Grooming Your Samoyed
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Marge Goodenough for teaching me most of what I know about grooming a Samoyed. Basically....Sammy grooming includes attention to fur, teeth, claws and the Ph balance of their systems.
Grooming is part of our daily routine. Keeping your Samoyed white and fluffy isn't as difficult as most people think, but there is no getting around spending some time each day and each week grooming your Samoyed. It's critical that you make grooming something that you and your dog enjoy. As with anything related to Sammy behavior....make it fun for them, and it will be fun for you.
Reality check: If you can't spend at least 15 minutes per day on grooming your Samoyed, you may need to choose a different breed. Failure to keep up with minimal grooming will likely result in discomfort for your dog, stress for you, and a huge bill from a professional groomer.
For us, grooming takes place whenever the opportunity presents itself. It's a matter of having the right stuff...in the several places. A long-tooth brush, and medium tooth comb, nail clippers, and treats.
That said, unless we're grooming for a show, a little each day plus an additional hour each week, per dog, is really all it takes to keep our Sammies ready for company. Our formula is 15 minutes per day, or 45 minutes per week...per dog.
Keeping it White
Fortunately, because Samoyeds have "dry coats" (no oil glands in their skin), dirt dries and falls off of their fur quickly. That's the good part. Dry coats also make their fur susceptible to staining. Things like mulch, berries, fabric dyes(collars, harnesses, tags, mats, etc) dogfood dyes, and "play spit" from other dogs can stain the coat all too easily. It's also important to periodically check the Ph balance of your Samoyed's saliva. We put a teaspon of organic apple cider vinegar per gallon of drinking water to maintain an ideal internal balance. We believe this helps to prevent staining of fur around the eyes, mouth, paw pads and genitals.
There are several spots where mats can form, and their double coat sheds profusely twice each year. Behind the ears, where the collar meets the skin, under the arms, the inside of the back legs, the base of the tail , feathers, trousers and hocks are famous for mats....If you get a mat, it's always better to break it apart. Cutting out a mat only encourages it to grow back since the short, new fur is the breeding ground for mats.
We shampoo our Sams once per month. If they are entered into conformation shows, it's a different story, but even if our Sams get "dirty" between baths, a good round with the dryer and a long-comb brush keeps them looking presentable. Over-shampooing dries the coat and can cause discoloration, brittleness and overall avoidance behavior from your Sam. We use a basic shampoo - nothing fancy. We don't use whitening shampoos. Regardless of what they say on the label about non-blueing, they almost all add color to the coat- not good! We dilute our shampoo to the weakest suggested by the label. If the coat needs a real deep cleaning, we use an enzymatic shampoo (there are several out there)
Drying the Coat
If your Sammy's coat becomes really wet, it is essential to dry their fur all the way to the skin. Drying the fur well reduces shedding, mats and skin irritations, and makes combing 1000% easier. The best thing we ever did was to invest in a top-end dryer ($400+). It saves time, trouble and prevents all the issues mentioned above. NEVER use a dryer that has a heating element- which means NEVER use a hair dryer you would use on human hair. The heat will burn the fur, causing it to turn dry, brittle and yellow. And your Sammy will hate the idea of grooming from that point forward.
Drying the coat comes in four phases -
1) Blow the water off of the outer coat.
2) Put the dryer nozzle closer to the skin and blow the water out of the coat from the skin outward.
3) Blow the coat in the direction against the way it grows which gives it volume.
4) Use the dryer and a long bristle brush to straighten the parts of the coat that has a tendency to curl or kink by brushing gently from the skin outward.
After the coat is dry, and then again between shampoos, we use a sunscreen and condtitioning spray. After blowing any surface dirt off of the fur, we apply a light mist of conditioning/sunscreen spray to the coat and use clean hands to work the spray into the coat, paying special attention to areas that are exposed to more sun or that are dry. Then we use a long-tooth brush to lightly fluff the coat and make sure the conditioner is spread evenly and lightly. Then we let the fur air dry.
Even with good grooming habits, because of their dense coats, "hot spots" can form. Hot spots result in the dog licking the area - not good- bacteria and moisture...you get the picture. We've found that Gold Bond powder applied to a clean hot spot works wonders - it dries and medicates the area and the smell keeps the Sammy from licking the spot. Sometimes hot spots are a symptom of a sore joint or tendon and not just the result of a grooming shortcoming. When in doubt a visit to your vet is ideal- before the hot "spot" becomes a hot "area."
The teeth of a Samoyed need to be brushed frequently. We use the enzymatic tooth paste Biotene and a finger toothbrush or baby toothbrush. Teeth get brushed at a minium of 3 times per week. If you start doing it as a puppy, it's easy....
The feet of working dogs are extremely important. They are used for strength, balance, precision, and must be able to stop, start, and turn quickly and accurately. Claws must be kept short so they can move properly and without discomfort. We trim claws weekly. A little snip each week saves time and potential stress and injury.
We always trim paw fur for shows and when they are spending most of their time indoors so they don't slip on the slick surfaces.
But in between shows, we allow the fur to grow as it protects their paw pads from things like ice or hot pavement, or sharp objects on the ground that can cause injury. We check paw pads and nail beds regularly to be sure that any injury from normal play and romping is addressed immediately.
The 2 most important elements:
The most important part of grooming is frequency and sensitivity. If regular grooming is done from the time they are puppies, and it's combined with snuggling and treats, it becomes something both dog and owner look forward to. While you can certainly send your Samoyed to a professional groomer, it is really best for you to at least do daily maintenance grooming with your Samoyed. It creates an essential level of mutual trust and awareness, which results in an ideal relationship wtih your Samoyed.
The bottom line is that if regular attention is paid, and "issues" are addressed quickly, the coat stays remarkably clean, odor free, and easy to comb. If regular grooming is done from the time they are puppies, and it's combined with snuggling and treats, you and your dog look forward to it.
Click here for more information about grooming a Samoyed.