Introduction to grooming

The first thing people say when they see a Samoyed is "what a beautiful dog" followed quickly with "Oh they must be so hard to keep clean". I have never found it difficult to keep my Samoyeds clean and as long as you regularly groom them they will stay pretty good until one day you just know it is time for a bath. Of course if you are showing your Samoyed you will be bathing before a show.

Katie. Puppy and grooming tools
Katie. Puppy and grooming tools.

Teaching your dogs to enjoy been groomed is so important and there is nothing worse than having a struggle with a puppy or a full grown dog that wants his own way. If breeders start handling the babies when in the nest they will find how quickly these little guys will scramble for that attention.

You do have to teach your dog manners for grooming and they will learn very quickly who is the boss and who they can take advantage of. Just remember if they object to an area been done, do not move onto another area because you have set a pattern that will be hard to break. With little ones donít expect them to lie still at the beginning for the entire groom. Do one side of them, then let them free for a play then continue with the other side.

Grooming should be a pleasure for you and a pleasure for your dog and they will quickly learn where the grooming gear is kept and there will be a rush to the grooming table to be first served. For those first lessons on the table give the puppy a pig ear or a chewy teat to occupy him and to distract him but he must still learn from you that you expect him to stay still.

As well as the usual "sit", "down" and "stay", teach him commands such as "turn around", "the other side" or "letís do your tummy". By talking to your dog while grooming and bathing him you will be amazed just how cooperative they become when they remember the words. "the other side" or "letís do your tummy".

Grooming a Samoyed is not hard and a thorough combing at least every two weeks (more when they are moulting) and a brush twice a week will keep your Sam looking very nice. If you want to brush them everyday, do so, but it is not necessary.

The purpose of grooming is to remove dead and loose coat, to prevent matting and to stimulate new hair growth. It is a chance to inspect your Sam for any health issue, to inspect the skin for lumps, especially in the older dog, check for grass seeds and for fleas, ticks (Frontline should be used to prevent the last two).

Inspect the ears and remove any wax build up with cottonwool, check teeth for tartar and clip nails. It is an opportunity to spend individual time with your dog and they really love that.

The brushing of your dogís coat is done the way as combing and that is by layers and then a vigorous brushing from tail to head. If your Samoyed should get a bit grubby and you donít want to bath him, a quick dry-clean is achieved with towels rung out in a bucket or tub of hot water in which a small quantity of dish liquid has been added and the towels rubbed over the coat. Rinse and repeat several times and you will find the surface dirt will disappear.

This is also a good tip to refresh coats between shows and the hot towels will give a look of volume to the coat. A Chamoi wiped over the coat is also a good method to pick up dead loose hairs.

Grooming Tools:

Good grooming equipment is paramount and everyone will have their favourite combs and brushes. I do prefer combs with handles as they are easier on the hands but I was given a set of three combs back in 1973 and I still have them and they still give me the best results. These combs are English made by Hinders Ltd and are three different teeth widths. The wide spaced teeth I would use for the first grooming on the ruff and trousers and tail of a male coat. The second sized spaced teeth is for the main all over body groom and the very close teeth for the face and legs and feet. I would never use the very fine comb on trousers, tails or ruff on a male coat but you can use them on a female coat for the final groom apart from the tail.

I have about five combs of different sizes. You need a metal pin brush set in a rubber backing and these come in different length pins, so naturally for a long coat you would use a longer pin brush or else it could tangle in the coat and on a bitch the shorter length pins will be perfect.

It is important that when you brush that the bristles will reach the skin. Some of the brushes have small plastic caps on the metal tips but I have found they come off leaving a very sharp pointed tip. Before you buy any brush or comb try it on your own hair, if the teeth donít dig into your scalp and it feels smooth as you pull it through your own hair, it will be perfect for your Samoyed. The ends of the teeth should be rounded and smooth. A nylon brush is wonderful to create static electricity for the last brush and these can be bought from a pharmacy as well as a Pet Supplier.

The only other brush I own is a rake. This is a flat square thin backed brush with short metal bent pins. The ONLY time you should use this is when your dog is loosing coat, it will help to get the loose hair out but do not use it at any other time as it will tear the hair.

Spend the best money you can on quality grooming gear, have your name engraved on them and guard them with your life. Do not forget to wash your brushes and combs out regularly (as well as leads) and dry them thoroughly.

Katie enjoying drying
Katie enjoying drying.

We are not discussing bathing but a beautifully presented Samoyed is only as good as the groom prior to the bath and the quality of the bathing. I also blow dry my dogs, dry and as they near to drying I start to work with the brush so when they are dry they could be shown.

Katie blow dried but not groomed
Katie blow dried but not groomed.

The Groom:

Now we start with the groom and it is so much easier for your back if you have your dog at waist height so a table is perfect. Crates can have a wooden piece of ply fitted into the top and this will be excellent also. Just cover them with a non-slip blanket.

I donít really think there is any set way of where you should start but it is a good idea if your dog has a part of his body that he is sensitive about that you get this done first. It is a good idea to divide your dog into sections, the forequarters, the neck head and front. The middle section of tummy, sides and back, then the hind quarters and tail. I like to start with my dog lying on its side and I either start at the front leg at the foot and work my way up to the shoulder or start at the back foot and work up to the thigh.

Wherever you start, set a pattern in your mind so that you work from one area to another or move to another area and work back to what you have done. A Samoyed has many different directions of coat growth and different coat length and thickness so move through your combs accordingly.

I always think it is easier to demonstrate grooming than it is to describe it but here goes. The object of the exercise is to comb every hair on your dogs body and I mean every hair, layer by layer from the skin to the ends of the coat, by parting the hair with the left hand and putting the comb, held in the right hand, to the skin and combing the hair out to the ends of the coat.

The left hand is placed firmly on the hair above the area which you are grooming so the skin is not pulled. You gradually work through each section as detailed above, combing every section of hair so that if the comb were pulled through the coat it would slide freely without tugging or catching.

So many people do not comb to the skin and have an ungroomed layer, if you do this your dog will never look good. Also if your dog starts to drop coat, please donít think you can get away with showing him without grooming to hold his coat, he will also never look good.

To detail some of the difficult areas we will start with the face and with a very fine comb, comb the muzzle and up through the forehead and between the eyes and the skull. Comb the hair behind the ears and inside the ears and the short coat that is the outline of the ear. Comb the short hair framing the face before it goes into length.

Under the chin and mouth is an area often neglected and if your dog will lie on his back and drop his head back you will be able to comb it easily. If not, get your dog to sit and with the back of your left hand hold his head up with nose pointing to the sky and you will be able to comb it easily. Leg featherings are combed in the direction they grow, in layers and donít forget the elbows. Leg hair is combed with a fine comb.

Donít neglect the tummy and again a dog that will lie on its back allows you to comb the inside of the thighs but donít pull this area as it is very sensitive and be mindful of the private parts of both sexes. While they are still on their back, work your way up the chest and under the arms. Hock featherings are so often neglected and a fine comb is used.

When you do the legs remember they have an inside as well as an outside. Trousers need a bit of care and I stand behind my dog at the tail end and with the dog lying on its side I push all the hair away from me towards the dogs head and start combing the very bottom layer and working through each layer until the trousers are back where they belong.

Donít forget the short hair just under the base of tail, another sign of a less than perfectly groomed Samoyed. Now to the tail.

Most Sams hate their tails been groomed and I find it easier to take the tip of the tail between my fingers and form a small pom pom at the end and with the brush work through that hair. I then slide my hand down the tail by another inch and make a bigger pom pom and including the groomed hair proceed to brush the hair away again towards the tip of the tail. I work my way down to the base of the tail, section by section, until you are holding this glorious plumed tail. Give it more brushing from base to tip then take the tip of tail in your fingers and give the tail a shake and every hair will fall into place.

Donít forget the fine hair between the toes and between the pads and when you are satisfied every hair is groomed and this can take two or three groomings and I canít emphasize this enough then brush and brush and brush from under the tail to head, along the sides and up the chest to the head and then blow gently on your dog and tell him to shake (teach this little trick) and every piece of hair will fall into place presenting a beautiful picture.

Check your dogs eyes for matter and wipe clean and wipe any dribble away from his lips, a little bit of Vaseline on his nose to be a perfectionist and away you go.

Good grooming and remember your dog will only look as good as the effort you put in.

Katie ready for her show
Katie ready for her show.

Judi McCormick
Silvertips
http://www.geocities.com/silvertipsnz

 

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