Grooming your Pomeranian

One of the most charming aspects of the Pomeranian is his beautiful, fluffy, full-bodies coat. It makes you want to wrap your hands around it and pet, stroke, cuddle the dog bearing this lustrous fur. Unfortunately the thick, double-coat of the Pom does not maintain itself. In order to retain this plush look, your Pom needs regular, thorough grooming sessions.

Commitment to owning a Pomeranian also means commitment to grooming. Although grooming a Pom is not as involved as grooming other breeds such as Poodles or Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians are nonetheless a moderately high-maintenance breed. Grooming a dog for the show ring requires even more experience, time, and effort. But for the pet owner, grooming is a task that can be learned and maintained at home.

Although you can learn to groom your own dog, whether or not he will be shown, it is still wise to plan for the time necessary to maintain his coat and to budget for grooming expenses, such as the purchase of brushes and shampoos. Even for those owners who opt to groom at home, an occasional trip to the groomer for a deep and thorough comb out, is a good idea; so remember to include this in your grooming budget, as well. The best way to keep your Pom looking his best is to be prepared to do the job and do it correctly throughout his life.

Prepare for grooming by handling

The first step in maintaining that Pomeranian pouf is training. Dogs need to be trained to accept handling in order to be groomed, and the time to start is during puppy-hood.

Your puppy should permit you to handle him as needed. Prepare him by gently and regularly touching his feet, ears, tail, head, eye region, anal area, and his entire body. Handle and hold in a manner similar to the types of touch you will use when he is groomed. Allow him to smell the surface where he will stand to be brushed, as well as the implements which you’ll use on his coat. Reward him with praise, and maybe a small treat, when he accepts these touches and behaves well.

Some grooming, such as in the stomach area, is more easily accomplished if the dog lies on his side. Start training your Pom early to lie quietly while you handle him. As he gets used to the concentrated touching and the grooming tools, gradually increase the amount of time you work on him with each practice session. Add some strokes with a comb to the routine early on and offer praise when he behaves correctly.

”Dogs have different degrees of accepting grooming” explains Barbara Bird, a professional groomer from Arizona. “Pomeranians are lively and may jump around a lot. They ’dance,’ move their feet, and can be hard to control, which makes it more difficult to groom them and more likely that the dog could be injured; so it’s important to teach your dog to positively accept grooming.”

Never punish your dog for not holding still, as this can teach him to dislike or be fearful of being groomed. Instead, offer praise or treats when he is calm and allows grooming; this teaches him to look forward to grooming sessions. If your Porn is one of those who, after training, is still a bit fussy or snappish about being groomed, Bird recommends trying a soft, firmly but comfortably fitted, nylon muzzle to calm him and prevent biting.

In some cases, such as adopted rescues who may not be used to regular grooming, the same methods can be used to help them adapt to the routine. An older dog who might never have received grooming attention may take longer to acclimate, particularly if he has been handled roughly in the past. With a positive, steady approach, some patience, and praise, most dogs learn to accept being groomed.

”Build the expectation of grooming into your dog’s world. Don’t wait until he has that big fluff of coat which requires more work. The time to start is before the coat needs any real effort to groom it,” says Bird. “Grooming time needs to be separate from play and snuggle time. It’s another form of attention, but not to be confused with fun. This doesn’t mean it has to be awful, the dog just needs to learn to accept it as part of his life.”

Grooming Supplies

In order to more efficiently get the job done, it is important to have the correct equipment for grooming your Pomeranian. Purchase the best tools that you can afford. Brushes and combs that are cheap wear out quickly, and the surfaces of poorly-made bristles or teeth can damage fur. Select stainless steel or non-stick surface combs with medium-to wider-spaced teeth. Smaller toothed combs may not be best for Pom fur, except for finishing work in the facial or feet areas.

Combs with rotating teeth are available for aiding in mat removal. Some owners like this type, while others feel that the rotation can cause tangling. Slickers are useful for removing debris from the coat and for fluffing. A pin brush, with polished tips, is the preferred tool for grooming a Pomeranian, so choose one that is well made.

Don’t forget to include a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste in your grooming kit. Choose an appropriate trimmer for nails, as well. Along with trimmers, purchase some styptic powder.

With the need to keep fur trimmed away from the feet and anal area, another helpful grooming tool is a small, electric or rechargeable hair clipper, designed for trimming hair around the pads of the feet.

A grooming table with an arm and break-away noose makes the job of maintaining your Pomeranian much easier. Over-the-table support systems are available which secure the rear of the dog as well, and help to minimize “dancing,” which is especially important while you are using scissors. Tables provide a consistent space to which your dog can become accustomed when you work on him.

For after the bath, owners should also consider purchasing a high-velocity dryer that ”knocks” the water out of the coat and straightens fur as it dries without the use of excess heat which can dry the coat and skin. Those who wish to do complete, detailed grooming need a pair or two of high-quality scissors of different varieties, such as blending shears, for trimming and shaping. A set of professional clippers with the proper blades in their grooming kit may prove useful as well.

The choice of shampoo should be one that deep cleans the thick coat without drying the fur or skin but does not cause the fur to lose body and become limp. Pet shampoos come in a wider range of pH than do shampoos for people. Also, additives in human shampoos, like fragrances, colouring, and other enhancing ingredients, could cause irritation, damage the coat, or cause loss of body. For some Poms, a conditioner may keep their skin from becoming too dry. But avoid products with heavy moisturisers which may excessively soften the stand-off, stand-up coat, causing it to lay flat instead.

”You don’t want to take out the crispness,” says Bird, ”1 recommend using a product that contains dimethicone or cyclomethicone. These ingredients have the capacity to cling to and smooth the rough edges of the fur’s cuticle without removing body, and they add the appearance of reflected light which will enhance the fur without drying the skin.” Before using a silicone-based product on your Pom, discuss your grooming methods with your breeder. Some breeders who do extensive grooming on their show Poms believe that silicone ingredients, such as cyclomethicone, cause too much heat to be conducted into the fur during drying. However, if your dryer uses cool air this should not be an issue.

Grooming as a Health Check

Grooming time is the perfect opportunity to give your dog a quick check up for signs that something may be going amiss with his health.

  • During brushing, does the fur feel and look healthy? Does your dog seem overly sensitive to discomfort?
  • In the bath, run your hands over every inch of his body. Are there any lumps or bumps that should not be there? Is the fur or skin too dry or too oily?
  • Are the ears clean? Is there an unusual quantity of wax? Does either ear smell badly? Do the eyes have an excessive quantity of tears or is there a mucousy or discoloured discharge?
  • Blow-dryers part fur down to the bare skin. Look closely while drying your dog. Are there any discolourations? Is the skin scaly or flaky?
  • Nail trimming is a good time to check between the pads for briars or burrs that need removal. Check for cuts or abrasions on the pads that may require first aid.
  • Observe your healthy dog while grooming him. This establishes a baseline against which you can judge in the future what is normal and what is unhealthy.

Brushing &Combing

Brushing is necessary to remove dead hair that becomes trapped in the fur. During periods of shedding, extra brushing will be necessary to prevent the hair that is being lost from causing mats. Poms have soft undercoats which can get matted, especially under the ruff and around the ”pantaloons.” The goal in brushing is to get into the coat deeply enough to remove debris and loose fur and to prevent the coat from pelting or clumping.

To begin grooming your Pomeranian, place him on the grooming table. If you have not purchased a table especially for grooming, you can improvise by placing a non-skid rug on top of a counter, folding table or even the washer or dryer. Lightly mist the coat before brushing or combing to prevent damage. A mixture of one ounce of conditioner to one cup water, stored in a spray bottle is a good method for pre-brush misting. Don’t saturate the fur, only dampen it. If you prefer not to work with damp fur, try using corn starch instead.

Before you begin brushing, you may wish to place a little baby powder behind the ears and around the anal area to absorb natural body oils that can spread through the fur, attract dirt, and possibly cause the coat to mat.

Methods and brushing sequences vary by groomer or owner, but some generally-accepted guidelines are suggested. Line-brushing-vertically separating a line of fur, working it out, then moving to the next line-is one good way to give your Pom a thorough brushing, often starting at the shoulder and working back, or from the belly and working up. Whichever method you use, always work with small sections at a time. Brush first, then comb.

Bird likes to brush from the outside in and comb from the inside, next to the skin, out. ”You don’t want to leave coat that hasn’t been combed, next to the skin,” she explains, ”This is the most common problem in home grooming, and it can cause the under-coat to clump. That’s why brushing by itself isn’t sufficient unless you are really experienced.”

If you do encounter a mat, hold the fur next to the skin to keep it from pulling. Gently try to separate the mat with your fingers.

Then, starting at the bottom of the mat, comb through to the end of the fur. Next, move higher up into the mat and carefully work the comb down again to the end. This method prevents the tangle from tightening. Repeat until the mat is removed.

Before or After?

For years, grooming wisdom taught that in order to prevent mats, dogs must be brushed before bathing. This was practical advice because mats can tighten if they become wet. But according to Bird, this is now considered the ”old school” way of grooming.

”As a professional groomer, I mostly prefer to work on a clean, conditioned coat-in other words -a protected coat. Today’s products are less likely to cause mats to worsen if you don’t brush them out before bathing. If you tackle a matted coat when it’s dry and dirty, it may cause the hair to break or it may pull out more coat,” Bird says. ”If there are large areas of mats, for example if the dog’s entire rear end is a mass of mats, then you might want to do some pre-bath work, using a spray-in conditioner, and dividing the mats to create smaller hunks that can then be finished after bathing.”

Bathing & Drying

Get out the doggy shampoo, conditioner, towels, table, dryer, and tools and have them all ready before placing your dog in the water. Chasing a wet, shaking dog around the house is frustrating and makes for a messy grooming session.

Pomeranians are small enough that it may be more convenient to bathe them in a kitchen or laundry sink rather than in a traditional tub. A walk-in shower stall which has a built-in seat may also be easier for bathing your dog. Attach a sprayer hose to your tap if you do not already have one plumbed in for regular use. Adjust the water to a comfortably warm temperature, not so cool it might chill your dog and not so hot that it burns. A cotton ball placed in each ear may prevent water from entering, and a light coating of petroleum jelly smeared over the delicate membranes of the eyes can help keep soap out.

With your dog facing away from the sprayer, and with the stream of water directed away from his face, lift his head in your hand and gently begin wetting him from the top of his head, moving towards his tail. Work backwards and down, always keeping the stream of water pointed towards the bottom of the sink so that it is less likely to run into your dog’s ears and eyes. Continue wetting the underside of your dog by spraying at a downwards angle across his chest and stomach, and between his front and back legs. The coat is adequately saturated when a little more water than a drip runs from the fur in all areas.

Prior to pouring it on the fur, shampoo should be mixed with enough water so that it runs easily throughout the coat without having to be worked in, which can cause the fur to clump. Apply sufficient shampoo that it lathers easily, but not so much that it is difficult to rinse out. Start on the back, then the sides. Tip the head up and backward to apply a small amount of shampoo to the top of the head and the neck area. Place some shampoo in your palm to help direct it more easily onto the chest, belly, and between the back legs. Be careful around the eyes, ears, and genitals. Lather the shampoo with single-motion strokes, moving in the same direction as the fur to reduce the chance of creating tangles. Rinse thoroughly. If you are using a conditioner, apply in the same manner as the shampoo and according to the directions. Again, rinse thoroughly.

If you teach your dog to “shake off” the excess water first, drying him will be easier. Shaking off water is a natural instinct, so when your dog does shake, just praise and reward him while using the phrase ”shake off” to enforce the behaviour. Next, place a medium-thick towel over the body, except for the face, and gently squeeze the moisture from the coat without rubbing, once again moving from the head backwards and down. Carefully but thoroughly dry the ears to prevent water from draining into the ear canal and possibly causing an infection. It is preferable that the Pomeranian’s thick coat not be allowed to air dry. If the weather is humid, the undercoat may not dry and hot spots could form. Using a dog dryer or hand-held blow dryer set on no – or low heat, blow the coat dry, blowing against the direction of the coat, from back to front. Brush while drying, brushing from the tail towards the head and from the stomach up towards the back. This fluffs the coat and helps it to stand up, creating that stand-off look for which the Pomeranian is known. Bathing, drying, and brushing your dog will take about 60 to 90 minutes, longer if you are preparing him for the show ring.

Frequency of grooming

How often you brush and bathe your Pomeranian depends on his health, activity level, and environment. In between baths or visits to a groomer, your Pomeranian needs to be brushed and maybe combed. Recommendations vary on how often this is necessary, ranging from daily, to several times a week, to weekly, or whenever needed. Brushing or combing may only take 15 minutes if your Pom’s coat is kept in good condition.

Frequency of bathing differs. Show dogs tend to be bathed more Often, as do dogs who play outside a great deal. Couch potatoes without skin problems won’t need bathing as frequently. Owners may find that baths could be needed once a week (be careful not to make the skin and fur too dry! ), once a month, or even three or four times a year. If your dog’s coat feels grimy to the touch, if he has an odour, or if there is dirt in the coat, then it’s time for a bath. Judge what works best for your dog and plan time for these grooming sessions in your schedule.

Grooming as Bonding

Before they even open their eyes, puppies are used to being groomed by their mothers. Their mother’s tongue cleans them throughout the day and night-and makes them feel secure. Even in wild canines, mutual grooming is used from puppy-hood into adulthood as a ritual that unites the pack.

Some dogs like routine. This includes their grooming, as well. The routine becomes predictable and recognizable. By following an order and schedule, the periodic distress that might be associated with grooming becomes more acceptable. If you offer a few treats as a reward for being good during grooming, your dog can learn to enjoy it. Plus, he will love the time that you are spending with him.

When you groom your dog, he instinctively remembers the nurturing sensation from when he was a baby. Just like dog-to-dog bonding, the time spent grooming your Pomeranian binds you to each other in a relationship of mutual respect, better health, and love.

Hair Trimming

As a Nordic type dog, Pomeranians are considered a “natural” breed, meaning that their visual appearance is more as they naturally have looked for centuries and less modified by humans as part of their breeding. As such, according to grooming tradition, they are supposed to be shown in a more natural state, without excessive trimming. Trimming, as a grooming technique, can be anything from the removal of a very few, scraggly hairs to total shaping or styling, such as with the Bichon or Poodle.

Today, trimming-where, how much, and to what extent-is one of the greatest controversies in Pomeranian conformation show rings around the world.

In general, it is acceptable, common practice to trim away the hair around the feet and on up the legs a little ways. It is also ok to cut excess or long hair from the ear, and to remove stray or scraggly hairs that stick up and look out of place. Because they do have such thick, long hair, it is not only accepted, but highly recommended to keep the fur trimmed away from the anal area for the sake of cleanliness.

From there, trimming practices and recommendations are all over the board. In some countries, including Canada, trimming is highly objectionable. European standards change frequently, and during certain times the Pom standard may have an expressed caveat against trimming.

US handlers are often criticized because of the stylized manner in which coated dogs are groomed and shown. Pomeranians in the show ring in the States are beautifully sculpted by trimming to enhance the dog’s natural shape, play down faults in build, and to emphasize strong points.

For most owners, learning how to trim a show dog, and deciding how much and where to trim will not be an issue. If you do plan to show your Pom, learn from the best. Visit a groomer who is experienced in trimming the show Pomeranian, have your breeder show you how, and go to a dog show and observe how the professional handlers do it.

Owners of pet Pomeranians just need to be concerned with keeping debris out of their dogs’ coats, keeping them from matting, and reducing the chance of slippage when they walk. Trimming generally permissible for all show Poms is: feet, lower pasterns and hocks (the lower portions of the front and back legs), between the pads of the feet, or anywhere the coat may drag and pick up debris or rub and tangle.

Clipping

Some owners may prefer to clip their Pom into a shorter cut. There are several reasons why: if a dog’s coat is open, long and scraggly, and tends to mat easily; if there is a perception that the dog is too hot or needs a cut for health reasons; if a different look is desired; or grooming often enough is not possible and an easier-to-maintain cut is needed. Shorter styles can include a lion clip, a teddy bear cut, or just a shorter look.

Caution is advised when clipping back that Porn coat. First, fur not only serves as an insulator against cold, it also protects against excess heat. Dogs whose fur has been clipped too short can be more susceptible to becoming chilled or over-heated far more quickly and easily than a full-coated dog, even in summer.

Also, with the Pomeranian coat, once it is clipped short, it may grow back in with a fuzzier or more wiry texture, eventually rendering the coat incapable of growing back correctly.

Additionally, with a disposition to fur loss, Poms may suffer “Clip alopecia,” a condition of unknown cause that may damage hair follicles and prevent them from regrowing new hair following a close cut or shave. So before you decide to clip your Pom’s fur short, discuss it with your breeder and groomer,

Ear Care

With their perky, upright ears, Pomeranians do not commonly suffer with ear infections as easily as do the drop-eared breeds like Basset Hounds or Cocker Spaniels, but this does not mean that ear care can be forgotten. When you are grooming your Pom, remember to check his ears. They should be clean and free from wax and debris, and the skin lining the ear should be a healthy colour, not red or irritated looking. If you do find wax in the ear, gently wipe it away using the tip of your finger covered with a soft cloth. Always be careful when you are working within the ear, not to go too deeply as this may cause damage and pain.

Some Poms may have extra or excessively thick hair growing around their ears. This can be removed, but do so with caution. Use blunt-tipped, curved scissors to cut away the excess while placing your finger over the skin of the ear to prevent accidental cuts.

Finding a Groomer

Finding a qualified and caring professional to groom your Pomeranian should be undertaken with many of the some considerations you would apply in selecting a kennel or veterinarian. Important considerations include:

  • Is the groomer certified by a reputable board?
  • Do they have sufficient experience in thier trade to groom a Pomeranian?
  • Are they experienced with dogs and do they understand their behavior?
  • Are their prices reasonable? Competitive?
  • Is the grooming facility clean? Are the grooming implements cleaned between each use?
  • Does the groomer competently and happily handle special requests?
  • Do other dogs present appear relaxed or anxious?
  • Is the groomer considerate of and patient with the dogs on whom they work?
  • Do they like dogs and enjoy the work?
  • Are they willing to give you a tour, or meet your dog and talk with you before you make an appointment?

Eye Care

Eyes should be clear and bright, and free from discharge. With either the eyes or ears, if redness, discharge, or excessive build-up is present, it’s time for a veterinary exam.

Tear Stains

In some light-coloured Pomeranians, there may be a slight tendency for the dog to experience tear staining. These stains appear as pinkish, ruddy, or brownish streaks around the eye where tears naturally drain. Causes are varied, including allergies, ingredients in drinking water, or possibly an irritation of the eye caused by dryness or even eyelashes. Discoloured tears can actually stain fur. Washing the eye area with a cotton ball moistened with warm water or sterile saline (like humans that wear contacts use) helps reduce staining and may be done whenever needed. Products specifically for removal of tear stains are available from pet supply stores. Use these products according to the directions.

Make sure to have your dog’s eyes examined by your veterinarian to determine the cause of his tearing, and get treatment if necessary.

Nail Care

Part of routine grooming for all dogs is trimming toenails. This usually needs to be done about every two weeks. Several types of nail clippers are available for dogs, but many groomers recommend the plier-type versus the guillotine type because they are less likely to cause discomfort from pinching the nail. Choosing the most appropriate size trimmer is also important. A few Poms may be small enough to have their nails trimmed with cat nail clippers, but these trimmers are made for very tiny nails and may possibly pinch even the Pom’s small nails. Whichever size or type you choose, a set with a nail guard may be helpful in preventing cutting into the quick. Nail grinders are another easy way to keep doggy toenails trimmed, but could cause problems such as pulled fur, or tenderness if small Pom nails are ground too quickly.

Before trimming your dog’s nails, use a small set of fur clippers or a pair of curved-blade, blunt-tipped scissors to cut away excess hair around the pads and bottom of the feet. After the feet are done, steady the dog with your body and gently but firmly grasp a paw with one hand while operating the clippers with the other. Hold the blades at about a 45-degree angle away from the bottom of the foot and snip the toenail at the point where it curves, being careful not to pinch or cut into the quick, the tender and sensitive, blood-rich bed around which the nail grows.

If your dog has clearish-white nails, you will be able to easily see the pink of the quick and avoid cutting into it. But most Poms have dark nails, so carefully nip a little bit of nail at a time working slowly back, stopping just before a heavier, white layer of nail shows through the bottom centre of the nail.

Should you nick the quick accidentally, it will bleed and your dog may yelp or snap. Without making a big fuss, apologize, reassure him that he is fine, and move on. Stop the bleeding with styptic powder or by placing the foot in a container of corn starch. If you are worried that you can’t trim your dog’s nails without hurting him, ask your groomer or a veterinary technician to demonstrate for you how to trim the toenails.

Dental Care

Just like people, dogs need to have their teeth brushed after eating. It may not be practical to brush them after every meal, but it is important to clean them as frequently as possible. Pomeranians are quite prone to dental problems, including tooth decay and loss, so plan to brush your dog’s teeth a minimum of once weekly If at all possible, daily brushing is preferred. Providing safe chew toys that aid in plaque removal and prevent tartar build-up is another way to help keep your Pom’s teeth clean.

A large selection of doggy toothbrushes, fingertip brushes, and powdered or paste cleaners are available. Never use human toothpaste, since it is not safe to swallow, and dogs will swallow whatever you use to clean their teeth. Choose whichever products keep your Pom’s teeth the cleanest, are easy to use, and which your dog most readily tolerates. For the Pomeranian’s tiny mouth, a child-size toothbrush may be a good fit.

One method to help your dog cooperate during teeth cleaning is to start by wrapping your finger with a piece of gauze dipped in doggy toothpaste. Later, when he is used to having your finger in his mouth, move on to a toothbrush. Brush your dog’s teeth during a regular grooming session while he is still on the table. In between groomings, if he is calm, you can hold him in your lap with one hand and use your other hand to clean his teeth.

Because of the breed’s dental problems (see Chapter 8) it is Vital to your Pom’s health not to overlook brushing the teeth as part of his regular routine. Always remember to keep your dog’s teeth healthy and white.

Pouf your Pom

Keeping the Pomeranian looking like a Pomeranian is an effort that requires time, money, and commitment. Show or pet, full-coated or clipped like a teddy bear, the Pomeranian is not a dog whose grooming can be ignored. This is a breed that needs work, but the effort is worth it to those who care for and truly love the Pom.

In addition to the poufy picture of beauty your dog presents after being groomed, the hours you spend grooming deepen the bond between you and your dog. Bird summarizes, ”Grooming is a meditation that requires a great deal of patience, and a way for the dogs to get loving attention from their owners.” Show your Porn you love him-groom him when he needs it. Just remember these dogs are sensitive, so groom with a careful hand.

Doggie Bad Breath

Your dog loves you and jumps into your lap to show you how much. He licks your face and breathes on you and – yuck – doggy breath! Not much smells worse than bad breath from a dog. But Pomeranian breath doesn’t have to reek. Some tips for making your Pom’s breath as pleasant as his personality are:

  • Keep his teeth clean. Brush frequently and have veterinary dental cleanings when your dog gets tartar build-up.
  • Don’t feed food that has an unpleasant odour. Premium food with high-grade ingredients is less likely to cause death-breath. And dry food causes less breath odor than canned.
  • Toys and treats, such as those made by Nylabone, that offer teeth-cleaning action and breath-freshening properties, are readily available from pet supply stores.
  • Get a veterinary exam. Many diseases, dental problems, and other health conditions can cause bad breath. Top among these are kidney, liver or lung disease, and canine malignant melanoma, an aggressive cancer that forms mainly in the mouth.

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