Learn the pup to be handled and groomed
Originally, the coatcare of the working sheepdogs wasn't too much work.. They were clipped/trimmed together with the sheep once a year! The rest of the year they didn't get any kind of grooming, conditioning or bathing, for that matter!
Of course, at that time they did have another type of coat than the Beardies today. It was shorter, more harsh in texture and the few knots that came was just pushed out of the coat in a sort time. I'm sure the owners hardly ever even considered bathing them at all, and if we had told them what WE do with the coats of their trusted compainon - I'm sure they would have placed us in some kind of asylum!
When you get your new pup to your home you probably cannot even imagine that the tiny little shortcoated thing ever needs some kind of coat care. Unfortunately - you are totally wrong!
It is extremely important that you start really, really early with the basic grooming training.
That'll say that the pup should learn to tolerate all kinds of handling by you, and all the familymembers!
Not only because the Beardie needs a lot of coatcare - but it is also a very effective way of training the pup to understand that you are "the leader of the pack", and that you're the boss!
In addition to this - it is very important that the dog can be handled by a vet. - his/her life can depend on it in the future!
And, of course, at shows or obedience/agility classes/competitions...
From the time the pup is living with the breeder it should get used to stand on a table, get the nails trimmed, ears and eyes checked, a little groomed and, in general, being handled.
The easiest for you (and the pup!) is keeping this knowledge up to date for the pup - and probably also improve this training.
It is a good idea to let this become a part of the daily care of your pup.
Put the pup on a table (with a blanket or towel under - so it's not slippery to stand there). Check the ears (inside!), clean around the eyes, take a check "behind" to see that its clean and nice, a small and soft brush can be used a little here and there..
Please remember that this should not be unpleasant for the pup - lots of cuddles and friendly talk, and maybe even a small tid-bit to eat...
After a while the pup will get totally comfortable on the table, and you could start trying to getting it to lie down while you do this.
Don't demand that he pup should lie completely still - just try for a few seconds the first times.
Demand a little more as the weeks go by, and after a few months you'll end up with a dog that lies completely still for an hour or more while you groom!
A good and easy way to "trick" the pup to learn to being groomed all over is if you start grooming a little when you are sitting on the floor and cuddling with your pup anyway!
Just tip it over to its side, scratch it, look at feet/nails, "under the arms", etc. at the same time as you still are talking friendly to it. Also try to give the word (command) that you are going to use for
lying still on the table.
How and when to groom and bathe you Beardie..
I'm sure it is as many ways to do this as there are Beardie-owners.. Some start with the head - some with the feet or the tail, some start with letting the dog lie down first, some with them standing up.
You have to try for yourself, see (and feel) what works best for you!
If you are lucky - you have the breeder of your puppy nearby, and I'm sure he/she will help you getting started!! If not - you could always contact the breedclub for help.
I know from experience that if you do this the "wrong" way - it'll takes two/three times the amount of time than neccessary!!
I always start with the dog lying down, and start grooming the hindlegs, and working my way untill I get to the head (well, the nose, actually). Then I trim the nails, pluck the hairs in their ears, clean the teeth (all ot his only when it is needed for).
After that I let them stand up, groom the nose and tail and then I'm ready!
I (almost) always groom the coat towards myself, as I think that it is the "best" for the coat, so it doesn't break off or something. But grooming "the other way" might be just as good... It's just a habit of mine..
No matter which way you choose to groom, or if the dog is standing, sitting or lying down - the only thing you have to think about is that you should groom all the way from their skin! Many people think that it's OK just to brush lightly over the dog before going out for a walk - leaving terrible knots and matts just about everywhere (except for on top of their back!)
"Trouble-areas" are on their tummy, between their front legs, "under their arms" and behind the ears. If you comb/groom these areas more often, you save yourself quite a lot of work when you do make the time for the real grooming-session!
If you have been good at the work the last time - you should hardly not have to use anything else than the brushes for getting your beardie into show-condition! (That'll say tanglefree!)
When you find a knot/tangle - try to loosen it out with a combe, or your fingers, first. If that doesn't work - you could use a scissor (cut away from the dog - downwards/into the tangle). But if this is the only solution - you have waited too long!!
A difficult dilemma for most of us Beardie-owners (especially us with show-dogs) is the fact that you acctually can brush them too much!! If you brush (or comb) them every other day - you will break off some coat every time, and in a few months - you don't have much more left...
As an indication I often say that if you brush your adult beardie (completely through!) every 3 weeks, it is often quite enough! Some say they groom every two weeks, and that is probably OK too, if the dog is often out running in the forest, getting dirty alot, or has a coat that tangles quite easily.
It is the head of the Beardie that makes the breed so special. The expression of the eyes and the beard! But the rest of the dog is just as important - so please do not wait so long in between the groomings that the only thing that helps is an electric trimmer!!
There isn't anything in the dog-world as beautiful as a clean and brushed Beardie - and I promise you that you can see that the Beardie itself is really pleased with his/her appearance!!
A good tip:
When you think that you have groomed every little part of the dogs body - try with the big metal comb (we call it a "poodle comb") - you cannot imagine how many small things you can find then..
As with how to groom, we often also debate on if you should or should not bathe a Beardie with a dirty and tangled coat, or if you should groom it first...
If you have both (dirt and tangles) - I feel the best way to go about it is to bathe the dog, and add lots and lots of conditioner in the coat first. Then wait untill the coat is almost dry (still damp), and then groom..
Anyway, you'll soon see that it takes gallons and gallons to wet a Beardie in a full coat. If you use only the shower - or the bath-tub is up to you.
A good tip is to have the shampoo in a bottle which has a top that you could spray the shampoo into the coat. Be a bit careful when you rinse or shampoo the head, as you don't want to get it into their eyes or ears! But don't get too frightened - they can handle most of it, if you just make sure to rinse it all off afterwards!
If you want to use an electric hairdryer after the bath (if you have really cold weather outside, and the dog have to go out before he/she is completely dry) - use some conditioner in the coat. This because a hairdryer will make the coat really dry, and is not good for the coat if you use it too often!
The best way to dry them off is to let them run around, shaking themselves all over the place!!
And remember - even if you have groomed the dog before bathing him/her, it is always a smart idea to do a quick groom as soon as the dog has dried up so the tangles doesn't get back again (at once)!
It might sound strange and weird to use conditioner, oils etc on a dogs coat - I know!
But it isn't only because we want a long and big coat for the showring, it really does help the work with keeping them tanglefree!!
TOOLS for grooming
As in most areas in life, it is almost always a really good idea to use the correct tools for the job..In spite of the rather high cost of buying the right things at once - it is always better than starting off with less useable tools for the job at hand...
In addition to this, it offers you some kond of "guarantee" that it is the best that you could do for the coat of your dog!
What you need is:
A "soft" brush with nylon and bristle.
The best on the marked is a brush named "Mason and Pearson". It is in three different sizes, and different brush-types. The one with both nylon (plastic) and bristle (boar) is, the best one to work with - to me.
This is a picture of the Mason and Pearson brushes..
They are expensive - but really great for the Beardie-coats!!
A Metal brush with a soft "cushion / pad".
The best one I've ever found is a quite cheap one that I'm able to buy in most pet-stores. It is often called a "wig-brush" (here) and it does "take" more out of the undercoat than the Mason - but for a big puppy / youngster.coat it is almost an necessity!
It's a matter of taste which shape you want on your brush - but I feel that the slimmest one (the one on the right) is the easiest to work with..
There are lots and lots too chose from.. Different sizes, different handles and different material in both the handle and the comb itself..
The metal ones are much better than the plastic ones, as the later one often gets the coat some (or a lot!) static electricity.
You should buy at least a couple, or three different ones, with different sizes between the teeth. .The one that is a "must" is what we call a "poodle-comb" - and is probably the larges one you could find!
Another that I'm getting more and more fond of is a so-called "cat-comb" with has two different lenghts of the teeth.
Check this out at your local pet-shop, and imagine grooming behind the ears (you need a really small/narrow comb) and the tail (you need a really big one!).
A bottle for water / conditioner
There are lots of different types you could buy - some really cheap, and some really expensive...
We find some really cheap ones where they sell articles for house-plants.. And either ones work just perfectly for grooming your Beardie!
You fill this up with ordinary water, and spary on the coat as soon as the coat seems dry, electric or just in need of some moisture.
You can add some oil / conditioner in this bottle, but be careful just before a show, as we don't want the coat to become too "fluffy" - do we?
But for the everyday life - it is great to add something to the daily "shower" of the dog!!