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How To Groom Your Toller

by Simone Sortwell



So you want to groom your toller, eh? Well, lets start at the toes and work our way to the nose!

Scrub a dub, put your toller in the tub. You'll want to start with a nice refreshing bath. Remember with every bath to also clean your pups ears! There are a number of dog shampoos and ear cleaners on the market. Our personal favorite dog shampoo for routine bathing is oatmel and aloe made by earthbath. On dog show days typically we use Plush Puppy's Henna Shampoo for the red coat and EZ groom's crystal white for the white coat. Regardless of the shampoo we use we always dilute shampoo with water at least 25%. Diluting the shampoo leads to less chances of shampoo build up in the coat which can disrupt the skin PH balance and cause itching. If your dog is itching and has no fleas but recently has been bathed the best way to restore PH balance in your dogs skin is with an 50/50 Apple Cider Vinegar and water rinse.

Splish splash, after the bath comes the dry! Our personal favorite towel is a microfiber cloth which we find in the automotive department of our walmart. After I towel dry I typically blow dry my guys with a standard dog blow dryer. These blow dryers can be found at a local dog grooming supply store such as Xcalibure in Port Kells, BC or at a local dog show from a vender. The blow dryers are a tad pricey ranging $150-$500. I highly recommend purchasing one if you will be self bathing your puppy often.

Now that your puppy is clean and dry lets look at those toes..... First, we want to start with the nails of your puppy. When you pick up your dogs paw to look at the nail you will notice the nail has two colors to it. the first is a clear covering and the second is a pink skin tone underneath this covering. The pink part of the nail is called the 'quick' and contains a blood flow. If you cut into this most dogs will yelp and then you will notice a small amount of blood dripping from the nail. We want to try to avoid this sittuation so the best is to watch for the quick while cutting the nail with clippers. The best place to cut the nail is where the nail starts to bend. The tool that you will want to use for this job is a 'nail clipper'. I personally prefer the scissor style nail clippers because they cut the nail cleaner and are easier to use. Many of my dogs have also been trainned to have their nails done with a dremel after I cut so that the nails are smooth and they are as short as possible without me quicking them. Dremeling a dogs nails will take practice as many dogs don't like the sound of a dremel to start with.

Now lets move on, What's between those toes?! .....An ungroomed toller foot is notorious for growing soft long hair between each toe. If this hair is left long it can tangle and can cause discomfort for your dog while walking. For grooming a toller foot you will need two tools 1. Small slicker brush 2. Scissors. Your fingers and thumb will start this job. Start on your right foot with no tools in your hands by placing your thumb between each toe, begin at the base of the nail and move your thumb towards the dogs leg, while doing this gently push the hair up between the toes. If there are no tangles between the toes you will feel soft long hairs that are easy to stand up between the toes. If there are tangles you will feel clumps of hair gathered together which will need to be separated prior to the next step. If there are tangles you will want to take your slicker brush and brush them out. Once the hair is tangle free we will move onto our next step. Starting with the front right foot, you will need to place the slicker brush so the pins are facing down towards the foot and the handle is facing the dogs leg. Start brushing the foot from the base of the nail towards the dogs leg. While doing this you will notice the hair between each toe will begin to stand up. When you have successfully brushed as much hair as possible in a upright position (the hair should point towards your dogs nose or their front leg) you will need to move onto the next step. Next, you will want to get your scissors and pick your dogs foot up so the paw of your dog is in the palm of the opposite hand which your scissors are. Point the scissor tip towards the base of the dogs nail and trim the hair that stands higher then a majority of the hair on your dogs foot. once you have a clean foot looking down at the foot, you will want to clean the underside of your dogs foot. Take your dogs paw, turn it so the pad of their foot is facing you and scissor any hairs that stand out above the padding.

Now that all the piggys have gone wee wee wee all the way home it's time to move onto those ears! Many ungroomed tollers love to have overgrown ear hairs. Those crimpy long soft hairs are soooo cute but oh so hard to keep free from tangles. For grooming your tollers ears you will need 1. a slicker brush 2. a greyhound comb 3. thinning sheers. First, take your slicker brush and remove any tangles from around your pups ear. Next, you will want to take your greyhound comb and make sure it can easily comb through all the hair around your pups ear, if the comb gets stuck on a tangle change back to your slicker brush to remove the tangle. Once your puppy has a tangle free ear it's time to remove the excess hair from around the ears. For removing the hair I use my fingers and a Dr. Scholls foot file or stipping comb. Place the file against your thumb with a few pieces of hair on the abrasive surface, place your pointer finger over the hair and file and pull the hair. The hair should easily pull out, any hair that doesn't should be left for the next step. Once you have pulled out as much of the hair around the ear as necessary you can put your file away. To tidy up the ear from here I use my greyhound comb and thinning sheers. I run the greyhound comb behind the ear brushing the hair up towards the top of the dogs head so the hair stands above the ear. Any hair that stands above the ear I then trim away with my thinning sheers. Once I can take my greyhound comb and easily brush up the hair around the ear without any 'fly aways' I then retire my comb and sheers.   

Now that all the trimming is done the hardest part is over! We now can move onto brushing the coat of your dog. For brushing the body coat of the toller I prefer a pin brush. Your dog should be tangle free, to test this you should easily be able to brush your dogs coat with a pin brush including the tail and bum hairs.  Your dogs coat maybe tangle free but too dense for your pin brush to easily go through your pups coat, if this is the case it maybe because your dog is shedding (ie. blowing coat). For a coat that is 'blowing' I recommend a coat king grooming rake made by Mars, a similar tool is the furmanator. These rakes help remove dead hairs and promote healthy growth to the new coat. Following removal of the old coat you will want to run the pin brush through your dogs coat. To ensure your pups coat is free of old hair you should easily brush your dogs coat with a pin brush and/or grooming rake. For grooming a dog for show I use a greyhound comb vs a pin brush to check for tangles or missed areas.

Last but not least it's time to check the teeth! Once you have powdered and puffed your dog it's time to ensure they have a nice white smile. Open your pups mouth and check for any tarter build up on molars and canines. If you see any brown spots on the teeth you will want to remove them with a tooth scaler. New plaque growth is easy to remove with a simple scaling process which can be preformed by you. If the plaque is old growth it will not easily be removed with the scaling tool and your dog may need to go into the vet to have their teeth professionally cleaned. Another great way to keep your dog from building plaque on their teeth is with regular tooth brushing and/or giving them a bone for chewing on a regular basis.

Well that's all folks! Good Luck and try not too get too wet.