Regular grooming of your
Bouvier includes removing mats, brushing & combing, trimming nails,
cleaning ears & teeth, as well as occasional bathing (3-4
Beginning the routine early in puppyhood will help your dog to really
enjoy this special one-on-one time together. TALK to your dog while you
are working; this can make it even more relaxing for him and pleasant
for you.When you are about to use a new or unfamiliar piece of
equipment, let him sniff it so he can be more prepared (and relaxed
about it). E.g. electric clippers -- with clippers turned off, let the
puppy sniff them, inspect them sitting on the table, feel them against
his coat.Then turn them on while speaking encouragingly to the pup, them
off and on, let him smell them again, then go to work!
Most pet owners do not invest in expensive grooming equipment such as
electric clippers and all the blades and guards that can go with them,
grooming tables, heavy-duty dryers, and so on. But, you can do quite a
lot at home in between professional grooming to keep your Bouvier
beautiful and comfortable all the time. Recommended equipment is in
italics; you can expect to pay approximately $10 for each item.
Even though you will be periodically using a professional groomer,
working with your Bouvier on his coat and body at home will prepare him
for what is expected of him on the grooming table and when he is being
handled and worked on at the grooming shop. It will be a much more
pleasant experience for all, quicker for the dog, and less expensive for
An added bonus of regular light grooming at home is that it gives you
the "hands-on" opportunity to notice any potential problem
areas (like reddish skin patches, rashes, pimples, lumps, ear
infections) before they become dangerous and costly to treat.
First make sure your dog is calmly lying on his side on the floor before
you begin (unless this is a new puppy - then I say, do the best you can
- ha, ha). Sometimes, for an older puppy or dog, attaching a leash to
the collar and tying the leash to a chair or table leg will give you a
measure of control and free both your hands for working on the dog.
How To Properly Brush, no, COMB Your Bouv
You can do part of the dog every couple of days (easier on new pups), or
a complete session once a week. Whether you have the dog stand or lie
down while you brush, brush the hair in the direction it grows, using
long relaxing strokes. Using a steel comb, (I prefer the kind
with two different tine spacing, about 7-1/2 inches long and no handle),
begin at the base of each leg and work up, one handful of hair at a
time. Lift the hair above your work area, then comb down and to the skin
a little at a time. Be sure you are not just combing over the top of
other hair, comb right down to the skin. Brushes tend to give you the
illusion that you have the dog done, but more often than not, with a
brush, you are not getting down to the undercoat which is where the mats
begin. I prefer NO brushing, just combing (except for the slicker brush
Why are mats bad? Depending on where and how severe they are, mats can
harbor dirt, debris, parasites, moisture, conceal hot spots (severe skin
infection which can spread), inhibit new coat growth, and cause a great
deal of discomfort and even pain.
If you do this at least once a week, your steel comb should be
sufficient for the job. If you have missed a weekly session or longer,
or if the coat is extremely thick, you may need to first work with a rake
and/or slicker brush before you are able to get a comb right down
to the skin.
When you encounter a mat, move up to the wide end of your comb and use
the very end tines to pull through the mat like a knife.Then try to comb
through it, holding the hair nearest the skin with thumb and forefinger
to minimize the tug on hair roots.If you just try to tug at it with your
comb, not only will you cause the animal MAJOR discomfort, you may pull
out a huge amount of coat.
Two other methods for getting through mats (short of cutting them out
and leaving large chunks in the coat) is to use a mat splitter,
or work them apart with your fingers, a little at a time, prior to
combing that area.
If these methods do not work, you CAN carefully trim the mat out with
electric clippers. Scissors are not usually recommended because of the
GREAT RISK of cutting your dog. Skin can be very easily nicked and even
sliced open because it is looser than the mat. I know of dogs that have
required stitches to close cuts caused by someone overzealous in cutting
out bad mats. Only a professional groomer should remove matting that is
so close to the skin. But, remember, with regular "to the skin
" combing, your dog will always be mat-free!
Look for mats in the forearm pits, behind and under the ears, in the
beard under the lower jaw, around the lips, high up between the scrotum
and inner thigh on a male, on the belly between the nipples on a female.
Pet Bouviers (& even some show dogs) can be shaved with a #15 or 30
blade on the tummy and it really won't be noticeable. Many all-breed
groomers do this routinely. Meanwhile, the dog will be mat-free in that
area and much more comfortable.
How & When To Trim
Nails and Pads
Adult nails should be trimmed at least once a month, more frequently for
a puppy. This ensures that the dog is walking properly on its pads and
not bearing weight on the nails. This may transfer weight improperly all
the way up the legs and through the joints. Whether you use side-cut
or guillotine-type nail clippers, you may also want a metal file
to smooth the claws after trimming.
Trim back to the quick (this is a vein) in the underside crevice of the
nail. If the end of the nail is white or light in color, it is probably
safe to cut that white tip off. Do look under the nail to locate the
vein. If the nail is all one color, cut back to just ahead of the groove
on the underside, where you can see the end of the quick. If a nail is
trimmed too close and bleeds, apply styptic powder, cornstarch, or ice
and a 10-minute compress.
Hair grows between the pads on the feet to insulate the foot in all
kinds of weather. Your groomer will always check for mats in this area
and remove them without eliminating all the insulation. The hair can
also grow long extending beyond the pads and can cause your dog to have
improper footing or even to slip on certain floor surfaces.If you have
this problem, you can snip the excess hair off with scissors, level with
the pad. Do not attempt to go deeper with scissors. This is not
necessary between groomings and is a job for clippers.
When & How To Begin
Get a puppy used to having his/her teeth cleaned by simply rubbing the
teeth with a washcloth once a week. Check adult teeth monthly for gum
line tartar.If tartar is present, brush the teeth once or twice a week
with baking soda on a washcloth, gauze pad, or toothbrush.Doggie
toothpaste (beef flavored) and toothbrushes are alternatives
available from most pet supply sources.
If tartar DOES build up, it can be removed by your veterinarian, but
usually under general anesthesia.
Chewing on rawhide, cow or pig ears, hoofs, and treated knuckle bones
are great tooth tartar inhibitors. I have never found it necessary to
have a Bouviers' teeth professionally cleaned and I attribute it to the
toy baskets full of approved chew things, as well as good balanced dog
food (no grocery store stuff!) and occasionally, dog biscuits and raw
veggies like carrots and broccoli.
What About Those Ears?
Once a month (more frequently if there is an odor or scratching) pluck
excess hair from the ears. Sprinkling a little ear powder in the ear
will allow you to grip and pull the hairs out easily. When the ear is
clean of hair, SLIGHTLY moisten a cotton ball with peroxide or alcohol
and wipe all the inner crevices you can reach with your finger. You can
also use Q-tips on their ears. A dog's ear canal does not go straight in
to the eardrum like a human's.It is a 90 degree angle, so don't be
afraid of swabbing all the nooks and crannies in a Bouv's ear. Bouviers,
in general, do not have the excessive ear hair some other breeds do, but
if yours does, you may also want to use forceps to reach and
pluck some of the hair. This is what groomers use on many of the smaller
If your dog is continuously scratching an ear or shaking his head a lot,
or appears to have poor balance; if the ear has frequent odor, or if
what you wipe out is crusty blackish-red, check with your vet -- he may
have an ear infection requiring antibiotics or other medication.An
untreated ear infection can develop into a more serious systemic
Coats vary in texture and dryness/oiliness, so the kind of shampoo you
use will depend on your reason for shampooing.In addition to general,
good quality, tearless shampoos, there are those with
moisturizers, medications, texturizers, insecticides & flea
repellents, and color enhancers. Avoid heavily scented shampoos! For a
pet Bouv, a shampoo with moisturizing quality is good. It will help
prevent dry skin, tangles, and give the coat a lustrous look and clean
feel. This eliminates the need for any creme rinse. (However, this is
undesirable in a dog which is showing.)
In general, the Bouvier does not require bathing any more frequently
that grooming visits (every 2-4 months, depending on the individual
dog's coat growth), although beards and feet sometimes need washing in
between. If you dog acquires an odor, rolls in something, invites fleas
on board, etc., you may need to bathe more often or with a specific
NOTES ABOUT BATHING . . .
Never bathe a dog that has not been combed out. Getting those mats wet
will make them like cement and may result in them having to be cut
out.(This rule also holds true for SWIMMING in the lake!).
Always rinse thoroughly. Unrinsed shampoo can make the hair gummy which
will attract and hold dirt and odors more easily. Hidden unrinsed
shampoo can cause dry, itchy skin which can be mistaken for flee allergy
or something else and start you down a road of veterinary treatment for
any number of suspected causes. JUST RINSE RINSE RINSE.
Never use people shampoos, the ph balance is wrong for a dog's skin and
could cause dryness, gumminess, or coat breakage.
Too frequent bathing can cause dry itchy skin and possible coat loss. It
can soften the coat too much and promote tangling. Most shampoos are
concentrates. You can dilute almost any dog shampoo. I save dish
detergent bottles and make up sever with diluted shampoo. This not only
makes the product easier to rinse out, it also saves money!
Do not use a flea shampoo on any dog that has been given a topical or
internal flea or tick preventive. Toxins can become concentrated and
cause severe problems.
EYE GOOBERS. Yes several times a day you can pick these off your dog and
they will keep coming back. This seems to be part of the joy of owning a
Bouvier.If left to accumulate, these dried eye discharges can cause
painful mats below the eyes, so go ahead and remove them with your
fingers whenever you think about it. Should there be excessive tearing,
that is, the area below the eye always seems wet and/or the eye red and
watery, SEE YOUR VET.There are some serious eye diseases out there.
LIP GUNK. Some Bouviers have quite a few folds of skin in the lower part
of their mouths. These seem to increase with age. Depending on what your
dog snacks on, some residue may linger (even after those vigorous drinks
and head shakes) in ultra deep folds near the outsides of the mouth. The
lip folds can be cleaned with hydrogen peroxide on a cotton ball. Check
for this once in a while, especially if there is bad breath. It just may
be the beard that needs a quick wash. Occasionally ulcers can form deep
in these folds (a.k.a. Lipfold Dermatitis) which must be veterinarian
I hope these suggestions
will make your pet more comfortable and make his next grooming
Copyright 2001. Arden
Shaw This article may be reproduced and shared among Bouvier owners and
friends as long as it is used in its entirety.
TO TRIM A BOUVIER
- by Lil Mees
The basic care of a Bouvier,
demands a good brushing at least once a week, with a metal brush and a
medium comb. The nails need cutting, the teeth have to be cleaned with a
dentists tool and brushed with baking soda on a wet cloth or a
tooth-brush. The ears have to be cleaned with a ball of cotton wool,
dipped in a special cleaning liquid for the ears.
Before you start to even
out the fur the dog has to be brushed and combed thoroughly.
The hair on the outside of the ears has to be cut very short and
right to the leather on the amputated part. You can use scissors
or a clipper with a blade #10. Remove all the hairs inside the
ear using tweezers, especially the very long ones inside the
canal. The fur on the lower part of the ear can be cut with
scissors till just above the jaw.
2. On the
top of the head, from the occupit to the eyebrows and down to
the temples, it must be cut to a 1/2 inch long with thinning
shears or a blade #7.
down the eyebrows till 1 inch long with a stripping knife and
thinning shears. Avoid cutting them too straight. The hair
between the eyes should not be removed or cut (like in the
Terrier), but rather fall down over the muzzle, only trimmed
around the nostrils.
and comb the beard thoroughly, only even it out in length. With
a stripping knife you thin out the cheeks. Avoid giving the dog
a "hamster-look" and comb out the fur into a thick
Starting at the jaw cut the fur on the throat very short,
leaving it longer going down, to 1 1/2 inch long at the sternum
(the start of the chest). On the lower part of the chest, (where
the front legs meet the body) the length of the fur should be
about 2 to 2 1/2 inches. Along each side of the neck it should
be rounded out, to about 2 inches long.
6. With a
stripping knife even out the fur from the occupit to the neck
and cut the hair of the neck in a straight line down to the
out the hair of the back to a length of 2 to 2 1/2 inches right
down to the tail.
out the hair on the shoulders down to the front legs.
hair on the front legs should be thoroughly combed out. If you
lightly even out the hair of the legs, preferably with a
strippig knife, it will give the effect of a straight line,
especially along the back of the legs. Often you need to cut
more fur on the front and the sides to get the desired effect.
Use round-tip scissors to cut the hair between the toes and
thinning shears to make round feet.
fur on the tail has to be cut quite short, especially along each
side and underneath. You may use straight scissors, a stripping
knife or a blade #10 fot the tail and a blade #4 for the
out the hair, rounding out the hindquarters, from the short hair
on the tail leaving it gradually thicker going down to the
and even out the hair down to the middle of the thigh leaving it
progressively longer and thicker going down to the feet.
a stripping knife slightly even out the hair from the middle of
the thigh down to the hock.
Straighten out and clip the back of the hocks with scissors. Cut
the hair between the toes and around the feet.
out the fur on the body, cutting it short on the back and
leaving it progressively thicker along the sides.
the fur underneath in such a manner that there is a slight
tuck-up and even it out.
If the dog has a very thick
fur you might need to thin it out, by taking out the underfur. The best
way to control the situation is, once a month:
the body thoroughly with a metal brush and a pin-brush.
against the direction of the fur.
with a fine toothed comb, against the direction of the fur.
by brushing with the metal brush in the regular direction.
The other option is to once
year strip the dog down with a stripping knife, which is a very tedious
job and for the dog very painful.