Grooming Techniques for Bernese Mountain Dogsby Kat Walden
When it comes to grooming the Bernese mountain dog, keep it simple. According to the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America, you only need to groom your show dog enough to give him a neat appearance, leaving him as natural as possible. One of a few breeds that can receive a penalty in the show ring for overgrooming, there are still a few things you can do to keep your Bernese looking handsome.
Caring for the Coat
The only breed of Swiss mountain dog with a long coat, the silky fur of the Berner, as they're commonly called, naturally sheds water and repels dirt and mud. Bathing too frequently can cause dry skin, so keep the baths to a minimum, usually no more than once per month. You will want to brush him frequently, removing as much loose fur as possible through regular grooming. The Bernese mountain dog sheds profusely, so routine brushing will help reduce the amount of time you spend cleaning up after him. A pin brush removes the loose hairs of the top coat, while a good slicker brush will remove the downy undercoat. If he develops mats or tangles, you may need to employ the use of a mat rake, which has sharpened teeth to cut through dense tangles.
The Bernese Pedicure
As with most dogs, you will need to trim his nails regularly. Use canine nail clippers or a grinder designed for use on pets. The nail has a vein, or quick, supplying blood to the toenail, so remove only the last quarter inch or so of the nail, even if your dog's nails have grown long. As you trim the toenail, the quick will recede back towards the toe after a few days, allowing further trimming. Trim the nails once every week or two until they reach an appropriate length, then trim them every two weeks as maintenance. You can trim the hair between his toes with blunt scissors, which will reduce the chance of him slipping on wet surfaces as well as show off the natural shape of his foot.
Caring for the Ears
As part of your Bernese mountain dog's basic hygiene program, you should clean his ears regularly to prevent health problems such as excessive wax buildup or infection. Use an ear cleaning product purchased from your local pet store and follow the directions on the label. Normally, a few drops of ear cleaner massaged gently into each ear will loosen wax and dirt, which the dog can then dislodge through head-shaking. Never place a foreign object into your dog's ear. Trimming your Berner's ears depend entirely upon your personal preference. If you show your dog, remember that the American Kennel Club encourages a natural look in the show ring and clearly states, "undue trimming is discouraged." Use blunt scissors to trim around the outer edges of his ears; or, leave them long, shaggy and natural, and use a soft brush to remove tangles.
A Summer Shave
If you show your Berner, leave his coat uncut and natural-looking. If, however, your Bernese mountain dog is simply a beloved member of your family and has no aspirations of fame, and you live in a warm climate, you can shave his body during the warm summer months to help keep him cool. Use clippers designed for use on animals, complete with a comb attachment to prevent saving too close to the skin, or take him to a professional groomer. The effects of shaving a double-coated dog can vary. Some Bernese mountain dog owners report no ill effects from shaving their dog, while others report the coat grows back unevenly, particularly the undercoat.
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