Top Low-Maintenance Dogs

by Christina Stephens
    "I may look like a bat, but these ears practically clean themselves!"

    "I may look like a bat, but these ears practically clean themselves!"

    Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

    We all love our dogs, but some of us don’t have hours each week to groom our buddies. Thankfully some breeds require far less grooming than others; a quick brushing and a bath every month or so will leave these breeds healthy and well groomed. Let’s give thanks and two paws up for low-maintenance grooming.

    You may have seen a bergamasco and thought, “Is that a Rastafarian dog?” Bergamasco are one of the easiest breeds around in terms of maintenance. Their coats are wooly and form natural, matted dreadlocks. The only grooming their coats will ever need is around the age of 1, when the mats will need to be separated into smaller dreadlocks. Once that process is finished, the dreads are for life and never need brushing. Short-haired breeds such as Boston terriers, pugs, greyhounds and Doberman pinschers definitely shed a lot, but a little extra hair floating around is the trade-off for a quick and easy coat grooming routine. Their coats are too short to tangle or mat and require only weekly brushings to stay in tiptop shape.

    When you hear that click-click as your dog walks across the tile floor, it’s time for a nail trim. However, some dogs require more frequent nail trims than others. Activity level plays a large part in the frequency of your buddy’s nail trims. Dogs who walk or run on surfaces like concrete naturally grind their nails down. Size has a lot to do with it too: the heavier the dog, the more pressure he puts on his nails as he walks or runs. A golden retriever, living in a city, who takes twice-daily walks on rough pavement, may never need a nail trim; a Chihuahua who prefers soft grass and cuddling may require them once a week.

    Double-coated breeds like the Siberian husky have undercoats that produce oils that actually repel dirt. Couple that with their protective topcoat and affinity for preening themselves like cats, and Siberian huskies hardly ever need bathing. Breeds with thick, wiry coats can also avoid baths better than their fluffy counterparts. Airedale terriers require weekly brushing and quarter-yearly clipping, but it’s best to avoid bathing them too often. This will strip their fur of oils and soften their naturally coarse coats.

    Consider two criteria when implementing an ear care routine: amount of hair in the ears and droopiness or floppiness of the ears. Breeds with lots of hair within their ears will require plucking to keep their ears healthy and infection-free, while floppy-eared breeds like Basset hounds and cocker spaniels are prone to ear infections due to a lack of ear breathability. Because their ears hang so low, air isn’t able to get inside and dry up any moisture that accumulates, and the ear is therefore the perfect dark, moist environment for fungi and bacteria to flourish. Routine ear cleaning with veterinarian-recommended ear cleansers can prevent most ear infections, but breeds with ears that naturally stand up and allow for good air flow—such as Boston terriers, French bulldogs and German shepherds—have an ear up on the game.

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    About the Author

    Christina Stephens is a writer from Portland, Ore. whose main areas of focus are pets and animals, travel and literature. A veterinary assistant, she taught English in South Korea and holds a BA in English with cum laude honors from Portland State University.

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