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Dog grooming refers to both the hygienic care and cleaning of a dog, as well as a process by which a dog's physical appearance is enhanced for showing or other types of competition. A dog groomer (or simply "groomer") is a person who earns their living grooming dogs.
Reasons for grooming
Grooming or pet grooming is an important part of dog care. All Breeds require daily grooming, how much depends on the breed, age, or health of the pet. Regular grooming helps to ensure the dog is healthy and comfortable. It is important to note that while many dogs shed, others (such as the Poodle), do not shed (see Moult) as profusely, and require grooming by a professional every 6–8 weeks maximum.
The main reasons for daily grooming include:
- decreased chance of various health problems, such as thrush, scratches, and other skin problems
- general cleanliness of the dog
- monitoring of the dog's health by checking for cuts, heat, swelling, lameness, or changes in temperament, all of which could be indicative of illness
- forging of a closer bond between dog and owner
- reducing infestation load of external parasites on skin.
Tools and supplies
Curry or Curry Brush: A tool made of rubber or plastic with short "teeth." The tool is rubbed (or "curried") over the dog's coat to loosen dirt, hair, and other detritus, and stimulate the skin into producing natural oils. Metal currycombs should never be used, as they are designed for removing hair from brushes only. Currycombs usually have the handle made of plastic or wood. They are more commonly used for dogs that have large amounts of hair that has shed such as for the German Shepherds. They are also used for untangling knots in certain parts of the dog's body such as ears, paws or tail. Using a currycomb must be done carefully as the action of this type of tool can harm the skin of the dog, if pulled too hard.
Shedding blade: A metal shedding blade with short, dull teeth is used to remove dead hair from certain types of harsh coats. The shedding blade is not used to cut the hair.
Scissors and clippers: Cutting tools used to remove/shorten hair on certain types of coats or in sensitive areas. Not all types of coat are suitable for clipping, i.e. double coats on breeds such as Border Collies keep the dog cool in summer and warm in winter, and should not be clipped unless the dog is matted. The typical pair of scissors for dog grooming is between 6.5 and 9 inches long, longer than typical hair dressing scissors. Some are designed with a blunt tip to prevent any injuries due to the dog moving around.
Stripping Combs/Knives: Tools used to help grab the longer hairs on a harsh coat and pull them out by the root. Helps maintain a proper coat in many terriers and schnauzers. Most often used on show dogs.
Grooming a dog before it is bathed is important as it frees up and removes dead undercoat and matting, and allows proper penetration of water and shampoo to the skin. This can be done by using a slicker brush all over its body, especially on its legs, and the places where knotting occurs frequently. Groomers sometimes use a metal comb when combing for the second time, paying more attention to the toes and between the toes. Metal combs can be helpful in the areas of the dog's body that are common spots for knots. Brushing and combing the tail is also important as it is a commonly missed area.
Dog brushes come in various sizes and shapes can be made from metal, plastic and wood. Although there are many types of dog brushes, they are not very popular amongst the professional dog groomers as most of them prefer using teasels. Dog brushes are perfect for breeds that have long and fragile hair, especially if the coat is getting properly taken care of. Common dog brushes are the bristle brush, wire pin brush, and the slicker brush.
The bristle brush is one of the most widely used types of brushes mainly because it can be used for any type of coat. As a general rule, longer and widely spaced bristles are suitable for dogs with longer coats and shorter and tightly-packed ones are better to use on dogs with short hair. Typically, the bristle brush is used on dogs with long coats to finish the coat and to bring out the natural lustre and shine of the coat. It is commonly used in daily grooming as it removes surface dust and dirt.
Dogs with medium to long hair are often brushed with a wire pin brush. The wire pin brush is also great for dogs with curly coats. They usually have an oval shape and have meal bristles set in a flexible rubber base. This type of brushes is great for dogs with long, wiry, wavy and curly coats as they are useful in separating and untangle the coat. Pin brushes are of better quality if they have polished pins or coated pins which prevent from scratching and harming the dog's skin. Because the coating or polish may go away over time, the pins of such a brush should be replaced once in a while. Pin brushes come in a variety of sizes, textures and fullness, depending on the type of coat that they are needed for.
Slicker brushes are typically used after primarily brushing with a bristle or a wire pin brush. They are used to smooth the coat and to take out mats and tangles. They are provided with fine wire pins that are secured to a flat base. The pins are bent at an angle approximately halfway down the pin. The slicker brush is typically used on dogs with long coats and those with curly coats. For heavier and thicker coats, one is recommended to use a brush with stiffer pins. This type of brush comes in a wide range of sizes and degrees of pin stiffness.
There are also brushes that combine the pin and bristle styles. This type of dog brushes are maybe the most convenient as they have the advantage of having two brushes in one. The combination pin/bristle brush has two different sides, one with bristles which can be successfully used for grooming the short hair areas of the coat, and another side, with pins that can be used for long-coated and double-coated dogs.
Matt combs These are special combs that help to 'cut' matted hair from the dog's coat without leaving a bald spot.
Rakes are important grooming tools especially for double-coated dogs such as the Newfoundlands or Siberian Huskies. They are good in removing dead hair from the undercoat. The undercoat rake's teeth are especially designed to penetrate through the overcoat down into the thick undercoat to remove loose hair faster and easier than a standard comb. Rakes can also be used for untangling and dematting.
The Coat King is a particular type of stripping knives, useful in hand stripping for the removal of dead undercoat prior to clipping. These tools are suitable for many dog breeds and coats and they have become more and more popular among dog owners and groomers. They are a good tool for removing loose hair, and thick undercoats. Also, they can be used for dematting and detangling. Although they are quite a new grooming instrument, they are now widely used and recommended for dog owners.
Stand dryers are also available for a quick drying of the dog's coat. Commonly, when a dog is brought to a groomer this implies a thorough cleaning of the coat as well. And because the dog cannot leave the shop while wet, special driers have been manufactured. These can be stand driers, cage driers or hand driers and are more common in professional grooming places than in the owner's house. Drying a dog with a dryer designed for humans is not recommended as it could cause scalp irritation, dry skin or skin sores.
Bath tubs are supplies more commonly found in professional grooming shops. They are made of a variety of materials, including galvanized steel. Also, these shops may have bathing systems and sprayers available for a better grooming as well as for the comfort of the pet.
Dog owners who want to groom their pets at home will need ear and eye supplies. Also a variety of combs and brushes for their specific breed of dog. Cleaning the ears and the eyes of the dogs is also part of a complete grooming. Different ear and eyes kits are available on the market and they are especially designed for this matter. They are however meant to be carefully handled and one should not use other products in cleaning the dog's eyes and ears than those that are intended for it.
Dental care may be most important while grooming, just like humans a clean mouth can impact the pets health greatly as it ages. This is however quite a difficult mission, given that dogs hardly allow their teeth to be brushed. The dental kits available on the market include everything from special tooth paste to toothbrushes. Many models of toothbrushes include a three flexible head design which maintains the proper pressure on all surfaces of the tooth with every stroke. These brushes have side bristles set the 45-degree angles to reduce the arm twisting and soft outer bristles for massaging the gums. Toothpaste designed to be used on dogs is usually natural sugar free toothpaste with different flavoring. Foaming or rinsing is not necessary.
Finishing touches can be added with finishing supplies, including perfumed sprays, ribbons and many other accessories.
Flea control products are also part of grooming supplies. There is a wide variety of flea and tick control products that are applied to dogs while grooming. If ticks or fleas are found on the pet, they must be quickly removed and grooming is the perfect time to do it. The specially designed such products must be used for few months in order to ensure that the pet is parasite free.
Grooming tables make the entire activity more comfortable and safer, but they are normally used by professional groomers and owners who have dogs that enter competitive shows. These tables do provide a secure and productive environment for grooming, but many single dog owners can avoid this expense by simply using what is available in the home.
Dogs can be bathed by being sprayed with a hand-held shower head, or doused with water from a bucket. Often, one bath will not make a dog truly clean. A second bath is excellent to ensure the entire body has been cleaned. Dogs should be bathed with warm, not hot water, in order to make it a more enjoyable experience. Dogs with a heavy or matted coat should never be bathed without first being completely brushed out or clipped of any mats.
Many types of shampoos and conditioners formulated for dogs are available; however, using a shampoo without mixing it with water may be a bit strong for a dog that's just getting a touch-up bath. If the dog isn't filthy, water is mixed with shampoo in a 1:1 ratio to make it easier on the dog and to make sure it rinses entirely. If any shampoo remains on the dog after the bath, it may become irritating to the skin. Most dogs do not require frequent bathing; shampooing a coat too often can strip the coat of its natural oils, causing it to dry out.
The coats of many breeds require trimming, cutting, or other attention. Styles vary by breed and discipline. While some hair removal has its origins in practical purposes, much is based on the taste of the owner, whether or not the dog will be shown, and what work the dog does.
The rubber grooming gloves and dog brushes are intended to drag loose hair from the short-coated dogs and are some of the most popular grooming tools amongst pet owners. They are easy to use, as using them basically means massaging the coat in firm strokes and have the advantage of being suitable for both wet and dry coats.
Stripping or hand-stripping is the process of pulling the dead hair out of the coat of a non-shedding dog, either by using a stripping knife or the fingers. A hard, wiry coat has a cycle where it starts growing and then sheds as it reaches maximum length. Hand-stripping coordinates the shedding and makes room for a new coat to grow. Stripping is the proper grooming method for most terriers, spaniels, and many other breeds. The hair is removed with either a stripping knife or stripping stone, with the top coat removed to reveal the dense, soft undercoat. If done correctly, the procedure is painless. Many dogs are reported to enjoy having their hair stripped, especially when they are introduced to it as puppies.
Nail trimming is essential for maintaining good health. If a dog's nails are allowed to grow, they will curl over into a spiral shape; walking will become increasingly painful to the dog as they grow, putting pressure on the dogs toes (a bit like walking in shoes that are too small). Uncut nails may curl so far that they pierce the paw pad, leading to infection and debilitating pain. If one does not trim a dog's nails on a monthly basis the quick will grow along with the nail, making it nearly impossible to cut properly. Owners may choose to trim nails themselves or may opt to take their pet to a groomer or veterinarian.
Nail trimming is done with a nail clipper. There are two main types of nail clippers, the guillotine clipper and the standard scissors nail clipper.
Additional options that some groomers provide include services such as colouring dogs' fur and painting dogs' nails.
While traditional grooming achieves to conform with breed standards set by the official breed associations, creative grooming heads to the opposite direction, creating a unique, sometimes exquisite look.
The lighter version of creative grooming is known as pet tuning and is more owner-oriented, adjusting the pets' visual appearance to their owners' amusement or life style, while the creative grooming is more of an art form, therefore more artist (groomer) oriented.
Groomers may also sell products for dogs' fur and other products such as dog clothing.