Grooming for a Show

The breed standard calls for a double coat that is neither open nor soft. The coat must be dense, harsh and lying close to the body. Now the interpretation of this can often be to have the coat slick and flat as a pancake which does not serve for a good looking finish. Much better to have a slight lift to the coat when drying and utilise that density for a fuller finish without destroying the outline of the dog. This can work particularly well if the dog has recently shed coat or the dog's outline/silhouette needs more substance.

Bath your dog at least two to three days before the show. Bathing the dog washes all of the good oils from his skin and will cause the hair to stick out. Grooming the dog in advance of show time will allow the oils to come back and the hair to lay flat.

Brush the dog thoroughly before bathing. Removing the dead hair from the coat is essential to proper show ring presentation. Be careful if you are using de-shedding tools as these can sometimes cut the hair and remove the undercoat entirely.

Clip your dog’s nails. Be sure to trim the nails short enough to look neat and clean but not so short that you cut the quick. Snipping the quick will cause bleeding and pain, and a lame dog will be excused from the ring. Most vets & Groomers will only charge a small fee to do this if you are not confident to do it yourself.

Starting from scratch with the bath, select which is the main objective for the coat, it will be either more coat or a shinier coat, depending at what stage of shedding or regeneration the coat is at. So bath in the appropriate shampoo for the situation a Whitening Shampoo for toning the unwanted warm tones, a Body Building Shampoo to bodify a coat when there isn't enough coat - OR mix both together for the tone and the extra body. There are many great shampoos made specifically for white coats. Use all shampoos as per manufacturer’s directions.

If you have really bad elbow stains etc, use Listerine Mouthwash (classical original colour) as it is a mild bleach, leave on the affected area for 10-15 minutes and rinse off-repeat as necessary. There are also specialised products that are safe to use on discoloured areas. Check your pet shop or on line show supplies

Never use conditioner unless the coat is very “boofy” and you want to really flatten it. The answer to hydrating the coat and keeping the good general healthy vigour is to oil the coat. This will not soften or change the texture but will keep it in good health. Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil is all naturally sourced. Use at a ratio of 1 tablespoon to 1 gallon/4 litres water and mix well, sponge into the coat ensuring it goes right through to the skin. Leave in and do not rinse out. This is not an oily oil and is totally water soluble and the way to get best performance is to saturate the coat to get even dispersion. Diluting the product allows you to do this.

Now you have bathed and oiled your dog it’s time to blow dry. Use a pin cushioned brush and blow dry the coat against the grain (all forward towards the head). Do this until the coat is ¾ dry and then switch to a ½ bristle ½ plastic cushion brush to obtain a professional finish. You use the pin brush when the coat is very wet so as not to rip the guts out of the coat but need to finish with the other brush for that closer, smoother finish.

Once fully dry, the dog can have a good shake and the coat will fall very nicely back into that curved silhouette that is desired.

Show day is just a matter of a good brush and you have a very glamorous White Shepherd that is adhering to the requirements of the breed standard.