Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ask Billy: How often should my dog go to a professional groomer?

Jenny from Indiana writes: "I have my dogs groomed every four weeks, is this too often?"

Well, Jenny your Shih-tzus certainly look cute and well cared for. As long as you have chosen a groomer who is contentious, patient and knowledgeable, you can groom your cuties as often as you'd like (and your pocketbook allows).

Whether your pooch enjoys a weekly, monthly or annual (gasp) appointment with a pro, YOU must brush, clean and care for your pooch as well. I'll teach you everything you need to know about this in Happy Dog: Caring For Your Dog's Body Mind and Spirit. Here's some advice to tide you over until the book's release in September.

I've broken dogs into categories that are easy to understand without an advanced degree in animal cosmetology: Hair, Multi-Length Fur, Uniform Fur and Hairless. While technically, anything growing out of a follicle is "hair," I believe that my categories will allow you to care for your dog properly and interpret what you see growing all over your pooch.

Shih-tzus, Poodles and some Doodles, Maltese, Lhasa Apsos, Cocker Spaniels and other dogs with hair-like coats (Hair Dogs) should be professionally groomed at least every 4-6 weeks. Hair dogs tend the become matted rather quickly, so frequent professional grooming in addition to brushing regularly at home will help keep a Hair Dog pretty, comfortable and healthy. (If you've eaten recently, you don't even want to think about what I've found caught in the mats of dogs...well if you do, check out the 1/15/09 The Inspection Connection entry). In addition, a Hair Dog's coat grows until it is cut so she requires an appointment with professional who can wield scissors in a skilled and safe manner. (This does not mean you wielding a pair of professional clippers.)

Dogs with coats of mixed length are what I call Multi-Length Fur Dogs. These dogs often appear to be wearing fur pants around their back ends and legs (notice I did not say blue jeans, sweat pants or any other mini-human clothing). Some also have longer fur on their tail, undercarriage or beard. Golden Retrievers, Collies, Pomeranians and many mixed breeds also fall into this category. The dead, shorter fur from these dogs usually ends up your floors, clothing and furniture. The dead, longer fur requires trimming and, if not properly brushed out of the coat by you at home, will form mats. A professional grooming every 6-12 weeks helps your Multi-Length pooch's coat stay manageable, comfortable and clean.

Just because you're a short-haired pooch, doesn't mean that you should miss out on all the fun and pampering that happens at a good grooming salon. Moreover, if you've been reading our blog, you already know that short-haired dogs require more than semi-annual grooming. (If you haven't been reading our blog, shame on you! Now is a fine time to begin -- we'll wait while you catch up.)

Dogs with fur of the same length (Uniform Fur Dogs) should visit a professional groomer every 12-16 weeks. If you have a Uniform Fur Dog, such as a Bulldog, Bully breed, Dalmatian, Pug or Beagle, you should also be brushing your pooch at least a few times a week to help remove his dead fur before it falls off the dog and all over your house. A professional grooming removes excess dead fur and pampers your Uniform Fur Dog with a deep cleaning.

Hairless dogs need professional care too. If you have a Hairless breed, such as the Chinese Crested, Peruvian Inca Orchid, Hairless Khala and Mexican Hairless, take your non-furry friend to the groomer about every 4-8 weeks. A Hairless dog requires bathing, exfoliating and a bit of moisturizer. Some Hairless dogs do have a dash of hair and that hair needs regular brushing with a small, extra gentle slicker brush. Having an experienced professional groomer care for your Hairless pooch helps you monitor his sensitive skin, which is prone to rashes and pimples.

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