Wednesday, February 17, 2010
By Ruthie Bently
Each dog’s hair coat is different and in my opinion, grooming a dog with a short coat (also known as a smooth coat) is the easiest. You don’t have to cut the dog’s hair coat and you don’t need to use a stripping knife to cut out the dead hair. You also don’t have to bathe a dog with a short coat very often. If they are a fairly clean dog, then bathing them once a month is often enough.
If you bathe a dog too much you can actually strip the oils out of their hair coat. This can be detrimental because the oils in a dog’s coat can help keep them insulated against the cold weather. My AmStaff Skye loves to run through mud puddles, and I’ve watched her jump up and down trying to see how much mud she can get on herself. I have a dry shampoo for spot cleaning her feet and parts of her that get wet or muddy after we have been down by the river.
The first step in grooming a short-coated dog is to give them a bath. Fill the bathtub with about six inches of lukewarm water and use it to get them wet all over. A medium-sized saucepan works well for both getting your dog wet and for rinsing off the shampoo. I purchased a shampoo that has colloidal oatmeal in it, though lately I have been making my own. The oatmeal soothes the skin and is good for any bites from flies or mosquitoes or scratches your dog might get from charging through bushes.
After wetting your dog completely, put about a nickel sized amount of shampoo in your hand. Beginning at their head (avoiding the eyes) soap them from front to back and top to bottom. Massaging your dog with a rubber brush or palm pad helps calm them, works the shampoo down to the skin and helps get any dirt out of their coat.
Be sure to rinse your dog very well to make sure all the soap suds are out of their coat. For every twenty minutes of bathing allow yourself five minutes of rinse time. Dry your dog with several old, clean towels set aside for that purpose, or use a blow dryer on a low heat setting. If it’s warm enough outside in the summer months, you can let your dog air dry.
If your dog’s nails need to be clipped, after their bath is a good time to do it. The warm water of the bath usually soothes a dog and makes it easier to clip their nails. If they object to having their toes clipped at this time, waiting until bedtime after they’ve had a full day of activity and are tired can also be helpful. Make sure you have styptic powder or a styptic pencil on hand if your dog tends to be a wiggler.
The next step is brushing out the hair that was loosened by the bath. There are many tools you can use to brush your short-coated dog, and you need to decide which is best for you. You can use a shedding blade, natural bristle brush, a round rubber curry brush or rectangular rubber brush, a sisal mitt with bristles, a rubber mitt or a rubber palm pad. I prefer the round rubber brush, palm pad or shedding blade as they are easier to clean. They also attract the hair to themselves and you don’t tend to end up with globs of hair around the house.
During the warmer months I brush Skye outside and give the hair to the wild birds to use for their nests. Begin at your dog’s head and brush them head to tail and top to bottom. If you can’t brush them outside, brushing them in the bathroom on the tile floor is a good idea since it is a small room and it’s easy to sweep up the hair. You shouldn’t need a conditioning spray unless your dog has a brittle coat, and with frequent brushing you will help your dog’s body replenish its natural lubricating hair oils.
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently