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Grooming and Coat Care

To properly maintain your dog's coat you will need some basic grooming supplies. These include a good quality steel pin brush, coarse steel comb, soft slicker brush, nail clippers, a good pair of trimming scissors, and a hemostat (to remove the hair from inside the ears). A grooming table will make your job a lot easier and prevent your back from aching. Once you have the proper equipment, you will need to learn the correct method of brushing. Many reputable breeders will offer you assistance in learning correct coat care.

To groom your dog, position him on his side on the grooming table. Using your pin brush start at the withers and brush against the grain of the hair so that you can see the skin. Brush in a line, a few hairs at a time, always getting down to the skin. Remember, this is a double coat consisting of a soft undercoat and a coarse outer coat. Correct brushing lifts and fluffs the hair as the brush removes loose undercoat and debris. Correct brushing should be a slow and gentle motion to avoid pulling out too much coat. A great hint to prevent the coat from splitting: lightly spray the dog's coat with water or hair conditioner before brushing!

When you have a line the length of the dog, go back and start a little further with a new line, again getting down to the skin. Now, brush the legs, starting at the foot and brushing in the direction of coat growth. Use the comb for more difficult areas and the slicker brush for the ears and muzzle. The slicker brush may also be used to fluff the legs. Once that side is complete, flip the dog over and start again with a new line running down the length of the dog. When finished, stand the dog on the table and trim the coat on the feet so that it is even and barely touches the table. Use your scissors to trim between the pads and to trim the rear for cleanliness.

If you encounter a mat, first separate it with your fingers. Then, gently comb the hair a little bit at a time until the mat begins to separate. Continue with the same technique of pulling the mat apart and combing a little bit more until the mat has been completely removed. Remember, you must get down to the skin and remove all clumps of hair. Keep in mind that the dog who is having mats removed from his coat is not feeling comfortable about this process either. If you can not finish after a few hours, take a break and return when rested. It will benefit the both of you!

In general, a young puppy needs very little grooming; however, this is the time to teach him to lie on the table and stay still while you brush. This fun and easy grooming time early on will help prepare him and you for the weekly grooming sessions required by an adult dog. Regular grooming is extremely important in maintaining healthy skin and coat. Long-standing mats lead to serious skin and health problems and are extremely uncomfortable for the dog. A dog that is matted can take many hours to properly groom. Patience and a positive attitude are essential in caring for a dog with a matted coat. When a dog is heavily matted, it is often kinder to shave him and start over.

The House of Rex
Geraldine House
1423 Rillview Court
Metamora MI 48455
USA

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Grooming at the Show
 

At the show, start by dampening the coat on any grubby areas with water or waterless shampoo and work in our favorite drying whitener.  Beware of the too frequent use of any colored products without washing or rinsing them out, as the coat can "grab" the color.   Sometimes, permanently.  On the privates or any area "dirtied" by urine or feces, my choice is baby powder cornstarch.  Otherwise there are many choices from cornstarch, rice flower etc. to a milk of magnesia mixture.

For cleaning around the mouth we have used lemon juice, with or without salt, mixed with cornstarch to whiten the beard.  Any time you strip the hair of itís natural oil it is wise to use a conditioner to prevent the hair from re-staining even worse.  All of which must be thoroughly removed by the time the dog goes into the ring.  Do not skimp on the amount of time you spend grooming at the show.  Your dog will be relaxed and ready to show if you do not stir him up by quick and hurried movements.  Plus, if you are not harried you will take more time to speak kindly to interested spectators.  And, you are more likely to be willing to "Mentor" another who is a novice exhibitor.

When the coat is clean, begin the line brushing, then stand the dog up and finish my trimming of the rump and feet.  When trimming the feet brush up the hair so it is standing out.  Lift up the hair and comb down one inch.  Trim this to even up the straggling ends and leave a nice round look.   Comb out and lightly down the next inch and trim that to blend.  Do another inch or two to finish blending so the leg looks like a pillar and not snow shoes. 

Remember when doing the back feet to have the dog stand with the feet well under his body because if you trim when the feet are back when he moves his feet into a natural position he will have his toes showing.  I do not trim all the way around the back feet after I do the first inch or so, as that would take away from the well let down hock look which calls for the hair to be shorter at the pad level and longer at the rearmost or highest part of the hock.  When doing the rump use thinning scissors first around the rectum.  I trim this area to be about 1Ĺ inch long and blend outward and upward, leaving the hair longer as I go.  If you leave the skirts too long your dog will look like he has a full pants problem. 

Ask someone to show you how to pull a coat.   Those of you who have shown horses will know what I mean.  This is useful in areas on which you do not wish to leave a scissors mark.  I finish by what I call volumizing.  Using your hands and forearms, brush the coat up, down, back, and forwards - this forces air into the coat. Finish with the hair in the direction you want it to go.  A little light back combing to support the angles and you are finished.  

I do not have the room in this article to cover all the "tricks of the trade" nor to deal with problem areas of conformation.   These problem areas best described as the parts of the dog you would like to change so that your dog reflects the type of OES you prefer, and they are as varied as the people who bred the dogs.  It would be far better to educate or re-educate the judges, into being able to tell what is really under the hair, than it is to pull out all the stops to make your dog a replica of what you think the best OES that ever lived looked like.   You can fool yourself into thinking that the groomed dog you see will be genetically programmed to pass on the look that was created.  But, you cannot fool Mother Nature.  I estimate that 20% of the exhibitors are good enough to make any dog "look" like a winner.  For the remaining 80%, education of Judges is your best offense.

Now go hug your dog and get started.

The House of Rex
Geraldine House
4882 Diehl Road
Metamora MI 48455
USA

 

 

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