Dog Beautification 101

Most people I talk to are genuinely surprised when I tell them I groom my Sheltie.

Some are probably of the opinion that only professional groomers should “dabble” in grooming; others probably wonder why I’d “waste” my time on something like this; still others probably never thought a Sheltie would need grooming.

In case you don’t know, a Sheltie (or Shetland Sheepdog) is a breed of dog with two coats — a long, straight, outer coat, and a short, fluffy, dense undercoat. Think about it for a minute, okay? You brush your hair; why shouldn’t a Sheltie want his hair brushed? Besides helping distribute the skin’s natural oils, brushing removes old hair and helps with the shedding process (yes, Shelties do shed!)

And just as people need haircuts every so often, Shelties need to be trimmed. I trim the fur from between the pads on his paws (so he won’t bring mud or snow into the house). I also trim excess hair around his face and ears, thin out his kilts (the bushy part of his backside by the tail), thin the fringes on his front legs and hocks, and shape up his paws so they’ll be tight and rounded. No “house shoes” around here; the pretty little “cat foot” is a much more desirable look!

And speaking of paws, a dog’s toenails need regular trimming, or they’ll turn under and basically make him crippled (not a pretty thought). Since it’s nearly impossible to determine where to cut on black nails — you don’t want to cut into the quick or you’ll inflict pain and see a lot of bright, red blood — I always start on one of my dog’s white nails. Then I use an emery board to file each nail after I’ve cut it, so he doesn’t accidentally scratch me later! Some people swear by those battery-operated nail filers (like the Pedipaws advertised on TV), but I haven’t tried one yet. Anybody know if they work?

Which brings me to another question. Why do I do it? Obviously, the first reason has to be financial. I probably don’t groom as often as I should, but I try to do it every other week. Look how the costs would add up for something like that! I’m guessing I save a couple hundred dollars a year.

Then, too, I do it myself because it gives my dog and me a special time of “bonding.” Most dogs hate being handled, bathed, nails trimmed, etc., but mine is as docile as a lamb. He trusts me; he knows I won’t hurt him and he’ll get a special treat when all’s said and done! One “traumatic” trip to a groomer — I don’t care how careful he or she is — and all that foundation would be for naught.

It takes about an hour for this task, but the results are so worth it — don’t you agree??

a groomed Sheltie

my Sheltie all prettied up

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