How to Groom a St. Bernardby Katherine Barrington
St. Bernards are a large breed legendary for their work as rescue dogs. These very powerful dogs weigh 130 to 180 pounds according to the AKC standard, and have very dense, smooth coats that can be short or long. They shed, and need frequent grooming. Because St. Bernards are very large, grooming can be a major expense that many St. Bernard owners prefer to avoid by grooming their dogs themselves. If you plan to groom your own St. Bernard, realize that it may take a significant amount of time each month. St. Bernards have two coat varieties, smooth and rough. If your dog has a rough coat, grooming could take a little longer.
Brushing and Combing
Comb through your St. Bernard's fur, using your fingers to find any mats. Mats are tangled clumps of fur that are difficult to comb through. In many cases, mats must be cut out.
Cut out severe mats using a pair of straight shears. Work as close to the bottom of the mat as you can to save as much of the coat as possible.
Go over your St. Bernard's body with a large slicker brush to work free any small mats that remain. Hold the brush parallel to your dog's body, and work it through his coat in long, smooth strokes in the direction of hair growth.
Use a grooming rake to remove loose and dead hair from your St. Bernard's undercoat. Hold the rake at a 45-degree angle to your dog's body and move the rake in short, firm strokes along your dog's back, sides and legs. You may need to pause frequently to remove dead hair from the brush.
Brush your dog at least twice a week with a large pin brush. This will help to control shedding and keep your dog's coat smooth and healthy.
Fill your bathtub with about 6 or 8 inches of warm water and have your St. Bernard get in.
Squeeze a bead of dog shampoo around your dog's neck. This will discourage any fleas that may be on your dog's body from moving up onto his head during the bath.
Wet your dog's coat by pouring water over him using a large cup or bucket. If you have trouble getting the water to penetrate your dog's thick undercoat, try using a pet sprayer or handheld shower head.
Squirt a line of dog shampoo down your St. Bernard's back and use your hands to work it into a thick lather. For the best results, select a dog shampoo designed to whiten the white areas of your dog's coat. Work the lather all over your dog's body, avoiding the head.
Rinse your dog thoroughly, using the pet sprayer or handheld shower head to remove all soap residue from the undercoat. Soap residue that remains in the coat can irritate your St. Bernard's skin.
Use a damp washcloth to wash your dog's face. Avoid getting any water in his nose, eyes and ears.
Drain the tub and use a large bath towel to dry your St. Bernard. Once you have removed most of the moisture from your dog's coat, use a blow dryer on the lowest heat setting to finish drying his coat.
Other Grooming Tasks
Trim the fur on your dog's feet to prevent the formation of mats. Use a pair of small, sharp scissors to cut the fur between the toes so it is even with the pads. Trim the fur around the feet to a uniform length.
Check your dog's ears regularly for signs of infection. Symptoms of infection include foul odor and dark or yellowish discharge. If you suspect your dog has an ear infection, visit your veterinarian.
Clean your dog's ears at least monthly to remove wax build-up. Squirt a few drops of dog ear-cleansing solution into your dog's ear canal, and massage the ear to distribute the solution. Use a cotton ball to wipe away dirt, ear wax and excess cleansing solution. Before you drop any liquid into your dog's ear canal, check with your vet to make sure his eardrums are intact.
Items You Will Need
- Straight shears
- Large slicker brush
- Grooming rake
- Large pin brush
- Dog shampoo
- Large cup or bucket
- Pet sprayer or hand-held shower head
- Large bath towel
- Blow dryer
- Small, sharp scissors
- Ear cleansing solution
- Cotton balls
- To help control shedding, brush your St. Bernard several times a week with a large grooming rake. This tool will get down into the undercoat and remove loose and dead hair before it can be shed.
- It is important to brush your dog before you bathe him in order to remove any loose or dead hair from his coat. If you do not brush your dog first, this hair could form mats during bathing.
- If you are worried about making a mess inside your house, try bathing your St. Bernard outdoors using a large tub or child's pool. Before drying your dog, get him to shake the water from his coat.
- Do not attempt to trim your St. Bernard's nails unless you have been trained to do so by a veterinarian or experienced professional. Accidentally cutting the quick of the nail can cause pain and severe bleeding.
- Avoid getting your dog's ears wet during bathing and grooming. Water that gets into your dog's ears could cause an ear infection.
- bb st bernard image by nathalie diaz from Fotolia.com