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Grooming and Coat Conditioning for Show Samoyeds

It seems to be a shock when I tell most people that Samoyeds can be bathed, dried, combed and shown, with minimal trimming on their feet. The determining factors depend on the dog’s substance and coat type. Some dogs take a bit more work than others, if you want them presented at their best. I am going to go over the basic grooming and coat conditioning for all Samoyeds. I might mention some more advanced grooming techniques, but I will leave the nitty gritty details of those for other posts.

So where do we start? We all know Samoyeds. They run around in our yard, dig, gets dirty, and generally they are just a dog. That’s what they should be doing when not at a show!

The first step in getting ready for showing is what I call a “pre-bath, bath” for any dog who has not been bathed in over a month, or a dog who is considerably dirty. This bath should be done a week prior to the “pre-show” bath, and the intent is to remove most of the dirt and grime, as well as loosen up the under coat, and while drying to train the fur to lay appropriately. For this bath, I will usually do two washes with a shampoo like Filthy Beast or Groomer’s Edge Ultimate. The first wash, I get most of the surface dirt and use the shampoo to “get into the coat”, then I rinse and the dog is finally completely wet, so I can saturate the shampoo completely to the skin, allowing any dirt trapped underneath out. No whitening shampoo is necessary during this bath. Rinse thoroughly and dry completely. Post pre-bath, bath, I will evaluate the dog’s coat condition which will tell me what products I might use during the pre-show bath and dry, any staining that needs to be addressed, and I will pre-trim the feet, so that when I am in a rush for time during the pre-show bath and grooming I don’t need to work so hard at it.

Side note: Generally, I do not comb and/or blow out my dogs prior to bathing, unless they are blowing coat. The coat type my dogs carry, and the way I bathe and dry, does not ever mat the coat. If you are seeing a lot of tangling and matting, I would re-evaluate the products you’re using, the type of dryer you have, and the method that you are using to wash and dry the dog.

If the dog’s coat seems to need a lot of work with combing, doing this pre-bath, bath, allows me to spend a week of daily line combing, as needed.

Then we get to the pre-show bath. This bath and dry should be done within 48 hours of the show, and ideally within 24 hours of the show. It depends on the amount of travel time needed. This bath will go about twice as fast if you have done a pre-bath, bath. The dog won’t be nearly as dirty, and you’ve worked on the dog’s coat condition so there is minimal loose coat. This bath, I usually do one or two washes depending on how dirty the dog is. The first wash, if needed, is usually again with Filthy Beast or Groomer’s Edge Ultimate, then after rinsing I use my preferred whitening shampoo. I have a different whitening shampoo depending on what dog I am showing. Pure Paws Whitening, Show Salon Spa by Ashley Craig and EZ groom Crystal White are generally my go-to’s. Other than the conditioner with the Show Salon Spa system, I do not generally use any conditioner products on my dogs during the bathing process.

During the pre-show bath, I will look at their face or legs, and decide to re-wash a second time (third total) with whitening shampoo if I feel they need extra brightening or are still dirty. I take time and care drying the dogs after this bath to blow their coat straight. If you’re seeing curling or tangling, I can almost guarantee you’ve got the dryer pointed too close to the skin, and if you can’t back up and still see the skin, your drier is not high powered enough. When drying a samoyed, I typically have the nozzle of a K9 II with cone concentrator on it about 6-10 inches away from the skin depending on the body part. Without the concentrator, I will still usually stay 3-6 inches away from the skin. It is also EXTREMELY important to pay attention to what direction you are drying the hair. Do not dry the hair on their butt toward their head, lest you have a Samoyed who then looks like an old English sheepdog. Dry this coat with the coat being blown toward the tail! Particularly, pay attention to the topline of the dog to make sure the coat is straight with no lumps, bumps, or waves. The coat topline should resemble what the perfect topline is per standard!

After the pre-show bath, I comb out the dog again, and trim nails and feet to show perfection. The more combing and trimming I do prior to the show day, the less I have at the show to be done! Typically, it takes me less than 10 minutes to completely comb out a dog at the show if I’ve made sure they are bathed, dried completely, and combed out prior to show day. Talk about stress relief the day of the show!

Then comes my #1 tip! WASH OUT THE DOG’S CRATE, KENNEL, and BEDDING! I cannot emphasize this enough. Clean crate, kennel and bedding = clean dog. If you don’t want to wash feet every day, or even have to completely re-bathe and dry a dingy dog, keep their environment CLEAN. If using x-pens to potty, make sure that area is not dirty and dusty. These are white dogs (mostly, sometimes a little cream and biscuit, lol), its not hard to keep them looking clean and shiny, but it takes a little effort.

That said, sometimes day of show leg baths are necessary. They are dogs, and get into dirt sometimes. It’s not hard to re-wash legs. Some self rinse, a small Rubbermaid tub, and a drier, and you’re good to go. I always check legs the morning of the show to see if anything needs to be done. Depending on the amount of time I have, sometimes I can only manage to chalk their legs to cover the dirt. Better than nothing, but they won’t look as nice as if I had completely re-washed their legs. Sometimes I do a hybrid, where I douse their legs in self rinse, rub off as much of the dirt with a towel as possible, and then let them air dry while I work on another dog, then when they are still damp I use chalk or baby powder to expedite the remainder of drying and finish whitening the legs.

When I was showing in Colorado, I bathed my dog on the Sunday prior to leaving, worked Monday-Wednesday with no time to re-bathe him, drove Wednesday night, Thursday, and Friday, and he showed on Saturday, only requiring a leg bath to look clean. I did work hard to keep him clean that week, doing leash walks to potty and not letting him go into mud and dirt on those walks, and mopping a dirty motel floor so that he didn’t get nasty while I was exhausted from driving. Had I not put in the little bit of work to keep him clean, he absolutely would have required a bath prior to being shown.

If a dog is being shown every week, they will likely need a bath EVERY WEEK, unless you’re going to extremes to keep them clean. Use good shampoo and product that does not dry out their coat. Even with going to extremes to keep a dog clean, sometimes they need a bath anyways, so just let them be DOGS on their days off. Let them get dirty and grimy. Let them play in the rain, the pool, and mud puddles with their friends. It’ll wash out!


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