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Grooming your Toy Poodle is very important. Not only does grooming help to control shedding but it also helps to ensure that your dog’s coat and skin remain healthy. It is important to learn the basics about grooming your Toy Poodle including the tips for cleaning your dog’s ears and trimming his nails. Please be aware that this is the one aspect of the Poodle that is relatively demanding and time consuming. Grooming doesn’t have to take over your life, it depends on whether you want a show dog look or a pet trim.

1) Grooming and Parasites

Before we get into the actual grooming and bathing, it is worth mentioning parasites that you may encounter whilst grooming.  Fleas, tics and mites are the most likely culprits you will encounter. Fleas prefer to bury and hide themselves in a relatively thick coat such as a Toy Poodle.

The added problem with fleas, is that they can also set up home in the dogs bedding or the furnishings of your home. It is therefore necessary to not only treat the dog, but their bedding and your furnishings. If you ever get a particularly bad infestation, it may be necessary to call in professional pest controllers. I have never had to experience this, but have had experience with a minor infestation. I found that fumigating the house with a good smoke bomb did the trick. All I then had to do was to keep on top of any fleas invading either the dog or house with the occasional flea spray or powder on the bedding, and a number of remedies on the dog.

It is up to you what remedies you use on your dog. It is not for me to comment about the long-term effect of any such toxins to the future health of the dog.

What I have also noticed is that long time market leaders such as Frontline have recently been proved to not be as affective as they once were. The vet that I currently use recommends a product called Stronghold as a much better alternative. I have to say that I have used this product and it does seem to work, with only the occasional flea showing up. My dogs appear perfectly healthy, vital and seemingly unaffected by this product. I hasten to add here, that I am in no way recommending nor endorsing any product, but am merely speaking about veterinary advice I have been given and personal experience. Other vets or individuals may well disagree with this information.

2) Tools and Methods

IMPORTANT: Please note that it is highly recommended that you remove any matted hair or tangles before bathing. An experienced groomer will tell you that it is almost impossible to remove mats and tangles once wet. But again, this is all avoided if you take the time to properly brush and comb the coat, before the bath.

Again, the best tools to use in brushing your Poodle are a wire pin brush/bristle brush, slicker brush, and fine and wide-tooth combs. When you brush your Toy Poodle, start at the head and brush gently in the direction of hair growth, then again in the opposite direction, against the lay. Work your way down the dog’s neck, along his back, and down his legs. Do not forget the chest and neck.

If you encounter any tangles or mats while brushing your Poodle you can use the wide-tooth comb to carefully work them out. You are unable to work the tangle free, use anti tangle solution. If all else fails, you can use a small pair of sharp scissors to cut it out. When cutting out a mat, pinch the dog’s fur between the skin and the mat when you cut to make sure you don’t accidentally cut your dog’s skin.

Some dogs do not react well to grooming because they do not like being held still. Because grooming is so important for Toy Poodles, you should get your puppy used to grooming from an early age. Brush your puppy for a few seconds at a time several times a day until he no longer seems bothered by it. Then you can cut back to one longer brushing session each day.

Grooming your Toy Poodle is a relatively easy, if not time-consuming process. The general procedure is as follows.

1. Using the bristle/pin brush first of all, give a good all-round brush. Carefully draw the brush with the lay of the coat, then against the lay.

2. Now with the slicker brush give a more thorough brushing. Again, carefully draw the brush with the lay, then against the lay of the coat. You will find loose hair gathers, which you should remove as it builds up on the brush.

3. Once the hair is sufficiently loosened, the next step is to use the wide toothed comb (some people prefer a grooming rake, which does a similar job) to comb through the coat. The idea is to tidy the coat, but also remove any tangles. Always hold the tangled hair with one hand and then attempt to comb out any tangles. Again, sometimes it is necessary to cut out tangles, but you should only do this as a last resort. As previously mentioned, professional groomers generally recommend untangle sprays.

Toy Poodles are generally a clean breed but they do need bathing occasionally, especially if they spend a lot of time outside. To bathe your Poodle at home, follow the steps outlined below:

3) Bathing your Poodle

As a matter of routine, I always use an old towel to dry my dogs legs and feet, on damp, wet outings. You will usually find that this sufficiently dries and cleans any soiled areas.

If you have to wash mud from their legs, feet or coat, please do this with warm water, but no shampoo. You can then either towel dry and or use a hair drier to ensure your dog does not get chilled.

Avoid bathing your dog on a regular basis as this strips the skin and coat of natural healthy oils. Remember that your Poodle’s skin has a pH of around 7.5, while humans have a pH of 5.5. That said, never use human shampoo on your Poodle. This will lead to scaling and skin irritation. There are numerous dog shampoos available for various canine skin problems. It is also advisable to use a good conditioner. Some groomers will also recommend adding a T spoon of baby oil to the conditioner. This helps to to stop the coat and skin from drying out, which is obviously important for Poodle’s due to regular bathing.

Don’t forget that your dog relies on natural oils to keep the skin soft, healthy and free from drying out. The oil also has the benefit of protecting the coat and retaining its water resistance. It is tempting to consider how grubby and uncomfortable us humans feel when we don’t bathe regularly. However, you cannot take that same viewpoint where your dog is concerned.

To bathe your Toy Poodle at home follow the steps outlined below:

1. Give your Poodle a good brushing, as above, before you bathe him to get rid of accumulated loose hair.

2. Fill your bathtub with a few inches of lukewarm water. You may also want to put down a bath mat so your dog doesn’t slip in the tub.

3. Place your Toy Poodle in the tub and wet down his fur with a handheld hose or by pouring water over him. Because the Poodle’s coat is relatively long, you may need to use your hands to work the water all the way down to his skin.

4. Avoid getting your Toy Poodle’s eyes and ears wet when you bathe him. Wet ears are a breeding ground for bacteria that could cause an ear infection.

5. Apply a small amount of mild dog-friendly shampoo to your Toy Poodle’s back and gently work it into a lather along his neck, back, chest and legs.

6. Rinse the soap thoroughly out of your Toy Poodle’s coat and use a damp washcloth to clean his face.

7. Use a large fluffy towel to towel-dry your Toy Poodle, getting as much water out of his coat as possible.

You can bathe your Toy Poodle if he gets dirty, but you should avoid bathing him when it is not necessary. Again, over-bathing a dog can dry out his skin and lead to skin problems. In some cases, you may be able to brush dried dirt and debris out of your Poodle’s coat instead of bathing him.

4) Blow Drying

You will no doubt have to blow dry the coat after their bath. If you use your own hair dryer, be careful that this is not at its highest hot setting. It is advisable to brush the coat as you blow dry and proceed as follows:

1. You will use the bristle/pin brush first, giving the coat a good brush. The slicker will pull the coat much more initially, so you should use the slicker after the bristle/pin brushing. You then do exactly the same with the slicker brush to get a more pronounced look. As you brush, go with the lay of the coat firstly to loosen the hair, then against the lay to obtain the powder puff look. Concentrate on small sections and work systematically from the tail.

You should continuously brush as you blow dry. Please be careful not to pull the coat as you brush. A professional groomer will have a hair dryer on a stand, therefore leaving both hands free. One hand will brush the coat, whilst the other will hold the coat taut in the opposite direction to brushing, and so avoid pulling the skin. Without the hairdryer on a stand, I have to say, the best alternative method is for you have an assistant help you.

2. Now, use the same technique on the legs.

3. Next, brush and blow dry the body.

4. Lastly, brush and blow the head and ears.

If you would prefer to see this whole process on video, you can search it [blow drying a Toy Poodle] on YouTube. Please note that the whole blow-drying process is likely to take between 25 and 30 minutes. Once you have brushed and blow dried, you are ready to trim.

5) Hair Trimming

When trimming your Toy Poodle, you can do a simple pet trim using a combination of electric clippers and scissors. Electric clippers do provide an easy way to get a relatively uniform look as you simply follow the contours of your dog’s legs and body. Many professional groomers prefer to trim free hand with scissors as you generally get a fuller look. It is entirely up to you which method you adopt. Your best bet for a trimming guideline is to copy as near as possible a typical Toy Poodle clip. The following will give examples of popular Toy Poodle clips.

a) Types of Toy Poodle clips

Show Clip

This is a type of clip used on Poodles when they are being shown for conformation. There are several types of show clips including the Continental and the English Saddle.

Continental Clip

This type of clip involves shaving the hair on the face, feet, throat, and part of the tail. On the front legs, the upper half is shaved and the rest of the fur is puffed out into a pompon near the ankles. The hint legs are shaved with the exception of pompons on the lower part of the leg. This the most popular show clip for Toy Poodles.

English Saddle Clip

This clip is very similar to the Continental but the hindquarters are not shaved except for a small, curved portion on each flank as well as the feet, and a band just above the knee. This leaves four pompons on the legs.

Puppy (Scandinavian) Clip

The puppy clip is also called the Scandinavian clip and it became popular during the 1970s. In this clip the face, belly, throat, feet and the base of the tail are shaved down. The hair on the dog’s head is left long in a topknot while the rest of the dog’s hair is shaped.

Pet Clip

A pet clip can be very simple or very elaborate, depending on the owner’s preferences. This type of clip usually involves clipping the hair on the feet and face short to prevent mats and tear stains around the eyes. The coat may be clipped shorter in the summer and left longer in the winter for warmth.

PLEASE NOTE: If you use clippers for the first time, please make sure you take some form of instruction on their use, from either a YouTube video, instruction book or professional groomer. They are quite easy to use, and effective once you know how to use them and which settings to use.

For a trim using scissors, please proceed as follows:

1. Once your dog is properly blow dried, you will need to thoroughly comb the coat. The key here is to comb the hair up away from the lay of the coat as opposed to combing it flat.

2. If the ears are overly thick and fluffy it may be necessary to thin the hair with a pair of thinning scissors. When trimming the flap of the ear itself be very careful that you can see the skin of the ear, as you obviously want to avoid accidentally cutting the ear.

3. Trim excess hair from under the feet, again be very careful not to cut the skin.

4. Trim the hair around the anus in the same manner

5. The tail hair should be left relatively long, so only trim a small amount from the length. Many owners, even those who opt for an all-round puppy/pet clip, like to trim the tail into a rounded pom pom. This is usually best achieved with scissors.

6. The rear needs to have a rounded look with the legs cylindrical. It is advisable when trimming the legs and body to keep the scissors parallel to the standing surface or parallel to the dog’s body.

7. Now trim the body hair starting at the top and moving down and underneath. When trimming underneath, it may be necessary to get someone to hold your dog in a standing upright position, so you can easily trim the hair. Again, aim for a consistent look that retains the contours but also has the puffed-out look.

8. The front should look straighter less rounded than the rear, but to still retain the cylindrical look.

9. Be careful when trimming around the eyes. You firstly comb the hair forward over the eyes and then trimmed back so the top of the eyes are showing.

6) Trimming your dog’s nails

Trimming your Toy Poodle’s nails can be challenging because you need to be very careful. A dog’s nail contains a quick; the vessel that brings blood to the nail. If you cut the nail too short you will cut the quick. This not only causes your dog pain, but it can bleed profusely as well. When you trim your Toy Poodle’s nails you should only cut the very tip to remove the point. Depending on what color your dog’s nails are, you may be able to see the quick and use it as a trimming guide.

It is generally recommended that you trim your Toy Poodle’s nails every two weeks. If you do it this often then you will only need to clip the slightest amount off the nail each time. This will reduce the risk of cutting the quick. Before you trim your Toy Poodle’s nails for the first time you should consider having a veterinarian or a professional groomer show you how. You also need to be sure you are using real dog nail clippers for the job. Please also be aware that you shouldn’t attempt to clip your dog’s nails routinely every two weeks, just for the sake of it, as he may not need it. You should notice that if your dog walks on pavements or your concrete yard, he will to a certain extent be filing them down anyway.

7) Cleaning your dog’s ears

Because the Toy Poodle’s ears hang down over the sides of his head there is an increased risk of ear infections. Cleaning your dog’s ears is not difficult, but you do need the right supplies. Gear up with a bottle of dog-friendly ear cleaning solution and a few clean cotton balls. Gently lift your dog’s ear and squeeze a few drops of the cleaning solution into the ear canal. Rub the base of your dog’s ear with your fingers to spread the solution then use the cotton balls to wipe it away. Be careful not to put your fingers or the cotton ball too far into your dog’s ear or you could damage his ear drum. The frequency with which you clean your Toy Poodle’s ears will vary, but you should aim for once every week or two.

Cleaning your dog’s ears is not difficult, but you do need the right supplies. Gear up with a bottle of dog-friendly ear cleaning solution, preferably recommended by your vet, and a few clean cotton balls.

1. Gently hold your dog’s ear and squeeze a few drops of the cleaning solution into the ear canal.

2. Massage the ear canal, around the base of the dogs ear, to spread the solution then use the cotton balls to wipe it away.

3. Be careful not to put your fingers or the cotton ball too far into your dog’s ear or you could damage his ear drum.

Please also avoid cleaning with cotton buds as again they could cause internal damage. The frequency with which you clean your Toy Poodle’s ears will vary but you should aim for once every week or two.

8) Brushing your Poodle’s teeth

The idea of brushing your dog’s teeth may sound strange but dental health is just as important for your dog as it is for you. In fact, periodontitis (gum disease) is five times more common in dogs than in humans. Bad breath, or halitosis, is one of the most common signs of gum disease and could be indicative of a tooth abscess. Once again, please note that dogs regularly chewing on suitable raw meaty bones have relatively odourless breath. If you suspect an abscess, or anything un-toward, seek a veterinary examination as soon as possible.

To brush your Toy Poodle’s teeth, follow the steps below:

• Select a soft-bristle toothbrush to use. Most pet stores stock special toothbrushes for dogs.

• Choose a toothpaste that is specifically made for dogs, never human tooth paste. They come in a variety of flavors, so select one your Poodle will like. He will probably like them all. Again, never use the tooth paste you use. These contain chemicals that can be harmful to dogs.

• Get your dog used to having his teeth handled by gently placing your finger in his mouth against his teeth. Carefully manipulate his lips so he gets used to the feeling.

If you find he doesn’t particularly like this, try dipping your finger in peanut butter or chicken broth so your dog learns to like the treatment.

When you are ready to brush, place one hand over your dog’s mouth and gently pull back his lips.

Put a small amount of toothpaste to the brush and rub it gently over a few of his teeth.

After a few seconds, stop brushing and give your Poodle a treat for good behavior.

Gradually increase the length of your brushing sessions over a few days until your dog lets you brush all of his teeth in one session.

In addition to brushing your Toy Poodle’s teeth at home you should also make sure he gets a dental check-up from the vet every 6 months.

9) Dealing with Eye Stains

Dogs with light-colored fur like the Toy Poodle tend to develop discolored stains in the corners of their eyes. This is common and generally not a problem unless the discharge is yellow or green and if it has an unpleasant odor. These may be signs of infection. If you suspect that your Toy Poodle has an eye infection you should take him to the vet immediately. Otherwise, follow the steps below to clean away eye stains:

1. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with 10 parts fresh water in a small container.

2. Dip a clean cotton swab into the solution and rub it gently into the fur around your dog’s eyes to remove stains. Be very careful not to get any of the solution into your dog’s eyes.

3. Use a clean cloth or cotton ball to dry the area after you have removed the stains.

4. Add one teaspoon of distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar to your dog’s drinking water. This will change the pH of the water and help to prevent bacterial growth that leads to staining.

5. Keep the fur around your dog’s eyes trimmed short. If the hair gets into your dog’s eyes it could cause irritation leading to excessive tearing.

In most cases, tear staining in Toy Poodles is not a serious problem. It can affect the way your dog looks but it may not be the result of a medical problem. If your dog’s tearing becomes excessive or recurrent, take your dog to the vet to identify and treat the underlying cause.

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