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GROOMING

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With the Bichon Frise, which demands a great deal of grooming in order to look up to show room style, you may very well have to take the dog to a professional grooming salon regularly. However, the day may come when you feel that you’ve become proficient at the process to try it yourself.

You may not want or need to have your dog groomed in the Bichon Cut. There are other options for you; one of those is a utility cut which keeps the body hair very short. This style is for those of you that don’t have the time or energy to keep your dog up to the style of a show dog. These cuts are preferred by breeders that don’t have the time to keep each dog brushed and styled each day.

If you are going to groom your dog yourself you will need a number of tools, mainly a variety of brushes, combs and scissors that are blunt-tipped, rather that sharp or pointed, so that your dog isn’t accidentally injured. A slicker brush works wonders in removing mats from the coat, a steel comb, thinning shears and nail clippers and the like. There is a need for a work station because the Bichon is so short you will need a table top to put him on while you work. Be sure to cover the top with a rubberized mat so that your dog doesn’t run the risk of accidentally slipping off while you are working on him.

There is one element of grooming that you may want to leave for a professional groomer or your vet and that is clipping of the nails. If you cut too far into the nail and hit the “quick” you will cause the nail to bleed and no doubt scare yourself and the dog.

As for the matter of bathing, unless your Bichon is on a show campaign, there is little need to bathe your dog more than several times a year. Frequent bathing for the average pet will simply not be necessary and to do so will strip the coat of what natural oils it does contain, thus rendering the snow white hair dull and lifeless. A bath will be a necessity if your Bichon has somehow gotten muddied. But aside from the two or three yearly baths, don’t concern yourself too much with this aspect of grooming. For the show Bichon and all the bathing it receives the natural oils are replaced in the form of coat conditioners which are massaged into the hair.


THE BICHON FRISE’S COAT

Though the Bichon’s coat at first glance, may resemble that of the poodle, it is not as coarse as the poodle’s coat and should be of a silky texture. The coat of the show Bichon is to have an appearance of fullness gained by brushing or combing with an upward stroke then outward towards you. The coat should be worked through small sections at a time, keeping in mind that the hair is curly and that combing should be done carefully lest the comb accidentally catches in the hair and hurt the dog. Hurting him may shake his confidence and could undo some of your valuable training in conditioning him to stay quietly on the grooming table.

The Bichons coat is unlike that of some breeds, does not and must not show a part. The thinner your dog‘s hair is and the less of it there is, the more likely that it will naturally lie limply, with a part forming naturally. On the other hand a thick coat of hair will not tend to part and though a grooming challenge, offers the material for a luxurious coat. This is the reason why it is advisable to purchase pups a little later than one normally buys a puppy. At three months old a Bichon pup will have a coat “mature” enough for you to observe its quality yet not so long that it has acquired a stubborn part. If necessary to prevent parting, scissor the coat back to 1 inch all over. In general, scissoring about once a month will maintain coat shape and keep the hair standing straight out. Never use electric clippers on a Bichon Frise, as the appliance may get a grip in the curly fur and chew an irreparable disfiguration in your pet’s coat. Finally, let the moustache and beard grow freely and the ear hair and tail hair as well. Comb the beard, moustache and ears out in flowing lines. Unless you clean food particles from the beard and moustache, they will leave difficult to remove stains.

Matted hair is a nightmare. Once your puppy is six months old, a daily brushing schedule is advisable. At minimum, brush every other day. Loose hairs from the shedding puppy coat will twine together with the incoming undercoat in a nasty mat unless brushing is regular. If you do find a mat begin by separating the mat carefully with your fingers. Then sprinkle the affected area with baby powder and brush thoroughly from the skin out until the tangle is gone. A bath will not loosen a mat; it will make it worse by tightening it. Always brush your dog thoroughly prior to bathing, as a precaution.

The Bichon Frise’s show coat according to the standard for the breed is “profuse, silky and loosely curled. There is an undercoat. ” The standard for the Bichon Frise, unlike most of the other standards, has a specific section on grooming. The show dog must be scissor to reveal the nose and eyes to emphasize these dark features on an otherwise all white dog. The scissoring around the eyes also gives a “full, rounded appearance” to the animal. “When properly brushed, ” states the standard, “there is an overall” ‘powder puff’ appearance.

The American standard requires a minimum length of two inches for an adult show coat. The French standard requires a least two and one half inches. Both the French and Belgian standards set a maximum length of four inches; the American standard mentions no maximum hair length. The British interim standard calls for a coat length, and adds that a Bichon may be presented either untrimmed or with muzzle and feet slightly tidied up.


EARS AND TEETH

A regular part of grooming your dog should include cleaning dirt and waxy material out of the ears and brushing or scaling the dog’s teeth to prevent a build-up of tartar which causes unpleasant breath and can cause gum disease.


PREPARING FOR SHOW

To prepare the show coat to meet the American Kennel Club standard, brush out from the skin to make the hair stand straight out. With scissors, (sculpt) the coat into the rounded shape you seek. Work slowly, fluffing out the hair as you go and scissoring it little by little into shape. Once your pet has learned to remain still for this procedure, half the battle is won.

Begin with the head, carefully fluffing out the hair on the skull and ears. Needless to say, you must exercise extreme care in cutting away the hair around the eyes. (Use blunt-tipped scissors) When in doubt, do not cut, for you must not take off hair from the foreface and accentuate the muzzle. Remember that the moustache and beard are left untrimmed. Round off the outline of the skull, snipping off loose ends of hair. Pause frequently as you scissor to brush out the hair, and check for overall balance. If the hair beneath the ears cause the flaps to stick out thin it out. Use thinning shears and cut at the base of the hair, not the tip. Thinning is a process of removing hair; grooming is a full “tipping“ or scissoring process. If the moustache or beard appears unbalance, thin out a little hair - - do not shorten any.

Continue on down the neck, shoulders, and back, snipping off loose, wispy ends. The forelegs should be cylindrical, the forelegs appearing as round, even circles. Let the brisket (chest) hair grow freely, and merely tidy the loose ends; fullness in the brisket gives a hearty look to this small dog. Evenly round out the sides of the body, fluffing as you go. The hair on the rear of the dog, from the tail down to the stifle (knee joint) is trimmed short. Trim any extra shagginess from the insides of the hind legs so as to differentiate the legs and not interfere with a proper gait.

Finally, brush the animal out completely and trim any remaining “stragglers”Your Bichon Frise is now ready for the ring . . or to walk proudly on leash with you!

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