I start grooming my puppies at about three weeks - I clip their nails & trim the hair between their pads; I also pull the hair from inside their ear canal - so that they will be used to this regime when they go to their new homes. I let them go to their new homes at about 12 weeks. I explain to the new owners how to groom their new puppy.

 The new owners will need a brush with long pins, a wide-toothed metal comb, a dog or a child's toothbrush & doggy toothpaste (nail clippers & scissors if brave enough).  The puppy should be brushed & combed each day; the teeth should also be brushed each day.

Stand him on the table for the brushing, combing & teeth cleaning, then sit down put him upside down on your lap. Brush the tummy, then inside the front & back legs, checking under the arms as this is an area prone to knots. If the puppy is to be clipped when an adult, he will need clipping about every 12 weeks.

The puppy should be bathed every 2 to 3 weeks with Johnson's baby shampoo; at bath time the ears should be checked and any long hair growing inside the ear canal pulled out with your fingers (put a pinch of Thornits ear powder in the ear canal as this will make it easier to pull out).

 Nails should be trimmed - but be careful not to cut the quick (if you cut the nail at the quick put a small piece of potassium potanganatein to the bleeding claw and this should stop the bleeding at once); if the puppy has dewclaws they must be kept short; also check between the pads for 'for- eign bodies'.

If your puppy is of show potential the grooming equipment is basically the same, although I suggest a good dog shampoo & conditioner. I like to use Coat Handler or All Systems. Please read the instructions, as the conditioner often has to be diluted. I still use Johnson's baby shampoo on the head. He will need to be bathed weekly. I do not groom between baths, only the head furnishings if needed. Should you need to groom between baths, spray the coat with water or coat spray. I NEVER GROOM THE COAT WHEN IT IS DRY!!

When the head furnishings are long enough, start by putting the hair on the top of the head in an elastic band (5/16 light are best) creating a topknot. Always cut the bands out - I NEVER PULL OUT the bands.

 When the hair is really long I find platting the hair is best - part the hair in the middle, divide each side (start- ing from the eye to the top of the head) into three equal lengths, then take the first 1/3rd nearest the eye, put a band in the first 1/3rd of the hair length then plat all 3 together; finish off by securing it with a band. The same can be done.on the furnishings by the mouth.

 When bathing NEVER rub the coat; .... treat the coat as if you were washing a delicate fabric like silk. Always rinse shampoo out thoroughly; always use a good quality conditioner. Use a towel to gently squeeze the excess water from the coat.

When drying I use a stand dryer as this will let me have the use of both hands when drying. Using a butterfly clip, clip the topcoat up so it is out of the way. I start by drying the back foot first then I work up the leg using the long-pinned brush; I brush the coat drying a 2 to 4 inch layer of coat at a time until the leg is dry. I go around the whole dog drying this way. I finish off by combing the whole coat through with a wide- toothed metal comb; then finish off by parting the coat down the centre of the dog's back, from his tail to the top of the head, finishing just above his eyes.

At bath time I descale the teeth using a dentist's scaper - but you must be very careful not to scrape the tooth enamel.

The feet will need trimming about every 3 weeks if you are going to dog shows. Using the butterfly clip, clip the leg hair up, trim around the front of the foot at a 10-2 angle (imagine a clock face) then cut in a semi-circle at the back of the foot - do not trim too short, especially at the back of the foot. Repeat this for all 4 feet. The foot should look like it did when he was a puppy. Let the leg hair down and trim level with the foot.

 To cut the length, stand your dog on the table, brush the body coat down so it is level with the edge of the table, and, using the table as a straight edge, trim the coat level with the table. Again, do not cut it too short because when the coat settles after a bath it will shorten slightly.

It is a good idea to use bottled water for drinking as this helps to prevent the face from staining. There are many factors that contribute to a good coat. Firstly you need good coats behind your breeding; using the correct food is important - a well balanced diet with a teaspoon of corn oil a day. I do not feed on a high protein diet as I find this can lead to scratching and hot skin. I do not let them out in the rain. If you have more than one dog, only let them play together under supervision. Hopefully with a bit of luck and a lot of hard work you will have a dog with a wonderful coat.

Jacquie Chalmers Lhasa  (Apso breeder & CC Judge)