Renaissance because fleas were a problem at that time and it was believed that keeping the dog trimmed would reduce the problem. Plus, the Lowchen was used as a foot warmer for court ladies. They did not want to have fleas get on them! And the dog’s skin was nice and warm.
Of course, today many breeds with traditional hairstyles are too hard for pet owners to maintain. Many pet owners prefer to keep their dogs clippered in pet cuts. It often does take extra work and maintenance to keep your dog looking good in a traditional hair cut. A pet hair cut is often easier to care for if you don’t intend to show your dog.
In general, from a grooming viewpoint, the easiest dogs to care for are those with a short coat, such as Pointers, Beagles, and Labrador Retrievers. Many shorthaired dogs do have a tendency to shed a great deal, however. Lots of people think that shedding is related to the length of a dog’s coat but that’s false. You can have a longhaired dog such as a Maltese or even an Afghan Hound with a single coat and it will actually shed less than your double-coated Labrador. In fact, Labradors are quite notorious shedders, as are some other shorthaired breeds, such as German Shorthaired Pointers. So, even though you may have a shorthaired breed of dog, it is important to brush your dog regularly to remove dead hair. Otherwise you will probably be vacuuming hair off your furniture and floor constantly.
For grooming your shorthaired dog you will need a good brush such as a boar bristle brush. You can also use a good hound glove or chamois cloth to smooth over your dog’s coat after you have brushed him. This will give your dog’s coat a good glow and polish to make his coat shine.
For bathing your shorthaired dog you should use a good, mild dog shampoo such as the Happytails Sparkle & Shine shampoo found at Dogs’ Dens online boutique. It’s best not to use detergents unless your dog has been sprayed by a skunk or rolled in garbage or something else disgusting. Detergents and even human shampoos are too harsh for your dog’s coat and skin. Your dog’s skin has a particular pH level and dog shampoos are made specifically for your dog. Most shorthaired dogs do not require a conditioner but you can use a small dollop of conditioner if your dog’s coat is dry. Fur Butter or Fur Worse is a fantastic deep conditioner to help combat dry, damaged coats. If your dog’s coat or skin are dry, it is usually better to address the problem through diet. Additionally, the more you brush your dog, the more you will distribute the natural oils in your dog’s skin throughout his coat.
Make sure you rinse the shampoo and any conditioner completely out of your dog’s coat when you bathe him. Any residue can irritate your dog’s skin and cause hotspots to develop. It isn’t necessary to bathe your dog too often. A monthly bath is usually sufficient for a pet dog. Show dogs are usually bathed weekly, but they are conditioned and their coats are carefully monitored for any changes.
It is not usually necessary to blowdry a shorthaired dog’s coat.
As you can see, taking care of a shorthaired dog’s coat is usually fairly simple. They are known as “wash and go” dogs. With regular brushing and good food, your dog’s coat should bloom and look wonderful.
In the next section on grooming we’ll discuss medium and longhaired dogs. Their grooming needs can be a bit trickier than the shorthaired dog’s requirements.