This information that I’m about to share is almost 14 years of trial and error. I’m very happy to be able to share this with all of you. I hope that what I’m about to pass on, will keep all of you from making some of the mistakes I have and I thank God that I have never had a coat tragedy.
There are so many places I can start, but the first and most important place you need to look is at your dog’s genes. Second is nutrition, third is routine maintenance, fourth is climate and fifth the tools of the trade. All these play a very important part in your puffs coat, and all will help you get ready for the show ring.
If you are truly serious about having a great coat you need to take a look at your existing or future pedigree(s). Looking in-depth at the pedigree, recognizing who are the puffs and taking notes of all the coat types. This could take some time and research, but well worth it if you are trying to improve your puff coats. If you can add pictures to the dog’s pedigree do that also, you will be surprised how it will help in the future. Also make note if the puff is a bitch or a dog and what side of the pedigree the coat type falls on….sire or dam. By making note of all coat types it will help you in the future figure out where you need to improve. Improvement will not happen overnight and improvement needs to always be in the back of your mind. Once you see improvement don’t stop trying to reach what you believe is perfection, different coat types can pop-up when you least expect it. This is where all your research can come in handy, take notes on your pedigree and continue to move forward. You may be able to help breed fanciers for many generations. Remember your greatest achievements come with hard work and time. Good Luck!
I know, I have said this before and I know I probably sound like a broken record, but I do feel “Crap in, Crap out”. Since I live in Southern California, I don’t feed any food that has ground yellow corn. In most of Southern California it doesn’t get cold enough for the dogs to properly utilize ground yellow corn. I stress not feeding ground yellow corn especially to house dogs or dogs that live in a facility that is heated. Ground yellow corn is considered a hot food and when not utilized properly can cause hot spots and you raise your chances for blowing coat. Due to so many different climates it is impossible for me at this time to cover nutrition for all areas. Unless you feed 100% raw, here are a few things to remember; try to feed as close to natural as possible. Find a kibble with minimal fillers, wheat free, low carbohydrates (unless your dog needs the calories) and preserved naturally. I recommend an additional coat, skin and muscle supplement. There are several supplements on the market, but the only one I recommend is Animal Naturals. There is a full line of products for different stages of your dog’s life; my favorites are Show Stopper, Puppy Gold and K9 Super Fuel. Here is a link to the above-mentioned products; www.showandsport.com What ever you choose for nutrition, make sure there is consistency in the diet. Don’t keep switching foods because you will never know what is working and what isn’t. It could take up to 90 days before you see any change in skin and coat.
Weekly to bi-weekly maintenance is a very important step in maintaining your puff's coat. Remember a dirty coat will not grow to its optimal potential. Another very important grooming tip is to never ever brush a dry coat. By brushing a dry coat you run the risk of severely damaging the coat. My maintenance program is set-up for bathing every 4-5 days and this works great if you are showing every weekend. What I mean by this is, maintenance bathing on Monday and show bathing on Friday. Let’s look at this in steps! In the steps below, I will list the products that I prefer to use and do work best for my puff coats. Please remember there are so many different coat types and not every product works the same on all coats.
Make sure the coat is free of tangles. You will need a small spray bottle approximately 4 ozs, Ultra Shine Conditioning Spray
(Pure Paws), Ultra Light Oil (Pure Paws), water and a brush with long tines and supple rubber cushion. If you have hard water, use distilled or filtered water. Hard water has many harsh deposits and will only dry out the coat. Mix 2 ozs Ultra Shine Conditioning Spray,
1 oz. Ultra Clear Light Oil
and 1 oz. water. Dampen coat completely and brush thoroughly. If you do happen upon any tangles try to loosen as best that you can with your fingers. This may sound silly, but there is a technique to brushing. When holding your brush use downward strokes only trying not to flick your wrist. The flicking or snapping motion will add to hair breakage. I find the best position for the dog is lying flat on their side, start at their paws and work your way up in small pieces. Bath time…
Shampooing - Thoroughly wet coat, mix first shampoo (Pure Paws – Ultra Reconstructing Shampoo)
completely cover coat and work in gently/message (downward strokes with your fingers), never scrub or go against coat, rinse completely. Mix second shampoo (Pure Paws – Ultra Reconstruction Shampoo)
thoroughly work into coat and let stand for two minutes and rinse thoroughly with cool water not cold. Alternate second shampooing with the Ultra Brightening Shampoo
(Pure Paws); you should do this every other matainence grooming. Rinsing with cool water will help close the hair's cuticle. Here is the Pure Paws website; www.purepaws.net or look for it at your local shows.
This is the conditioning/oil step of the process. The amount of conditioner and oil will vary depending on the size of your puff. I prefer my puffs to be put in heavy oil; I try not to have to do any brushing in between baths. In a 2 quart container mix 1/8 cup conditioner (Pure Paws – Ultra Moisturizing)
, 1/4 cup light oil (Pure Paws – Ultra Light Oil
), and 2 quarts warm water, poor mixture thoroughly over your puff. Don’t rinse oil mixture from coat; use your hands to squeeze excess water from coat. Wrap your baby in a towel, don’t rub to dry, hold your baby in your arms while wrapped in a towel, grab a drink and relax for about ten minutes. Brush coat thoroughly while wet, make sure the coat is tangle free. Again, only use a long tined brush. No combs!!!
Drying - My preference is to air dry whenever possible (only during maintenance grooming). If you must blow dry, be careful of extreme heat.
– Do check for tangles daily, bathe every 4 – 5 days, use long tine brush w/supple rubber cushion, good nutrition, try not to let other dogs pull at the coat, use a satin bed or crate pad, if you need to band the top-knot only use non-damaging poly bands, if you have a problem with your dog eating their coat at the sides of their head…use a snood made from a silky material.
– Do not use a comb or a slicker on the coat (feet only and only when tangle free), no fleece, cotton or cotton type fabric beds or pads, don’t leave a collar on, no regular rubber bands and never brush a dry coat except while showing. Never leave your puff in the sun, especially the dark colored coats. The sun will burn the coat and the coat will also become dry and brittle.
Show Grooming – Part II
This is so exciting for me, properly grooming a powderpuff, is as important as having beautiful skin and furnishings on a hairless. This can be a very controversial subject, as there are so many ways to groom a puff, as there are in grooming a hairless. Some of the questions that we face; do we shave the face, ears, how far down do we shave the neck, do we trim feet or thin coats. What I’m trying to say is…that this article is my opinion on technique and products. I hope…that I can lend some suggestions in grooming your puff for the show ring. There will be some reference in the paragraphs below to Article I. I hope you have either read it or have it handy for reference. Let’s get started!
Step One - Coat Preparation
Prior to bathing, the single most important thing to do is make sure the coat is tangle free. Spray the coat with Ultra Shine Conditioning Spray
(Pure Paws) or by using the spray mixture from Article I. After spraying thoroughly brush out the coat. If you encounter tangles, moisten tangle with spray and loosen with fingers as much as possible. With a long tined, supple pad pin brush, use downward/straight strokes, brush out the coat thoroughly. Remember, no flicking of the wrist; flicking will only cause coat damage.
Step Two - Shaving
Face: I prefer using a 40 blade, as I like the very close shaved look; some may choose a 30 blade, but only you can be the judge of the look you are after.
Figure #1 is prior to shaving. You will need to pull your dogs crest up in to a poly band, so you don’t accidentally shave somewhere you shouldn’t. Using your favorite small trimmers start at the corner of the eye, shave against the hair, and move in under the eye approximately 1/2" to start your pattern. Using the same 1/2" cut move down the check to the bottom jaw, stop just before you go under the jaw. At this point you have a change of pattern direction. You will now start forming the first side of the “V”. (see figure #2) Again, using the same 1/2" cut start shaving towards the Adam’s apple. If you have a dog with good length of neck, the point of your “V” can stop at the top of the Adam’s apple.
On a dog with a shorter neck, you may want to take the “V” a bit lower, but for me I will not take the “V” any lower than the base of the Adam’s apple. Once you have your pattern complete on both sides, you can shave against the hair and clean-up the balance of the face. As part of the pattern, you will want to shave a “V” between the eyes and onto the bridge of the nose. (see figure #3) Using your fingers, pull your dogs bottom lip taunt and shave the hair that grows in the crease of the bottom lip. (see figure #4) For finishing (see figure’s #5 & #6)
Ears: Using the same trimmers, hold ear straight up with your finger tips; shave the backside of the ear, going against the hair. Shave the hair off to the base of the ear. Hold ear straight up with your fingers and again, going against the hair shave the inside of the ear. If you should have a problem shaving all the hair from the inside of the ear, use a small amount of ear powder and your fingers; pluck the remaining hair out. Now to finish…shave remaining hair from the edges of the ears. (see figure’s # 7-10)
Paw pads: You are now going to remove hair from between the pads. Hold paw with pads facing up, using your trimmers again remove hair from between the pads. This next step is an additional option. I like to do this when I have a dog that has lots of coat. While holding the paw, let it drop approximately 45 degrees down. (see figure # 11) Next, at the back of the paw pull the coat straight up and hold in the same hand as paw; take trimmers and shave from the large rear pad up the back of the foot approximately ?”. By doing this with a dog that has lots of coat; it will help keep the hair from flipping up when the dog is standing. This is an area that tends to mat easily and by shaving that area, it will help prevent mating. (see figure # 12)
For boys…: For those who love their puff boys; I hope this next step will make your life so much easier. Some of you old timers might already know this and I was extremely lucky to have learned this technique very early on. If you can have a second person that can help the first time you do this, it will be much easier. The first shave is where you will be creating the pattern and you will need the dog to stand very still. Have your helper stand the dog on his rear legs while holding the front legs straight up. Your job is to brush the coat out to the side with a part in the middle; starting in the middle at the belly, shave the coat from around Mr. Winkie, half way down each thigh and up the middle of the rib cage; but not onto the ribs. (see figure # 13)I hope your boys will now stay a bit cleaner, along with smelling better. (refer below, to the helpful hints section on additional help for the boys)
For boys and girls…: I think we have all experienced the unlikely pleasure of being either at home or at a show and your dog getting poop stuck to their backside/coat. Shave approximately ?” around the anus and the same distance up the underside of the tail. I wish I could tell you this is a 100% solution to the problem, but it will surely help. (see figure # 14)
Nails: Not much to say here except; the standard says, leave nails at a moderate length. Trim and be careful not to leave any sharp edges.
Step Three – Bathing
Shampooing #1 – Oil removal: Thoroughly wet dog with warm water (not hot), always keep long hair on the body going down; lift coat with your fingers to make sure water gets all the way through the coat. First we must wash out the oil. You will need Original Dawn dish soap and a two quart container for mixing; I use a two quart container for all the mixing. Mix 1/4 cup Dawn to two quarts warm water, mix well and pour through coat. If you feel that you didn’t get enough coverage with the first batch, make a second. The areas that I have noticed that you will really need to concentrate on making sure you have enough of the Dawn mixture is, behind/around the ears, doc of the tail and back. Begin by messaging with fingers, being careful not to scrub/rub coat in all directions. Rinse thoroughly. Removing oil with Dawn doesn’t need to be done weekly; it all depends on your show schedule. If you show weekly, you wouldn’t normally get a huge build up of oil and the amount of oil you keep your dog in, will play a large factor on how often you need Dawn. This is really a trial and error procedure. If you show weekly and keep your dog in medium oil, you should only need to strip the coat once to twice monthly.
Shampooing #2 – Whitening: Mix the Ultra Brightening ShampooUltra Brightening Shampoo
(Pure Paws) per the directions on the bottle. Pour over dog and use your fingers to message shampoo thoroughly through the coat. Depending on the surface in which your dog lives; there may be times that you need to use full strength on their paws and/or between the eyes to help with tear stains. Rinse thoroughly. (refer below to Helpful Hints for additional help on stain removal).
Shampooing #3 – Reconstructor: Mix Ultra Reconstructing Shampoo
(Pure Paws) per the directions on the bottle. I like to leave the shampoo on for approximately two minutes, to gain all the benefits from this shampoo; plus it smells great. Rinse thoroughly.
Conditioning. Mix Ultra Moisturizing Conditioner
(Pure Paws) per the directions on the bottle. Pour over the body and neck area thoroughly, head and tail minimally, none on the legs, because when you pour the conditioner, it will run down the legs and it will also get pushed through the coat while rinsing. Rinse coat thoroughly and wrap in towel. If your dog will hold still while wrapped, hold for approximately 10 minutes.
Pre-dry brushing: Using your long tined pin brush, make sure your dogs coat is free tangles and brushed straight down.
Drying: I prefer to have my dogs standing on the table, in lieu of lying down. I do this from a very early age, as it is good training for the puppies. My dryer of choice is an Edemco 3002 Stand Dryer. This Dryer has 10 heat settings, but never to hot. You do need heat for drying and straightening. If you must use a hand dryer, set the heat setting on medium. Extreme heat, over time will dry the coat especially if you are showing weekly. (see figure # 15)
I always start drying on the show side, since this is what the judge sees most of the time. Using your long tined pin brush; while the coat is being blown down by the air, make sure you are also brushing in a downward motion. The goal here is to have the all the coat lying flat or straight down. (see figure # 16) Completely dry body, head, neck, tail and legs. I do the paws last, this is where I brush backwards against the coat to add body.
Using a pair of fine toothed thinning shears, you are going to clean-up the coat around the paws. After your puff is completely dry, fluff the coat on the paws by brushing the coat up and then shake it out. I know this may sound silly, but it will let the coat fall naturally and then you can see what needs to be cleaned up. While the dog is standing square on their feet, take your thinning shears and trim the coat where it needs to be trimmed.
The coat around the paw should look neat and tidy, without looking purposely trimmed. As stated in our breed standard, “Grooming is minimal-consisting of presenting a clean and neat appearance”. I know what this means to me, but you will have to interpret it yourself. (see figure # 17)
Ready for the ring
First thing to getting ready for the ring is, having your supplies ready at your fingertips. Stand your dog on your table; you will do is get your dogs coat in order. At this point, if your dog will continue to stand still, do not put the lead on unless the lead is needed for control. Brush the coat straight down so you can work on the part if your puff’s coat is long enough and most coats are, even as a puppy. (see figure’s #16, #19 & 20) Parting is personal preference, and what I mean is…I prefer not to have a perfect part. I use my pin brush, not a comb or a knitting needle because it gives me the look I prefer. You will have to determine what type of part you prefer or maybe no part at all.
Now that you have your puffs coat in order, the first spray I use is the Ultra Shine Conditioning Spray
(Pure Paws); second coat spray is Ultra Finishing Spray
(Pure Paws). When using these Sprays, remember a light mist is all you need when applying the Spray. Hold over the top of the dog and about 18” up and let the spray fall gently on the dog. After each Spray, use your hand for smoothing (gently). (see figure # 19 – 22)
If you haven’t already, put your dogs lead on him or her. OK, your almost there….for most of my dogs, my lead of choice is a Resco 3/8”. Of course, you need to use whatever works for your dog. If your dogs crest is long enough, you may want to pull the coat on the center of the head, under the Resco and then set your lead. (see figure # 18) You’re almost done….finally, I use a hair spray that is light and when applied, can’t be felt to the touch. This will only help you set the coat, especially on those breezy days. The hairspray I prefer is (Freeze It), and it is in a gold can. Remember, you don’t want the coat to feel sticky/tacky or stiff to the touch.
OK…it’s time to hit the ring…Knock’m dead and Good Luck!
Stains: Using a 2-4 oz spray bottle, mix 50% Ultra No Rinse Colorless Shampoo
(Pure Paws) & 50% Hydrogen Peroxide. Spray directly on stain daily until gone. When using on tear stains, dab on with a cotton ball.
Banding: Boys – I hope this next tip will help you out with the boys. For long coats, gather up the coat in both flank areas, brush upwards so you can gather the coat in one band on the dogs back. This will help eliminate pee on the coat while the dog is hiking his leg. For shorter coats, gather the coat in the flank area and band. Remember to take band(s) out as soon as you are done potty walking your dog; brush coat back down.
Banding: Boys and Girls – For the girls while peeing and the boys/girls while pooping. Gather the coat on the rear of each thigh area and place a poly band. Be careful not to gather up their plume, as it will hold the tail down and well…you can only imagine what a mess that could cause.
Humidity: If the air is damp even if it is cool out, you might want to use a crate fan. I have found it really helps to keep the air a bit dryer and I don’t know of any puff that doesn’t like a nice cool breeze.
Miscellaneous: Satin crate pad/bed, long tined pin brush w/soft rubber cushion, only use non-damaging poly bands. (refer to Article I for additional helpful hints)
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate in contacting me.
Lee’s Chinese Crestedsles