Care of the Poodle Coat
Grooming is important for all dogs, but it is absolutely essential for poodles. Not only does a well groomed poodle look its best, but also the grooming routine is vital in the prevention of skin, coat, dental and other health problems. It is often said that poodles are non-shedding and hypo-allergenic, so it may come as a surprise to learn that poodles do shed. However, the loose hair stays in the coat, rather than falling out. In order to keep your poodle's coat from becoming a matted mess, you must brush and comb it out regularly (at least twice a week). As for being hypo-allergenic, many people with allergies have no problems living with a poodle because the poodle does not develop dander, which is what actually causes the allergic reaction. Dander is old skin scales which are constantly shed. Older animals produce more dander than young ones because their skin is drier. Animal dander is extremely light weight and tiny in size, (approx. 2.5 microns) and can stay airborne for hours. (1 micron = 1/25,000 in.). The hair of a poodle never stops growing, therefore a trim every six to eight weeks is required. You can have your poodle trimmed by a professional or learn how to trim it yourself.
Completing a full bathing/drying and trimming at home can be time consuming and quite a task, but it is less costly than using a professional groomer and can often build an even closer bond between you and your poodle. If you think you'd like to try trimming your own poodle, you will need to learn the basic techniques and procedures involved. To do this it is best to try to find a professional groomer who is willing to teach you, enroll in an adult-education or correspondence course or buy a grooming video/DVD. I recommend a series by: The Styling Academy. The DVD's are entertaining, educational and easy to follow.
As far as equipment is concerned, you will need to invest in a pair of good quality scissors and some electric clippers with at least one #10, one #15 and one 4F blade. You will also need a steady table with a non-slip rubber mat on it and equipment to bathe and dry your poodle. Generally the household bath/shower with a rubber mat to prevent slipping is adequate for the bathing but, particularly if you have a standard poodle, the household hair dryer is not enough to dry the coat sufficiently. Look out for a reasonably priced secondhand dryer/blaster. Grooming salons often update their equipment as new models become available and sell their surplus equipment off at a good price. Remember that poor equipment can cause injury to your poodle, so you should ensure that your grooming tools are in good condition and are replaced when necessary.
Choosing A Professional Groomer
Should you decide that trimming your own poodle isn't for you, you will need to find a gentle groomer for your poodle who doesn't speak harshly, likes your dog and seems to enjoy the animals she grooms. It is also important that your groomer listens to what you have to say about your dog's haircut. When it comes to finding a groomer, word of mouth is invaluable. Be on the look out for well-groomed poodles. When you see one, ask the owner who their groomer is. Also ask your friends, family, veterinarian and breeder. Visit the groomers you are considering, assess the general environment, cleanliness and noise-level of the shop. Pay attention to how the groomer interacts with the dogs.
Care In Between Trimming
Even if you take your poodle to a professional groomer there are some things you will have take care of at home.
You must brush and comb it out regularly (at least twice a week). As you do this, get into the habit of performing a mini 'health check' of your dog. Make sure you are aware of the appearance of your poodle when in good health. This will help you to spot any changes during regular health checks carried out at home.
Pay attention to:
- Look for bright eyes surrounded by white whites with little, if any, discharge.
- Check inside your poodle's ears for any signs of redness or swelling. Watch for brown waxy debris or bad odour, which could be signs of an ear infection. The hair inside the ears of a poodle should be removed by careful plucking. If you have your poodle trimmed by a professional groomer this should be attended to by them.
- Your poodle's teeth should be pearly white and clean of tartar. Make a habit of brushing your poodle's teeth with a canine toothpaste and brush as part of your twice weekly grooming routine. Regular gentle brushing reduces build up of tartar and promotes healthy teeth and gums.
- Be sure to know what your poodles normal gum colour is - pale gums could be a sign of a problem.
- Run your hands over the body of your poodle and feel for any unusual lumps or areas of the body that are tender to touch. Keep a mental note of weight gain or loss which can be felt according to how hard you need to press to feel the ribs.
Consult your veterinarian if you find anything out of the ordinary.