Grooming your Keeshond
As I understand it, this breed is supposed to have a coat that requires much less frequent bathing than many other types of coats due to its self cleaning nature and minimal odor. Over the 24 years I have owned them, I have certainly witnessed this for myself, but my preference is to groom this coat more frequently. I find that a more regular grooming session keeps the undercoat stimulated which gives you the ‘rolling’ effect. This is useful when you are attempting to exhibit your Keeshond year round.
You can determine the frequency with which you want to fully groom your Keeshond, but I will give you my recommendations based on the lifestyle of the Keeshond in residence here. Because of this you will certainly adjust your frequency to adapt to your individual dogs lifestyle. The Keeshond here are exposed to long walks on a large piece of property, they run through woods, fields, ponds and graveled areas. So, there is dust, twigs, soil, pond water, etc that they are exposing their coats to and with proper coat texture the coats are not overly affected. I am always entertained by the fact that after a few hours of drying off naturally, they look good as new. But, I believe a thoroughly cleaned and brushed coat is beneficial to these elements having less effect on the overall condition of the coat.
Each dog under 7 years of age is bathed every three weeks and the seniors are bathed every 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the coat texture.
Note: Neuter/spay coats can become soft and will matt easier so they are done more frequently.
The nails and feet are trimmed each time. My reason for frequent nail care is to keep them short so the quick does not get long. I find the dog is less uncomfortable if I keep the nail shorter than attempting to push the nerve back by frequent catch-up nail sessions and in turn, will struggle less because the trust develops that you are not likely to quick them. The tip is first taken off with the nail trimmers. I prefer the scissor-like over the guillotine.
I will then follow up with the nail grinder. I use the rough stone or rough sandpaper attachment. By using the grinder I can file back the entire casing of the nail around the nerve that is in the center and this will cause the nerve (quick) to recede.
I always trim feet after nails are done, so that I can go back as far as possible on shortening the hair around the toes. I place the foot down on the grooming table and then go around the foot trimming any stray hairs that take away from the neat look. Note: I will get into the art of trimming a foot for the show ring in a future article.
For maintenance grooming, I use an inexpensive pair of ice-tempered sheers from the local beauty supply store. They are light weight and are easily replaceable as they wear. I find they are also not as sharp, a plus when a beginner or grooming a young puppy.
Both of these tasks are done to maintain the tight cat-like foot necessary to healthy joints for the life of the dog. If the nails are allowed to get long, they cause the foot to flatten. If the hair between the toes gets too abundant, the toes begin to spread. The order of doing nails and trimming feet is up to you. My typical routine is to trim nails, bathe, then trim feet after the coat is dried and in the finishing steps where the leg coat is more fluffed up.
The bathing process is best accomplished in a raised tub or on a grooming table top using your garden hose. I prefer a spray nozzle on the hose much like you find at a lawn/garden store or large mercantile that has shower and center settings. I use these interchangeably depending on water pressure. All the shampoos we use are highly concentrated, so each are diluted and ready to go before we put the dog into the tub. I use tepid to warm water depending on the season and in cases where you want the coat to turn loose during a shed, it is best to use a warmer (not hot) temperature.
When lathering the shampoo, pay special attention to the genitals and in males that includes the sheath. Usually if you lather that first so that it can be soaking while shampooing the other areas it will loosen the green discharge for easier rinsing later.
After the bath, the coat is squeezed, legs included, ridding excess moisture, then a good towel scrubbing to attempt to wick as much moisture as you can from the coat before placing under a fan. I use a high velocity fan and leave the towel under them in their crate or run and let them sit under the fan for 30 to 60 min depending on the density of the coat. This step can really shorten your drying time and I use it to bathe the next dog.
We use a force dryer to do the bulk of the work. You can purchase these from $100 to $500 from www.petedge.com. They have a wide variety to choose from and for the two or three dog household the less costly models will last you many years. The other models are built more sturdy and do have a higher velocity and some include two speed options. We use a variety of models for different uses, travel in the RV or air travel can require us to size-down. Of course, at home, we use a much higher speed model to decrease drying time.
The first order of business is to dry the coat all over without doing any brushing. The goal is to use the dryer to lift the dead undercoat as much to the surface as possible.
Believe me, there is an art in using a force dryer. If you are too close to the dog, you will knot the coat, if you are too far away, you will lose the benefit of the force of air pushing the loose coat to the end of the guard coat. I also use the nozzle that is the smallest round opening, so I can use it as a directed force of air. I move my wrist quickly in a side-to-side fashion to trick the coat into letting go of the dead undercoat.
Unless your Keeshond is going through a major shed, I recommend using the dryer to go through the coat and follow it with a pin brush at the same time. Using the force dryer to part the coat, you will quickly be able to see the areas that have loose coat and be able to more easily grab them.
I use a variety of tools and use a combination of the rake, comb, slicker and pin brush to get the loose coat out. My goal is to grab the coat and at the same time avoid breaking the coat that is not ready to let go.
Surprisingly there is a fair amount of dead coat in these areas.
After brushing through the entire body, I use a tiny flea comb to comb through the ears. You can also use this for the short hair on the head and muzzle.
When the coat is groomed this frequently, there are fewer times that the coat takes hours to brush through. This is because the undercoat is taken out as it is ready and not waiting until the entire coat has dropped. The routine stimulation of the coat and skin is beneficial to coat growth.
There are a range of products to use and I have used many of them. And you can certainly find levels of quality within the shampoo lines. Premium grade shampoos would be the Vellus and Isle of Dogs brands. A more mid-grade quality would include Chris Christensen and Pure Paws.
Fortunately, Isle of Dogs has come out with a maintenance line which is great for using when the Keeshond you are bathing might be retired from showing or is only showing occasionally allowing you to use these shampoos during the in between times. All the brands that I am familiar with require dilution as they are in a very concentrated form. This makes the sticker price less of a shock because you know the product will bathe many dogs. Each brand has a recommended dilution ratio, but I find most of the time I can use less and get great results. Not all shampoos, especially your high end lines are high leather, so it is best to know the product before you start the dilution process. I find most vendors are happy to assist in specific advice for a particular coat texture, breed or age of dog. Feel free to email me email@example.com with any specific dilution questions.
Isle Of Dogs http://www.iod.com – Royal Jelly concentrate and Evening Primrose Oil concentrate. Both shampoos are mixed together for one shampooing. I increase the ratio of EPO if I have a dry, brittle coat or if I am bathing a puppy under 6 mo old. This company also has a ‘grey line’ that is for more regular use. Stand Up is the best one for most Keeshond coats.
Vellus http://www.vellus.com – This line is a tad confusing. You should use the Clarifying shampoo every other time you bathe the show dog as it lifts away residue and product. Then follow up with the Shampoo Concentrate. However, DO NOT USE the Clarifying shampoo alone. Always follow up with the Shampoo Concentrate. Their conditioner is awesome, however I rarely use it. In cases of a very dry coat or to make the major brush out go easier, use this.
Pure Paws http://www.purepaws.net – I have not used their shampoo with any regularity, but they do have a great volumizing shampoo. And many other useful products for lifting the coat during show time.
Chris Christensen http://www.chrissystems.com – Another mid grade but overall good quality shampoo line. This company also has many other great products that I will recommend as we get into future articles.
Written by Beth Blankenship
Trumpet Keeshonden - USA