Grooming Your Samoyed                                 
By Clu Carradine

The glistening white coat of a clean, well-groomed Samoyed will draw the attention and admiration of even the most non-dog-loving person as he happily struts his stuff down the street. But, Oh-no, a white dog! How do you keep them clean?

The Sammy will remain clean and happy, for the most part, with weekly brushing to shed the loose fur and dirt from his coat. But what about the doggy odor? Samoyeds have no dog odor, so weekly baths are not required to keep the  Samoyed smelling and looking beautiful.
 

EQUIPMENT NEEDED:

GETTING STARTED:
Grooming doesn't start at the bathtub. Brushing will clean out any loose under coat and mats, but to be sure, give your Sammy a thorough brushing. First off, you need a good, large Universal Slicker brush for your maintenance grooming. This will lift & separate the hair & undercoat, making the combing and finish work much easier.

Part the hair with your left hand (unless you're a lefty, then reverse) and hold back, then brush the remainder below your hand using a pat & pull motion from the skin out. Don't jerk or yank the brush through the hair or you will have an unhappy dog who will not be motivated to cooperate with your efforts. Samoyeds have tender pink skin, so be firm, but gentle. Hold the hair going against the grain, and brush with the grain, else you'll pull out too much live coat, and again, hurt your dog. The tail is a very sensitive area, brush this area gently; be patient and your Sammy will have a lovely plume tail! Do not rake a comb through the dogs' tail or you won't like the result; always brush the tail.

As you go, you'll be also looking for fleas, ticks, or any unusual growths etc., plus this is a pleasant social interaction for you both, is soothing, and deepens your bond. Grooming is an important activity among animals of all sorts, and it serves to solidify the familial ties.

Talk to your dog, tell him what a good baby s/he is, don't fall into the trap of trying to do the whole dog the first few times; do a bit now, then some later on. When either of you begins to get impatient, stop before the dog starts actively resisting, or you'll end up in an unpleasant war which will destroy everything you're trying to build. Also, if a dog ever gets the idea that he can kick & act up and you'll stop what you're doing, he learns that he can get away with that behavior in many other areas of life in addition to grooming.

When you're done with this, you do your finish combing and then more brushwork to pick up the loose dead coat you combed out, and then check your work carefully with your fingers in places like armpits and behind the ears.

I'd say give that dog a good thorough grooming weekly at least. If this is an intact boy, check testicles for any strange lumps or bumps; if you're grooming a girl, check breasts for the same, whether she's spayed or not. Like I said before, this is the time for getting a heads-up on any problems which may be developing.

BATH TIME:
Be sure never to put a felted/matted dog in the bath; those mats will solidify and take on the cohesiveness of concrete, so be sure and brush & power blow out thoroughly prior to bathing. When you do bathe, be sure to rinse, rinse, and rinse some more until every little last bit of soap is gone. If you leave any in, you will have an itchy, miserable dog who will bless you with the inexpressible joy of causing himself a nasty little (and sometimes huge) localized bacterial infection called a hot spot. Basically the dog chews and licks and picks at himself until he causes breaks in the skin, then the localized infection, all of which is trapped in that wonderful insulating Sammy coat and kept warm and moist. A dog can really do a job on himself in literally a few hours, so be sure to rinse out all that soap!

I do not use creme rinses; they tend to coat the hairs and weigh them down, giving the dog a flat look. Also, creme rinses & conditioners tend to pick up a lot of dirt, and will additionally give a greasy feel to the coat. Aim for a clean dog.

BLOW-DRYING:
Invest in a power dryer. There are several on the market available from assorted mail order catalogs, around $200.00 and up. Trust me; spend the money, this is a necessary tool and there's no avoiding it if you want to do a proper job without burning coat & skin (which is very likely to happen with a conventional human hair dryer, if you have the patience to go that route) not to mention taking five hours in the process. Also, a power dryer literally blows the water off and the old dead coat out of the dog, and fluffs the coat up nicely. Dry from the legs up, going against the grain, and don't go further than the back of the head; if the dog moved his head suddenly he can be injured (ears, eyes) by the high velocity of air coming through the dryer nozzle. Afterwards, brush him up with your slicker, do the nails; after the bath is the best time, when the nails are softened up and less likely to shatter and fray when trimmed, and trim feet & hocks to neaten them up. Trim the hair on the bottoms of the feet level with the pads, and scissor the foot around so the nails aren't exposed.

Be sure that when you dry the dog to be VERY careful around his head, in fact, until you get very familiar with the dryer and know what it can do, I recommend letting his head air dry...don't use the dryer there at all. Unless you REALLY know what you're doing here, stay away from the dog's head with the power dryer.

AFTER YOU ARE DONE BLOW-DRYING:
Different parts of the world do things differently, and grooming preferences are no exception. Here in the US & in Canada, we trim the feet & hocks of our Sams. In England and many other places, for example, they do not, and the dogs are shown and feet/hocks kept in a natural state, with only the nails trimmed, but all the furnishings left intact. For those of us who trim feet & hocks, read on.

NAILS:
Nails are best trimmed right after the bath, when the nail is soft & pliant and will cut easily, as opposed to shattering and possibly hurting the dog. Take just the clear tip, and don't cut too close to the dark part showing through the nail; this is a vein and will bleed profusely, in which case you'd better have some quick stop powder on hand to stop the bleeding. If the dog is moving a lot and you do nick a nail, don't make a big deal out of it and give the dog something to be afraid of, just carry on as before.

Do the trimming at least 2 days prior to the show; even if you stay away from the quick, you don't want any chance of sensitive toenails to ruin your dog's movement and create something that isn't there.

FEET:
Make sure the feet, hocks, and the BOTTOM of the feet are all very dry, because hair shrinks a little when it dries & if you trim wet hair, it may look really nice right when you do it, and then you end up with not enough hair when the fur dries & shortens. Be sure the feet are very clean; don't let the dog run around after his bath to pick up dirt from the floor.

Do the bottoms of the paws first. Trim level with the pads. Be careful not to trim all the way up the toes...try & keep level with the toenails, so that when the dog puts her foot down, you don't have that "Elf Shoe" effect you will get if you follow the toes all the way up to the nail.

Brush the hair against the grain on top of the foot, take your thinning scissors and take a few hairs at a time and angle back from the end of the foot to the arch of the foot's top. DO NOT chop all the hair off to the level of the dog's foot, else you'll get an ugly result and all the toenails will stick out and the dog will look awful. Carefully create a nice, neat foot...the object of the game here is to make the foot look as if the hair grows like this, NOT as if it were "groomed."

Read your breed standard; this breed has a flattish, hare-foot, not little cat feet. Yes, you want the foot to look substantial enough to hold up the dog, but you don't want it to be round in shape; follow the contours of the foot, while giving it substance by trimming just a few hairs at a time. You can always take more off...but you can't put back what you took!

When you get the shape you want and there aren't a bunch of loose stray hairs sticking out the top of the dog's foot, then take your curved scissors and using the same "few hairs at a time" method, scissor off any long stray bits around the edges of the foot, again keeping to the proper hare shape of the Sammy foot. Yes, this takes time, but the final product is well worth it.

HOCKS:
Comb through thoroughly, getting any packed down hair out and then follow up with a flea comb. Then go back to the Greyhound comb and comb the hair up towards the dog's tail. Using a long straight shear, cut a straight line off the hair from the hock joint down to the table surface the dog is standing on. Again, leave plenty of hair; you don't want your dog to look like he has chicken legs  Also, again, you're striving for an "it grows this way" look...all you are doing here is neatening, not sculpting. Regardless of what misinformed people may tell you, this is not a sculpted breed; it is a natural breed.

Comb through again, taking stray hairs as you go, aiming for a nice, straight line. The hair coming from the bottom of the hock (next to the back of the foot) will be somewhat longer than that next to the top (next to the actual hock joint)...this is what you want...you don't want that sickle hocked look you'll get if if you hack it all off.

While you're at it, check the insides of the pasterns where a front dewclaw would be if they were removed on your dog: trim off any of the long hairs that sometimes occur there for a nice clean look.

FINISHING UP:
I like to finish off with the flea comb through the face hair, especially around the lips & under the chin.

When you're done grooming, pay the dog. Give him a raw carrot if he likes them or a dog cookie and thank him for his time. My dogs love the grooming table and will jostle each other out of the way to be first up on deck. Don't let your dog jump off the table, he can hurt himself. Teach him to wait for you to come get him and lift him off.

Enjoy the fruits of your labors and admire your beautiful clean, groomed dog!

                               

                                                      

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Last modified: 08/10/09