You can load up on all kinds of grooming paraphernalia, but the following basics are all you really need:
- a pin brush and an extra-gentle slicker brush
- a metal comb with both wide and narrow teeth
- a toenail clipper
- a spray bottle containing an anti-static de-tangler or crème rinse diluted in water
- latex elastic bands (like the kind you get for your child’s braces)
- a hair dryer
Accustom the puppy to lying on his/her back and/or side whilst being groomed, when he/she is young. The best time to train is when he is tired and willing to lie quietly or rest. Even though a young Lhasa puppy does not require a lot of grooming, you need to train him when he is young, before his coat starts getting mats and tangles, so he will accept the grooming that will become a necessary part of his life. If he gets used to it at an early age, he will be more cooperative during grooming sessions, and you will both be happier.
Brush your Lhasa’s coat in layers. Lay the dog on his back or side, push the coat the wrong way and, starting with the undercoat, brush down one layer at a time as you work your way to the top. Use an anti-static spray, a detangler, or some crème rinse mixed with water and lightly mist each layer before you brush it. Begin with the stomach; move to the insides of the front legs, the insides of the back legs, then the outsides of the legs, working your way to the top. Turn the dog over and repeat the process on the other side. Don’t forget the chest, neck, ears (and behind the ears). Finish with the top of the head and face.
To remove a mat, spray it lightly to lubricate the hair. If the mat you’re removing is large and packed solid, you may have to spray it with detangler or, better yet, a coat conditioning oil until it is saturated. You and your Lhasa will both need a lot of patience. Pull the mat apart as much as possible with your fingers; then use the end tooth of the comb to loosen the individual hairs. Work on the mat from which ever side allows you the best access.
Don’t cut the mat out unless you want a big hole in your dog’s coat and only cut through the mat as a last resort, if it is so solidly packed that you have no other choice.
To loosen the mat, you may have to use more oil or detangler as you progress, and you may have to allow it to soak for a while before it does its job. Alternate between separating the mat with your fingers and separating it with the end tooth of your comb. Never try to pull the entire mat out at once with the comb or brush. It HURTS! And your Lhasa will let you know he doesn’t appreciate what you’re doing to him.
To reduce the number and severity of the mats your Lhasa gets, brush him regularly (at least weekly, more often if needed). When you do find a mat, remove it gently.
Dreaded Coat Change
The owner of a Lhasa puppy should be prepared for the puppy’s coat change when the puppy is anywhere between the ages of 9 to 14 months. A Lhasa does not shed as most other breeds do. What happens during the coat change is that the softer puppy coat is being replaced by the harsher-textured adult coat. At this time, your puppy may need daily grooming to remove the soft, “dead” puppy coat. The coat change is a natural part of a Lhasa’s development, and when it is over, your Lhasa’s softer puppy coat should have given way to the harder-textured adult coat, which is usually a lot easier to take care of.
When the coat change does begin, don’t get discouraged. It usually lasts less than a month. Set aside time each day to groom your Lhasa. If you don’t have time to brush him completely each day, then at least do some spot grooming in the troublesome areas (neck, insides of legs, behind the ears) on a daily basis. Don’t go longer than two days without a complete brushing, though. Those mats surprise you! A puppy may not look matted, but his undercoat may be a real mess.
The best advice is to be aware of what will happen, be prepared to do some heavy-duty grooming for about 3 weeks, train your puppy early to accept being groomed, watch for and take care of tangles and mats as they appear, and do not put off grooming thinking the mats will disappear by themselves (they don’t!). Sometimes it seems as if you just finish taking all the mats out of one end of the dog when it’s time to start over on the other end again !
Finally, don’t be discouraged; hang in there. Make time for grooming and take the time to do a good job. If you have trained your puppy for grooming when he was little, you’ll have a much easier time getting him to cooperate.
Gayle and I brush our Lhasas before bathing them to remove any mats or tangles that might get worse when they are wet. Not everyone agrees with this approach.
There’s a technique to bathing a Lhasa that is easy and does not cause the coat to tangle. After you’ve wet the Lhasa completely, apply the shampoo by squeezing it through the coat in a downward motion. Do not massage it into the coat in a circular motion as you might do when you wash your own hair. Applying shampoo in a circular motion only tends to tangle the coat. Continue working the shampoo through the coat using the downward motion. You’ll still get a nice sudsy lather.
When the bath is finished, squeeze all the excess water from the ears, legs, and tail before removing the dog from the tub. When towel drying your Lhasa, squeeze or blot the coat with the towel to remove as much moisture as possible. Don’t rub the coat with the towel.
Finally, dry your Lhasa with a blow dryer. Set the dryer at a comfortable temperature and speed, lay the dog on his side while you brush his coat in layers as they dry. Be sure to completely dry the insides of the legs and behind the ears.
Lhasa owners use all sorts of methods to keep the eye fall out of their Lhasas’ eyes. Here are some suggestions for keeping the eye fall pulled back. You’ll have to experiment until you come up with a suitable hairstyle for your Lhasa.
If your Lhasa does not have a thick eye fall and if she will wear barrettes, you can either brush the eye fall back and secure it with one barrette or make a part down the middle of your Lhasa’s head and fasten a barrette in either side.
If barrettes are out of the question, either because you have a male and feel funny putting barrettes in his hair, or because your dog’s eye fall is very thick and a barrette simply will not hold the hair, or because your dog prefers chewing barrettes to wearing them, you can use small latex bands to secure the hair. Brush the eye fall straight back and put a single topknot on the head (modified Shih-Tzu style) or part the hair down the middle of the head and put “pig tails” on each side. The latex bands come in a variety of colours from black to electric pink.
If you would like to try braiding your Lhasa’s eye fall, follow these steps:
1. Part the hair exactly in the middle of your Lhasa’s head.
2. Next you will need to section the hair that will be braided. The thickness of the section will depend on the thickness of your Lhasa’s eye fall, but usually the section will begin somewhere between the middle and outside corner of the eye and go back about two inches or so. You just have to experiment until you find an amount of hair that is comfortable to work with and looks right for the shape of your dog’s head and eyes.
3. Divide the large section of hair into three equal smaller sections. Mist lightly with water, coat oil, or coat conditioner to make it easier to work with. Coat oil or conditioner helps prevent matting and tangling.
4. Begin braiding by crossing the section closest to the eye over the middle section. Keep the braid close to the Lhasa’s head and continue braiding until you run out of hair.
5. Fasten the bottom of the braid with a small latex band. The braids should lie close to the head. If they stick out, you have done one of these: braided too tightly, tried to put too much hair into the braid, or started at a right angle to the dog’s head. In any case, you will have to start over.
That’s basically it ! The braids will have to be brushed out and re-braided every few days. Never leave them in for more than a week without brushing through them, just in case tangles are developing.
Hair grows quite thick inside a Lhasa’s ears and must be removed to help keep the ear healthy and infection-free. You can take your Lhasa to the vet to have the hair inside the ears removed; however, it’s a grooming task that is easily done at home.
Apply ear powder to the inside of each ear, making certain the hair is thoroughly covered, especially at the base. Wait a few minutes to allow the powder to dry the hair. It is surprising how much easier the hair is to pluck once the powder has dried it and how much less your Lhasa will mind the plucking if the powder is used.
Pluck only a few hairs at a time, since this is less irritating for the dog. You can use your fingers to pull out the majority of the hair; however, if you prefer, you may also use a tweezers or hemostat.
Ears should be checked and cleaned often to deter infections and to keep them healthy.
Stack the Lhasa on a table and stand directly behind him. (Make sure the dog is standing straight so his spine is straight.) Using the end tooth of a metal comb or a knitting needle and beginning at the base of the dog’s neck, run the tooth of the comb straight down the spine, allowing the coat to fall to either side.
Once the basic part is in, sight down the dog’s back from both front and rear to make sure the part runs straight. If the part is basically straight except for a place or two, work with those spots a few hairs at a time until it is straight.
Now spray the coat along the part with coat conditioner (not an oil) and lightly mist the coat along the part to keep it in place. “Setting” the part this way is necessary because, as anyone who has ever parted a Lhasa can tell you, the first thing the Lhasa will do after he is groomed is shake.
Once the back’s part is set, work on the head and neck. Part the hair evenly on the muzzle; then run the end tooth of the comb from that part, between the eyes, over the head, and down the neck to meet the part that’s in the dog’s back. You may have to re-do a spot here and there to get the part perfectly straight.
The hair between the pads of a Lhasa’s feet grows quite long — and quite fast. If ignored, it tends to mat. Left alone, the mats increase in size and can spread the pads further apart.
Keeping the pads neatly trimmed is an easy task. With the dog on his side or back, hold a leg steady at an angle that is easy for you to work with. The hand that holds the leg will have to do double duty because you’ll need to spread the pads slightly apart so you can trim down between them. Some groomers use a clipper for this task, others a small scissors.
Shaggy feet make even the most neatly groomed Lhasa look “unfinished.” The unkempt appearance of those feet can be improved simply by trimming and rounding the coat around the feet. Push the hair up and away from the foot itself and hold it there. Brush or comb a layer of hair over the foot and trim it all the way around fairly close to the foot. Then brush a second layer over the foot, this time trimming it so it’s slightly longer than the first layer. Depending on how heavily coated your dog’s foot is, repeat this until the foot has a neat, rounded appearance. Do all four feet in the same way.
If your Lhasa doesn’t have heavily-coated feet, you may be able to get by with just combing all the hair over the foot and cutting it.
Oh, don’t forget to cut those toenails !
This is simple: If you are not going to groom your Lhasa regularly, then by all means have his/her coat clipped. Both you and your dog will be happier.