Puppy Grooming


When starting to groom a young puppy, I usually sit down on the floor with my legs straight out in front of me - together, I then lay the puppy on his/her back in the crease formed by my legs. This is quite a relaxing position for the puppy and affords good control over its movements. In this way I can thoroughly groom the legs, stomach and (rolling the puppy slightly) its sides.
 Comb right to the skin and in the elbow creases where mats commonly form. If puppy objects, a little shake of the front legs, to get his attention and a firm "no", or "settle", usually works.   If he continues to struggle, just remain still whilst keeping him in the position and he will soon realize what’s expected of him.
 I cannot stress enough how important it is to be in charge, be firm but kind.
 (This position is also good for trimming their pads & nails whilst being trained.) Sit the puppy up to groom his head, front, topcoat, bottom & tail.
 Eventually you can progress from your knees to sitting to a grooming table with the puppy on your lap still, eventually you can slide him onto the table, with his full co-operation.
 I always groom with a pin brush and wide toothed metal comb, Dog groomers  will use a soft slicker brush, but I would suggest novices use slickers with extreme caution so as not to scratch the dog’s skin.
 It is helpful to use a slicker on a thick coat or if a dog is very knotty as sometimes using a comb in this situation will pull out more coat than necessary.

 I know some breeders like to use a good quality bristle brush (Mason Pearson or similar) also.
 Experiment with these tools to find what works for you & your particular dog’s coat. I try to use very little in the way of grooming spray, & stay mainly clear of silicon type aerosol sprays as they build up in the coat although they can be useful on a heavily knotted dog, I use them occasionally but sparingly.
 If you are bathing and grooming regularly you will only require a light conditioning spray or try a little Neutrogena Body Oil or Coat Handler Anti Static Spray on trouble spots if you need some grooming help!! Particularly with bitches, I would tend to groom out the majority of the coat, then if what I term the "Knickers" is sticky with urine I would wash that area with a combined shampoo/conditioner or conditioner on its own and dry that section of the coat rather than groom through it.

Ideally the best way to combat knots is regular grooming, once you know how to groom your apso thoroughly, you will find twice a week sessions are usually sufficient.  Also a good practice on a daily basis is to pop the dog on a table and just groom his or her tail and facial furnishings including the ears. 


When mats do happen - and they will, my solution is to spray the coat with some kind of detangling spray, (see products list at the end)
 and handling a slicker brush in the manner shown in the photograph, use quick & short, light to medium strength brush strokes avoiding the dogs skin, to tease out the tangled loose coat. Keep stopping to comb through in between slickering to remove the dead coat you've loosened
 A good tip is to hold the dogs coat at the root with the fingers of your other hand, so that when you brush - you are pulling against yourself rather than the dog's skin, put as little pressure on the dog's skin as possible to avoid their discomfort.
 Imagine if your hair was very knotty and a hairdresser just pulled straight from the roots through the knot with a brush or comb - ouch!
 If I wouldn't like it doing to myself I try my utmost not to do it to a dog! If the knot is really horrendous - (and you will be amazed how with some patience and persistance the above method works on seemingly impossible knots)
 then use a tool such as a mikki mat breaker, which can cost around £10, which is a plastic handle with a set of blade combs on the head, and if you use this through the knot using a twisting motion of your wrist as you do, it will literally slice through the mat.
 Take great care as it is also capable of slicing skin if used in a careless manner, and try to use it sparingly alternating with the slicker after you have cut through the worst in order to save as much coat as possible
 Alternatively you can cut through a knot with a small pair of scissors, but don't cut inwards towards the dog, slide the underside blade between the knot & the dogs skin pointing directly out and away cut through the knot, and then slicker as above. Never cut across a knot as you will cut out a blunt chunk of coat which will leave an ugly result.
 Personally I would not cut with scissors or use a matt breaker on a show coat, I would persevere with slicker, comb and spray. 

It's detailed below about trimming the anal and groin areas, but also very important is to check at least once a day when your apso (or any hairy breed) has been to the toilet properly, that the stool has come away and not left any "kling ons" as I call them behind!
A high proportion of hairy dogs go around growing a nasty collection of bacteria that owners seem blissfully unaware of!
This can be dangerous as they will tend to over strain as they think they still need to "go" further.
My tip particularly when you take them for a walk, is to take baby wipes with you as well as your poop bags, and always check their bottoms
If you are not willing to do this I really advise you not buy a hairy breed of dog.
If your dog has a very dirty bottom I would suggest you properly bath & dry the hind end, if you are worried about leaving shampoo in the coat when you are just washing a section of coat, then just sluice with conditioner and water, it won't hurt if a bit of conditioner stays in the coat
alternatively use a two in one shampoo/conditioner for this job. 
I try to groom my apsos before they’re bathed, but some people prefer not to, I would usually only put them straight in the bath if they were very dirty, as grooming beforehand would then remove too much coat.
 If you don't groom out the knots beforehand it is essential you rinse the dog as clean as possible and you must be very thorough in your grooming & drying afterwards otherwise any remaining knots will be twice as bad.  I shampoo & rinse twice, (the 2nd time very thoroughly) and follow with conditioner before giving a final good rinse.
 When bathing lather the body first and the head last, then rinse the head first so the soap is near the eyes for as little time as possible. Try not to tangle the coat together as you lather, instead, smoothing it down the hair shaft.
 Squeeze the coat out so its not dripping and then towel dry going with the lay of the hair, so as not to encourage it to knot  Groom as you blow dry using a pin brush, stopping regularly (if you’re using a hand held dryer) to groom through the area you’ve dried.
 Ideally if you have a lhasa the best way to dry them is with either a stand dryer like the ones used by groomers or with a dryer on a flexible arm which attaches to your grooming table.
 The best results are achieved by having your hands free to groom as the coat is drying.
 You don't have to be too methodical when drying a young pup, the object is to get them dry as quickly as possible but making sure they are dry right to the roots.
 Brush or comb gently against the direction of the coat growth, some puppy's don't appreciate this at first - until they get used to the sensation,
 just reassure them vocally and support them with your hand under their chest and two fingers between the front legs.
 Once the coat grows long enough, I find it helpful to use sectioning clips to dry the coat in layers, starting with the hind end and working toward the neck and ears, then turn the dog around and dry the other side.
 If bathing for a show I would dry the show side first!
 I then lay my dogs’ down while I blow dry their legs and tummies, one side then the other and then stand them back up to dry the front and head
 and lastly the bottom & tail, that way they are left with absolutely no knots.

If you are not growing your Apso’s coat then you will need to book in at a groomers every 5-7 weeks depending on how fast/thick your dog’s coat grows.
 If you want to try growing the coat then it is still advisable to clip or scissor some of the thickness out of the dog’s tummy hair, up to the umbilical area, a little of the inner thigh, plus the anal area for hygiene purposes.
 You will also need to trim the hair that grows between the dog’s pads, don’t scissor actually in between the pads unless they are matted, just cut it so you are level & neat, feel in between the pads to check there are no knots or foreign bodies that will cause discomfort. Try to use the tips of the scissors rather than the length of the blades & only use small scissors.
 If apso feet are neglected and matts are allowed to develop it will cause the dog pain and in serious cases could distort the pads and splay them causing further disability to the dog.
 When the leg hair grows long then you will need to trim around the feet. Stand the dog up and brush out the legs thoroughly. Pin up any body hair that obscures your view, you need to carefully determine what is leg hair & what is body coat, comb down the legs & trim round the foot, go slowly and don’t trim so short that you can see the nails. You will need to comb as you trim and once you’ve done the top layer use your hand to push in that top layer of coat exposing the layers underneath for you to trim.
 To trim the inside legs pick up the opposite foot & hold the dog steady, comb out & scissor. Remember to trim the backs of the legs, but take off less here as the coat should flow behind the foot a little, both at the front and rear. Once I’ve done the main trim I pick up each foot and trim off any obvious bits I’ve missed.
 When the dog’s body hair grows long it should be trimmed back so it just touches the floor/grooming table, as the head coat grows you need to part it down the middle and tie it back with dental bands from a groomers suppliers or small soft toweling bands.
 If you make sure the hair at the outer eye corners isn’t in the bands the dog should not rub it out. You can see now why apsos, whether you keep them long or short, need to get used to being handled.
 A breeder should trim nails, feet, check teeth etc from a couple of weeks old & it is important that you continue to train them to behave whilst being groomed from the moment they become yours. That way a trip to the groomers or vets will not be a stressful experience for them.  If you are not going to a groomer then nails are something you are going to have to tackle.
 If you look at the nails, hopefully some of them will be opaque in colour & you will be able to see a pink vein running about halfway down.
 This is called the quick and it will bleed if cut, so you need to clip the nail a little after the quick ends.
 Some or all of your dog’s nails will be black and the quick no longer visible. If this is the case, then the best course is to trim little & often, if you look underneath the nail you will be able to identify the dead area of the nail as it appears hollow, this is also a useful guide as to how far you can trim.
 Don’t forget to do the dew claws on the inside of the legs, most breeders will have removed the hind ones but check anyway as these are dangerous to the dog when they grow unchecked.
 Should you accidentally snip the quick, don’t panic. Apply some styptic powder and finger pressure until it ceases, alternatively you can now get styptic liquid in disposable cotton buds,
 to use them you snap the end off, the liquid runs down into the other end of the cotton bud and you apply this to the bleeding nail, these can also be used on superficial wounds and are hygienic and very handy.  Apso’s grow hair right inside the ear canal & if this is not regularly checked and removed, then your dog could end up with an ear infection.
 About every 4 weeks look inside the ears & gently tweeze out any excess hair, using tweezers or fingers if you prefer.
 Pull only a few hairs at a time and get as close to the roots as possible, wiggling the hair as you pull, will help loosen it.
 To aid this process you could put a little ear powder into the ear, which will help you grip the hairs.
 If the ear seems waxy put a few drops of ear cleaner in and gently massage the base of the ears to distribute, wipe away any discharge with cotton wool or buds, but don’t poke down the canal, as the ear drum is closer to the surface than you think.
 Should the dog’s ears feel hot to the touch, be very itchy or smelly, the skin thickened or inflamed then this is evidence of an infection and your vet should be consulted.  Apso eyes do tend to protrude a little and many will have some discharge from the eye corners. This is not a problem unless it is greeny or yellow in colour or the white of the eye looks red or inflamed.
 These are both signs of infection & will need vets advice, normal discharge can be just wiped away with damp cotton wool.
 Keep the coat tied back or clipped away from the eyes at all times.
 Lhasa’s are prone to red staining around the eye caused by tear flow and due to the positioning of the eyes in the dog’s skull. The staining is not usually a problem although it can be unsightly when showing a dog. A little cornflour can be applied to the coat, left to dry and then combed out.
 This will help improve the appearance of the stains.
 Colloidal silver is gentle for wiping the eye area and some research suggests it combats the bacteria that causes the staining.
 If you are worried that the tearing is excessive then you may wish a vet to check that there is no underlying problem, but generally if the eye is not sore and the skin where the staining occurs does not seem irritated then I wouldn’t worry.  As with most small breeds, tartar will form from quite a young age. Although you needn’t worry too much about the baby teeth as they’re not permanent, it is the time to introduce brushing.
 Your puppy should have lost all their baby teeth by about nine months old. If they haven’t, or aren’t looking like they may come out at any time, then a vet may have to remove them so they don’t hinder the normal placement of the adult teeth or lead to gum disease/decay.
 If you have the patience I would definitely recommend regular teeth brushing sessions or try Logic Oral Gel, this is just popped in the mouth, with no brushing required.
 I am currently trying a dental spray on the dogs called Petzlife Oral care Spray, and spraying it onto the dog's gums 1-2 times a day depending on the dog.
 If you would like some information on this product (it also comes in a gel) you can go to Canine Natural Cures
 Giving the dog good quality chews designed to clean the teeth will help too, although it is not suitable for dogs in full coat, as they’ll just chew the hair off with it!!
 Many people also find the homeopathic remedy Fragaria 6C or 3C useful in reducing tartar build up. One tablet popped on the tongue, once a day for a month & then once weekly, (for dogs 2+ yrs)
 This does make the tartar easier to remove.
 As with all homeopathics avoid touching the tablet with your fingers, it may be more effective if you don’t give the dog food or drink for a 15 min period before or after. 

Wide toothed/coarse metal comb; Among the ones I like are:
 Spratts 69 all metal comb with handle.
 Resco Pro Comb Coarse 600C
 HiCraft 6022 Coarse Comb with wooden handle
 Pin Brush with straight metal pins: (no ball tipped ends) buy one with a well cushioned pad & check the pins aren’t too thick/scratchy
 Soft Slicker Brush; with a flat pad not curved.I like Dezynadogs white slickers which are quite gentle when used correctly
 All Systems Slickers from Petecetera, are also good at getting right through the lhasa coat
 It is important to buy new slickers regularly, as once the pins have all been bent out of shape, it is far easier to scratch the dogs skin.
 Hairdressing/grooming scissors, as good as you can afford; A small pair (5 ½ - 6 ½ inch) for trimming the feet & around the eyes. A longer broader blade (8-8 1/2 inches) for scissoring the body.
 Tweezers or Artery Forceps
 Nail Clippers; Guillotine type.
 Styptic Powder; called Quick Stop, Trimmex, or similar.
 Ear Cleaner/powder; (Thornit is a good one) & Cotton Wool or Buds
 Tooth Brush & Paste; specifically formulated for dogs;

The shampoos I have had good results with are;
 Winners Circle Pantene Shampoo
 Coat Handler Groomers Shampoo dilute 15-1
 Vetzyme JDS Insecticidal Shampoo - good for really dirty or oily coats
 Plush Puppy Natural Conditioning Shampoo with Evening Primrose Oil and every third shampoo, Plush Puppy Deep Cleansing Shampoo
 Fido's Australian Emu Oil Shampoo, Oatmeal and Baking Soda, & Whitening Shampoos.
 If you need to bathe in a hurry, using a human two in one shampoo once in a while won’t hurt. Organics is quite good but I wouldn’t use it when bathing a dog for show.

I sometimes use a human conditioner, such as;
 Gliss Liquid Silk or Oil Nutritive.
 These are very good but take more rinsing out than ones formulated for dogs
 Some good dog conditioners are;
 Plush Puppy Natural Silk Protein diluted around 8-1 with water, on Ruby's heavier coat I would add a few squirts of Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil to the conditioner mix and leave a trace of it remaining in the coat after the final rinse.  ( for between shows only)
 The Coat Handler Dog Conditioner; Can be diluted 15-1 and left in the coat but I generally have used it neat and rinsed it out

These are some of the grooming sprays I've had good results with
 Coat Handler Anti Static Grooming Spray
 Plush Puppy OMG Spray
 K9 Competition Nano Mist Spray
 Summerwinds Stat-a-Way Anti Static Spray



A picture of some basic tools to help groom your lhasa apso.


By Ann – Marie Cassidy