Establish A Grooming Pattern

by Joyce Johanson

People often purchase a Lhasa Apso because they know someone who has one and like its personality, or because they have seen pictures of Lhasas and think the coats are pretty, or because they have fallen in love with a cute little Lhasa puppy face. Whatever the reason, I find time and again that first-time Lhasa owners are seldom prepared for the grooming. They know, of course, that grooming is necessary. But it's one thing to be aware that Lhasas require grooming and it's quite another thing to actually do it. That is not to say that grooming a Lhasa is a horrendous job. It isn't -- as long as you establish a regular grooming routine.

Part of establishing a grooming routine involves regular brushing and combing. In this case, regular means at least weekly. Any longer than that, and you may find the coat more of a problem than you want to tackle. If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that I preach about training puppies when they are quite young to accept a grooming routine -- to lie on their backs and sides; to allow you to brush their stomachs, their necks, their faces without panicking; to accept the occasional tug on the coat that mat removal causes.

Another part of a grooming routine is establishing a regular grooming pattern. You can, of course, start grooming anywhere on the dog. But if you aren't quite sure where or how to begin, here's a grooming pattern you can use with your Lhasa. (Feel free to modify it to a convenient routine for yourself and your Lhasa.)

With the Lhasa on his back, either in your lap or on the grooming table (in your lap works best for young puppies because they feel more secure) push all his coat the "wrong" way. Then begin by brushing the fronts, backs, and insides of the back legs. Layer by layer, work your way up the dog's stomach to the chest and front legs. Brush the front legs -- fronts, insides, and backs -- taking special care to remove any mats from the "armpit" areas, which are mat traps! When the front legs are brushed, continue layer by layer until you have brushed the front of the neck area right up to the dog's chin.

Next roll the dog on a side. Again, push all the coat the wrong way. You've already brushed the legs, so you probably won't have to do more than just brush the leg hair down to keep it out of the way. Once more, working one layer of coat at a time, brush the Lhasa's side coat. Start at the rear with the tail and work (layer by layer, all the way up to the dog's spine) toward the front. Groom the neck area, behind the ears, and the ears themselves. You may also brush the eyefall, cheek area, and mustache while the dog is on its side. Then do the other side the same way.

Let the dog sit or lie on his stomach while you put the eyefall into braids or ponytails or secure it back with a couple of barrettes -- anything to keep it out of the eyes. Add some finishing touches to the face and mustache. This done, let the dog stand (undoubtedly he'll want to shake). Smooth down the coat--rear skirts, sides, eyefall. Finally part the coat, starting at the nose, going straight down the middle of your dog's back right along his spine to the base of his tail.

You're finished!

Here are just a few quick grooming reminders:

If you happen to be a person who doesn't want to worry about weekly, or more frequent, grooming or if you suddenly realize that your Lhasa is totally matted and there's no hope for getting the mats out easily, please have your Lhasa clipped. There are many cute trims for a Lhasa and a clipped Lhasa is certainly healthier and happier than one that is matted to the hide!

Just remember that if you take a totally matted dog to the groomer, you will undoubtedly get back a dog that had to be completely shaved. A groomer cannot work miracles on a totally matted dog and give him that cut little puppy cut you envisioned. The coat WILL grow back and, when it does, take the dog for grooming BEFORE the mats take over again. You and your Lhasa will be much happier with the results.

*My favorite is J-B Wholesale's Golden Almond Mat & Tangle Spray. I fill a spray bottle and use it on hard-to-remove mats. P.S. I ignore the directions on the bottle about using it before a bath! UGH. Don't ever bathe a Lhasa that is matted!

Please note: Permission to reproduce and/or circulate information in this article is granted. However, the article must be disseminated in its entirety and credit must be given to Joyce Johanson, Joyslyn's Lhasa Apsos. Thanks!

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