Beauty regime for a Lhasa Apso!, – By Dr Lochana Baney

Thick, luxurious, free-flowing, soft coat – a Lhasa Apso is a treat for the eyes. But his tresses need a lot of love and care. Here’s how to groom your Lhasa Apso.

Grooming needs…016a

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.

Shedding facts…

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.

Understanding matts…

Since the coat is a low-shedding type, matts are very easily formed in the soft undercoat.

Dr Lochana Baney

Dr Lochana Baney

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.

Paw care

  • 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.

Ear care

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.

Professional grooming

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.

Wagging their way to beauty

Our canine friends love to romp through the grass, swish around in the water and roll in the mud. Unadulterated fun – that’s what dogs are all about. But when they are done with all that frolicking, they also want to come back into the house and lie on the sofa like one of the family. And that’s where good grooming comes in. Regular grooming can not only make your dog look smart and tidy, but also help in avoiding many health problems. During our interactions with clients at the TailWaggers Pet Salon, we come across several people who have had and loved dogs for years but are blissfully unaware that grooming plays an important role in their pets’ well-being.

Grooming is more than just swiping a brush through your dog’s coat. Regular grooming keeps your dog clean and looking good. It also keeps shedding to a minimum and gives you a chance to inspect your dog to make sure his skin, teeth, eyes, ears and nails are healthy. Because grooming is important, dogs should be trained from an early age to associate it with a pleasurable experience.

Short-coated breeds are obviously much easier to groom than long-haired ones. With long-coated breeds, grooming is not only desirable but also absolutely essential. To leave a long-coated breed un-groomed is cruel. The hair becomes matted and dry, making the dog extremely itchy and uncomfortable. This can also result in skin infections and the end result is misery! We have seen dogs belonging to well-meaning people, brought in for grooming to our salon, so badly matted that we don’t know where to begin!

A good grooming schedule, for your pet, includes combing, brushing, bathing, nail clipping, ear cleaning and teeth brushing.

Combing and brushing your dog :

For short smooth coats, use a soft bristle brush and first brush against the direction your dog’s hair lies. This will help to remove any excess hair from underneath. Then, brush in the direction the coat lies to pick up loose hair from the surface. Brushing once a week will keep shedding under control. For long double coats, use a pin brush and start by taking sections of your dog’s coat and separating it with your hand, so there is a parting where the skin is visible. Then use the brush to comb out the undercoat, brushing outwards from the skin as you do. This is the best way to prevent matts from forming in the undercoat. Once you have finished with the undercoat, use the same brush to brush out the top coat as well. Brush your dog twice a week but increase it to several times a week in the shedding season.

Remember to groom the underbelly, behind the ears as these areas are most prone to matts. If your dog is already matted, it maybe difficult to get rid of the matts at home. You run the risk of injuring your pet if it is not done correctly. At such a time, it is advisable to seek professional help for detangling or hair-trimming. Also considering our hot and humid climate, it is advisable to keep your dog’s hair trimmed and neat, no matter how exotic a breed he or she is!

Another everyday routine should be to run your fingers through your dog’s coat to check for any skin parasites like ticks and fleas. Skin parasites multiply at an alarming rate and are best checked right at the onset. There is a huge variety of tick and flea shampoos available at all leading pet shops which are very effective. Please consult your veterinarian before using them since some of them can be very toxic if licked by your pet.

Bathing :

Bathing your dog once in 10-15 days is ideal. Bath time will go more smoothly if you’re well prepared. First make sure you’re not rushed. No matter how small your dog, a bath is not a ten-minute job. You should have a good dog shampoo, a couple of towels, and a hair dryer (for a long-haired dog) ready, before you bathe him. Do not use human shampoos for your dog since the pH level of their skin differs from ours. Soak the dog completely right through the hair with warm water. Rub the shampoo into your dog’s coat with your fingers or a bathing glove, taking care not to get any into his eyes and ears. Work it in all over his body, under his chin and neck, under his belly and bottom, right down to his toes. After this, rinse him well, starting at the head and working toward the back, taking care to remove all traces of shampoo. Squeeze out all the excess water from the legs, tail, underparts, and the top of the body, the ears and so on. Briskly dry him with a towel and finish the process with a hair dryer if necessary. For long-haired breeds also, comb the dog gently while drying to keep the matts from forming.

Ears and eyes :

When you sit down to groom your dog, you have the opportunity to take a closer look at his ears and eyes. Now is the time to check them for any signs of problems and to work at keeping them clean and healthy. Ears must be treated very gently. And to clean them, ease a piece of cotton wool into the ear and take away any visible dirt. Do not prod into the ear canal but make sure the inner ear flap is clean. If your dog is constantly scratching or shaking his ears, he is in obvious discomfort and you should seek advice from a veterinarian. To keep your dog’s eyes sparkling and clear, simply wipe them with a cotton ball dipped in luke-warm water. This will get rid of any discharge that may have built up in the corners.

Nail-clipping :

Your dog’s nails will need regular clipping, particularly if he doesn’t get much exercise on hard ground. The quick (the blood vessel within the nail) is easy to see in white nails but it doesn’t show that well on black ones and can get cut if you are not careful. If you are apprehensive about trimming your dog’s nails yourself, seek professional help.

Teeth brushing :

An important but often over-looked part of your dog’s grooming routine is the brushing of his teeth. Dogs need to have clean teeth in order to have fresh breath and a healthy canine smile. Poor dental hygiene can lead to tartar build up that can cause diseases in the mouth which can lead to other infections. To brush your dog’s teeth, you can either use a piece of gauze wrapped around your finger or a specially made dog toothbrush and Betadine mouthwash or dog toothpaste. Dog toothbrushes and pastes are available at all pet shops.

To keep your dog clean, healthy and looking his gleaming best , follow a grooming routine that suits him the best and follow it diligently. Grooming is easy to learn and no matter how much time it takes, both you and he will be proud and happy with the results.

(Gauri and Urmila at TailWaggers Pet Salon have been providing pets with the latest and best grooming facilities for the past 3 years. During this time, they have groomed hundreds of dogs and put a smile on many a dog and owners faces. Well, although they admit that it is not an easy job they do get bitten and sometimes smell like dogs at the end of a long day, they wouldn’t trade it for any other career for both of them love the hours they spend with four-legged friends. The services provided at The TailWaggers Pet Salon include haircutting, oil massage, shampoo and conditioning, tick and flea control treatments, ear cleaning, teeth brushing and nail-clipping, aromatherapy rinses, detangling treatment and hydrosurge baths. You can contact them on 9820127572 or 56067271.)