The Lhasa coat comes in all dog colours in various combinations. This is an instant attraction for the dog lover, looking for a loving companion. But this long-haired breed needs to be chosen with great consideration and not for its good looks alone. The biggest challenge in caring for them involves grooming the dense coat, which requires regular brushing and bathing. The extra time that you may need to spend for this activity is an important consideration. If properly trained, early as a puppy, the Lhasa will appreciate hair combing, brushing and trimming.
Correct grooming technique…
The Lhasa Apso’s hair texture and natural colour are maintained by following the correct grooming technique. This involves brushing the hair with a long tooth comb/rolling comb right down to the skin till it is long, straight and free from matts and tangles. Then trim the hair to the desired length with scissors or thinning shears. This is best achieved at a professional grooming spa. Using a clipper blade to shave your dog will alter the natural hair texture and colour and make its management difficult. Also, the exposed skin will get sun burnt and lead to other skin disorders.
Lhasas are low-shedding dogs. Even though they have a double coat, only the soft undercoat will be shed. The outer coat, consisting of coarse outer guard hair, does not shed. The hair is soft and light and can stay air borne for a long time. This may cause inhalation and related problems before it can settle down to be cleaned.
Since the coat is a low-shedding type, matts are very easily formed in the soft undercoat.
The Lhasa Apso coat is soft and long, thus making it doubly challenging to keep the hair clean, tidy and matt-free.
Matts are tangled masses of hair which, over time, collect dirt, dander and plant material. They grow in size and become hard. This makes it extremely difficult to remove. Thus shaving off the hair may then be the only solution. Here are a few tips to keep matts at bay:
- Timely brushing, once or twice a day may help to avoid matts.
- Dry brushing or combing is better than wet bathing or cleaning to remove grime and dirt from soft hair.
- Avoid bathing dogs with matts in their hair. This leads to hardening and makes it difficult to remove. Shampoo caught under the matts leads to itchy and irritated skin.
Tools for pawfect grooming/brushing
- Long metal comb
- Rolling brush/comb
- Detangling/dematting brushes
- Detangling spray/conditioner for spraying into coat
- The coat king to remove dead undercoat
Important home grooming tips
- Systematically brush the coat everyday. Part the coat during brushing and brush in layers.
- Since the coat is a low-shedding type, matts are very easily formed in the soft undercoat.
- Run your hand frequently, through the hair, during the entire brushing session, to identify the dense areas that are likely to matt. Your fingers will feel the presence of matts, if any.
- Do not forget the legs, face, tail and the undercarriage during brushing.
- Loose, small matts are easy to remove and can be attempted at home. Big and hard matts are best removed at a professional groomer.
- Spray a detangling liquid or spritz in a crème rinse before dematting to avoid breakage and to avoid static electricity.
- Use a slicker brush to gently untangle a matt.
- Bathe your Lhasa after a month or when needed with several brushings in between.
- The right kind of shampoo and conditioner suitable for the long, soft hair and a conditioner afterwards will maintain the pH and make brushing simpler.
- Always use lukewarm water.
- Towel dry and then use a hair dryer on cold setting to completely dry off the coat.
- You may use elastic bands to secure the hair back from the eyes.
- Hygiene of the paws can be maintained by keeping the hair on the legs and foot pads short.
- Matts can be formed in between the toes thus making it difficult to walk. Checking paws regularly can help avoid this.
- Trim nails every 2-3 weeks.
To help keep the ears clean and healthy, it is important to clear the ear canal of excessive hair. This can be done at the veterinarian or at a professional grooming salon.
Even if you groom your Lhasa Apso yourself, it is important to have him groomed professionally by an experienced groomer every 6 to 8 weeks to keep the hair tidy and the skin healthy. Besides, it will leave you more time to relax and play with your loving buddy.
(Dr Lochana Baney runs Gordon – Just FUR Dogs in Pune. This pet corner provides individualised enhancement of the pet’s skin and coat, according to the dog’s breed, physical condition and age, following international standards. Gordon is voted for the best dog shop in Germany and is now open in India at Pune. Dr Lochana can be contacted at: 020-2680 6881).
Did you know?
- Origin of Lhasa: This is a non-sporting dog breed and originated in the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet.
- Origin of name: Lhasa Apso got its name from the capital city of Tibet, which is Lhasa. ‘Apso’ in the Tibetan language means ‘bearded’. Thus, Lhasa Apso means ‘Long-haired Lhasa dog’.
- Temple dog: He was considered the temple dog of the Dalai Lama. He was primarily the watchdog inside the palace. His acute sense of hearing, intelligence and natural instinct for identifying friend from foe made this breed ideal for this role.